Like other great ancient civilizations, India never separated science from philosophy and religion. Rather, it viewed all knowledge as part of a whole designed to promote human happiness, health, and growth.
Philosophy is the love of truth. Science is the discovery of truth through experiment. Religion is the experience of truth and application of it in daily living.
Ayurveda, the science of life, is both systematized knowledge and practical wisdom, an art of healthy living that encompasses all phases of life, body, mind, and spirit. Like all sciences, it includes both a practical and a theoretical aspect. In order to make best use of the practical recommendations that come later in this book, it will help if you understand the essentials of Ayurvedic theory. This first chapter may seem a bit abstract, but please be patient and read it carefully, as it forms the basis of all that is to follow.
The Universe and How We Are Connected
According to Ayurveda, the source of all existence is universal Cosmic Consciousness, which manifests as male and female energy. Purusha, often associated with the male energy, is choiceless, passive, pure awareness. Prakruti, the female energy, is active, choiceful consciousness. Both Purusha and Prakruti are eternal, timeless, and immeasurable. These two energies are present in all living organisms, including every man and woman, as well as inanimate objects.
Purusha is formless and beyond attributes. Unmanifested pure existence, beyond cause and effect, beyond space and time, Purusha takes no active part in creation but remains a silent witness.
Prakruti, which has form, color, and attributes, is the divine creative will that dances the dance of creation. Prakruti is the One that becomes many. Purusha is the lover, Prakruti the beloved. Creation of this universe happens through their love. All of nature is the child born from the womb of Prakruti, the Divine Mother.
In the manifestation of nature from Prakruti, the first expression is Mahad (or Mahat), intelligence or cosmic order. (In human beings, it is referred to as Buddhi, intellect.) Next is Ahamkar or ego, the sense of self-identity, the center in our consciousness from which we think, act, and react. Ahamkar expresses itself in three universal qualities:
Sattva is stability, purity, wakefulness, essence, clarity, and light.
Rajas is dynamic movement and causes sensations, feelings, and emotions.
Tamas is the tendency toward inertia, darkness, ignorance, and heaviness. Tamas is responsible for deep sleep and periods of confusion. It also leads to the creation of matter.
From the essence of Sattva are born the mind, the five sense faculties and their organs (ears to hear, skin to perceive touch, eyes to see, tongue to taste, nose to smell), and the five motor organs or organs of action: the mouth (for speech), the hands, feet, reproductive organs, and organs of excretion.
Rajas is the active force behind the movement of both the sensory and motor organs.
Tamas gives rise to the five elements, which form the basis of material creation: space (ether), air, fire, water, and earth.
Man, a creation of Cosmic Consciousness, is considered to be a microcosm of the macrocosm that is the universe. Whatever is present in the cosmos, the same is present in human beings. Man is a miniature of nature.
The Complete Book of Ayurvedic – Vasant Lad, M.A.Sc, Published by Harmony Books, 1998