Ayurveda is the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world. Derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots - ‘ayus' (life) and ‘ved' (knowledge) – and offering a rich, comprehensive outlook to a healthy life, its origins go back nearly 5000 years. To when it was expounded and practiced by the same spiritual rishis, who laid the foundations of the Vediccivilisation in India, by organising the fundamentals of life into proper systems.
The main source of knowledge in this field therefore remain the Vedas, the divine books of knowledge they propounded, and more specifically the fourth of the series, namelyAtharvaveda that dates back to around 1000 BC. Of the few other treatises on Ayurveda that have survived from around the same time, the most famous are Charaka Samhita and theSushruta Samhita which concentrate on internal medicine and surgery respectively. The Astanga Hridayam is a more concise compilation of earlier texts that was created about a thousand years ago. These between them forming a greater part of the knowledge base on Ayurveda as it is practiced today.