The science of Ayurveda originated within the Vedas, India’s ancient books of knowledge. (The Vedas were first perceived and not composed by the meditative minds of the ancient Rishis who lived in the caves and mountains of India.) The Vedic tradition is of a highly spiritual nature, a pure knowledge that was revealed through the hearts and minds of the enlightened Rishis.
This knowledge was imparted by the Rishis in a deep state of meditation to students who came to study in the schools or ashrams where the Rishis lived. The early teachings of the Vedas were an oral tradition being handed down from generation to generation over a period of several thousand years. As there were no books the knowledge was stored in the minds of the students and it became a part of them before finally being recorded in written form.
The four main Vedas are the Samaveda, Yajurveda, Artharvaveda and Rigveda. Generally, Ayurveda is recognised as an Upaveda or secondary Veda related to the Rigveda and Artharvaveda. The Rigveda is the oldest of the Vedas and contains many references to Ayurvedic principles. The Artharvaveda is the most recent of the Vedas from which Ayurveda was primarily developed.
The Vedas are among the oldest bodies of knowledge in human culture and they took on their current form at some point during the second millennium BC. Although the current version of the Vedas is derived from a much earlier version that is now lost. The first millennium BC was a golden age in Indian culture and the first texts of Ayurveda were codified, namely, the Charaka Samhita and the Susruta Samhita. The Charaka Samhita deals mainly with internal body and mind medicine of Ayurveda in which the causes of disease and the constitution of a person are addressed first. The knowledge of Ayurvedic surgery and the details of its techniques are contained within the Susruta Samhita. The most widely used Ayurvedic text today is the Astanga Hridayam of Vagbhata composed around 700 AD. It was formed by condensing the works of Charaka and Susruta with information concerning new diseases and therapies.
Ayurveda is the first medical science in the world that knew the importance of mind in maintaining perfect health. Ayurveda also understood the vital role of mind as an etiological factor in creation of a disease and at the same time it can be a useful means in curing a disease.