Dhanwantari: the Bearer of Ayurveda
If you ask where the Ayurveda came from, then it is from Dhanwantari, the God of Ayurveda / father of ayurveda and Medicine. Dhanwantari is believed as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and according to the Hindu Mythology, he is the Physician of God of Ayurveda. He is also known as the God of Medicine, and hence, in Hinduism, he is worshipped for better health and curing the incurable ailments.
The same is also stated in the mantra stated below,
Om Namo Bhagavate
Amrutha Kalasa Hasthaaya
Sarva Bhaya Vinasaya
Sarva Roka Nivaranaya
Thri Lokya Pathaye
Thri Lokya Nithaye
Sri Maha Vishnu Swarupa
Sri Dhanvantari Swarupa
Sri Sri Sri
Aoushata Chakra Narayana Swaha
The mantra means that we devote our prayer to the God, who is named as Sudarshana Vasudeva Dhanwantari. He is the one who holds a pot of celestial ambrosia (amrita). We pray to God Dhanwantari, to remove all fears and diseases, who is preserver and well-wisher of three worlds. He is the incarnation of Vishnu and has the power of healing the Jiva souls. Oh, God Dhanvantari, we bow in front of you.
Despite this Mantra, there are other mantras too, which are known for good effects on health and prosperity.
Emergence of God Dhanwantari
The emergence of God Dhanwantari is stated in the Bhagavata Purana where it is said that he was emerged as one of the 14th jewels, during the churning of ocean (Samudra Manthan). His emergence was spotted with a pot filled with the nectar of immortality during the churning of ocean by Devas and Asuras. The whole churning was performed by the help of Mandara Parvat and Serpent Vasuki (serpent bed on which Vishnu lye); this whole set up was put on the back of a Tortoise, who was nothing but the Lord Vishnu himself. It was his incarnation as the Tortoise.
Iconography of God Dhanwantari
The prevalent icon of God Dhanwantari has four hands holding a conch shell and a disc of energy in the two right hands; whereas, a pot of nectar or immortality, and a leech in other two left hands.
God Dhanwantari is preached as a God with a gentle, clear and pleasing heart, which is always ready to cure the pain of Jiva souls. He is also seen standing on Dark-Blue water where his body is always shining and has lumen around it.
Temples and celebrations of God Dhanwantari
In Indian, God Dhanwantari is worshipped on every Dhanteras, which comes two days prior the Diwali. In fact, Dhanteras is actually his birthday; on the day, when he emerged from the Ocean Of Milk during the churning.
As the God Dhanwantari prayed as the God of Ayurveda and Medicine, he has its dedicated temples in South India where Ayurveda is still practiced a lot. He has its temples in Kerala and Tamil Nadu; where in Kerala, the temple is known as Thottuva while in Tamil Nadu, it is famous as the Ranganathaswamy Temple.
In Kerala temple, Thottuva, his idol is almost 6 feet tall and faces the East. His idol there holds Shankha, Chakram, Amrit Kalash and Atta in his four hands and wears a yellow dhoti.
In Tamil Nadu temple, there is no idol of God Dhanwantari but has Stone-Engraved statues, which are worshipped daily. This temple is more like the Dhanwantari Shrine, which is there since the 12th century. Also, there in the temple, after every Pooja, an herbal decoction is given in the name of Parsadam or Theertham.
Other Dhanvantari temples are located at,
- Kulasekharamangalam Post, Kottayam, Kerala
- Thaniyathukunnu, Thrissur, Kerala
- Maruthorvattom, Kerala
- Prayikara, Allepey, Kerala
Reincarnation of father of ayurveda
The story of his emergence is related to the Samudra Manthan in which, he came out with other objects like Kamdhenu, Airavata, Kalpvriksha, Kaustubhamani, Goddess Lakshmi, etc. But this was his first emergence as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. But after, this he also descended into the material world to cure the pain and disease of that world, as foretold by the Lord Vishnu.
So, according to the saying of Lord Vishnu, God dhanwantari took birth as the son of Kind Dhirghatamas, who had worshipped him for a son. From his worship, the God himself got very happy and granted him a boon. Utilizing the boon, the King asked God Dhanwantari to be born as his son. Well, the boon was granted, and the King got him as his son.
After taking birth in a royal family of Kashi, to King Dhirghatamas, he then became the king. He in his lifetime then taught the sages about Ayurveda and medicine. The textual recordings of his teaching are found in Agni Purana and in the teachings of his disciples Sushruta, Aurabha, Vaitarana, Pauskalavata, etc.
A quick peek into amazing fact about father of ayurveda
- He was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and came out of the churning of ocean milk as the 14th object along with Kamdhenu, Airavata (white elephant), Kalpvriksha, Kaustubhamani, Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity), and others.
- He trained the very first surgeons in the world including the Sushruta, Aurabha and others. Further, his disciple, Susruta wrote the Sushruta Samhita.
- He is known having the powers, which can cure the incurable and back life to the death.
- Except the Sankha, Chakra, and Pot of Amrita, he holds a leech (Jalauka). In Ayurveda practices, then and now, the leeches are used to suck out the dirty and poisoned blood of the body.
- He has many temples in South India, but the North is still deprived of his temples, instead the fact that, he was once from the ruler family of Kashi (Banaras). In Kashi, he had taken birth as the son of King Dhirghatamas as foretold by Lord Vishnu.
- His reincarnation in the material world was for curing the pain and physical suffering of humans.
- He has the power of negating the venom of snakes.
- The oldest shrine of Lord dhanwantari, dated back to 12th century is present there in Tamil Nadu, one of the Indian states in the South. The temple is known as the Shri Ranganathaswamy Temple.