Etymologically, the word Ayurveda is made up of two basic terms viz., 'Ayu' and 'Veda' wherein 'Ayu' stands for life and 'Veda' means science or knowledge: thus Ayurveda means `the science of life’.

To elaborate further, `Ayu’ not only means an alive body system but it is an active assembly of corporeal body (Shareer), Sensomotor organs (Indriyas), Mind (Mana) and Soul (Aatma). Ayu or the life is supposed to originate right at the time of fertilization of ovum (Shonit) by the sperm (Shukra) during which time soul (Aatma) gets attached to it. The life ends when this omnipotent Aatma departs from it. The life span of an average human being is said to be of around hundred years which depends on many extrinsic and intrinsic factors governing health (Swasthya).

Ayurveda looks not only into the physical aspect of life but it also goes deep into its humane aspect also. That is why, while defining the life (Ayu), Acharya Charak, mentions that the science, in which the parameters which are beneficial (Hita), harmful (Ahita), pleasurable (Sukh), or unpleasurable (Dukha) for life are described, is 'Ayurveda'.

The life, therefore is a fleeting, mortal congregation of physical body, mind and soul, i.e. the physical as well as metaphysical components.The fusion of physically indistinct non-material components such as mind (Mana) and soul (Aatma), initiates the process of living.

It is postulated that as long as the components of soul and mind (Jeevatma) are intact, the biological forms of the material elements present in our body keep on functioning actively and keep us alive; but no sooner the Jeevatma departs, the biological materials start disintegrating. This state is known as Mrityu (death). That is the reason; the life is re-defined as the fusion of physical body, senso-motor organs, mind and soul.

The physical part of body is a combination of biological components such as Doshas (Omnipresent vital catalysts),Dhatus (Tissues / humoral components); Agnis (Chemicals / Biotransformers) and Malas (Waste components); whereas the metaphysical part consists of mind, soul and subtle elemental factors (Tanmatras) which are naturally implanted in the sensory organs so as to provide us the faculties of hearing, touch, vision, taste and smell. When all the above factors act in harmony, it is defined as Swasthya (health). Contrariwise, a state of disharmony / chaos is known as Roga (disease).

Ayurveda says that the forces we see predominating the external world predominate our internal milieu also. The living body is nothing but a mini universe in itself. According to the established theories mentioned in philosophies the whole material world is made up of five basic elements. viz. Aakash, Vayu, Teja, Apa and Prithvi, comparable with ethereal, gaseous, energy, fluid and earthern masses respectively which are material in nature and also, Aatma (Soul), Mana (Mind), Kala (Time) and Disha (Space) which are non-material. While different permutations and combinations of these elements without any life-force lead to the formation of inanimate materials / minerals or metals, their congregation, coupled with the life-force give birth to the animate world, which could be of higher level, i.e. Animal Kingdom known as Bahirantashchetana; or of a lower level, i.e., Plant Kingdom known as Antashchetana.

The biological components mentioned above, viz., Doshas (vital catalysts), Dhatus (tissue / humoral components), Agnis (biochemical transformers) and Malas (waste materials) are nothing but the biological forms of the five basic elements only.

During embryological development and further on, the Doshas and Dhatus get amalgamated in genetically coded proportions and form / constitute various physical organs such as heart, liver, stomach, etc.

The science of Ayurveda has also elaborated on certain special Sanskrit terms for different structures in the body. These terms are self explanatory in themselves. A brief review of the important ones is mentioned here under:

o Doshas (Vital Catalysts)

The Doshas (vital catalysts) are the most important constituents as they catalyse and/or carry out all vital functions in their normalcy, and initiate the disease process in states of disequilibrium / vitiation.

o Dhatus (Tissue Components)

Dhatus are the tissue-humoral systems of the body. They are always formed in a fixed sequence. In different permutations and combinations the Dhatus form various physical organs of the body according to the genetically coded information. They are seven in number. Their comparison with modern terminology may be as follows:

Rasa (Plasma and Lymph)

Rakta (Blood cells)

Mamsa (Muscle tissue)

Meda (Adipose tissue)

Asthi (Bone tissue)

Majja (Marrow tissue)

Shukra (Tissue and humoral components related to reproductive / anabolic functions)