THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF THE GREAT SAGE ATREYA IN AYURVEDA’S MILLENARY TRADITION
In the Oriental spiritual tradition, the sage Atreya is well-known as a great spiritual being and also a great healer who revealed to humanity the fundamental truths contained in the sacred Science of Life (Ayurveda). Most of the wise presentations of the sage Atreya contain a multitude of practical aspects that are especially useful for the Ayurvedic practitioners who seek to understand the godly mysteries of the manifestation of the fundamental energy of life in the human being.
The teachings of the great sage Atreya have been recorded to a great extent, and most of them have been preserved in the famous Ayurveda text “Charaka-Samhita”, a text that, along with other great traditional Ayurvedic writings, represents an inestimable treasure of knowledge that was transmitted thousands of years ago and up to this day.
The Ayurvedic millenary tradition states that the original teaching of the Sacred Science of Life (Ayurveda) was first offered in the mysterious realm of the gods, beginning with Brahma, the aspect of God as the Creator of the Universe, to Daksha, the exponent of the manifesting godly Will, and then it was transmitted through the two heavenly beings traditionally called Ashvini, who are the two heavenly healers, and then by the great deity Indra, the spiritual leader of the realm of the godlike beings. The great deity Indra is the one who revealed the Sacred Science of Life (Ayurveda) to the people through the great sage and yogi Bharadvaja and then through the great sage and spiritually perfected Atreya.
In the millenary tradition of Ayurveda, the sage Atreya is the first human being who offered humans the science and art of healing (Ayurveda) in the form of a structured set of systematic teachings; a teaching that was received by him through an exceptional spiritual initiation as a result of the revelations offered by the great deity Indra through the great sage and yogi Bharadvaja. The sage Atreya was and is a model of an exceptional human being that was endowed with an exemplary teaching capacity to convey to people the specific teaching of Ayurveda, with an exemplary state of dedication, with the superior aptitude to make accessible the very profound and complex aspects of the manifestation of life in Creation and an immeasurable state of compassion that he manifested toward all people.
In the initiatory tradition of the millenary Science of Life (Ayurveda), the sage Atreya remains a model of a being who was in a constant and exemplary spiritual state of communion with the Great Cosmic Power of the Godly Compassion, Tara.
In the Ayurvedic tradition it is mentioned that the sage Atreya was the favourite of the two Ashvini healers and of the great deity Indra, who guided him and sustained him constantly in all that he accomplished during his terrestrial life, animated by a state of exemplary compassion for people.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, the sage Atreya is known to be the human being that has secured the connection between the mysterious realm of the gods and the human world. In this direction, the sage Hemachandra states the following about the sage Atreya:
“As the name of Atri, from which the name of the great sage Atreya derives, is the symbol of the first vital body constituent that exists in the microcosm of the human being, and which is known in Ayurveda as the rasa-dhatu, analogically speaking, the sage Atreya is, in his own way, the one who manifested the fundamental energy of the initiatory beginning that is profoundly transforming in the people’s consciousness, especially regarding the discovery and understanding of the profound spiritual aspects and the innumerable revealed mysteries of the Science of Life (Ayurveda).
The sage Atreya is the one who has revealed to people a multitude of natural remedies that God has made available to the initiates, connoisseurs and intelligent, especially through the inestimable gifts of Nature, healing plants, natural foods, the water, the earth, the fire, the air and the subtle ether.”
As it emerges from the etymology of his name, the sage Atreya is the exponent of the transforming power of the energy of the beginning that is present in the sacred act of spiritual initiation and which he offered to all who were animated by a profound inner aspiration to find and to understand the mysteries of the Sacred Science of Life (Ayurveda). The Ayurvedic millenary tradition mentions that most of Atreya’s presentations were structured in the form of a dialogue between the teacher and his students, based on intelligent questions that were structured in the consciousness of the aspirants to knowledge, within the spiritual initiatory ambience of a few thousands years ago.
In his presentations, the sage Atreya reveals many of the mysteries of the manifestation of life in the case of human beings, as well as the way in which human beings can, through knowledge and proper practice, live a long life, maintaining themselves in a state of health and almost continuous happiness, and avoid suffering from various disorders, diseases, illnesses or old age.
Ever since the beginning of his presentations on Life Science (Ayurveda), the sage Atreya describes the godly purpose of knowing the Sacred Science of Life:
“Because the Sacred Science of Life (Ayurveda) is beneficial to humanity, both for the life that unfolds in this physical, material world, and for the life that is to continue after leaving this material in one of the worlds, or, in other words, one of the subtle spheres or realms in which the spiritual being will continue to exist after leaving the physical world, that is why Ayurveda is considered by all the sages, who are the connoisseurs of the sacred spiritual writings, as a science of inestimable practical and spiritual value.”
In view of these profound aspects, it can be remarked that whenever he prepares to present in detail the fundamental truths about a certain type of human suffering, which usually occurs in the form of a certain disorder or disease (roga), the sage Atreya also reveals to his disciples what is the subtle spiritual key to release the human soul from the constraining and limiting occurrence of the problematic situation that takes the form of that disease (roga). Knowing this initiatory secret spiritual key allows the beings to begin understanding the causal mechanisms that lead to the manifestation of each type of disorder or disease. This is a fundamental spiritual aspect that characterises the vast and complex teaching of the great sage Atreya. In the light of these revelations, offered by the sage Atreya in this way, revealing the spiritual meaning of a certain disease can then lead the human being to a profound spiritual integration of engaging in and following a concrete act of natural healing, thus giving the entire healing process an integral and deeply spiritual integrating dimension.
Through the exceptional revelations offered by the great sage Atreya, people can understand that the high, elevated, sublime spiritual states, as well as the superior godly aspects, which can be awakened and amplified in the being, can then cause a true and profound transformation in the human microcosm of the whole being. This broad spiritual transformation can then even gradually lead to the healing of the body, mind or soul of man.
In accordance with Ayurvedic teachings, all these beneficial transformations take place in accordance with the manifestation in the human being of the universal principle of similarity (samanya), which corresponds to the fundamental Law of occult resonance. The teachings of the great sage Atreya offer us the opportunity to understand that in the beneficial modelling of the human being it is essential to systematically cultivate higher spiritual states, such as love, spiritual aspiration, courage, kindness, altruism, compassion, detachment, happiness, spiritual discipline, deep understanding, perfect self-control over the mind and all senses, intuition, intelligence, superior knowledge, dedication, and love for God. Knowing the deepest correspondences that exist between such higher spiritual states and the beneficial energies that manifest in the microcosm of the human being, the one initiated in these mysteries of Ayurvedic millenary science can then act as efficiently as possible for their own well-being and to effectively help their fellow men.
For the one who has gone through and deeply understood the teachings of the great sage and liberated Atreya, all manifestations of life are revealed as specific expressions of the godly will and the godly wisdom, and are also discovered as wonderful opportunities to know and understand in what exactly is the complexity of the omnipresent manifestation of the unique and infinite Being of God. Every act of healing, from the most apparently petty discomfort, to ending the prolonged states of physical, psychological or mental suffering, can reveal to the human being, through the knowledge of the truths exposed by the sage Atreya, the mysterious and ineffable aspects by which God distinctly manifests his profoundly transforming godly spiritual power that is impelling them, often in the most seemingly unexpected ways, to evolve and progress spiritually.
Within the Ayurvedic tradition, the great sage Atreya offered with great generosity to people a vast, extremely valuable teaching that can be practiced in many ways, just like any other spiritual discipline, even in the difficult conditions of confronting the drawbacks of suffering, imbalance or illness.
Through this spiritual teaching, the sage Atreya offered people the opportunity to availibility and possibility of a wide range of different means of healing and spiritual transformation that are applicable even under the difficult conditions of the existence of various diseases or disorders. Practical Ayurvedic methods revealed by the sage Atreya are accompanied by spiritual ways that allow the beneficial modelling and transformation of the content of the consciousness of the practitioner in a correct way.
All these spiritual ways allow the persevering Ayurvedic practitioner to achieve higher states of consciousness through proper self-knowledge of one’s own being, a knowledge which is achieved from a spiritual perspective and which becomes accessible through a constant aspiration, invocation, guidance and the compassionate help offered by God to human beings who deserve it.
DEFINING ASPECTS OF THE GREAT ATREYA
In the Ayurvedic millenary tradition, the great sage Atreya is a true spiritual model. We can say that for those who study Ayurveda, the sage Atreya is the best known sage, because most of Ayurveda’s writings currently contain the initiatory aspects that this great sages has revealed in a direct way.
The vast majority of these issues were recorded in writing either by his six known disciples: Agnivesha, Jatukarna, Bhela, Harita, Ksharapani and Parashara, or by many other remarkable human beings whose names remain more or less well known in the Ayurvedic tradition, but who recorded in writing these exceptional teachings of this great sage.
The sage Atreya was at the same time a great yogi and a great liberated spirit who, through his own spiritual experience of life, and through the exceptional knowledge he held, offered to people an exceptional teaching that lasted for thousands of years.
In this respect, the sage Atreya is especially known today for revealing some remarkable practical ways of illustrating aspects of great depth in a spiritual manner. He did this in an original and profoundly influential manner for the consciousness of the human being. Through these spiritual methods, the sage Atreya offered to his disciples, and to all those who followed his teachings, the profound understanding of particularly subtle phenomena that could unfold in the sphere of the consciousness of the being.
In Charaka-Samhita, each chapter in the broad section describes the main entities of the disease together with Ayurvedic treatment methods, a section called Kaya-Cikitsa always begins by describing the specific way in which the sage Atreya illustrated in a spiritual way, we can now even say a paranormal method, a series of spiritual aspects and superior aptitudes, a series of exemplary virtues, as well as some sublime qualities or subtle godly energies that were then actually manifested, being practically lived in a subtle exemplary way by this great sage, Atreya, in a form that was also perceptible by those who were initiated. Each such beneficial exemplification is also described in the first sutras from the beginning of the chapters intended for detailed exposures related to various diseases.
The remarkable manner of illustrating such spiritual virtues and sublime godly aspects offers to those aspiring to have access to the methods by which a certain form or range of disorders, affections or diseases can be transcended, even the impeccable spiritual pattern that is necessary to be followed. Thus, by his own spiritual qualities and perfect yogi skills, the sage Atreya could illustrate these model spiritual states in the form of profoundly impressive exemplary experiences that could be perceived by those who were then in his presence. His spiritual way of presenting these subjects thus had a certain specific form of sacredness, and then offered the specific spiritual pattern through which a human being endowed with a certain spiritual awakening could then re-orientate their own inner perspective, the point of view and the predominant direction of consciousness and thus to orient themselves in the sense of good.
Practically, through this unique spiritual method, the great sage Atreya directly illustrated elevated aspects that had a profound healing effect at a subtle spiritual level. Thus, giving human beings a practical way of spiritual guidance that is extremely beneficial to consciousness. We can even say a saving, liberating way, which, if appropriately put into practice, could bring the human being out of the bad resonant, inferior, limiting, constraining situation, from a karmic point of view, and which, more often than not, was generating suffering, especially through the fact that it could materialize in the form of confronting the being with that disease entity.
In his spiritual educational methodology, the sage Atreya selectively manifested such exemplary spiritual states that offered the archetypal model of the spiritual healing method specific to the group or affliction that was to be described in detail below. After such a spiritual exemplification, carried out in a state of deep yogi meditation (dhyana), the sage Atreya returned from a profound meditative state to a state of consciousness specific to the engagement of a verbal presentation and began to present that subject, step by step, gradual and systematic. Each subject was thus presented with all the details necessary for Ayurvedic operative knowledge, both in describing the aetiology of the disease, the knowledge of the causes, the careful process of identifying the signs preceding it, the symptomatology of the disease, the signs and symptoms of the disease itself, and the clues that correspond to its various forms. The Ayurvedic ways of identifying exceptional situations were presented in each such case and then all the practical aspects of natural Ayurvedic treatment that could be adapted to the forms of the disease or its varieties and to the specifics of the human being in that situation were systematically presented.
The presentation of the treatment of the diseases includes various warnings and operative issues that also describe exceptional situations, advice on the practical realization of natural remedies, all of which are recorded in the extensive Kaya-Cikitsa treatment section.
The main aspect of the modalities of exposure offered by the sage Atreya lies precisely in this profoundly impacting, applicative spiritual method, which denotes not only the nature of a very good Ayurvedic connoisseur of all these aspects of the human being, but also the qualities of a practicing yogi. This practical way of selectively illustrating, highlighting the remarkable ability of discernment, in close correspondence and with a certain superior spiritual capacity to transpose and to amplify into the consciousness of the human being the higher godly aspects, makes the spiritual method of the sage Atreya to be exemplary in the context of the Ayurvedic tradition. In the specific context in which the premises of each such presentation were precisely the concrete aspects of the disease and the suffering of a certain type. The spiritual method of exemplifying certain saving spiritual states that was practiced by the sage Atreya is unique in his own way and attests in his case to a great spiritual force.
If we now look at the specific perspective of Ayurvedic esotericism, we can see that the sage Atreya managed to unify in his sphere of consciousness two relatively remote stages of the gradual process of 13th stage existential integration, which includes in its ascending scale those 7 higher stages of existential integration of a benevolent nature (sapta-samaya) and in its descending scale the 6 lower stages corresponding to the Ayurvedic pathology of the gradual process leading to the disease state (shat-kriakala).
Through his spiritual method, the sage Atreya succeeded in uniting in the consciousness the discriminative perception of the two existential integration stages at a great distance from each other, looking at the scale of unifying integration, namely, the superior stage of the awakening of spiritual intelligence, which is encoded in the sapta-samaya esoteric system with “+5”, with the inferior stage of the actual manifestation of a particular disease (vyakti-kriakala), which is encoded with “-5” within the shat-kriakala Ayurvedic pathological examination system. The stage that is coded with “+5” represents the superior net stage of harmonious existential integration that makes it possible for the intimate and profound understanding of the multi-faceted godly nature and the awakening of spiritual intelligence (prabodha-samaya).
The spiritual method offered by the sage Atreya highlights this particular formative aspect, unique in its own way, which characterizes the educational attitude that the sage Atreya offered directly to his disciples, and then to all those who, over time, have since studied the millenary Science of Life (Ayurveda).
That is why we can say that the sage Atreya is an exemplary educator of human beings and is thus a godly model. The sage Atreya offered a particularly effective form of transforming spiritual education with a profound unifying role in consciousness. Putting into practice his specific methodology can help human beings to achieve a high, broad, effective, discriminatory knowledge. In this way aspects that are usually considered to be extreme can be unified in consciousness, in a way that can awaken a profound understanding, namely the disease state corresponding to the “-5” encoded step, and the exemplary spiritual states with a releasing effect corresponding to the “+5” step.
Through all this, the sage Atreya is and remains a model of rigour, tenacity, of a human being capable of engaging an adequate beneficial effort in a consistent manner over a long period of time in the in-depth study of the Ayurvedic millenary Science. These are some of the spiritual characteristics that are defining this great sage. The sage Atreya is the direct inspirer of most of the practical revealing aspects present in the representative writings of Ayurveda, both in terms of the deep esoteric understanding of the millenary Science of Life and the practical, applicative aspects studied in a systematic way by all Ayurvedic practitioners.
Most Ayurveda writings quote the words of the sage Atreya, as these were recorded in the sutras by different beings who have heard them directly. The teaching of the sage Atreya is present in most of the Ayurveda writings that are currently available. The main treaty that broadly encompasses his teachings is the Charaka-Samhita, originally written by his direct disciple, Agnivesha, and then titled Agnivesha-Tantra. Also, the teachings of the sage Atreya were recorded by another disciple, Harita, in the work entitled Atreya-Samhita, which is currently available in an incomplete form under the name of Harita-Samhita.The sage Atreya is widely regarded as an excellent connoisseur of Ayurvedic prognosis of diseases and Ayurvedic classification in the field. In its view, diseases can be favourable and curable (sadhya), unfavourable and incurable (asadhya) or may be unfavourable, yet controllable (yapya). The sage Atreya recognizes the healing power that resides in human nature itself and asserts the undeniable role of competent human help:
“A sick man is often able to regain his own health, even without the help of medicine. By analogy, it is like when a man falls. He may be able to stand up alone, but if another compassionate and competent man helps him, then the man can rise more easily and without much suffering.”