Friday, November 18, 2022

Lord Dhanvantari: The World’s First Physician

Dhanavantri’s Sculpture 

Somanathapura temple, Karnataka

Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was the first physician on earth. According to the Vedic tradition, in the primordial universe, at the time of churning of the kshir-sagara (the ocean of milk) by the devas (Gods) and the asuras (demons), Dhanvantari emerged from the ocean carrying the vessel of amrita, the divine drink of immortality. 

During his incarnation on earth, Dhanvantari reigned as the king of Kashi (today’s Varanasi). The Puranas mention him as the God of the therapeutic practice of Ayurveda. He mastered Ayurveda from Sage Bharadvaja. Dhanvantari conducted further study of Ayurveda and classified the science of healing into eight parts. He taught his system of Ayurveda to numerous disciples who were sent to various regions of the world to serve as physicians.

Hindus worship Dhanvantari, especially on the occasion of the festival of Dhanteras (observed two days before Diwali puja), for good health, happiness, and long life. The Vishnu Purana identifies Dhanvantari as the great-grandfather of Divodasa, the legendary king mentioned in the Rig Veda who is protected by Indra and the Ashvins.

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