About the Author
Vaidya Atreya Smith
Atreya is a Sanskrit name that means the ’son of Atri’ or the ’linage of Atri’. Atri is one of the seven immortal Rishis in Vedic literature. Atreya also means ’transcending the three worlds’. The three worlds are metaphors for past, present and future; heaven, hell and earth; and any symbolism of the basic trinity of life.
Historically Atreya is a great Rishi. He is not only an enlightened being but he is a social revolutionary as well. The main subject that he revolutionized was the medical system of Ayurveda. Atreya put Ayurveda into the system that we have today. Most historians agree that his is the older school of the two main schools of Ayurveda. Atreya’s student wrote the oldest classical text of Ayurveda - the Caraka Samhita.
Atreya caused the ’powers that be’ considerable upset during his time. He began a new presentation of Ayurveda and held formal teachings with his students - many of whom where famous or powerful in their own right.
The name Atreya was given to me by my Guru and teacher HWL Poonjaji. From my first encounter with him in August 1991 I began to speak to him of my work and interest in the science of healing. In the summer of 1992 he gave me the name Atreya and pushed me ever so gently to study Ayurveda deeper, the ancient healing science of Indian.
To have this name is responsibility. I am an ordinary person and am hardly able to live up to the greatness of the name or the lineage of the Atri family. However, I must respect and honor the wisdom of my teacher and strive to live up to the name as best I can. Often guru’s give us names as an inspiration and as a guiding star. We must never assume that we are the name, but use it to guide and inspire us in our evolution of re-identification to Atman. In this sense the name is not more baggage of identifying with mind and body, but rather an aid to break all identifications.
I was born near Los Angeles in Santa Monica, California on December 22, 1956. I begain studying / practicing meditation at the age of 17, in 1974. I have a special love for the Upanishads and other Vedantic literature. I was led into the Indian tradition through the writings of Ram Dass and his Guru Neem Kroli Baba. I studied with the Vedanta Society of America in Portland, Oregon for several years from 1976-1977. In early 1982 at the age of 25 I took sanyas in a non-traditional order and lived the next 10 years in Ashrams in the USA and in India. In an 8 year period I lived just over 6 years in India, primarily studying and practicing meditation. I am a terrible tourist. I have seen a few cities in India and been to source of the Ganga once on a 350cc Enfield (at least until the landslides covered the road). I still drive a motorcycle, currently I have VFR800 Honda for driving to my office and touring with my wife.
It was while living in an Ashram in India that I began to learn Prana healing as explained in my first book Prana and Ayurvedic massage. I left that group in 1990 and in the summer of 1991 - though extraordinary circumstances - I met my current Guru (see H.W.L.Poonja). I began to live next to him as he had no ashram or organization. He lived with two people in one of his children’s houses when I met him. While living next to him in north India I began to study Ayurveda as a medical system with different doctors in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and the surrounding area. Learning Ayurveda is greatly accelerate by understanding the Indian culture and tradition. Meditation is also a key factor in learning Ayurveda, especially diagnosis.
I have now been practicing natural medicine as a professional since 1987. I began with massage therapies, learned prana healing, studied herbal therapies for many years and exclusively Ayurveda since 1990. I have seen thousands of clients over the years - mostly women (of course they are usually smarter and faster than men!) and have shared some of my clinical experience in writing. I have written fifteen books on the healing traditions of India including five textbooks for schools of Ayurveda in the West. In my writings and in my practice with clients I strive to adapt Ayurveda to the culture, psychology and environment that I am addressing at the moment. I live in Europe where I use primarily European plants and herbs in my practice. I use only Western foods and terminology in my practice and most of all I never give more than what a client can absorb mentally and physically at any one time.
There is a great need to adapt Ayurveda to our individual environments and situations while remaining true to the system. The failure to adapt Ayurveda to your local culture will result in mediocre, mixed results, or even failure. If you live in a desert environment like Arizona or North Africa then the same advise you read will need to be adapted differently in Montana or Northern Europe. The primary lesson that I am learning from years of practicing Ayurveda is to use intelligence in understanding the reasons behind any therapy or treatment. It is now more than 32 years since I began to work professionally with people in the healing arts.
I am also trained in Jyotish (Vedic astrology) which I begin to study in India in 1994. I am affiliated with a number of schools throughout the world for the promotion of Ayurveda. I currently live in the South of Switzerland with my wife, Girija, and I no longer travel much do to chronic degeneration of the spine; I prefer to enjoy a slower lifestyle and good, homemade food!
2005 - Awarded title of Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor) Varanasi, India
Present – 2005, Teacher for Ayurvedpoint, Italy
(see below for the list of textbooks)
‘Ayurveda’, Biocontact, March 2008
‘Women’s Health and Ayurveda’, Evolve!, Vo 7, N°1, Novembre 2007
’Purification en Ayuvéda’, Biocontact, juin 2003
’Transformation in Ayurveda’, Light On Ayurveda, Issue 3, Vol. 1, 2003
’Phytothérapie Ayurvedique’, 2nd part, journal of the Association pour le Renouveau de l’Herboristerie, N° 65, Paris, 2001
’Phytothérapie Ayurvedique’, 1st part, journal of the Association pour le Renouveau de l’Herboristerie, N° 64, Paris, 2000
’Ayurveda as Life’, Vedic Astrology Journal, New Delhi, India, 2000
’Ayurvedic Massage’, Inside Ayurveda, California, USA, 1999
’Ayurveda, A New Way of Living’, Holistic Guide, London, UK, 1998
‘Pancha Karma Study Course’, 2003
‘Ayurvedic Nutrition Course’, 2001
‘Dravyaguna for Westerners Course’, in 5 Vol. 2000 to 2016 (see below)
Herbal monographs for Vedicare sarl, Ayurvedic beauty care company, 1996
Ayurvedpoint, Italy, staff
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Other books by Vaidya Atreya Smith
Ayurvedic Medicine for Westerners series of textbooks
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