Ayurveda is a spiritual science in itself. It is believed that Ayurveda, as a branch of the Vedas, is a stream of the knowledge passed down from generation to generation since eternity, much in the same way as Vedic literature and the Vedic scriptures were.
Puranas state that Dhanavantari emerged from the 'Ocean of Milk' and appeared with the pot of nectar during the story of the Samudra or Sagar manthan . Lord Vishnu himself incarnates as Lord Dhanvantari and reestablishes the tradition of Ayurveda in the world to help relieve some of humanity’s suffering.
Dhanvantari is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, holding medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amrita in another.
Lord Dhanvantari is known as the father of Ayurveda, since he was the first divine incarnation to impart its wisdom amongst humans. He is also considered as a great surgeon who taught ayurvedic surgery to Susrutha, father of ayurvedic surgery.
Dhanvantari was an early Indian medical practitioner and one of the world’s first surgeons. Based on Vedic traditions, he is regarded as the source of Ayurveda. He perfected many herbal based cures and natural remedies and was credited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative properties of salt which he incorporated in his cures.
Being a very skilled surgeon according to the standards of his time, he is widely believed to be the pioneer of modern medical practices like plastic surgery. All his surgeries were performed without anesthetic, however in spite of his crude methods he was reported to have had a very high success rate. As a result of the brilliance and achievements he displayed in the field of medicine he was chosen as one of the Nine Gems in early Indian ruler Vikramaditya’s court.
He is said to have prepared the samhitas on Ayurveda in eight divisions for the benefit of humanity. Lord Dhanvantari's teachings are recorded in the Agni Purana 279-289 as well as through the teachings of His disciple Susrutha. Dhanvantari is worshipped in Hindu households on Dhantrayodashi or Dhanteras which is the first day of Diwali.
Dhanvantri Mantra forms the part of prayers offered to the lord. Mantra of Dhanvantari with its meaning is as follows:
Om Namo Bhagavate
Amrutha Kalasa Hasthaaya
Sarva Bhaya Vinasaya
Sarva Roka Nivaranaya
Thri Lokya Pathaye
Thri Lokya Nithaye
Sri Maha Vishnu Swarupa
Sri Dhanvantri Swarupa
Sri Sri Sri
Aoushata Chakra Narayana Swaha
Meaning: We pray to the God, who is known as Sudarshana Vasudev Dhanvantari. He holds the Kalasha full of nectar of immortality. Lord Dhanvantri removes all fears and removes all diseases. He is the well wisher and the preserver of the three worlds. Dhanvantari is like Lord Vishnu, empowered to heal the Jiva souls. We bow to the Lord of Ayurveda.