Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali, the festival of lights in India. Also known as Dhanatrayodashi, this day is dedicated to the Lord of Ayurveda, Dhanvantari. Diwali, the five-day festival, extends beyond the worship of the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. It is also a tribute to the bearer of wisdom and knowledge in Ayurveda, a cherished heritage of India.
According to Indian scriptures, Dhanvantari is considered the God of Ayurveda, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This divine figure imparts the profound wisdom of Ayurveda for the well-being of humanity.
Dhanwa, the King of Kasi, as mentioned in the scripture Harivans Vayupuran, was a devoted follower of Lord Vishnu but lacked a son. Through his worship of Lord Vishnu, he was blessed with a son, none other than the incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself, named ‘Divodasa.’ The king of Kasi, Divodasa, is also known as Dhanwantari.
Dhanwantari, as mentioned in the Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery, is recognized as the teacher of Salyatantra or the science of major surgery. It is believed that Dhanvantari cured the ailments of the Gods, preventing their deaths and decrepitude, and introduced the world to Salyatantra.
In the Indian Puranas, Lord Dhanvantari made his first appearance during the cosmic churning of the ocean of milk, known as the Samudra Manthan. Carrying a conch, leeches, healing herbs, a chakra (one of Lord Vishnu’s divine weapons), and the coveted pot of ambrosia, he is also referred to as Sudha Pani (bearer of nectar).
During this cosmic event, Lord Vishnu foretold that Dhanvantari would reappear in the world to impart the science of Ayurveda. As diseases and human suffering increased on Earth, Lord Indra beseeched Dhanvantari to descend and teach Ayurveda for the well-being and disease-free health of humanity. Today, on the first day of Diwali, Dhanteras, Lord Dhanvantari is venerated for good health, prosperity, and happiness.