Story of Dhanvantari

  The Story of Dhanvantari: The Divine Physician



Dhanvantari, revered as the Hindu god of medicine and health, holds a unique and significant place in Hindu mythology. He is often depicted as a radiant deity holding a pot of Amrita (the elixir of immortality), signifying his connection with the divine knowledge of healing and longevity. His story weaves through the fabric of Hindu cosmology, showcasing themes of divine intervention, cosmic balance, and the eternal quest for health and well-being.

Origins of Dhanvantari

The origins of Dhanvantari are intricately linked to the myth of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk (Samudra Manthan), one of the most celebrated stories in Hindu mythology. According to ancient scriptures, the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons) were locked in an eternal struggle for supremacy. To gain immortality and strength, they decided to churn the Ocean of Milk to extract Amrita, the nectar of immortality.

The churning was a monumental task that required the cooperation of both the Devas and Asuras. They used Mount Mandara as the churning rod and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the giant tortoise, to support the mountain on his back. The churning produced many divine treasures and beings, each with its unique significance.

Emergence of Dhanvantari

As the churning reached its climax, a brilliant figure emerged from the depths of the ocean, holding a pot filled with the coveted Amrita. This figure was Dhanvantari, the divine physician. His appearance was resplendent, with a glowing aura that illuminated the surroundings. The Devas and Asuras immediately recognized the importance of this divine being, for he held the key to their immortality.

Dhanvantari's emergence was not just a random occurrence but a divine intervention orchestrated by the cosmic order. He represented the divine knowledge of Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine, and his appearance signaled the importance of health and healing in the balance of the universe.

Dhanvantari's Role in Ayurveda

Dhanvantari is credited with imparting the knowledge of Ayurveda to humanity. According to the ancient texts, he descended to earth in various forms to teach and propagate the principles of this holistic science of medicine. One of his prominent incarnations was as King Divodasa of Kashi, who played a crucial role in establishing Ayurveda as a systematic and practical form of medicine.

As King Divodasa, Dhanvantari taught his disciples the principles of Ayurveda, emphasizing the importance of balance between the mind, body, and spirit. He explained the concepts of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), which are fundamental to understanding individual constitutions and diagnosing ailments. His teachings encompassed various aspects of health, including diet, lifestyle, herbal remedies, surgical techniques, and spiritual practices.

Dhanvantari and the Pursuit of Immortality

The pot of Amrita that Dhanvantari carried symbolized not only physical immortality but also the spiritual quest for eternal knowledge and wisdom. The Devas and Asuras, in their pursuit of the nectar, exemplified the human desire for health, longevity, and transcendence. However, the story also teaches that true immortality is not merely about physical existence but about attaining a higher state of consciousness and harmony with the universe.

Dhanvantari's association with Amrita underscores the idea that health and well-being are divine gifts that require respect and reverence. The elixir of life, in this context, can be seen as a metaphor for the holistic approach to health that Ayurveda advocates—one that integrates physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Dhanvantari's Iconography

Dhanvantari is often depicted in a regal and divine form, symbolizing his status as a deity and a king. He is usually shown with four hands, each holding significant objects. In one hand, he holds the pot of Amrita, representing his role as the bearer of the elixir of immortality. Another hand holds a Shankha (conch shell), symbolizing the primordial sound and the dissemination of divine knowledge. The third hand carries a Chakra (discus), signifying protection and the eradication of ignorance. The fourth hand holds medicinal herbs, highlighting his connection to healing and Ayurveda.

His appearance is typically serene and composed, reflecting the tranquility and balance that he embodies. The presence of medicinal herbs in his iconography emphasizes the importance of nature and natural remedies in the healing process.

Worship and Festivals

Dhanvantari is worshiped by practitioners of Ayurveda, medical professionals, and those seeking health and healing. His presence is invoked during medical procedures and treatments to ensure their success and efficacy. Temples dedicated to Dhanvantari can be found in various parts of India, with special rituals and prayers performed to honor him.

One of the major festivals associated with Dhanvantari is Dhanteras, celebrated during the festival of Diwali. Dhanteras, also known as Dhanvantari Trayodashi, marks the birth anniversary of Dhanvantari. On this day, people worship him and seek his blessings for health and prosperity. It is also a time when new utensils, jewelry, and other valuable items are purchased, symbolizing wealth and well-being.

Dhanvantari's Legacy

Dhanvantari's legacy continues to thrive in the modern world through the practice of Ayurveda. His teachings form the foundation of this ancient science, which remains relevant and effective in promoting health and wellness. Ayurveda's holistic approach, focusing on prevention and the balance of mind, body, and spirit, is increasingly recognized and valued globally.

The resurgence of interest in natural and holistic medicine has brought Dhanvantari's wisdom to the forefront. Ayurvedic practices, such as yoga, meditation, herbal remedies, and dietary guidelines, are widely adopted as complementary therapies alongside conventional medicine. This integration of ancient wisdom with modern healthcare highlights the timeless relevance of Dhanvantari's teachings.


The story of Dhanvantari is a profound narrative that encompasses the divine, the cosmic, and the practical aspects of health and healing. As the divine physician and the progenitor of Ayurveda, Dhanvantari's contributions to the well-being of humanity are immeasurable. His teachings remind us of the importance of balance, harmony, and respect for the natural world in achieving true health and longevity.

In honoring Dhanvantari, we acknowledge the deep connection between the physical and the spiritual, the earthly and the divine. His legacy continues to inspire and guide those who seek a holistic approach to health, emphasizing that true well-being is a state of balance and alignment with the universal order.