Lord Dhanvantari is believed to be the Vedic God of medicine. He is the family doctor to all Vedic deities. If you search on the web, you will find many legends and myths woven around his powers, influence and existence. He is credited for having laid the foundation of Ayurveda.
Like many other lesser-known gods, most Hindus know very little of him, besides his link to the ancient system of medicine in India.
Physician Dhanvantari was one of the 14 great jewels that emerged upon churning of the primeval cosmic life substance of the ocean. He emerged with a pot of ambrosia during the saagar-manthan. He the one who trained the Sushruta sages, the very first surgeons in the world. He taught them the science of Ayurveda and thus began the practice of surgeries in the Vedic age. Sushruta, known as the father of Indian surgery, was the foremost disciple of Dhanvantari. He wrote the famous ‘Sushruta Samhita’.
He is believed to have the power to prevent diseases that could be deadly and offer relief from ailments that have been classified as incurable. He is the one who saves heavenly beings from death, disease and old age. He has also been called Divodasa and Kasiraja in the ‘Mahabharata’.
Among other things, he holds a leech in one of his four hands. According to an old Sanskrit work called ‘Vishnudharmottara’, he is believed to be a handsome man and in most of his depictions, he has four hands. One of them carries a pot of amrit. The other three hold the shankha, jalauka, and chakra; jalauka is a leech.
Many Hindus celebrate his birthday every year on Dhanteras, which falls two days before Diwali. Ayurveda practitioners celebrate his birthday with vigor and joy.