Ayurveda – The need of the day

This is the redaction and translation of a foreword written by Aryavaidya P. S. Warrier for a book on fundamental principles of Ayurveda by K. C. Kunjuraman Vaidya. It was written in 1990 in the malayalam language. This is one of the best books on foundational principles that I have come across.

 

KC Kunjuraman Viadyar has already earned our praise for having worked in the philosophical and practical realms of Ayurveda for about half a century. He has gathered knowledge and experiences, strengthened and nourished by study, contemplation and profound repeated meditation. This has helped him to fulfil the dharma of a vaidya to propagate them, having understood the needs of the time, according to one’s capacity in an exemplary manner.

The fundamental principles of Ayurveda are being described here. He is nicely contemplating upon the difficulties and contemporary needs of the science of Āyurveda in the present day. With a feeling of responsibility, KC Kunjuraman Vaidya’s writings have given shape to the desires of all our Vaidya brothers and scientific enthusiasts in the form of a book.

What comes to mind on this occasion is when a few days back I was invited to a talk and had to confront this pertinent question. The question was “What should be the relevant and adequate message to melt the network of illusion formed by the opposing and supporting arguments faced by Ayurveda today?” The answer that came to my mind naturally and effortlessly was “To firmly understand that Āyurveda is a science.” I am searching my soul to find the reason why such a thought entered into my mind.

The threat to Ayurveda

The Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry is at the fore front when it comes to glorifying or vilifying the science of Ayurveda. Now a days, Ayurveda has become synonymous with the medicine manufacturing business. This is not a distortion that has only affected the Ayurvedic treatment sector. That  which has become affected by this disease to the extreme limit is the one which has been imported, and now taking the upper hand to propagate the wrong path, through various channels and divert health care into the pits of destruction, prospering under the patronage of multinational companies and having the unenviable position of providing leadership in the area of health care, camouflaging itself under the fallacious nomenclature of being “modern” and passed off as civilized – is none other than the western medical system. Though we have attained political independence, culturally we are still subjugated by the slave mentality of colonial rule which follows us constantly in our thoughts and continues to influence our conception of what is good and bad. As long as there exists a society that gives more importance to money power, those who can generate more profit will always have the best opportunities and the upper hand in all dealings. In such a scenario, it is but natural that Ayurveda also gains popularity as only a business. But if this “un”natural progression is not arrested, it will lead to the destruction of Āyurveda from its very foundation.

Ayurveda is the philosophy

Ayurveda does not mean some medicines and treatment modalities. Prevention of disease through a healthy lifestyle is more important than curing diseases. The most profound aspect of Ayurveda is its philosophy of life. There is a lot of evidence to illustrate that Ayurveda is attracting many leading western scientists. What is attracting them more than the medicines, diet, lifestyle, cleansing, rejuvenations and aphrodisiacs is its philosophy of life, it’s approach to interpreting natural phenomena. It is the same thing that fascinated our vaidyas too.

What is “Ayurvedic” medicine?

As the popularity of Ayurveda increases, many modern pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing several medicines under the label of Ayurveda. Since plants have much importance among ayurvedic medicines, many of the herbal preparations these companies manufacture are being misunderstood as ayurvedic medicines. Some companies even have a label that says “Ayurvedic”. They forget that Ayurvedic medicines are only those which are made according to the principles of the Ayurvedic philosophy intended to balance the three doṣas, with the ingredients transformed in a scientific manner. To prepare such medicines, one must have perfected the understanding of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda through the process of constant and profound meditation. This was the method uncompromisingly implemented by the previous ācāryas.

Traditional v/s Scientific

While referring to Ayurveda, it has become fashionable to use the phrase “coming in a traditional lineage”. There is no harm in calling it like that. There are many traditional methods of treatments among different groups of people in different parts of the world. There are many treatments for fatal diseases that are used by tribal communities. But Ayurveda and Chinese medicine are not just traditional. They are both developed using very foundational scientific principles, accepting the experiential and philosophical inputs from various sources. They are also verified through many observations and experiments, have grown with the progress of science in the world and have the ability to incorporate any modern scientific understanding, based in true scientific techniques.

Modern medicine and Ayurveda – different approaches

Modern medicine and the above two sciences (Ayurveda and TCM) begin from two different approaches and observe the same scientific truth from two different angles. The former begins from a structural understanding and progresses towards the functional. The latter starts from the functional understanding and progresses towards the structural. The goal of science is to unify principles and practice. This justifies both the approaches. At the same time, unless each science is used according to their own principles, one cannot obtain expected results. It is not the fault of the science. In the present scenario, the relevance for all the sciences to work in an integrated manner is increasing. In such a situation, the need for a strong foundation in the basic principles is to be seriously understood. This is the reason why I consider this book about foundational principles of Āyurveda to be addressing one of the most important needs of the day in the field of Ayurveda. It can put a full-stop to the deviations occurring in the area of health care, awaken the need and give encouragement to improve our expertise in the Ayurvedic medical science that we are practicing. I am sure that this effort which is worthy of all praise will receive the respect it deserves and that this priceless composition will obtain wide publicity. Hearty congratulations to its author who is working tirelessly. Desiring that this work will get an encouraging response from the scientific and medical community in all humility I offer my best wishes”.

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