Saturday, September 2, 2000

‘No future without ayurveda’

DR Anand Swami is committed to the cause of ayurveda. He started his study of this unique system of medication at a very early age and spent several years in the Himalayas learning the secrets of ayurveda at the feet of his guru, Swami Ram. To many, Dr Anand Swami is a healer; to others he is a spiritualist who relieves them of physical pain and suffering by employing ancient techniques of ayurveda. The New York-based seer is a now setting up a research centre at Charan Paduka, Katra (Jammu). He spoke to The Tribune on his research and about his passion, ayurveda. Excerpts from the interview:

What is the future of ayurveda?

There is no future of ayurveda as there is no future without ayurveda. Ayurveda is comprehensive knowledge about aayu (longevity) and healthy living.

Many people believe that ayurveda is not scientific . What do you have to say about this?


Dr Anand SwamiAyurveda may not be "scientific" in today’s idiom but it is a very ancient concept based on universal truths, logic, common sense and nature’s own principles. Viewed in this context, it is a science. Ayurveda has been there since time immemorial. It is being increasingly accepted by the scientific community, and, in fact, modern science is now catching up with it.

In Ayurveda the condition of patient or the disease that he is suffering from can be known through the examination of the naadi (pulse). However, not many people are proficient in this.

Ayurveda is about three things: kaaf, vaat and pitt. By examing the naadi it can be found out which of these three are dominant at that moment. Through the examination of the naadi it can be known whether the disease is because of kaaf or vaat. Naadi also has three distinct patterns of movement. It can be like a pigeon-- sometimes here, sometimes there; like a frog --jumpy; or like a snake. Naadi vigyan is a vast area of study, through it you can diagnose diabetes, blood pressure and heart aliments.

Ayurveda needs to be promoted a movement worldwide. But to do that , don’t you think it needs to be given a modern scientific base so that the confidence of the people in it is restored?

Scientists and doctors around the world are trying to fathom the secrets of ayurveda. In fact, ayurveda is a tapasya. If it is properly used it can even cure incurable diseases. But the lack of proper knowledge has reduced its efficacy. Most people who get treated through it do not know either the effects or the ill-effects of the ingredients. To know all this one has to do tapasya.

India has many reputed ayurvedacharyas. But there are many frauds too. There is a lot of ignorance about it though the government has recognised it as an alternate system of medicine. What should be done to popularise it, especially at the village level where it is needed the most?

For this we will have to improve its practice by ensuring that no person should practice it without a proper licence. The licence should be granted to only those who have enough knowledge of the subject. These days a degree is somehow acquired and a clinic springs up. These quacks with their half-baked knowledge give medicines haphazardly and when the patient is not cured they blame it on other factors. This brings disrepute to ayurveda. Look at America, there medication cannot be administrated irresponsibly. There are very strict laws against it. We should also have such a system here. Then only will the standards of ayurveda practice improve.

It is generally believed that ayurveda masters pass on their expertise only to their near and dear ones instead of the people at large. This is said to be the reason why it has not expanded and frauds have taken over. What do you say to this?

What happens is that if you disclose the method of treating diabetes to some one, he immediately commercialises it and after treating 20-25 persons, he falls prey to greed for money. Therefore, knowledge should never be imparted to a abhakt or a kupatra. Take, for example, chyawanprash. These days some ingredients are not used in making it; like kasturi ( which has been banned by the government); kesar, which is expensive; ghee made out of cow’s milk which is not easily available. Many of the ingredients are adulterated. The real chyawanprash is such a thing that if it is consumed by a 84-year-old he will look 24. These days only names sell and under it cover anything goes. Ayurveda is popular in the West because quality control is very strict there. Even if there is the slightest suspicion about quality, the material is immediately dumped. If we have adulterated ingredients, how will the medicine be effective?

How do we stop this and how can the development of ayurveda be ensured?

There is only one way. The customer or the patient has to be vigilant. He should not buy anything from anywhere. The government too will have to cooperate. There are two things which should be kept in mind; one, the patient should get relief; and, secondly, the government should exercise strict control over the suppliers of ayurvedic medicines. Nowadays, anyone who does not even know the A,B or C of ayurveda sets up a plant and started manufacturing ayurvedic drugs. I don’t know how they get approval from the relevant authorities.

How can the real gyan be spread?

By opening full-fledged departments in universities.

Swamiji, tell us how is ayurveda superior to other systems of medicine?

Ayurveda’s system is more broad-based and all-encompassing than those of other disciplines. I won’t speak about allopathy because I don’t know much about it, but ayurveda is very effective and there are no side effects.

Can ayurveda be used in an emergency, say, in the case of a heart attack?

Why not? For example, urine retention is a serious matter. Ayurveda has effective cures for it. Similarly, emergency treatment is available in case of a heart attack. There are medicines available in ayurveda for major heart attacks.

We understand that you are opening a herbal resort in New Jersey?

Yes. We have 20 acres in New Jersey and 4000 acres in Florida. This place has a climate which is like ours. Approval has also been given for export of herbal medicines from New York State.

Whatever is approved in America finds acceptance everywhere in the world because you have to go through very strict tests.

How did you get involved in this mission and how do you think ayurveda can be used to benefit mankind?

I went to my guru in the Himalayas in 1988. People used to come to him for treatment of incurable diseases. I stayed there and received formal education from him. During my stay in Dronagiri, I treated one disease which gave a new turn to my sadhana. Soon I learnt how to treat 22 different types of diseases. Every year , I spend about 4 to 6 months in the Himalayas.

Have you successfully treated AIDS and cancer patients?

Yes, I have.

Swamiji, if you have succeeded in curing such dreaded disease, it is a very big breakthrough and deserving of the Nobel Prize ....

We have an effective treatment for cholesterol control, arthritis, sciatica pain, spondylitis. Acidity can be treatment in just two doses. Blood pressure problems can be fully taken care of.

Is the relief temporary or permanent?

It is permanent. But there should be diet control. Ayurveda lists a number of foods and they should be taken according to the season of usage. Curd and karhi should be avoided during the monsoon; intake of ghee should be reduced during May/June and avoid cucumbers and radish at night. Eating curd at night is a taboo. Breakfast is a must, eat lots of it; sleep by 8.30 pm.

Who has influenced you the most?

My guru, Swami Ram. He is everything for me.