A Century Of Success


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Radha Prathi, June 30, 2015 DHNS

Pioneer A view of the herbal garden at Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama in Nanjangud (inset) B V Pundit.

Looking back Radha Prathi traces the journey of Ayurvedic practice over the last 100 years, by looking at B V Pundit’s contributions and legacy in the field.

Circa 1913, when the world was battling to cope with the imminent first world war, a small temple town in Karnataka decided to launch a war of its own against ill health. B V Pundit, an alumnus from the first batch of students of Mysore Ayurvedic college decided to make use of his education in the best possible way. By then, he had already realised that his maiden venture, the Nanjangud tooth powder had thousands of takers across the country.

Pundit, who was deeply ingrained in the Indian philosophy of medicine decided to make a living out of it while making a difference to the immediate society around him. His talent and knowledge, coupled with dedication and hard work, led to the setting up of Sadvaidyasala in Nanjangud. The institution used Bhaishaijya Kalpana, the science of preparing Ayurvedic medicines, which caters to correct health issues and curing diseases in human beings.

Over the years
The science has handed down prescriptions in which the ingredients, the proportion and manner in which they should be used have been mentioned. Ayurveda also mentions substitutes for some ingredients, in case of non-availability. Sadvaidyasala, which means good and true school of medicine, has ever since been making potions, syrups, lehyams and pills quite on the lines they were made all those millennia ago.

That was the scene 102 years ago; if a time machine takes us through all the interim years and stops at the present moment in time, the story is pretty much the same. Sadvaidyasala, true to its name has been carrying on in much the same manner as it did a century ago, for the simple reason that its foundations are well grounded while its sights are set on serving humanity. When the organisation stepped into its golden jubilee year, it floated a functional centre called Dhanvanthari Arogya Aashrama on the Mysore-Ooty Road.

This centre, fitted with modern amenities, caters to its patients in the genuine old world style, safeguarding the basic principle of service to humanity. In fact, treatment initially was rendered free of cost at this centre. Over the years, the management decided to charge each person a fee of Rs 20 for every visit, which remains the same to this date.

Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama which is an offshoot of Sadvaidyasala, houses a wonderful herbal garden with rare species of medicinal plants, shrubs and trees in about 10 acres of land. The garden is used mostly for collection purposes and is used as “show and tell” material for students who visit them for educational purposes through the year.

Dr Rajesh, Director, production, said that they source ingredients from their native habitats for achieving best results. He added that Sadvaidyasala has steered clear from temptations of altering classical medicinal recipes for the fear of misrepresenting the ancient science that has been held sacred and fool proof for so many years. In fact, he feels if all the doctors who practised Ayurveda stuck to the original format using substitutes only as and when it is prescribed, people who receive the treatment would benefit immensely. They in turn will find it
easier to recommend this genre of medicine to others.

B V Pundit’s heart did beat for Ayurvedic medicine, but he did not forget the hardships that he had to face as a student. Dr Shreekantan, the chairman of the company, recollected how his father  made it a point to employ mostly localites in just about every rung of the ladder at Sadvaidyasala. He made it a point to financially support students who studied Sanskrit. He paid a tribute to his wife by honouring the devotional streak in her by building a bhajana mandira in her name which conducts bhajan sessions to this day.

Down the generations
One other special feature of Sadvaidyasala is that it is a family venture which has seen three proactive generations at the helm of affairs. Recently, the family rallied to organise a function in memory of their beloved ancestor and had invited stalwarts in the medical field like Dr M S Valiathan and Dr G Gangadharan to discuss the relevance of Ayurvedic medicine in present times. This in itself speaks in volumes about the deep faith, love and trust that the members of the family have reposed in the vision of their founder for they have deemed it fit to carry on the good work.

It is said that true success can be evaluated only when an effort or a project stands the test of time. If a century can be considered as a decent passage of time to appraise the contributions and relevance of an organisation to its immediate society and the world at large, then it is time to take a relook at Sadvaidyasala with renewed interest.

Word of Honour


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Radha Prathi, June 25, 2015:

How many times have we not been at the receiving end of broken promises? The system and the people who run the world for us seem to be in nexus when it comes to tardiness and dishonesty.

Though we might have the best of intentions, we also tend to compromise on punctuality, discipline or integrity as a ripple effect. At such times we do not hesitate to pass the buck to the nearest sitting duck. We feel vindicated when we believe that we do not have anything to do with our setbacks and failures.

Sometimes, we also feel vengeful about the people who have let us down and wait for an opportunity to return the favour at the earliest. It is during such times we will do well to remember the flawless truthfulness of Rama. The Ikshavaku prince was sent on exile for fourteen long years. He accepted his exile on the day earmarked for his coronation.

That he did it without a murmur out of his sheer deference to his father is commendable.  However, what is more praiseworthy is that he stood by his promise despite the fact that his dying father suggested that Rama could rebel against him. He rejected the earnest request of his widowed mothers and Bharatha who beseeched him to return to Ayodhya.

When Rama went in search of his abducted wife Sita, he helped Sugreeva to regain power. Yet, Raghava assigned the duty of coronation to his brother because entering a kingdom during exile would amount to breach of his oath.

When he had to battle

Ravana, he chose to camp outside the limits of Lanka. He bade his sibling to crown Vibhishana as the king of Lanka in the aftermath of the Great War. The last leg of his exile was spent just outside Ayodhya because he could not dream of breaking his solemn promise, come what may.

Rama was answerable to no man. His exile was revoked by the very Kaikeyi who sent him on it at Chitrakoota. Yet he chose to abide by his pledge because he recognised the need to be answerable to himself. No one kept a watch over him when in exile but he carried out his promise to the last letter.

It is imperative that one should carefully consider before making a commitment, for a man’s deed should be as good as his word. If we ourselves fail to honour our promises we cannot expect others to repose trust in us. Besides, it is only then we will merit the moral right to point fingers at others who may be at fault.

Their Best Laid Plans


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Radha Prathi, June 13, 2015, DHNS

BEING PARENTS

A  few years ago, Amy Chua, the author of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, raised enough eyebrows and set many a tongue wagging across the world with her candid opinions on parenting. Yet, it is a universal fact that parents across the globe see children as an extension of their lives and hence, tend to thrust their unfulfilled dreams on their little ones.

The struggle to have perfect, tailor-made children has been going on since time immemorial, across economic and social classes. In most cases, the exercise begins almost immediately after the baby has been conceived. The best of food, doctors, toys, education, opportunities and environment are but a few things that are prioritised while bringing up a child. Many parents are known to take the adage “spare the rod and spoil the child” rather seriously in order to see to it that their best laid plans materialise into reality.

Our current urban educational system, too, seems to cater to these ambitious parents. The co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, cushioned by culture and technology, are incorporated into the agenda at a very early age for most kids. They are herded into a whole lot of hobby classes and tuition classes to add value to their education. There seems to be an endless effort to achieve the best possible results in just about every field under the sun. They forego their half yearly and even annual vacation in pursuit of perfection, preparing to excel in the unknown future that lies ahead of them. Parents also give up on their creature comforts and sometimes, even on their necessities to see this agenda fulfilled.

The increasingly merciless and the all-consuming rat race of our contemporary times have set the stage to measure the caliber of young children in unique ways. There’s no dearth of competitions and reality shows, all with very high stakes. Parents pitch in their earnest efforts to help their wards, and they often seem to relish the physical and mental exhaustion that is involved in shaping the winner. The need for the achiever to become indomitable is rather overwhelming. The winners are forced to spend the rest of their lives defending their high places – of course, with the support of their parents. Over a period of time, unfortunately, hard work and dedication gets supplemented with a little dose of cunning and meanness, under parental guidance – never mind, the detrimental long-term effects.

On the other hand, the kids who fail to succeed are pushed into a state of depression or are made to feel self-righteous victims of prejudice. And it is interesting to note that parents share this feeling. Vindictiveness or vulnerability switch places with healthy competition and self-confidence.

Leading by example

Good manners, human values, general attitudes are usually learnt by children from parents and other influential adults in their lives. These virtues are not taught as lessons and are not punctuated with evaluations like a test or an examination. Yet if the child does fare well or ill in the long run of life, it is because they have imbibed the qualities by merely observing their parents.

In other words, the ways parents conduct themselves stand out as abstract lessons to their children. The psychological impact on the child cannot be underestimated. So, it is important that the parents consciously conduct themselves as fair, reliable, respectable and loving people. Unconditional love sustained with disciplinary measures and well-meaning detours in the ways of the child can set the foundation to his/her life.

The tribe of parents who allow their kids to enjoy their childhood and accept them for who they are has become an endangered species. True, we are living in changing times. Parents today are willing to go several extra miles to see their kids do well at any cost. But if parents tarry a while and ruminate over the verse of Kahlil Gibran, On Children, it might help them see the truth.

They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong notto you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Resourceful Thinking Can Save The Day


Radha Prathi June 13, 2015, DHNS:

It is high time we understand certain undeniable realities in life. A casual look at our day-to-day lives will reveal that we live in a world riddled with the I, Me, Myself syndrome. Most people have retired their sensibilities and sensitivities in order to join the rat race without any qualms.

Consequently, they do not care much about how our thoughtless actions can prove to be detrimental or even hazardous to those who are at the receiving end of the equation. No amount of interaction or persuasion can melt the hearts of the insensitive lot for they choose to spurn the meek entreaties of the oppressed. At such times, lateral thinking can save the day.

A tale from the Panchatantra offers a creative recourse to deal with such situations and people in an effective manner. A pair of crows lived on a large, leafy tree.

A poisonous snake also lived in the groove of its trunk. The reptile helped itself to the eggs of the crow every now and then. The helpless pleas of the crows to spare their progeny, yet to open their eyes to the world, fell on the deaf ears of the adder. The birds were frustrated.

They recognised their inability to deal with their problems on their own. Therefore, they shared their worries with a jackal who was their friend. He counselled them. He proved to be their strength. Accordingly the crow flew to the bathing ghat looking out for an opportunity.

He picked up a gold necklace that the princess had left on the banks along with her clothing and other accessories. The bodyguards who noticed the pilferer followed the bird all the way up to the tree.
The crow tossed the ornament into the hole of the tree and flew away. When one of the bodyguards tried to reach out for the necklace, the serpent slithered out. The men immediately beat the reptile to its death and retrieved the lost property.

The crows were relieved of their continuous anxiety. The crows did try to befriend their threat.
They also considered moving away from the threat. However, they realised that running away from a problem cannot prove to be its solution.
When they found that they were at a loss about finding a plausible solution, they decided to repose their faith in their well-wisher and followed his counsel. Consequently, they were able to iron out the situation in their favour.

When we apply the essence of this tale to our predicaments, we must remember that doing away with an enemy is certainly not a solution to any problem.

However, no one can stop us from extricating ourselves from a sticky wicket resourcefully, while sending an effective message to our tormenter.

Osmosis of Matter


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The lady announced that she planned to teach the stinking Indians a lesson.

When water finds its own level, it is called osmosis. Similarly, when matters run their course, they resolve in some way. I re-learned this principle when I happened to witness a random altercation involving a quintessential auto driver of our country, who always behaves like Oliver and his passenger, an angry old American woman.

Since both of them could not quarrel fluently in the Queen’s tongue due to their respective accents and constrained vocabulary, the onlookers were roped in for support.
Our man had asked the lady to tip him with a dollar or two. It put off the lady, who had been expected to tip in her currency by practically every Indian who served her in some capacity during her tour of our land. She declared that she was not ready to part with any more dollars especially on the last day of her trip. The matter could have ended there if she had walked away in a huff and the driver had buzzed off cursing her under his breath.

However, there was a twist in the tale. The lady announced that she planned to teach the stinking Indians a lesson, obviously, referring to the driver and his like-minded brethren. The driver took umbrage at the adjective employed to his countrymen and insisted that the lady should duly apologise. Some bystanders clucked in agreement.
The subsequent talk revolved on this adjective in a mix of English and some of our languages. Fingers were pointed at the lady. She misconstrued the dialogue to be racist and  sexist in nature. She randomly bid one of the onlookers to call the police.

A latecomer among the spectators promptly commented on the escalating levels of eve-teasing in broad daylight and jabbed away at his cell phone. Nobody bothered to correct him. The lady who was red and livid by now, snatched the instrument from him and switched it off uttering more inanities against Indians.

She said that she did not want any police involvement, because she was flying away from the country anyway. Her sole helper was offended sorely. The auto driver used this opportune moment and told the lady soothingly that it was getting late and chivalrously ushered her into the vehicle.

The lady told him firmly that she had run out of small change in dollars and asked him would a hundred rupees suffice before taking her seat. The driver nodded vigorously and told her that she was running out of time. He turned around and asked us whether we had no other business and the lady added that we must disperse, because there was no circus going on there.

Picking Plants Personality Wise


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Radha Prathi, June 5, 2015:

The status of your verdant area can very well reflect your personality. image courtesy: fabfurnish.com

The kind of green space one maintains speaks volumes about their personality. On this World Environment Day, Radha Prathi enumerates some interesting plant grower facts to help identify which category you belong to

Once upon a time, people would say, show me your friend and I will tell who you are. These days, one can find experts zeroing in on personality types based on the choice of colours, clothes, fruits, vegetables, animals, birds et al. The assessment of your personality on these grounds cannot be entirely discounted because knowledge of human behaviour and relevant logic form the cornerstones of such evaluation.

If you are game, you can identify your personality type based on the kind of flora that you raise in your home. You may or may not have a green thumb or have a first-hand experience of working in your garden; nevertheless, the status of your verdant area will certainly reflect the kind of person you are. You need not worry if you do not happen to have a garden; even a single plant or the lack of one can speak volumes about your personality.

Level-headed ones

If your garden has a mix of trees, shrubs, creepers, plants and a lawn, which may or may not be useful to you domestically or economically, you are definitely the kind of person who gets along with most people. You accept people for what they are; you are not judgmental and seldom rub people the wrong way. Your accommodative nature wins you many friends along the line of life who will not hesitate to help you, if and when necessary.

Pragmatic folks

If your garden houses greenery that bears fruits and flowers of your choice, it bears testimony to the fact that you are a very practical person with a keen economic sense. You are the sort who will not hesitate to generously invest your time, effort and money on people who you think are valuable.

You will go to any extent to protect the interests and well being of your relatives and friends. You are thrifty by nature. Sometimes people believe that you are self-centred, but you know that it is not entirely true. You have it ingrained in you to stand up for what is right when the occasion arises.

Hard-working herd

If you happen to tend a flower garden, it is not difficult to see that you appreciate beauty. Your aesthetic juices seem to secrete voluminously triggering you to work harder to achieve your aim. You are calm and quiet by nature and you believe that your work will speak for itself. You are very hard-working. You have intimate knowledge of the subject that interests you the most.

You are not the sort who fishes for compliments because you know that they will be heaped on you when the season is right. You seldom rest on your laurels and believe in moving ahead in life.

The leaders

If you happen to grow a garden with ornamental and rare species of plants, you can call yourself a connoisseur of sorts in the green arena. It indicates that the travel bug has bitten you. You are probably the recipient of exotic gifts by the sheer power of your compelling personality.

Your general knowledge of botany and horticulture quotient happens to be at the higher end of the scale. Moreover, your opinions, ideas and advice are generally sought after by those who hope to follow you.

Compassionate crowd

If a herbal garden happens to be your core area of interest, then you can be rest assured that you have deep and abiding faith in the healing powers of Mother Nature. You are likely to be a sharing and caring person. You are well-read on the subject or at least in the know of teasing out the well-kept secrets of these magical plants.

You enjoy conversations with like-minded people. You do not hesitate to share your knowledge or acquire lessknown facts on the subject. In other words, you have a medical doctor’s mind dormant in your personality.

Meticulous managers

If your garden has been designed by a qualified horticulturist and maintained by a professional gardener, it speaks of your meticulous nature. If you happen to have a Bonsai garden or carefully designed landscapes, you can be bracketed into the same category. You are the sort who acknowledges that you may not know everything, but that will certainly not stop you from delegating work to carefully identified experts in the field.

You do not mind going that extra mile to achieve your end, albeit with hired help. You have the ability to develop interest in subjects hitherto unknown to you.

You yearn to learn and benefit from every interaction you have with the people around you in the hope of becoming victorious in all your endeavours.

Determined doers

If terrace gardening or vertical gardening is your forte, or if your garden boasts of a collection of potted plants, be sure that you are the enterprising sort. Just like how lack of space at home has not deterred you from not having a garden, nothing can prove to be an obstacle in the journey to your destination.

You interact with all sorts of people without worrying about the social ladder. You are enthusiastic, hardworking and an optimist to the core. You know how to cut costs and optimise on your resources. Your contented attitude is often mistaken for complacence, yet there are times when you emerge as the dark horse in the race of life.

Open-minded owners

If you are the proud owner of a collection of plants belonging to a certain family like cactus or succulents or roses or beans or for that matter different types of plants, which belong to the same variety, it shows that you are a person who believes in the power of specialisation.

Though your interaction is agreeable with most people around you, you tend to interact better with people whose thinking matches with yours. You are always open to learning and experimenting with new ideas, which can give you a deeper insight into your pet subject. You do not mind ploughing in effort to better your abilities and you hope to achieve a spectacular success on the strength of your sincere struggle.

Pally people

If you have a mini green patch, which is a hotchpotch of plants grown in recycled containers placed in odd places that have enough sunshine to nourish your vegetation, be rest assured that your heart is in the right place. You are the perfect idealist who has been born with the principles. You are very amiable and innovative by nature.

This trait will ensure that you will always have a circle of well- wishers. Disagreeable circumstances or economic repression cannot subdue your spirits. Your positive attitude towards life will take you places one fine day.

So this World Environment Day, even if you don’t fancy going green, there’s every reason to pick a plant that suits your personality type. And have some fun!

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep


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Radha Prathi, Jun 2, 2015,

The beauty industry is flourishing like never before. The unquenchable desire for retaining youthfulness at all costs serves as fuel to this business. Which one of us would like to grow old, feeble and finally die? Most of us do not even like the idea of ageing gracefully. We use every trick in the book and even invoke cosmetic surgery to retain our good looks against all odds. In the process, we forget that we are at loggerheads with Nature and are fighting a losing battle.

Human vanity and longing for immortality is not a modern disease. The Ramayana records one such tale.

Trishanku the king of solar dynasty was an extremely good ruler and incredibly handsome.
He was besotted with his looks. He was acutely aware of the fact that when living beings died, mortal remains are either disposed of or biodegraded. He could not bear to part with his beautiful body. He yearned to reach heaven physically.

He approached his preceptor Vasishta to help him realise his desire. The sage turned down the request citing that no one can go against the law of Nature. Death invariably spelt the parting of the Atma and the Shareera. But Trishanku was not the one to take no for an answer. He was foolhardy enough to request the sons of Vasishta to fulfill his wish.
The young men were disgusted with the narcissist streak in the king which made him sideline the counsel of his guru. Therefore, they cursed him to become a Chandaala. Accordingly, Trishanku lost his divine looks and turned him into a dismal sight with disheveled looks. The distressed king was dethroned. He roamed like a mad man caught in the web of his own designs.

The horrible experience taught him little. The foolish king hoped to realise his dreams by cashing in on the ego conflict that existed between sage Vishwamitra and sage Vasishta. Vishwamitra promised the ostracised king that the latter would be duly sent to heaven in his new unflattering form. The sage’s eagerness to not let go of an opportunity to settle scores with his rival crippled his intellect. He quite forgot that laws of nature were not to be meddled with.

He conducted a special Yagna to send Trishanku to heaven. The ascent of the ugly king was arrested by Indra and the other gods. But Vishwamitra was not the one to take a beating quietly. He used all his spiritual powers to create a parallel heaven to the forsaken king.

Even today, when people find themselves suffering a prolonged life or refuse to accept that external beauty is only skin deep they consider themselves to be in Trishanku Swarga.