The number of tales and proverbs revolving around the humble curry leaf can make an interesting volume. No cook worth his or her salt can ever claim to have completed cooking unless the spicy delicacies are garnished or seasoned with a spray of curry leaves.
The unique flavour and colour of the leaf which seemed to deliver the nourishment, taste and aesthetic appeal of gourmet were certainly not missed by our ancestors.
The leaves were incorporated into the daily menu as the quintessential seasoning and sometimes as the main ingredient in chutneys and exclusive kozhambus. The fact that the curry leaves have traveled halfway across the world for more or less similar uses gives little room for speculation about its necessity to make dishes exclusive.
A good cook will optimize the use of these leaves by judging their freshness. The young sprays of a lighter green taste best when added to salads or garnished freshly on food and in buttermilk. The
mature leaves have the ability to release their essence entirely when boiled along, fried, ground or used when seasoning is the first step of the chosen recipe.
Drying or dried leaves can be allowed to dry completely in the shade and powdered and can be tossed into curries, gravies, sambar and rasam among other such foods when you run out of fresh leaves or happen to live in places that cannot grow this herb.
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.