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Feb 16, 2009

Personality Of The Week

P.R. Krishnakumar, Managing Director of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy in Coimbatore. Managing Director of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore, P.R. Krishna Kumar does not see the Padma Shri conferred on him this year as a culmination of the efforts to provide cure through Ayurveda. The award, he says, only seeks to remind him of the tasks ahead. The aim is to globalise Ayurveda and there are encouraging signs of acceptance of this ancient Indian system of medicine even in a country as far away as Latvia. The son of Arya Vaidyan P.V. Rama Varier talks to K.V. Prasad on poor national emphasis on Ayurveda education and treatment, dearth of physicians and how Ayurveda and Allopathy can go together in providing holistic healthcare. Mr. Krishna Kumar makes an objective analysis of the present status of Ayurveda in the very country it originates from: India. “People across the world are accepting Ayurveda, but where are the physicians? The problem is of supply [of physicians],” he says.


“There are 250 colleges now, but everybody’s interest is not in learning and understanding the science of Ayurveda, but only in using it as a tool of exploitation,” he points out. The sad part of the whole issue is that Ayurveda education is seen as one that is parallel to Allopathy. But, there are signs of a turnaround. From a stage where Ayurveda was a last resort for MBBS rejects to become a ‘doctor’, there are genuinely interested students joining Ayurveda now. The emphasis is on understanding the ancient medical science.



Ayurveda goes beyond the human body; it talks at the level of the conscience. So, the motivation to learn it lies in the ancient system of learning. “We now teach Sanskrit and Vedas and the selection of candidates is based on their horoscope. There are brilliant students now, but it will take a few more years for them to become brilliant physicians,” he says. Mr. Krishna Kumar insists on the horoscope of a student as a basis to examine his or her ability to practice the science. This, he says, points at the fact that Ayurveda is beyond the mere physical. Therefore, the Ayurveda physician also needs to know astrology.



“A lot is being spoken about the latest concept of individualised treatment – pharmacogenomics. But, Ayurveda has always been based on individualised treatment. That is why we look at every aspect of the disease and the patient, and therefore the astrology to spot doshams,” he says. According to him, Ayurveda has always offered a holistic treatment. “But, we got stuck 150 years ago,” he laments. “We do not have the pride in our ancient system of medicine as the Chinese have in theirs,” he explains. Both China and India started centres of learning on their respective systems of medicine some years ago. “Today, they have more than 50,000 students, while our centres struggle with just 140 to 150 students. In China, you need to know Mandarin to learn their system of medicine. In India, there is no emphasis on learning Sanskrit.”



Mr. Krishna Kumar says the Government must promote a national system of Ayurveda and not merely a few centres. “Unfortunately, today we are put at the mercy of modern research. The efficacy of Ayurveda is being judged by using complicated parameters of Allopathy. What I say is just see if the patient is functionally all right.” The findings of a study begun in 1977 on Ayurveda’s efficacy by the World Health Organisation, Indian Council of Medical Research and the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy are yet to be accepted openly. “The oral acknowledgement came as late as in 2008. But, no one is willing to put it in writing,” he says. Mr. Krishna Kumar points out that documentation of cases is vital to prove the efficacy of Ayurveda.



The Arya Vaidya Pharmacy has all its cases well documented, he says. This is needed to convince both the scientific community and the patients. Ayurveda has its limitations. It cannot do a coronary artery bypass graft surgery. But, the life style it promotes can prevent heart diseases. It has a list of sadhyam (possible) and asadhayam (impossible). And, the integrity of a physician lies in telling the patient clearly that treatment for a particular disease is not possible. “We do not deceive patients with severe knee joint problems that Ayurveda cannot cure. We tell them to opt for knee joint replacements at an Allopathic orthopaedic centre. This way, we sync with Allopathy too.”



And, the sign of some surgeons accepting the efficacy of Ayurveda is evident in a city hospital referring early cases of arthritis to Mr. Krishna Kumar’s pharmacy. “This is a case of both Allopathy and Ayurveda understanding each other well.” A change for the integration of Ayurveda with Allopathy can begin from school, he asserts. “The Kerala Government is now open to my suggestion on this. Can’t Allopathic doctors learn the Ayurvedic way of detecting liver problem by examining the nails on a patient’s fingers?” Mr. Krishna Kumar is confident that Ayurveda is the medicine of the future. And, the best publisher of its efficacy is the cured patient.

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