Kottakkal – The great ambassador of Ayurveda
Founder in 1902 by Sri P.S. Varier, for the preparation of authentic Ayurvedic medicines, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala (AVS) has become a synonym to Ayurveda today. A century old charitable institution engaged in the practice and propagation of ayurveda, it offers classical Ayurvedic medicines and authentic Ayurvedic treatments and therapies. This multi-disciplinary organization has operations in different areas of Ayurvedic practice. It has become the destination of ailing patients, students and scholars from India and abroad. A multi-core and multi-unit organization, it has been recognized as the premier centre of Ayurveda in the country.
Aryavaidyan P. Madhava Varier became the first Managing Trustee of the Hospital in 1994 and was in office for nine years. He initiated the process of modernizing of Arya Vaidya Sala and laid down the foundation for many later developments including the nursing home.
Mahabhutharavaghrutham may be a formidable lump of a word, but for an ayurvedic formulation reputed to check epilepsy, diction is the least of a patient’s concerns. More disconcerting are the ingredients that go into the drug, urine of cow buffalo, elephant, horse, two varieties of goats, camel and incredibly, donkey. The listing even shocked the most celebrated practitioner of urine therapy, former prime minister Morarji Desai, but it hasn’t stopped hordes of invalids from converging on the Arya Vaidya Sala.
From a two room building the AVS has grown into a massive clinical and manufacturing complex with15 branches-the latest being a 75-bed hospital and research centre in Delhi. While the 170-room hospital at Kottakkal the prime source of revenue for the AVS is its drug manufacturing factory at Kottakkal which produces more than 500 drugs from herbs grown in its own gardens. The seven-member trust comprises five of Warrier’s relatives and two AVS staff members.
Notwithstanding modernization, many drugs continue to be prepared in a fiercely traditional manner. For instance, 10gm of Abhrak bhasma, ideal for juvenile diabetes, or thangabhasmam for asthma, comprising gold powder and costing Rs 14,000 per gm, takes five tedious years to prepare.
Though Warrier heads the first institution that successfully integrated ayurveda and commerce, he is not impressed by the boom”It has spawned spurious practitioners who have given ayurveda a bad name” he says. “People with insufficient knowledge of ayurveda are running massage resorts where unsuspecting tourists end up with broken necks”, he adds. Besides commercialization, the other challenges include non availability of herbs and the loss in quality due to environmental hazards.
That hasn’t curbed Warrier’s Zest for progress and modernization. For the first time in the history of the institute, he has appointed advisers to streamline and professionalize the management of the AVS. “I think the institution won’t grow if it remains a family-run affair. It may be too late to dream but I hope to build ayurvedic hospitals and research centres in other Indian cities and abroad as well”, he said.
It has a separate department for the publication of various books on Ayurveda and medicinal plants. A quarterly medical journal’Arya Vaidyan’ is published by it. Vaidyaratnam P.S Varier, a connoisseur of arts, founded a dramatic troupe, which was later converted to the famous Kathakali troupe, P.S.V Natyasangham. This troupe has eminent artistes who stage Kathikali performances in India and abroad.