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At the Feet of The Mother

Ayurveda and Allopathy

We are living in an age of synthesis and any exclusive approach is not in sync with the demands of the Age. Instead of taking a confrontationist approach, it would have been more mature to call for a discussion as to how different approaches can help improve the quality of human life. There are two meeting grounds for different fields and branches through which man has explored the healing potential. First is the common ground in the heart that one wants the human condition to improve. This includes not just a search for a cure of specific diseases but also, means for preventing illnesses, increasing longevity and augmenting the body’s natural healing capacities including the immune system.  The second common ground is to recognize that Nature moves along many lines and there is no one single approach that can be considered the only one. Once we accept these common grounds then there is a place for everything and everybody.

More specifically, Ayurveda developed with the aspiration for finding ways and means to increase longevity and natural health. It is the search for the elixir of immortality and ways and means to improve our natural health that went into the science of Ayurveda. The vigour and health and strength of ancient India is evidence enough that the system has its merits and worked well. However, since it relies not just on pharmacopoeia but also on lifestyle changes and practices and attitudes that the patient must undertake it is limited by the degree of time and energy that a person is ready to invest in his natural health. Allopathy, on the other hand, developed along with a study of specific diseases and their treatment based on an elaborate observation of how the body functions in health and illness. The two therefore very naturally complement each other. While Allopathy retains its place in treating illnesses once they invade the human body, Ayurveda has an important place in preventing them and assisting the natural healing methods that the body uses during an illness.

Given that each has its valid place and scope; it will be presumptuous for Ayurveda or Yoga systems to claim a cure for every illness. True it is that Allopathy does not have a cure for all diseases. It is also true that most diseases get cured without the need for much intervention. However, it is equally true that Ayurveda, in fact, no system of healing, can claim a cure for every disease. The modern tendency for certain alternate branches of medicine, as is indicated in the letter, to compete with Allopathy and claim cures for specific diseases as labelled through the Allopathic system of medicine is a non-starter. Each follows a different line of Nature and its workings. Ayurveda does not label diseases as Hypertension, Diabetes but as imbalances of dhatus. Of course, the Hindi translation of these diseases exists, such as Raktachaap, Madhumeha, but that does not mean anything. Ayurveda in its heydays did not diagnose or treat this way. It saw the patient as a whole and treated the man rather than the disease. So this whole idea of comparing cure for specific diseases through Ayurveda seems ill-founded and shows that one has a poor understanding not only of Allopathy but of Ayurveda and Yoga as well.  Yoga itself did not develop to cure diseases but to find and become one with one’s Highest Self, – the word yoga comes from that. The Asanas and Pranayama, even meditation (dhyana) are simply preparatory exercises to keep the body and mind fit to enter into the state of yoga.

At the same time, it is good to be humble enough to recognize and accept the many limitations in our understanding of health and illness. This is so because we do not yet know a human being in his totality. Allopathy has directed itself to a study of the human body, though its search has landed itself into the grey territory of the human mind which nevertheless can serve as an isthmus that can connect the different systems of health and healing by opening doors to a yet great beyond. Yogic sciences of which Ayurveda is a part, have done an elaborate study of the human Spirit, and the ways and means of discovering it with its impact upon our psychological, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being. Neither has the perfect key. If it had then life would have been perfect and disease-free and there was no reason for Allopathy to take roots at all. It took roots because it did prove to be effective in emergencies and when an illness has invaded the human system. To discard it outright or compare it with Ayurveda is a bit unfair to both. What is important is to remain humble which is what Science teaches us. To know that the final word in healing is yet to be spoken, that the ultimate limits of knowledge are yet to be reached, that the last secret that can solve the human mystery and fulfil our aspiration for a disease-free body that spontaneously repels all illnesses and conquers ageing is yet to be found. Let each work in their respective fields and do their bit. Let the advancing march of humanity decide what is to be kept, what is to be cast aside and what is to be modified and combined for best results. The proof of the pudding is in eating it as they say. Let each serve their own pudding and let man decide which one he finds tastier and better in terms of curing diseases as well as promoting natural health and the quality of life which are after all the endpoints for which the science of healing should strive for.

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