Friday, November 8, 2013

The lost wisdom

                Ayurveda, for many of us, still means "jadibooti" and we picture a snowy, long bearded baba rubbing his fingers in the air to magically produce a powder that would cure the illness. So much for our understanding of Ayurveda, thanks to the idiot box!

               Ayurveda is the science of life. It is the oldest form of medicine known to us. For the uninitiated ones, it is the knowledge of health care which is added as an annexure to our four vedas. Sage Charaka,  who is known as the first physician is said to have compiled the "Charaka samhita" which details prevention and treatment of disease. Sage Sushruta, the Vedic surgeon, has written treaties on surgical procedures in "Sushruta Samhita". The two scriptures contain extensive knowledge of traditional medicine and are compiled in Ayurveda.

             Traditionally, the knowledge of herbs was passed on through the Brahmins who were not only required to perform rites and rituals but also served as physicians. They would roam all over to handpick the choicest of the herbs and were well versed with the techniques of purifying and using them. In those times, they lived a more peaceful and healthy life. Unfortunately, a lot of our extensive knowledge was passed by the word of mouth and was constrained to the class of Brahmins. What remained with the general public was half baked knowledge of the most common herbs. 

                  Nature knows best. It provides us the right kind of nutrition for every season. Even the animals know what herbs to consume as emetics. The birds know what twigs to collect for their nests to make it safe and healthy. Would this knowledge elude us for long? We learnt to live close to nature, grow in the womb of mother earth and become strong. The knowledge that our forefathers gained through experience has been handed down to us as our tradition. It is this way of living with traditions that has made my 86 year old grandfather still walk erect and read effortlessly while the younger ones complain of back ache and even 5 yr old kid needs spectacles. Our ancestors had a more fulfilling life because of living in harmony with nature.

                 Growing up in the care of my grandmother, I received a generous dose of these traditional remedies. 
                 The oil that she used was home made coconut oil to which she added a lot of herbs. She may  not be knowing the use of each ingredient but she followed it the way her elders did. 
                 She would extract ginger juice and force it down my throat and then quickly give a spoonful of honey. She would say it would protect me from cough and cold. 
                 She would give curd with banana to anyone suffering from diarrhea. She never know that curd contains lactobacilli which is a good bacteria in the gut and stops diarrhea. She simply knew the cure for diarrhea. 
                 She had no idea that she was triturating herbs in her mortar pestle and acting as the Vedic pharmacist. 
                Not just our traditional medicines but also our local cuisine is intricately designed to look after our health. 
               Ayurveda praises the virtues of turmeric. Turmeric has been widely used in our Indian food not just for flavor and color but also for its medicinal value. Turmeric is applied on wounds as an antiseptic. We consume haldi wala dudh ( milk laced with turmeric) in fever. It's value in skin treatment is ingrained as a ceremony before marriage! 
                With the growing success of chemically synthesized drugs, Ayurveda had taken a back seat. It is a holistic therapy. It demands lifestyle changes and takes a longer time for onset of action. The fast pacing Indian population shifted to Allopathy for quicker healing. We forgot that synthetic drugs were life saving and faster action was required in such cases. We have started depending on synthetic drugs for everything. 
               The traditional ladoos made for pregnant and lactating women was done away with and we all went gaga over the vitamin tablets.
               We forgot the wisdom of proper eating and depended on health drinks and energy boosters.
               We stopped having balanced nutrition and looked for syrups that raise haemoglobin. 

               Then came a new era. The west was suddenly bonkers over the exotic herbal medicines of the east. They went on to even claim a patent on turmeric (which was challenged and now belongs to India). Like everything else, we followed suit. Herbal medicines were back in fashion. Quacks began operating from every dingy office and claimed to be Vedic gurus. The companies manufacturing herbals came under scanner. A lot of confusion followed! 

             Herbs are not without fault. Remember that herbs can be poison. Herbs can be allergens. Times are changing and the handpicked herbs that once our elders used for their oils can now be a dangerous allergen. The pollution and quality of the soil are largely to be blamed. Perhaps that is the reason that we all trust synthetic medicines so easily.
            In the face of such situation, a company having facilities to conduct the required trials and has done extensive research on Ayurveda is a safe choice. Your child needs the best of both worlds. The traditional knowledge and the modern techniques to evaluate it's safety. 
            Bringing up a child in a holistic manner is the essence of Ayurveda. If this approach is followed in early years of growth, it would benefit the overall development of the child. Dabur Lal Tail is a baby oil that incorporates the traditional herbs and makes sure that nothing harmful reaches your child's delicate skin. Not only the baby oil, Dabur also has a range of products which would help the child grow the natural way.

            This is one brand that we have used over the years without any doubt. I grew up in the tender care and wisdom of my grandmother. My kid brother and younger kids in the extended family received the same from Dabur Lal Tail. We have been cajoled into eating Dabur Chyawanprash and used Dabur honey.We prefer to take pudin hara for stomach problems. We have used Vatika Shampoo for years for care that it gives.
 Having studied the herbs as a part of my syllabus ( Pharmacognosy) and going over the labels of Dabur, I made an informed choice to prefer Dabur products in the future as well.

    It is good to grow in nature's care and good to know that someone out there cares that you get the best product.  Thanks to companies like Dabur, the lost wisdom is making its way to the general public. 
   This post in written for Indiblogger contest Traditional Knowledge, Natural Growth in association with Dabur Lal Tail


Roshan Radhakrishnan said...

A good one and one I actually relate to, believe it or not.
All the best!

Hafza Majeed said...

The Herbal remedy fashion has still not struck Pakistan, but let me tell you Dabur Vatika coconut oil and Dabur Amla oil are widely used by people in Pakistan. Even as a child, I used to see Dabur adds and would have my products imported from Dubai via my grandma ! Loved this Post, Cheers!

maithili said...

THank you :D I tried my best to not make it sound like some answer :D

maithili said...

Thank you Hafza. There is this misconception that all herbs are good for us. Only a good knowledge of Ayurveda ensures that the products are indeed safe.