DISMISS the notion that Ayurveda, the art of healing born out of the ancient wisdom of India, is anything but a science.
That’s what a new book, “Knowledge of Life”, seeks to do, at least in Malaysia where the treatment is available, but labouring under a lack of understanding, misconception and even suspicion.
As a result, said Indian High Commissioner to Kuala Lumpur TS Tirumurti in launching the book, there tended to be rejection.
“There’s no mumbo jumbo with (so-called) God in it,” he said. In other words, his message — all Malaysians, irrespective of race or religion could embrace it.
Indeed, at the government level, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s current visit to India saw him witness a memorandum of understanding for a chair of Ayurveda at the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and boost other areas of investment and cooperation.
Two Shirodhara machines for oil treatment had already been donated to government hospitals in Cheras and Port Dickson.
The programme also included the services of a doctor from the National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur, who had come with his wife, also a doctor, from the institute, together with two therapists. A doctor would also be based at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
A small, but significant start. The high commissioner even urged the book be translated into Bahasa Malaysia for a wider reach.
There’s nothing like case studies to help the reader relate and this, the book has as its core. The patients (real names withheld) had common ailments such as diabetes, brain tumour, stroke, drug abuse, eczema and psoriasis.
The underlying premise — cure is best left to nature with the doctor just helping it along.
There’s commentary on treatment, not just of the body, but also the mind and spirit (in the non-devotional sense). The case studies illustrate the all-encompassing treatment, taking the mystery or misconceptions out of it.
What, indeed, is Ayurveda? Ayur means life and Veda, knowledge. And the book and its intent has to be seen in the light of what’s going on in our lives that’s at the root of our ailments. Getting to it underscores the understanding that the body can actually heal itself...if we allow nature and its curative bounty to get into the act.
No quick fixes as Western medicine seeks to achieve (with side effects to boot), but a drawn out process in many cases, because the disease has to be removed from its combined psychological and physiological roots over time.
It’s a science in itself, one the author, CD Siby, has fathomed after seven-and-a-half years of study and 25 years of practice behind him. He says people go to him as a last resort and he has reason to be disappointed when some patients stop treatment because tangible results are slow in appearing.
He highlights the case of an alcoholic who stopped seeing him on the verge of a possible breakthrough. The patient wasn’t willing to have a dark past held by his father drawn out of him. That was an unfinished case, but that serves to make the point that patience and faith in the treatment are essential.
Nonetheless, the book has happy outcomes readers can seek comfort in. So, it’s fixing the mind, not just the body and that’s no easy task and staying with the treatment is key.
What Siby also has to contend with is the generally held belief that there is no documented scientific research behind the treatments. To the contrary, there’s plenty, he says.
In the last 50 years many laboratories not just in India, but also in Japan and other parts of the world, have been testing the efficacy of the treatment using Western parameters and have found the medicines to be safe. Papers had been written about them.
The idea that Ayurveda has Hindu philosophy as a basis and, therefore, is connected to religion is incorrect because treatment was established way before the Hindu faith came into being.
The book states there is no medicine equal to a proper diet, which varies from person to person, depending on the individual’s physical and mental makeup that dictates what types of food are suitable and what should be avoided so as not to prevent certain types of conditions to manifest.
When it’s said there’s “fire in the belly”, that’s digestive fire which leads to all the transformative processes.
The “fire” is affected when food is eaten too fast. Irregular food habits and overeating are to be avoided.
Detoxification is an important element of Ayurveda.
All in all, the book is a good read, if for nothing else but satisfying curiosity and providing a peek into a healing means that’s slowly gaining momentum.
The book was launched at the Subhash Chandra Bose Indian Cultural Centre in Brickfields, a corner of Kuala Lumpur dubbed as “Little India”. The invitees were mainly believers, but even for them the panel discussion held soon after the launch underlined the belief that the body can truly heal itself, if the mind and that indomitable human spirit are also brought into the process.
Whether Siby succeeds in allaying doubts and misconceptions is left to the uninitiated picking up the book and reading it with an open mind. Then, of course, it’s undergoing actual treatment and results that will be the final arbiter.
The book is available at all MPH bookstores.