‘I am not a votary of mumbo-jumbo Ayurveda’

Print edition : October 27, 2017
Interview with Vaidya Balendu Prakash.

You have constantly maintained that your line of Ayurvedic treatment is based on the principles of Rasa-Shastra, which involves medical practice employing minerals and herbals. While your success stories have brought you many admirers there are also fierce critics of Rasa-Shastra, who argue that in the long run the minerals are hugely detrimental to patients.

Critics and criticism are welcome. Without that no discipline can progress. At the same time, criticism should also take cognisance of facts as they are. I have been practising Rasa-Shastra-based treatment since the mid 1980s. Before that my father, Vaidya Chandra Prakash, practised it for several decades. In all these years, we haven't got even one complaint on the so-called detrimental ill effects of minerals. Some of my patients who were proclaimed as having only a few days or weeks to live by certain medical institutions and practitioners have survived for several decades. As a matter of fact, Rasa-Shastra is an intrinsic part of Ayurveda Samhita, the fundamental treatise that defines the parameters of this science, and is signified as one of the eight specialist clinical streams of Ayurveda. It underscores the ability of metals in maintaining body equilibrium. The therapeutic powers of metals, including mercury, copper, gold, silver and arsenic, have been accepted in all medical practices, including modern allopathic medicine. Lithium, zinc and manganese are major components of many important, even life-saving, medicines in allopathy.

Still, Rasa-Shastra as practised in Ayurveda is considered largely esoteric.

That is because this stream of Ayurveda was essentially taught in the gurukul tradition, mainly from parents to children, and so on. While the Samhita tradition of recording medicinal recipes and treatment was followed in Rasa-Shastra, too, a clear cause and effect regimen was not recorded. This is exactly why I have been striving over the last two and a half decades to create this regimen for the Rasa-Shastra-based treatment of at least some ailments by aligning with the best research practices of modern medicine. Advances in pharmacological studies have now offered us immense possibilities in terms of reverse pharmacology, which can help us deduce in minute detail what happens when two components, be they metals, minerals or herbs, are mixed in specific quantities and what effect that will have on living organisms, including humans.

I am not a votary of mumbo-jumbo Ayurveda as advocated by some so-called godmen businessmen, who choose to be secretive about what goes into their concoctions and what comes out. I want my Rasa-Shastra practice to be scrutinised and made transparent so that it can be used for the larger good. These godmen entrepreneurs have no real science to back them. That is why they start as “cure-all” divine men and progressively end up as haberdashers selling cosmetics. My forefathers and I started as Rasa-Shastra Ayurveda practitioners who treat specific diseases and have remained so consistently.

But your treatment is also limited to a few diseases.

Over the course of years, treatment of these diseases has become our specialisation. Not that we cannot treat other diseases. But just as an oncologist treats cancer or a cardiologist treats heart conditions, we have specialised in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML), migraine, chronic pancreatitis (CP), childhood asthma, and allergic rhinitis. Again, the treatment fundamentals that we have for many of the diseases are diverse from modern medicine. Our success rate in all these streams is above 95 per cent. I would be only too happy to lay bare the regimen of all these treatments before researchers hailing from all streams of medicine and related disciplines so that a clear cause and effect deduction can be made. Once that is done, the researchers, the government agencies and innovators can get together, evolve standardised medicines, devise standard operating procedures and go for mass production, which would make life-saving medicines available for the people on fair rates. It would indeed be a boon for patients and in the process we would be preserving some of our ancient medical disciplines by incorporating it with modern medicine. But what I started to do in this direction with regard to APML itself has been pending for nearly two decades for reasons ranging from apathy to inefficiency to deliberate sabotage.

It seems that the high hopes you had from the present Union government have been belied and that you are hugely disillusioned.

In fact, more than other dispensations because the leaders of the present government are very high on promise and rhetoric. Because of that the disillusionment and pain caused are much higher than the ones created by other leaderships that, at least, do no talk so much and so loudly. But then this is a struggle for the betterment of a medical stream as also society and I am ready to soldier on for another two decades if need be.

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