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INTERVIEW

Ahstavaidyan E.T Parameswaran Mooss is presently one of the eminent  Ayurveda practitioners in Kerala who traces his origin    from the renowned Ashtavaidya family. He had his early studies  in the Gurukulasampradaya, the traditional form of learning and learned all tenets of Ayurveda from his Grandfather and Asan, the late Rama Warrier. E.T Parameswaran Moss  is now available for consultation in the various Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala branches in Kerala.

Presently he is working in various capacities such as the Partner of Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Nursing Home, Executive Director of Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala (P) Ltd, Trustee of Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Foundation, and Director of Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Educational Society.

In an interview to Sreeni K.R, Ahstavaidyan E.T Parameswaran Mooss ,  Executive Director of Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala  spoke at length about  Ayurveda- The Science of life and  the  revolutionary  roles played by the "ASHTAVAIDYAS", who were the disciples of Vaghbhata and who enlightened the world with their knowledge of Astangas.

Explain Ayurveda and how you preserve a 1000 year old tradition?
Ayurveda, the science of life or the vibrant living system, stands for a total concept of life, which explains the total well-being  and the complex combination of spiritual, mental, and physical levels in an individual . These combinations dominant in an individual are constantly reacting against environment.  Ayurveda, however,   is flexible with easily adaptive, simple and natural principles. Ayurveda stresses on the Preventive aspects.. The Ayurvedic science is based on the "Thridosha" Theory. According to this theorey, all the activities that happen in a body are  totally controlled by  3 factors which are namely: Vata, Pitha and  Kapha. An  equilibrium among  these thridoshas leads to good health. Any imbalance in this state of equilibrium  leads to  ill health. Ayurveda is an ancient holistic science having a proper view on preserving  good health. For that Ayurvedic regimen is classified into two. One is SWASTHA VRUTHA and the other is ATHURA VRUTHA. SWASTHA VRUTHA  deals with the regimen of  the day-to-day activities. In this regimen, one  should have a specified plan to maintain the health of Body as well as Mind.  ATHURA VRUTHA  explains the management of the diseases through the  medium of medication and specified diets .

 Ayurveda is  a very ancient science and is believed to have  no origin and hence no end. In ancient times,  ayurveda was   handled only by the higher  casts  all over India and this was true especially in Kerala. Initially,  importance was given to the Ashtavaidya generation.  These generations gradually acquired  the  designation of  "Vaidyas"  by the grace of Lord Parasurama. There  is a myth behind the creation  of Kerala by Lord Parasurama.  These vaidyas  preserved the holistic science by following the  Gurukula sampradaaya. This was the reason for the fast growth of Ayurveda in Kerala and the importance that it attained  in Kerala.
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These ancient vaidyas gave more importance to  ‘Yukthi Vyapasraya Chikitsa’ ( One of several  treatment modalities) and developed some special techniques like Pizhichil, Dhara, various types of Navara Kizhi, Thalam, etc. which are known as Keraleeya Ayurveda Chikilsa . These  have a  more significant effect on the condition of the patient. Apart from this, they also explained and practiced many clinically proven combinations, which were  not available  from the ancient treatises like Ashtanga Hrudaya, Charaka samhitha, Susrutha Samhitha etc. Some of these combinations and the inherent properties of some of the ayurvedic  medicines were  
compiled and published and were called  Sahasrayogam, Chikilsa manjari, Hrudayapriyam, Vaidya manorama, Dharaakalpam, Sindhoora manjari, Chikilsakramam, Vaidyatarakam, Prayoga samuchayam, Oushadha guna vijnanam, Oushadha guna Chandrika etc. At that time many  famous and powerful Vaidyas  practiced with single drug remedies and they did much to promote and popularize some of these curative treatments that helped many  get rid off diseases that were considered incurable. Other than this, those with a knowledge of ayurveda believe that the acharya ‘Indu’, the great disciple of the great acharya ‘Vagbhata’, who  wrote  the detailed description on Ashtanga hrudaya ‘Sasilekha’  was  a Keralite. Other than these, so many  famous transcriptions on ayurveda have  also sprouted from  the soil of Kerala .

However, most of the ancient works are connected with the Northern parts of India and  most of the herbs that are described are found  in the foothills of the Himalayas. The ancient vaidya "charakacharya" traveled extensively and collected these medicinal herbs  and spread it to several parts of the country.During the   the early periods of the Mughal  and  British invasions  much was done to suppress this ancient system of medicine.through a policy of wantom killing of vaidyas and the destruction of monumental works on ayurveda.. Many of the physicians, hence,  went into hiding and most of the invaluable knowledge was lost and the science of modern medicine began to flourish.  In this period the Ayurvedic wisdom was preserved by some of the ayurvedics in Kerala through the  Ashtavaidyas. These were then  improvised and gradually got  its importance after getting the Independence. By the dedicated efforts of these vaidyas,  Kerala has  become the  abode of Ayurveda in India.

The family of Thaikkattu Mooss is a legend and also one among the eight families who is engaged in the practice of Ayurveda? Where you got the sidhi?
In Kerala, our Parampara Ashtavaidyas, who were famous for their skills since time immemorial were previously known as Ashtangavaidyas, which means they were proficient in all the eight branches of Ayurveda. In the beginning there were 18 families practicing Ayurveda, which indicates that Ashtavaidyas doesn’t mean just 8 families.

Kerala was divided into 18 districts for convenience to rule in ancient times and it is believed that all these districts had Ashtavaidya families. Each district had a Vaidya family. Gradually the number of Vaidya families decreased. Among them Eledath Thaikkattu, Vaidyamadam, Kuttancheri, Pulamanthol, Vayaskara, Alathiyoor, Thrissur Thaikkattu, Karanthol, Choondal, Parappur, Chirattaman and Velladu were the prominent families. Among them the 8 families that exist now are Eledath Thaikkattu, Vayaskara, Chirattamannu, Thrissur Thaikkattu, Alathiyoor, Kuttancheri, Pulamanthol & Vaidyamadam.

Ayurveda is a living tradition in Kerala. Other than a medical system it promotes a  life lstyle that one should follow. It portrays  the best mode of healthy living  , medications and simple health care tips.. Ayurveda , afterall,  was developed through  constant observation and  experimentation .. While this basic knowledge flourished among common men, the experimentation was going on at a higher level among traditional vaidyas, who were the caretakers of the health of the society. Reading and practicing the Ayurvedic classics, mainly based on Ashtanga Hridaya, the classical treatments were modified and enhanced to suit the common man most effectively, imbibing the essence from the folklore medicine also. This silent revolution in the field of Ayurveda enabled it to become the center of attraction especially the  "Keraleeya Panchakarma "therapies. One of the most important roles in this revolution was played by the "ASHTAVAIDYAS", who were the disciples of Vaghbhata and enlightened with the knowledge of Astangas of Ayurveda from the age of Lord Parasuraama.

‘Vaghbhada’ who was a native of ‘Sindhudesh’, migrated to the South and reached Kerala. He had several  disciples with him who followed him and learned the secets of ayurveda from him.  He breathed his last at the then famous Ashtavaidya family Pulamanthol Mooss. The illam (House) Eledathu Thaikkattu mana is situated in Thaikkattussery, near Ollur in Thrissur district belongs to the Ashtavaidya families known as Elamkunnapuzha Kuriyedath and Puranattukara Kurumbepally;  these have merged to become the   Eledath Thaikkattu family. 

 Parameswaran Mooss of the 18th century who had the uncanny ability to predict death much in advance was the most prominent figure from that family. He was known as the  “Marana Thaikkattu”. Then came the historic E.T.Narayanan Mooss. His reputation started spreading far & wide due to his vast  knowledge and his  kindness towards  the poor. In recognition of his reputation the then British Viceroy Lord Reeding conferred on him the title ‘Vaidyaratnam’ in 1924.

 E.T. Neelakandhan Mooss son of Vaidyaratnam E.T. Narayanan Mooss my Grand father grew under the patronage of his father & his uncle Divakaran Mooss. His mother was Devaki Antherjanam.  After learning under his father and his uncle, he went to Kuttanchery illam for further studies as Kuttanchery Mooss family had deep knowledge in Ayurveda. His studies under his father E.T.Narayanan Mooss and Kuttanchery Aryan Mooss and Mahan Mooss fortified his knowledge to a great extent.

 E.T. Neelakandhan Mooss did not confine his activities in the realm of Ayurveda alone. He showed great interest in Sanskrit poetry and drama. Patients from far and wide came to him for  treatment. In 1992 the government of  India  conferred upon him the title ‘Padmashri’. Durgadevi with embrace Amrutha kalasa and Jalooka (Leech) in her hand is the chosen deity of the  family. We receive  the siddhi through  a strict and disciplined prayer for one year in front of the deity after attaining some basic knowledge. After completion of this prayer  only we start to practice ayurveda.. My basic study and practice was strictly under the guidance of my Grandfather and Asan Rama Warrier.

What is your mission?

 “Health management through Ayurveda”
 In a world looking forward to Ayurveda as a system of holistic cure, Vaidyaratnam was one of the pioneers to recognize the vast potential and adapt to the changing trends, while uncompromisingly sticking to the core traditions of Ayurveda.
Vaidyaratnam Oushadha Sala started unassumingly in 1941 as a fledging pharmacy, but today is one of the leading manufacturers of ayurvedic medicines with a formidable presence all over Kerala as well as in other Indian cities and abroad. The able leadership of Ashtavaidyan E.T Narayanan Mooss my father, who was the son of Ashtavaidyan Padmasri E.T Neelakandhan Mooss, led  Vaidyaratnam group of institutions to further heights.

What is the difference you find between old and new methods of treatments?
The advancements in  society has added a lot to the application of Ayurveda and made it more and more useful to the society.  A lot of new methods and applications have derived from it which has made the system popular in the modern community.  This is a result of a kind of automatic updating of the system happening in all traditional practices.

What are the reasons you find for growing interest in alternative form of medicine, the world over? 
 An interest in alternative medicine is indeed happening. When we consider  India, the modern medicine, Aromatherapy, Cheiro therapy etc are the alternatives.  Each and every medical field has  its  own positive and negative aspects on curing as well as preventing the diseases.

Some how or the other ,the people behind   Modern medicine were forced to consider the benefits of the other medical systems and categorized it as alternative medicines because a lot of side effects were happening due to the modern system by way of  chemical reactions in the body . And  some significant positive effects on these chemical reactions were  evidenced when undergoing  the alternative therapies. Till  recently only  ayurveda was  considered by the modern people as an alternative system.

What are the worrying factors for Ayurveda doctors in modern times?
The non availability of genuine raw drugs is going to be the  biggest  problem in the future. Popularising the cultivation of medicinal plants should be encouraged to meet the demands of  the industry on a national scale.  Safe cultivation ensures pollution free herbs which make it free from metallic and non metallic toxins.

Vaidyaratnam Herbal Garden:
 To avoid the scarcity of the herbs for the production of quality ayurvedic medicines , we started a herbal garden to cultivate various herbs. It is a centre supported both technically and financially by national medicinal plant board.
The other worrying factor is, lack of awareness about the system of Ayurveda  and this   needs immediate attention in the international arena.  The current world wide acceptance  and the recognitions from WHO etc., has provided a favorable environment for the propagation of Ayurveda world wide. Large scale propaganda and educational programs on the ayurvedic system is needed to avail the benefits arising out of such recognition.  Lack of such information among the needy community will end up in marginalising the system due to under utilization.

Explain the difference between Ayurvedic and Herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is a broad non specific term used specifically for using medicinal herbs as medicines.  In many parts of India, Ayurveda utilizes the immense plant resources available for health care.  This has made Ayurveda to be identified as an exclusively herbal system of practice.  In reality herbal medicine practitioners focus mainly on the pharmacological benefits of the herb.  Ayurveda, in contrast is based on strong theoretical foundations which finds herbs also as an important tool to restore health.  The former may be applicable in a limited clinical conditions and might be harmful if not carefully selected, combined, processed and make  indiscriminate use on a long term basis.

Nowadays Choornam or Kashayam etc. are substituted by tablets, capsules or tonics? Does  this  process destroy   its potency?
The present practices have  the full backing  of the established scientific researches. The people are busier and following sedentary lifestyle and more attached to the organoleptic characters even in the case of Medicine. So the changes in the form of the medicines like tablets and capsules are essential for their convenient usage. The changes which occur in the form of the medicine make it  more convenient  for carrying it around as well as in he consumption process by a patient . This  helps him to use regularly and that brings in better results  even if he  uses for a little longer period . There are also strict drugs rules and testing is made compulsory  to anlyze the quality and efficacy of the drugs before giving license for marketing.

When the medicines that are manufactured with the aim of selling rather than treating the person. In which way it affects the patients?
  As per the drug rules it is necessary that if we want to market a new medicine and if that particular combination is not taken from the recognized classics, we should prove and establish the clinical efficacy  and non toxicity of the same by doing preclinical and human trials by getting the approval from a ethical committee. We are manufacturing the medicines on a large scale to provide cost-effective quality medicines ..

What is your opinion about so-called Ayurveda tourism?
  Ayurveda health tourism is a good  idea and is presently  promoted by our State and Central Govt.. It should also  follow all  the exising rules and regulations of the Government .. There are so many centers that do not follow any ethical practices but continues to prosper under the banner of ayurveda tourism. The idea is a good one as it creates awareness of the wealth of Ayurveda to the world. It is better to  term it  as Ayurveda medical Tourism instead of  Ayurveda tourism.

Where is your research units situated?
Research and Development Wing:
Realising the importance of standardisation of medicines and the modernisation of production, the Oushadha Sala took the significant step of updating the technology of the existing plant and setting up  a R&D lab with modern equipments and amenities. The unit  is engaged in  constant quality upkeep and standardisation of Ayurvedic medicines as well as the development of new products. The  excellence of our R&D lab has resulted in the The Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India,  recognising our  lab as an In-house R&D unit.


Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Foundation
Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda research center & charitable hospital, which was inaugurated by then vice president of India, Dr.Sankar Dayal Sharma in 1988, was the first mile stone in the R & D activities of Vaidyaratnam Group of Institutions.  The charitable hospital, which provides free treatment for the deserving was functioning to commemorate the Sathabhisheka of Padmasri E.T.Neelakandhan Mooss (My grand father). The research activities at  the centre focus on clinical trials and new generation diseases under the guidance of experienced personnel.. Presently all these activities along with the training of pachakarma technitians, health education, awareness programs, speciality training for physicians etc. are conducted under the banner of Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Foundation.

What is the aim when you planned to start an Ayurveda medical college and Nursing home?
Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College:
The basic idea behind  our institution initially was  to  impart the wisdom of Ayurveda to the younger generation as per  the ancient Gurukula system of education.f.  Gradually, to meet with the mainstream Ayurvedic educational system of the nation, it was converted into an institutionalized system of education.  Thus the Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College was started in 1976, which contributes 40 qualified Ayurvedic doctors every year. There is a 150-bedded college hospital with all amenities at both Thaikkattussery and
Poochunnippadam. 
Vaidyaratnam Nursing Home:
The patient care is often very challenging and  in certain   conditions  treatment under close observation of the physician is indeed needed.  This gave rise to  the birth of Vaidyaratnam Nursing home. The Nursing home provides a strict and favorable environment for the treatments.  Each patient is under the direct supervision of Chief physician Ashtavaidyan E.T.Narayanan Mooss, my father.   A team of expert doctors, lead by my self and my brother Ashtavaidyan E.T.Neelakandhan Mooss   are closely observing the care and treatments given to the patients at the Nursing Home. This has helped it to achieve the status of a referral center for doctors practicing in various Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala outlets all over the country.  It is an ISO 9001: 2000 certified nursing home, which offers Panchakarma treatments strictly in accordance with tradition. It has a capacity of 75 beds at present. The patients are not only from India but also from abroad, including a large number of foreigners under going treatment for various acute and chronic diseases.  It is also recognized by state government and Central government institutions and private companies for the purpose of reimbursement.
 
 
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