Address by   
Shri Dhirubhai Mehta
President, Kasturba Health Society during Inaugural function of the  
International Symposium on Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy” 
February 1-2, 2002.

 Dr. Vasantha, Dr. Natesh, Colleagues & Friends,
            On behalf of Kasturba Health Society, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and on my own behalf I am happy to join Dr. Gupta in welcoming you all to this International symposium on Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy & CME on Alternative Systems of Medicine. My congratulations to Dr. Harinath and his team for organising this symposium.
            My special welcome is to Dr. Vasantha who has at a short notice agreed to inaugurate this conference, as Mrs. Shailaja Chandra could not make it. She had already reached Bombay, but had to return to Delhi this morning for an important assignment.
            Sevagram is a small village and many of you may be visiting and experiencing your stay in a village for the first time in your life. You may not get here all the comforts which you are accustomed to in your respective places. We will try to make up that by the warmth of our hospitality.
             Our rural medical college, MGIMS has always shown openness to Naturopathy and Ayurveda due to the positive influence of Gandhiji. Hence we have a department of Ayurveda and have already built up 24 cottages for and are in the process of organising ‘Nature Cure’ and Ayurved treatment facilities at our Institute. As most of you know that I do not belong to the profession of medicine, but apart from my close association with this Institute, my association with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's SPARC has sensitized me further to the emerging evidence-based Ayurveda. Lokmanya Tilak preferred to call Ayurveda as Ayurvidya, an open-ended art-science of healing. The faculty of Bhavan's SPARC is relentlessly working on synthesis of Ayurveda and modern medicine under the leadership of my friend Dr. Ashok Vaidya. SPARC and MGIMS have together provided me an opportunity to closely interact with leaders, scientists and administrators of health care.
             When we talk of alternative systems of medicine we presume that there are two distinct systems of medicine—the modern western system of medicine, allopathy and the traditional systems of medicine which are also called ‘alternative systems’ like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Acupressure and the more recent systems like Pranic Healing, Rekhi, Magneto therapy etc. While we need not accept modern medical system as the only remedy available, we have to recognize its dominance over other alternative systems. Let us grant that in the current situation it is for good reason that the system of allopathy enjoys the advantages of being effective in treating acute disease conditions and crisis management as in heart attack, acute appendicitis, accident care etc. It is the modern way of life and modern diseases due to which allopathy has come to be accepted as the mainstream system of medicine. Allopathy does not provide answer to many diseases which are chronic in nature, where the mechanism of the disease is not clearly known or worked out. It is comfortable with treating diseases only when it can show a direct, linear cause and effect relationship. This explains the growing disenchantment with Allopathy and the growing popularity of other systems of medicine which have a more holistic approach to treating illnesses. These systems, particularly, Ayurveda take into account of basic elements of health namely, physical state of an individual, mental attitudes, nutrition etc. Ayurveda’s premise that mind, body and spirit are intimately connected is revolutionizing the way Westerners understand their body and their health. Ayurveda teaches that separating mind and spirit from the body creates physical imbalance, which is the first step in the disease process. It naturally follows that reintegration is the first step toward healing. Based on the principle that disease is the natural end result of living out of harmony with our environment, Ayurveda views symptoms of disease as the body’s normal way of communicating disharmony. With this understanding of disease, Ayurveda’s approach to healing becomes obvious to re-establish harmony between self and environment and create an optimal environment for health.
             I would urge upon all of you present here that a large majority of the people like me, are those whose communication with medicine is only as a patient. I would like to point out to the conference from the point of view of a patient and it is he who finally should matter. In the intensity of our medical education and hustle-bustle of our clinical services, we sometimes tend to forget the very raison-de-etre of our profession and institution. Patient must be central to all our concerns.
             When a patient approaches you, he does not want a fancy diagnostic label, a litany of investigations or an equally complicated regimen of multiple drug-schedules. He or she is seeking health.
             And, Ayurveda seeks to establish health, whereas allopathy is more disease-centred. Ayurveda is based on the principle that the person is a three-dimensional being with body, mind and soul. Whereas allopathy based its perception of human body as a conglomeration of cells and now of molecules—DNA and its products. One is a holistic view and other is a reductionist view of the nature of man. I am sure that our Indian system of medicine that is Ayurveda will offer an integrative view where the reductionist and holistic would meet and aim at harmony of the body, mind and soul, because health is harmony and disease is discord.
              Currently, all over the world alternative systems of medicine are increasingly recognized and among the alternative systems of medicine, Ayurveda has the largest acceptance. Yet, Ayurveda remains a secondary system of health care. World over a trend of complementary care is emerging by which medical practitioners and ayurveda physicians can work side by side. They can talk to each other rather than talking at each other.
               Author William Collinge, M.P.H., Ph.D., is one of the first Westerners who has interpreted this Hindu science of balance and harmony and made it understandable to Westerners. Ayurveda offers practical guidelines about how to create greater harmony among your doshas by changing your behaviour patterns. Chronotherapy is the process of bringing your daily activity patterns into alignment with the natural metabolic rhythms and cycles your body goes through in each 24 hour period. I am told that laboratory and clinical studies on Ayurvedic herbal preparations and other therapies have shown them to have a range of potentially beneficial effects for preventing and treating certain cancers, treating infectious disease, promoting health, and treating aging. Mechanisms underlying these effects may include free-radical scavenging effects, immune system modulation, brain neurotransmitter modulation, and hormonal effects. When it comes to clinical services I as a patient see no reason why Ayurvedic and allopathic experts cannot sit together and give their best to their patients. At Bhavan’s SPARC we have such joint clinics in rheumatology, women and child care, cancer care with substantial success. I recommend that such joint clinics, initially for ambulant care of chronic diseases, be initiated at several Ayurvedic and medical colleges. Meticulous records must be kept of diagnosis, investigations, interventions, response and side-effects. I recommend that a small task-force be formed to initiate joint clinical services at some leading Ayurvedic and allopathic teaching hospitals. This will help accelerating the process of Ayurveda becoming a mainstream.
                I do not know whether by now I have been able to enlighten in any manner. Maybe, I have succeeded in creating more confusion. But, I am sure of one thing that at the end of this conference, I will get enlightened better enough and improve my vision of the subject matter by looking things in a proper perspective.

      I wish the conference all success.