Fancy all the fuss being made about animal parts being used in Ayurvedic medicines! Apparently this is quite legal and has been a long-standing practice. At least that is what The Times of India (January 6) says and it backs its report with a quote from a Delhi-based Ayurvedic pandit, L.K. Tripathi. According to Shri Tripathi, ancient texts refer to two kinds of medicinal preparations: one where herbs and plants are used and the other which make use of animal parts as ingredients, even those that are now considered exotic, like the flesh of deer or pigeon blood.
Pigeon blood in Ayurvedic medicines? Dr S.K. Sharma, adviser at the Ministry of Health'sDepartment of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Naturopathy and Homeopathy is not shocked.
According to him, animal products are indeed used in Ayurvedic medicines and a complete list of such things which his Department permits for use can be obtained from Schedule I of the Drug and Cosmetic Act. Apparently, even the celebrated Kerala School of Ayurveda, known to be more classical in its approach, has in the past been using animal products through that is getting to be less and less now.
Swami Ramdev'spharmacy has now a good alibi, CPM politburo member Brinda Karat notwithstanding. The subject of Ayurvedic medicines has, incidentally, been given a sound overhaul in the last issue of Insight (November to December 2005). However Insight makes the point that while most often consumers are ignorant of what goes into Ayurvedic medicines, ?natural is not necessarily safe.?
Brinda Karat has probably never heard of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) but in two of its last issues, a published article exposed the fact that 14 out of 70 Ayurvedic products which were tested, and which were sold in and around Boston, were found to have heavy metals, lead, mercury and arsenic, above acceptable levels. Now how'sthat for investigative reporting? JAMA found heavy metals in such products as Maha Sudarshan Churan of Zandu Pharmaceuticals, Maha Sudarshan Churan of Dabur, Karela Capsules of Himalaya Drug, Mahayograj Guggulu of Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan and Shilajit Capsules of Syncome Healthcare.
What are Russians afraid of? Krishna stealing the hearts of all the pretty Russian girls? One thought of Communism as an abominable danger, not to speak of an intellectual perversion. If one is scared of Krishna, Russia surely is living in a topsy-turvy world!
Many Ayurvedic companies apparently do not admit to the heavy metal content in their preparations.
According to Insight'seditor Pritee Shah, of the packages they tested only one revealed the presence of heavy metals in the products offered. Says she: ?There is no standardisation of Ayurvedic products nor any stringent quality control as there is for Allopathic drugs. A silver lining is that the testing of all herbal medicines in India?Ayurvedic, Unani and Siddha? for heavy metals will soon be compulsory.?
Actually the law has come into force as from January 1, 2006. As from then, every licensed manufacturer of herbal medicines in India will have to display a ?Heavy metals within permissible limits? declaration on their containers before exporting them. Heavy metals pose a health risk because they may accumulate in vital organs. Mercury poisoning can affect the kidneys and central nervous system, causing tremors, insomnia, memory loss and reduced mental function. So there.
Insight is an extremely valuable guide to consumer products. But how many have ever even heard of it? Ayurveda is a cent per cent Indian product and so is Sri Krishna made popular by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in the West. But to think that westerners are scared of the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita!
According to The Times of India (January 6) which has devoted an entire editorial to the subject, ISKCON'ssuccess in winning converts in the erstwhile Soviet Union caused deputy KGB chief to fulminate that Krishna is ?one of the greatest threats to the State? along with western culture and rock and roll. Sri Krishna a threat? But consider this further revelation made by The Times of India. ?It (ISKCON) continues to excite opposition in today'sRussia, with the orthodox church declaring Krishna a devilish abomination and Moscow'sMayor refusing permission to a Krishna temple that has come up in the city.? Brinda Karat, have you read that?
And The Times of India adds: ?Indo-Russian friendship isn'ta mitigating factor here. But it may be awkward for New Delhi to take it up with Moscow, as India too tends to be sensitive about conversions.? Why this story should appear in an editorial and not in the news pages is a mystery. Imagine the great and oft quoted philosopher of the Gita being dismissed as a ?devilish abomination?! Radha would have been shocked beyond her wits as also all the gopis who danced with him, at this description. Why hasn'tanyone made a study of the subject? What are Russians afraid of? Krishna stealing the hearts of all the pretty Russian girls? One thought of Communism as an abominable danger, not to speak of an intellectual perversion. If one is scared of Krishna, Russia surely is living in a topsy-turvy world! Which raises an interesting question: What makes a good front-page story? The Commies in Moscow refusing a Krishna temple to be built within its territory? One would imagine that of all communist countries?Russia, may it be pointed out, is now hardly communist?what was one time the Soviet Union surely should not be frightened of Krishna?
But the Commies probably still think that religion is the opium of the masses. Grow up, Russia. What is not known is that even France which claims to be secular, is afraid of Hinduism, at least the Hinduism of the Ramakrishna Mission. The Mission has to walk warily in Paris and not make itself too promient lest it draws the attention of the government. Some things are never discussed openly in our newspapers. They are plain scared.
One does not know where The Old Lady of Bori Bunder (OLBB) got wind of the Krishna story. That would any day have made more exciting news than the Page 3 garbage. Many of the crimes committed in the West against Hindus go unreported in part because there are no longer any Indian correspondents reporting from abroad. And the US and British news-agenices, deeply embedded as they are with prevailing administrations would not report anything that shows their countries in a bad light.
But then, again, who wants to get an Indian view of foreign affairs when Indian views of foreign nudity are more saleable? Stands to reason, doesn'tit? We live in a sad, mad world.