Editorial: Actually, the Alternative is ‘The Original’
Intro: “Who offers the knowledge about longevity and what goes against of it and also provides the account of the time and quality of life (ayu) as well, is termed as Ayurveda.” —Charaka Samhita; SU.30.24
If somebody asks you solar energy is natural or not, you would consider him a fool. But in common parlance while artificially generated power is considered as main source of energy, unfortunately, natural source of power is considered as an alternative. Same is the case with the healthcare system.
It is fashionable to call everything original, conventional, wise, and close to nature as alternative. Similarly, by calling Ayurvedic science an ‘alternative’, it is considered to be contrary to modern medicine and healthcare practices. It also means traditional is not up to the mark and therefore, undesirable. And this holds true not with regards to ‘health’ only but with other forms of knowledge like: dance, management, conflict resolution, political institutions, justice, social systems or for that matter even energy resources. This is happened mainly due to our way of thinking and associating modernity with western practices and in turn negating traditional wisdom of all sorts.
Now days, the worsening health indicators in India are mostly; obesity, increased mortality rate, growing numbers of diabetics, blood pressure and heart patients. If we go to a multi-specialty or a super-specialty hospital for getting ourselves treated, one thing that strikes quite often is the distrust between the doctors and companion of the patients. Most of the time relatives don’t know the course of the treatment and the doctors are not sure of the diagnosis. The nexus between drug companies and doctors is no hidden fact that needs to be told.
The irony is that, at a time when we are achieving new heights in material development, to dismay the mental health of the people is fast deteriorating. Why this is so? The answer is candidly reflected by the experience a patient suffering from cancer shared with me recently. A hardcore allopathic practitioner once told the patient and his relatives that the disease is incurable and that there is no hope now. At the most the hope offered was that the patient could try alternative medicine to increase the chances of longevity. Indirectly, the doctor said my ‘pathy’ has reached to the dead end and now you can go for some other ‘pathies’. Surprisingly, after going for other form of treatments, the patient is still alive and fit after 12 years. The question is not whether the allopathic treatment is desired or not, the real issue is in understanding the nature and stage of the disease, and to decide when Allopathic medicines are needed and when Ayurvedic treatment should be advised or availed. It is also important to understand here that where Allopathic drugs suppress ailments, Ayurvedic medicines remove the root cause of the disease.
The history of ‘Science of Life Care (Ayurveda)’ shows that conventionally health was not limited to physical fitness. It’s only with the evolution of modern western medical science that the word health is equated with ‘wealth and physical treatments’. It does not mean that the ‘western modern’ medical practices have had no contribution in wellness.
The reality is traditional practices are original and complete in approach; and that the western medical science has emerged as supplementary rather than an alternative to it. Western medical science has come with better diagnostic technology and vaccines and the important role it can play is to support the natural practices of wellness.
In lieu of the said, what we need today is the holistic concept of wellness, primarily based on traditional wisdom. We should not forget that most of the health issues today have emanated from the western way of life. Unless our medical practitioners take a cue from the ‘original’ conventional wisdom and blend it with the modern inventions, we cannot head for a healthy human life.