Ancient Indian knowledge can help combat modern disease

The role of Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation in human health was well-understood by ancient Indian sages. The knowledge of rishis and rishikas was passed down the generations and there was a time not so long ago, when Ayurvedic remedies for common ailments such as cold, cough, headache and fever were well known to every person of Indic origin. This was before medical drugs such as Advil and Claritin made an appearance and got embedded into modern lifestyles.

Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri), an Acharya in the Vedic tradition has spent a great part of his life in educating people in the west about the holistic healing offered by Ayurveda and Yoga. He is a recipient of Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards and author of path-breaking books on Sanatana Dharma, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology. On September 11, 2016 the Acharya will speak about the importance of Yoga and Ayurveda for psychological well-being. The event is being presented by Indian History Awareness and Research, a think-tank based in Houston in collaboration with India House.

“Ayurveda is inherently a psychological as much as it is a physical system of medicine,” explains Dr Frawley. “Its scope of practice includes both physical (sharirika) and mental (manasika) diseases.” According to him, we cannot really understand Ayurveda without looking at its view of the mind and consciousness. At the Houston event Dr Frawley plans to drive home the importance of reviving the psychological and yogic underpinnings of Ayurveda and applying it to treat modern afflictions such as hypertension and attention-deficit.

Dr Rajan Narayanan is another expert who will be sharing the stage with Dr Frawley. The Founder of Life in Yoga Foundation, Dr Narayanan believes that the current relevance of Yoga in medicine is that Yoga alone has the potential to reveal a unified structure of understanding of the human system. His lecture is titled “Place of Yoga in medicine – A Historical and Current Perspective.” Now that the benefits of yoga have been understood by modern science, Dr Narayanan reveals that it has already started impacting medical textbooks and Life in Yoga became the first yoga organization to be given accreditation to offer continuing medical education credits to physicians.

Dr Indranill Basu Ray, the third expert to speak at India House will underline the role of meditation in modern medicine. Dr Basu Ray, a cardiologist with Texas Heart Institute and Baylor College of Medicine straddles the worlds of modern medicine and yoga with equal ease. “Meditating does more than just making you feel good and calming you down, it makes you perform better and alters the structure of your brain,” he says. The audience will learn how neuroprotective effects of meditation have been borne out by electroencephalographic (EEG), cognitive and imaging studies on ubiquitous people including monks without and with experience in meditation.

The last speaker of the day, Dr Raj Vedam will take the audience along a journey showing the pathways by which ancient Indian knowledge of herbs, yoga and meditation was transferred to Europe and the rest of the world. “Did you know that Materia Medica from Ayurveda was the basis of Western and Eastern medicine from at least 2,000 years ago?” asks Dr Vedam. His lecture titled “Antiquity of Indian Medical Systems” will interest all those who have wondered about the history of Ayurveda.

This is not the first time Indian History Awareness and Research (IHAR) has organised lectures on a stimulating topic. IHAR has been developing narratives of Indian history free from the bias that has often distorted perspectives in the past. The think tank consists of professionals who bring their scientific knowledge from various disciplines and apply it for the study of Indian history. Collaborating with IHAR is India House, which has played a stellar role in bringing, resources, education, services and Indian culture to Houstonians.

Sahana Singh

Sahana Singh

Sahana Singh is an engineer-turned writer/editor who writes on a variety of issues including water management, environment and Indian history. She has won several awards for journalism including the Developing Asia Journalism Award awarded by Asian Development Bank Institute in 2008. A short animation video made by her on the world’s water crisis won the top prize at the TU Delft Urban Water Movie Contest awarded by the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) in 2012. Her articles have been published in Reader’s Digest, Washington Post, Discovery Channel Asia, Swarajya, IndiaFacts and other publications. She is passionate about traveling and connecting the dots across different societies, civilizations and disciplines.