Dr. Biswajit Dash is an assistant professor and in-charge head, department of Panchakarma, at the Government Ayurvedic College And Hospital, Balangir, Odisha. He is a dedicated teacher who believes in Ayurveda from his very core. Dr. Biswajit Dash talked to us about his Ayurveda journey. Read his interview below.
Please tell us about how your Ayurveda journey began.
About the time I completed my 10+2 in science stream, I had a keen interest in pursuing medicine.
It was my father who was a true believer in herbs and natural cure. He once faced some urinary problem for which I and my father went to the Govt. Ayurvedic Hospital at Bhubaneswar. I was very much inspired by a consultant there, who had his masters degree from Thiruvananthapuram Ayurveda College, Kerala. He guided us about the admission procedure for B.A.M.S. course in Odisha. In the same year, I applied and got selected through Odisha State – Ayurveda And Homoeopathy counseling and took admission in one of the premier institutes of the state at Sri Sri Nrusinghanath Ayurveda College and Research Institute, Paikmal which is located in the foothills of Gandhamardan Parvat in the abode of Lord Nrusinghnath, a temple that dates back to the 13th century A.D. this is how I started my journey with Ayurveda.
Was there someone in your family already in Ayurveda, who acted as a motivation?
No one. I belong to a traditional Odia Brahmin family. Both my parents and grandparents were teachers. But my father was a true lover and follower of Ayurveda and Natural treatment. He use to take Jeera water and Bel Swaras daily to keep his digestion good. For sometime he started Naturopathic treatments like Sudation, Enema, Yoga, Colour and Magneto therapy. during that time I was in my high school. But I was very much motivated toward Asana and Pranayamas. As I used to be a classical dancer.
How did you see the Ayurveda education as a student earlier and how do you see it now as a teacher? What are the challenges?
During my student life I was very much obedient and sincere in my class and used to ask more questions on the ‘Philosophy of Ayurveda’, which made me think more and more and took me deep into the principles and philosophy of Ayurveda. But I was not well-versed in understanding Sanskrit as I was a science student and never studied the subject before. We used to have classes on dissection as well as practical classes on medicine preparation as my college has a good pharmacy named Nagarjuna Rasashala, till date it prepares around 50 types of Ayurveda medicines. In those times, we had a very good Stri Prasuti OPD and IPD as well as deliveries and operative procedures were carried at our college which I used to assist. I was very much inclined towards Panchakarma. So, I used to be in college to see and carry out the procedures along with my seniors. During my postgraduate studies at Shri Danappa Gurusiddhappa Melmalagi Ayurvedic Medical College at Gadag, I spend time with my teachers and patients who taught me the art of Panchakarma therapy. My mentor Dr. P. Sivaramudu is no more with us but his experiences and words make us to work diligently even today. Many more things I learnt during my pg career.
As a teacher, I see some of my students lack an interest in Ayurveda. It may be by chance that they have entered into an unknown world. Also, the fault may be with us, as we are unable to strike interest in them for Ayurveda as most of the Ayurvedists are into the practice of Allopathic medicine. So it is a high time for the teachers of Ayurveda to bring a change in the existing patterns of teaching. More practical approach may be helpful for the younger generations so as to create an interest among them. I feel one should have passion and love towards learning Ayurveda.
It was a change in me which I could feel when I met with Guru Dr. l. Mahadevan from Kanyakumari. He is a man of knowledge and wisdom. I was very much inspired by his works and words. He is a real hero for me.
The great challenge is reading Ayurveda classics with modern approach, which is today’s need. One has to gain mastery over Sanskrit language in order to become a good Ayurveda practitioner. Sincere dedication, devotion, and true commitment is only the key for becoming a perfect Vaidya. Only challenge is learning Sanskrit and understanding Ayurveda with practical approach.
What do you see in the younger generations of students now? Are they confident about Ayurveda?
It is more the internet learning system rather than learning Ayurveda itself (laughs)! up to some extent the social media and e-connect have thrust a negative impact. Nobody wants to study the original texts. Instant work and instant result is what is sought by the newer generations. Many want to be confident but lack the knowledge. We want a stronger roof, but the pillars are weak. We need to correct to this irony.
How do you see Ayurveda's future?
Ayurveda is always good. One needs to be bright to be part of a good future.
What do you think of the integrated medicine and the bridge courses that are being brought in?
For research purpose integrated medicine is always welcome. One such event ‘Amrita Samyogam - 2017’ was carried out by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kerala. Such studies are also conducted under the faculty of Ayurveda at BHU, Varanasi.
Bridge course will work well I think and is a boon for rural and hard-to-reach areas. But it has its own limitations.
What more should be done in Ayurveda today?
Delivery of quality and standard Ayurveda education and offering good preventive, promotive and curative healthcare services in Ayurveda dispensaries and hospitals in the states and country.
What about the quality of medicines? A lot of practitioners are not happy.
Only some pharmacies maintain GMP. As a matter of fact, most of the Ayurvedic medicines do not have good quality. Proper steps are to be taken to maintain the quality. Good practice needs good medicines which is very difficult. Every practitioner can’t prepare every medicine. Quality maintenance is the biggest challenge in Ayurveda medicines. Efficacy of Ghritas and Kashayams totally depends on the drugs used as well as the methods of preparation.
Coming to complex and chronic diseases, can Ayurveda really help?
Yes. definitely. from past one decade i have been coming across a number of chronic cases of joint disorders and really, Ayurveda is doing a great job.
Please tell us something about the achievements of your institution in Ayurveda.
It is the second oldest institution of the state. Our college hospital offers the best treatment in skin ailments and is known far and wide for Panchakarma therapy in Arthritis, Paralysis, and Geriatrics. Alumni of our institute are pursuing their PG and PHDS in Nia Jaipur, Paprola, and New Delhi also. Some are also working under the ccras. Our institute has 40 B.A.M.S seats with PG in one subject in Roga Nidana with 4 seats and our college is also a Nodal Centre for PH.D.
Dr. Dash, what are your hobbies?
I am a classical – Odissi dancer, Singing, Cooking, Yoga.
What's your advice to the students?
Learn and practice Ayurveda to know Ayurveda.