Dr. Chhagan Jangid is a well-known name in the Ayurveda fraternity. He is a Government Medical Officer and the National President of Nasya India. He has been working continuously for the past many years toward the cause of well-being through Ayurveda. He has the vision to make the young students the enablers of the Ayurveda way of wellness in the modern age. He talked at length with Nirogstreet, sharing his experiences, insights, dreams, and commitments. He is one of the few who can inspire the Ayurveda Youth with their own passion for it.
Dr. Jangid, please tell us briefly about your education.
I am originally from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The inclination to choose a career in medicine started from my family itself. My siblings were already into academics, architect-engineering, and law, so my father wanted me to become a doctor. Those were the days of Pre-Medical Tests (PMTS) and I took it too for admission. Since I was familiar with Ayurveda, somehow I opted for it and got into the National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA), Jaipur. The immediate thing I learned as soon as I joined the college was that an ordinary student has no value whatsoever.
I still remember those first few days when our seniors, even some teachers used to chide and reproach us disapprovingly as if coming to Ayurveda was a big mistake we had committed. It taught me the valuable lesson that mediocrity has no takers at all. For the next few months, I studied hard, entirely focused to shun criticism with the means of devotion and hard work.
In a short span of time, my industry paid off well. The student Dr. Jangid became popular when he topped the B.A.M.S. first Prof. I was being respected for the simple reason that I did what I was supposed to do: study deeply and dedicatedly. When I finished my graduation years, I was the second topper in B.A.M.S. I had not only stood by Ayurveda, but I had also proved my point and I am still proud of it.
Thereafter, I went to Jamnagar to pursue my post-graduation from I.P.G.T. & R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Its International Center for Ayurvedic studies is a great place to learn about real Ayurveda.
Indeed, passion and hard work are the marks of great success, Dr. Jangid. How did your career path move after you completed your post-graduation in Ayurveda?
After I completed my PG there, I came to Rajasthan Ayurved University, Jodhpur (my hometown) to work under my Guru Ji Prof. Banwarilal Gaur, (Former Director - National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur and Former Vice-Chancellor - Rajasthan Ayurved University, Jodhpur) a distinguished figure who has written many Ayurveda books and won several awards for his expertise and contribution to Ayurveda. I worked with him for four months.
Then I joined Punjab Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital, Sri-Ganganagar (Raj.) as a lecturer in the Dept. of Basic Principles. Later on, there came this vacancy of only one post in ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation) Delhi and around 300 – 350 Candidates appeared for the written examination and a total of 13 Candidates were called for the interview including me. I got the post eventually and joined ESIC Hospital Basaidarapur, New Delhi on 20th June 2009 as I.M.O. (Insurance Medical Officer) grade ii.
Currently, I am working as a Senior Medical Officer (S.M.O.) at ESIC in Delhi.
How was Nasya (national Ayurveda Students Youth Association) formed?
This too is an interesting story, you see. The year was 2008 and I was attending the 3rd World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya Expo (WAC) on 20th December, the organizers were calling two representatives from each state to form a National Platform (later known as Nasya) for the Students & Youth of Ayurveda, the reason being the students after spending five and a half years in B.A.M.S. actually have no clue about what to do further with their knowledge and degrees.
They either join some private medical setup for sustenance or just keep looking for Government jobs. I became a little vocal about this and I got the attention of Dr. Asit Kumar Panja who recommended my name for WAC Coordinator - Delhi for the scheduled 4th World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya Expo 2010, Bengaluru, and as a part of it, I was given an opportunity to organize an Ayush-Supported one-day conference with the theme career options in Ayush systems.
The conference was a grand success. A new enthusiastic vibe could be felt in the audience and this was perhaps the beginner’s luck that got me recommended by someone (yet unknown) to the then newly forming Nasya Committee.
The name of the organization has a strategic anecdote you’d like to know. If you ask the Doctors, Panchakarma is considered a half-treatment on its own. And Nasya is actually one of the five procedures of Panchakarma, used to detoxify the brain and its processes. Dr. G. Geetha Krishnan (Honorable Patron to Nasya, and recently appointed as Technical Officer Ayush – WHO) and Dr. Asit Panja led team suggested this name, remarking that the organization would play a similar role in cleansing the confusion and self-doubt from the minds of the students and youth of Ayurveda.
That was a great anecdote, Dr. Jangid. Really a well-thought conception. So, how did you align yourself with Nasya’s vision, the incumbent role, and responsibilities that came in your stride?
You just have to organize your priorities if you see. Nasya was formed with the vision that Ayurveda students shall become good clinicians, researchers, and academicians after their B.A.M.S. it was formed to instill in them confidence, bring information, as well as ease of access to opportunities and practical training. I put in my efforts and we did a remarkable job there. I was made the general secretary in 2011-12. At that time, Nasya’s reach was contained to 4-5 states.
With guidance from Vd. Bhavdeep Ganatra (Former President Nasya) and Vijnana Bharati, we pushed our limits well. In November 2014, the world Ayurveda foundation and we conducted the 6th World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya Expo; in Delhi. On 10th November 2014, we had organized our 1st National Convention in Delhi and I have appointed as the General Secretary again with our new team – Dr. Vikrant Patil as National President, Dr. Prashant Tiwari as National Coordinator.
Now we are present in more than 21 states. We have dedicated state teams in 14 states. From 2014 to 2017, we have grown our footprint significantly. Vijnana Bharati has crucial two arms for the betterment of the Ayurveda community: (1) World Ayurveda Foundation (WAF) that holds World Ayurveda Congress every two years and (2) Nasya which works throughout the year at three levels, viz. – Ayurveda Institution, Students & Youth, and Society.
Recently in the second general body meeting held in Delhi on 27th & 28th January 2018, I was made the national president. This adds more responsibilities upon my shoulders, which I must undertake with utmost sincerity. The uniqueness and strength of Nasya as an organization is that all the people working in it are Youth. Besides few reasonable exceptions, most of the workers are under 40 years of age.
How do you manage your time for such engagements after your primary duty as SMO?
This is again about priorities. After office time and mostly on holidays, I use my personal free time to expedite my Nasya duties. We all are working for the future of Ayurveda and the students. We share our workload, responsibilities, etc. Among ourselves and divide our time so that no one has to be constrained by the limitation of the spare time we have.
How are the recent plans coming for Nasya?
It has been an insightful and commendable journey so far. Do you know, we are in the Guinness World Records for conducting Panchakarma in which altogether 733 people participated! We also organized the first Ayurveda Youth festival, i.e., Rashtriya Ayurveda Yuva Mahotsava 2017 (September 14 – 16) in 2017. More than 3,500 students and Youth of Ayurveda from 21 states along with Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in it.
It was the largest event at the National level. Even the Honorable Ayush Minister, Secretary Ayush, Local MP, MLA, and many more dignitaries attended the festival to motivate the young audience. It was held in Jaipur. NIA (National Institute of Ayurveda) was the co-organizer for the event. In fact, NIA has played a vital role in the history of Nasya’s endeavors and initiatives.
We have our upcoming event lined up, which is the Rashtriya Ayurveda Krida Mahotsav 2018 in Bhopal (MP). It would be held between June to September. We want to send the message to the Youth that studies alone cannot serve the purpose of well-being. We aim for the overall development of the Youth.
Dr. Jangid, what challenges do you see for Ayurveda and students?
For the advancement and propagation of Ayurveda, a lot depends upon the government policies. The quality of institutions too is important. In the Ayurveda colleges of Southern India, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, Students get to have hands-on practice apart from theoretical knowledge from their first year onwards. This integration of clinical practice lacks in many other states. Even Acharya Sushruta had told that the theory and the practice should always be 50-50 percent and well-balanced.
Take an example, Nadi Pariksha is so Critical in Ayurveda, yet a handful practices this skill today. If you go to Southern India, many people know this rare art and some of them are not even B.A.M.S. at Nasya, we are trying to change this too. We help the Ayurveda Students and Doctors learn from these Nadi Experts the fine nuances of this absolutely precise and ancient skill set.
Ayurveda has been sidelined for so many years. Look at China and how it has promoted and kept to its Traditional Chinese Medicine. They have evolved it so much. They even won a Nobel prize. We have to be more aware of our own traditional virtues to know how Ayurveda too is capable of such feats and beyond.
Another thing to ponder is that we require Primary Health Centers in Ayurveda too. Minor illnesses too need to be cured and overseen by Ayurveda experts. As said in the texts, all diseases begin from the stomach (like constipation, acidity, and indigestion). You can’t just treat a minor disease for its symptom and think that there is no further risk of health to that patient at all.
In education, we ought to focus on so many aspects. To help the students learn more and have a strong sense of community and fraternity is highly required. I have given suggestions to several students to not go looking for jobs or compromise their crucial Ayurveda education. Rather, they should start practicing. For infrastructure and clinical set-up, they can start by collaborating with each other. 4-5 Students together can build a great Ayurveda Clinic / Hospital / Institution. They wouldn’t have to look elsewhere.
What do you make of the integrated medicine initiative?
I think Ayurveda Doctors and even the students should not be falsely charmed by Allopathy, neither should be the people. In Gujarat, there is this wonderful program by our Nasya – Gujarat team, “Main Hoon Na”. It is in essence a reassurance in Ayurveda. Allopathy should only be used in emergency and exceptional scenarios.
The recent Hullabaloo about the bridge course is again something that should be been in a better light. You would undermine the effectiveness and significance of Ayurveda if you don’t put your complete trust in it. If an Ayurveda practitioner starts prescribing Allopathic medicine so readily, the whole principle behind the genesis of Ayurveda is lost. Do not forget that Ayurveda is Holistic life science. It is preventive in approach too. It doesn’t treat just the symptoms but rather the root cause.
In a conference in Bhopal, modern health professionals asked the question, why Ayurveda is still a secondary treatment if it is has been here for so long and if it is so effective. Those who ask such questions haven’t looked deep into the recorded history. Here goes this incident that once a British Officer accidentally cut his nose with a sword. He didn’t know what to do and when people suggested that he should visit a Kumhar (Potter) nearby to get it fixed, at first he guffawed. But then he did see that potter. That potter really fixed his nose, because he was an Ayurveda surgeon too. So, Ayurveda is not a secondary medicine system at all.
Another presumptive argument I often hear is that it is not a scientific and effective medical system. How did it survive for 5,000 years and still remains in the convention, contending the failures of modern medicines and presenting possibilities, e.g. in the case of so many non-communicable and fatal diseases?
What are your views on the recent Government efforts?
The present Government has done remarkably well to advance the Ayurveda ecosystem. Since 1947, a major push has come in the last 2-3 years only. For the first time, we have an independent Ayush Ministry. By Ayush, I exclusively mean Ayurveda to be frank. Earlier the Government officials, usually an IAS Officer used to be in charge as the secretary, but this time a seasoned Ayurveda expert, Padma Shri, former Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha has been appointed as the secretary. It is the right direction. If we want to better the health of society, we need such people in the ministry who understand well what Ayurveda is and what it can do. A lot of policies have changed for the better due to this.
The recent tie-up with the railways to facilitate and the undergoing talks to include Ayush services for defense health care are vital too. If it goes like this, it will open new avenues as well as increase the reach of Ayurveda and its advantages thereof.
How would you counter the argument that Ayurveda has no evidence-based approach?
I know we’re blamed that we’ve no evidence. Prof. Ram Harsh Singh (Banaras Hindu University), a distinguished Ayurveda expert of this country, has answered such arguments effectively. You see, there are two types of evidence: primary and secondary. The primary evidence is that the patient reports an improvement thereafter the treatment. Such testimonies and proofs have been available in plenty. The actual basis of the argument in question comes from the secondary evidence, i.e., the researches that are done. In the last decade, so many Ayurveda researchers have been accepted and published in International and renowned journals.
I’d give you some more insights. 3,000 years ago, Charaka wrote that Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) acts as a mild laxative and helps clean bowels. This is as valid and proven today as it was then. We all have known that Chyawanprash counters aging. The concept of Pancha Mahabhuta is as intact as it was ever. What evidence do you need for a science that has survived millennia and centuries of changes and scientific progress?
Gyan (ved/knowledge) and Vigyan (science) are fundamentally different from each other. Gyan is absolute and eternal. You can’t change the fundamental property of anything. Gyan doesn’t change. Vigyan can change over time. Ayurveda works with Gyan to become the Ayurveda, not Ayurvigyan. Allopathy has a threat from Ayurveda since the latter is a natural health science. It does not prescribe synthetic medicines as Allopathy does. It not just cures, but heals the individual. Many kinds of research are going on today and the whole perspective that Ayurveda doesn’t have evidence is fast-shifting.
Is the natural herbs-based treatment the real strength of Ayurveda?
That’s just one of the most important aspects of this medical system. The medicinal value of the natural herbs and the utmost care taken in order to create an Ayurveda medicine without polluting it is there for a reason. Usually, patients come to us and say that they had been taking some Allopathic medicine to relieve the symptoms mostly in the case of severe pain, for a long.
Long-time use of these painkillers can cause kidney failure, it is known that paracetamol weakens the liver, antacids decrease the calcium level, and so on. Remedy based on medicinal herbal drugs is safe and effective.
Let me tell you about the one episode that is both famous and insightful in such context. Once the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was suffering from a disease that wouldn’t seem to stop even after all the Allopathic treatment. So he consulted the Vaidya appointed to him. The vaidya suggested that Nehru should take Vrihat Vatchintamani Ras that is used in Vata Vikara.
This sent his health advisors into a tizzy, fidgeting whether it would be safe for the prime minister to take an Ayurveda medicine that contains metals. IIT Delhi was consulted and they tested and researched the medicine and came out with the conclusion that the particles were so tiny that they’d cross the semipermeable membrane of the cells without causing any harm. Such is the preparation of Ayurveda medicine!
Keep in mind that quality control is important while preparing or mixing Ayurveda medicines (either herbal in nature or herbo-metallic or metallic only). It is not the fault of Ayurveda if negligence in quality results in non-effectiveness of the medicine. Permission shouldn’t be issued without ensuring that the right standards and procedures are followed.
On a closing note, what would be your message to the young doctors and students?
I believe in the mantra धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः as laid down in the Manusmriti. By Dharma, I mean our Karmakshetra. If we protect Ayurveda, it would protect us. I’d say that the Ayurveda practitioners should adopt Ayurveda in spirit and practice both. I always prescribe Ayurvedic medicines to all my family members if they get sick. Except in an extraordinary situation, always cure the illness through Ayurveda. It should be the first line of treatment always, professionally and personally.
If you can’t have the confidence to treat your own family with Ayurveda, you’d never become a good practitioner outside. I have a Guru-Shishya relationship with my son and it heartens me to pass on the authentic teachings to this young, keen soul.