Prof. Anand Chaudhary is a senior reader at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (B.H.U.) in the department of Rasa Shastra. He has been teaching there since the year 2006. Earlier he taught at another premier institution, Gujarat Ayurved University.
Known and adored by his students for his way of teaching as well as innovative and scientific approach to learning, Prof. Anand Chaudhary is a charismatic teacher of repute. His treatment of Ayurveda postulates in sync with latest scientific observations and findings not only makes it easy for the students to keep pace with the advancement, but also boosts their confidence in different ways. More than a teacher, Prof. Chaudhary considers himself a co-learner who often strives to look at learning from the perspective of a student too. Proud and grateful to have learnt from and served institutions like B.H.U. and G.A.U., he heartfully agrees with Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s vision and thoughts.
Prof. Anand Chaudhary has published over 66 papers in various Ayurvedic journals of repute and is recognized as a specialist in herbal preparations, herbomineral preparations, etc. He also has expertise in legal aspects of drug manufacturing and licensing as well as intellectual property rights and patents. Read his interview with Nirogstreet below.
Prof. Chaudhary, please tell us about how your Ayurveda journey began.
My journey in Ayurveda started with my selection in Rajkiya Ayurvedic College, Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar in 1986 through U.P.C.P.M.T. at that time there was no Uttarakhand. Prior to applying for the entrance test, I was doing my B.SC. from Allahabad University. I got selected for the B.A.M.S. course after the entrance results came out and my career in Ayurveda began. I had an inclination toward the discipline of modern science and that's why I was earlier pursuing B.SC. So, when I started studying Ayurveda, in the first few weeks the idea of opting out and switching to Allopathy did cross my mind. But eventually, Ayurveda was my destiny after all and so I somehow never took that decision.
Was there someone in your family already in Ayurveda who acted as a motivation?
No, (laughs) I am the beginner, I am the first one to choose Ayurveda.
Alright, Prof. Chaudhary, so tell us how you see the Ayurveda education as an early student and as a teacher as well? What are the challenges?
Before coming to this point, I would like to clear a few things. When I joined Rajkiya Ayurvedic College, Gurukul Kangri, as a student, it was not in the proper academic shape at that time. Actually, in the beginning, it was a very famous institution. It is a century-old college which was started by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1914. In recent times, it is again working as a fine institution but during my time there it was in the transitional phase. So, my undergraduate studies were not up to my own satisfaction. With the grace of god, however, I appeared for the post graduation test, after prodding and encouragement from one of our teachers, Dr. S. K. Joshi who is now associated with Patanjali Ayurvedic College Of Baba Ramdev. So, I appeared for the pg admission test along with some other fellow students. A total of nine of my batchmates including me were selected, from which three of us got into B.H.U. So, in a way and after all this long journey of knowledge and experience when I look back I can say my U.G. was my leisure period (Chuckles) and all that Shlokas and postulates we learned up somehow finally got us into a good college, actually the best one at that time, the Banaras Hindu University.
When I entered B.H.U., I saw a totally different working and learning culture altogether. Everybody was highly dedicated to the academic cause - studying, teaching, research, publication. Then I realized what I had done in the past five years at Haridwar. It was kind of a stark contrast. The passion, the energy, the focus, everything was at a different level altogether. It was at that moment of realization that a new spark of confidence ran through me like some real inspiration. My belief in Ayurveda and its efficacy found a new meaning. I told myself that I shouldn't be a second-grade citizen. I should be at par with these counterparts of the modern medicine who are working hard all the time in academics as well as in the clinics. So, you see I got my inspiration from the teachers of the modern medicine here and their work culture and I started working to excel as well as them. Some of the Ayurveda teachers also supported my attitude that I wanted to do something remarkable. This was the turning point that changed everything. So it went on like that and I graduated from the institute of medical science (I.M.S.), B.H.U. (1994-1997). Further on, it is a blessing of the god truly that during my senior residency (1998-2000) and PH.D. in Ayurveda I did not have to wait to find a job opportunity. I got the chance to serve at I.P.G.T. & R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar as assistant Professor. So, I had to resign from my three years senior residentship tenure at I.M.S. in just one and half years. Let me clarify, M.D. Ayurveda is a junior residency for three years. Then, there is a post for senior resident which is a tenure for three years again.
When I joined I.P.G.T. & R.A., Jamnagar, the vice chancellor at that time was Padma Shri Dr. P.N.V. Kurup, a living legend in the field of Ayurveda. He is one person who has occupied all the posts there could be in Ayurveda, at one point or other in his life. Under his able and extraordinary guidance and leadership, I and my colleagues there evolved as Ayurveda experts. I learned real Ayurveda at Jamnagar. I always say it and I am proud of it. Whatever I am today, a good contribution comes from the learnings and experiences I gained at Jamnagar. It is indeed a privilege to have trained at both B.H.U. and I.P.G.T. & R.A.
So, coming back to your question, teaching Ayurveda actually started at Jamnagar. As I started to teach, my background as a science student, my learnings at B.H.U., etc. Came to form a coherent understanding. I could explain to my students that how the thousands of years old classical texts and contemporary scientific findings had a correlation. This brought me a lot of affection from the students. The scientific corroboration was something that all the students not only appreciated but felt was the need of the hour in the modern era. So, it all progressed like that. This made me enjoy my teaching as well with the balance of classical Ayurveda and contemporary medical science. It was january 3, 2000, when I joined teaching I.P.G.T. & R.A.
It must have been some valuable teachings for your students, Prof. Chaudhary. To relate scientific findings of today to the age-old medical science of Ayurveda.
Of course, it was a learning curve for me too as a teacher. It is said that at the post-graduation level you are less of a teacher and more of a co-learner. We all share this ideology. My students adored my way of teaching and I too liked their scholarly attitude a lot. Even today students tell me that they still remember many of the classes and what I taught in those. It feels so heartening and fruitful to hear that. My strengths as I said are purely classical Ayurveda and contemporary science.
What do you see in the younger generation of students now? Are they confident about Ayurveda?
My conscience tells me to share the truth with you. When a student joins an Ayurveda College, say B.H.U. or any state Ayurvedic College, they face two categories of teachers. Even today, the first kind is those who, as soon as the students enter their first class, start telling them to opt other careers, insisting there is nothing in Ayurveda. They even go on to tell the students that they are at the wrong place and give their own examples as failures or mistaken decisions. You will be surprised that it is going on in 2018 also.
Now there is this second kind of teachers. When they meet these new students, they tell them that they are at the very right place. They motivate them by telling how Ayurveda is being recognized everywhere and how good their careers would shape out as they complete the studies.
So, these two types of teachers are there everywhere. I am talking primarily about all the government institutions. Forget about the private institutes, where teachers and students are in the same line, at the same level. Now, it falls upon the mindset and wisdom of the first year students, which set of teachers they want to listen to. Those who say Ayurveda is a mistaken choice or those who say it is the right one. It is a tussle that every new student goes through. Students often get perplexed and ask me, "sir, you said globalization of Ayurveda is a fact now and the other day the other teacher was telling us that we are totally into a wrong career!" In such a scenario, I tell my students simply to make a choice and make it with complete confidence. I and many teachers like me try to show to them how the world today is looking toward Ayurveda in the current scenario of a global health crisis, how Ayurveda is getting popular in the society, how research organizations like N.I.H., C.S.I.R. etc, are recognizing and promoting Ayurveda and its principles. Then the students feel confident and bring in the resolve to study well and contribute to the whole new age of Ayurveda.
So much so for the beginners, Prof. Chaudhary. What's the scenario with the passing or final year students? Can you enlighten us about this?
When the students have completed their B.A.M.S. studies, of course, they face a shortage of job opportunities. I will recount my own story in this context. In june 1986, there was a vacancy of 700 Ayurvedic medical officers. My father happened to read that in the newspaper. As I had appeared for CPMT, the results came out and I was getting a B.A.M.S. College. Accompanied by his friend, Late Dr. V. V. Upadhyaya, an M.B.B.S., this is what my father said: "see, what a good opportunity has been notified here for Ayurveda practitioners! Every primary health centre (PHC) will have an Ayurveda doctor and there are 700 posts in total and that means students opting for B.A.M.S. have a great future already." So, this is where I go on to opt for B.A.M.S. based on the advertisement of a government job (laughs).
Now, how sorry I am to tell you that that advertisement of 1986 and the next one I saw not until 2002. Can you imagine? There was no job opening for 15-16 years. It is a serious discouragement. career prospects should always be there for the young pass outs.
How do you see Ayurveda's future now?
I see Ayurveda has a brilliant future. I think a real Ayurvedist will get every kind of recognition. They will do a great service to the nation and the global society at the same time. We should be honest in our Ayurvedic philosophy and let me add that philosophy alone can't treat a patient. We need quality, safe, and efficacious Ayurvedic medicines. The Ayurvedic medicine sector should invite the attention of every stakeholder. By stakeholders, I mean manufacturers to the drug licensing authorities in the states, central administrations, and the whole community of Ayurvedic physicians who have to see which companies they are promoting in their prescriptions. If quality control of medicines becomes standardized, Ayurveda will serve the humanity exceptionally.
What do you think of the integrated medicine and the bridge courses that are being brought in?
My opinion is very clear in this and this not even mine, actually it is the very opinion that comes from the founder of B.H.U., Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Ji. In the concept paper of B.H.U. in as early as 1904 as well as in that of 1912, (the university was established by the parliament in the 1960s), In British India, he wrote the reason for the need for establishing the university. He wrote that in the countryside, rural parts of India, there were Vaidyas who looked after the health of people. Based on the doctors coming from Madras Medical College, Bombay Medical College, etc. Which were established by the Britishers, there was just one civil surgeon in every district. So, poor people hardly received any proper health service. He argued that the strength of these Vaidyas in these rural areas must be utilized and they should be trained in current medical science. So, he founded a medical college in 1922, in which he appointed teachers of Ayurveda as well teachers of modern science, i.e., physics, chemistry, etc. And in the hospitals, he appointed M.B.B.S. doctors. Now you can see, he already started integrating health services and sciences right then. He was a firm believer that modern diagnostic tools must be used by the Ayurvedic physicians as per the current developments in technology. Since Ayurvedic principles are good for healthy life and Ayurvedic drugs are good for the cure, so these two should be assisted further by technology, without compromising the fundamentals of Ayurveda in general and Ayurvedic pharmaceutics in particular.
So, if an integrated approach is coming, it will advance Ayurveda. Advancement is an integral part in itself. The Samhitas were written 3,500-5,000 years ago and every two hundred years there have been commentaries imbibing new developments. There are several such books on the Samhitas now. I am a student and teacher of Rasa, and there have been revisions and adoption of new technologies over the course of time. Books from different times have different approaches according to the best information at hand. Malviya Ji also believed that Ayurveda should be updated with all the scientific developments. Not Allopathization of Ayurveda which happened for short time, but scientificity of Ayurveda. In the emergency or exceptional cases, Allopathic medicines should be given, if only we have proper training and certification in that system. In all general cases, Ayurveda practitioners should always prescribe Ayurvedic drugs.
There was this incident more than 20 years back in Vijayawada that Allopathy doctors took an Ophthalmology Ayurveda doctor to court because he used western medical tools. The Ayurveda doctor argued that he was well-trained and certified in the modern Ophthalmology and taught by the professors of modern Ophthalmology. He said that the treatments were created under the guidance of the professors. The honorable court of Vijayawada acquitted him of all the charges and allowed him to continue his practice which he is doing even today. He uses Ayurvedic medicines and takes the aid of modern diagnostic tools in his Ophthalmology practice.
What more should be done in Ayurveda today?
There is a need for revolutionary reform in Ayurveda, specifically in the education system. Ghost colleges, Ghost teachers, Ghost students, etc. are damaging Ayurveda like anything. Not just private Ayurvedic colleges, even some government colleges need to be reformed. There are some good private institutions indeed which are doing wonderful work, such as in Hassan, Udupi, Belgaum. Government colleges such as in Jamnagar, Banaras, Jaipur, Paprola. These are dedicated institutions working really well.
What about the quality of medicines? A lot of practitioners are not happy.
It is true what the practitioners are complaining. It is the lacuna on the part of the responsible drug licensing authorities. Ironically in some states, the drug licensing authorities do not know even know the basics of drugs and cosmetics act. What would you do in such a case? What would you expect? Ayush ministry is making a lot of efforts, from policies to guidelines, but on the ground level, things have not changed so far. The responsibility should be fixed on the state drug licensing authorities. The major problem is the fake manufacturers who somehow try to get a license and make a fortune in the name of Ayurvedic medicines. They have no concerns about the quality or the research. At the same time, some of the genuine manufacturers have been doing a great job for a long time, such as Dhootapapeshwar, Baidyanath, Dabur, Himalaya drug Company, Charak Pharmaceuticals, Multani, kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, etc. There are many authentic ones too. They understand their responsibilities. Yet, out of over 9,000 licensed companies, 90% of the manufacturers are not appreciable despite having the certificates and all.
I was once the member of the state drug licensing authority and I know a lot about what is happening in there. I left my responsibility because there was a tremendous pressure to compromise my duty. It was disappointing how things were there.
About practitioners complaining about the quality, I must also add that such poor quality medicines are being prescribed by a large number of practitioners and this should stop. So it is working both ways. The practitioners can choose not to prescribe these spurious drugs and help address this issue. Just complaining wouldn't do.
In this context of quality, what do you think of the professional expertise and standard of the majority of Ayurveda practitioners today?
I agree. there are physicians who cannot differentiate the virtue of one medicine from other. There is a need for continued medical education (CME). First, these drug license inspectors should be educated and trained well about their roles. A lot of people recruited in these roles are not even aware of the rules, regulations, parameters, schedules, etc. And these people are gazetted notified Ayurvedic drug inspectors. Our post-graduates know how to do that in a proper way, but there are not there in those roles. People are appointed but they don't know what to regulate. There is a need for 2 months training course as per the cadre to sensitize such recruits.
Coming to complex and chronic diseases, how can Ayurveda help?
I think Ayurveda can help in the wellness of life for sure. With proper diagnosis, there are physicians who are treating diseases like cancer too. In a major way, Ayurveda can help in a lot of diseases. I won't say Ayurveda can eradicate all types of diseases, such as every cancer case. But it can certainly help.
Tell us something about the achievements of B.H.U. in Ayurveda.
B.H.U. has contributed a lot in the field of Ayurveda in the last 100 years. At one point in time, what came out of B.H.U. was adopted as the first resolution in Ayurveda. But I am not the one to live in the glory of the past. Currently, we are working on a lot of different things. We have a diverse specialty in Ksharsutra. Different kinds of Ksharsutra have been developed here. More advancement is being researched and experimented. Moreover, I can say the delivery or the Prasuti Tantra department was first started in B.H.U. only in Ayurveda under Prof. P. V. Tiwari. Kayachikitsa department is also doing well as is Dept. of Shalya. There is tough competition from different parts of the country. If I talk about Rasa, Bhaishajya Kalpana, Dravyaguna, and such branches, we have the support of core science and integral institutes like I.I.T., and we are working in collaboration with qualified pupils and researchers of metallurgy, material science, chemical engineering, botany, zoology, modern medicine, etc. So, here also we are contributing to the country and health care. Histopathological, metallurgical studies of Ayurvedic drugs and such things were first done in B.H.U. this legacy is going on. We're doing good work. Not just because of the faculty of Ayurveda, the whole core system of B.H.U. is making progress. It is the सर्व विद्या की राजधानी. Here we have every discipline of knowledge that is required for the benefit of the humanity.
Do you think more support for infrastructure is needed from government?
Every institution always needs more support. It is an ongoing process. Even all India Institute of Ayurveda back in Delhi needs more support. It is a continuous aspect.
Western countries and universities are doing a lot of research in Ayurveda. They already have alternative studies and research systems in place, for example, cam courses. What's your take on this?
They have been indeed doing a lot of work. But you have to ask, what their intention is. In many cases, they have a different attitude toward Ayurveda. There were some papers published by a particular group of the Boston University. They had a different kind of approach to Ayurveda. When we protested the editors said it wasn't their area to publish. But they are publishing those papers. In september 2017, last year, there is this Canadian lab that worked on gold, the Swarna Bhasma. They came out with a report on what was happening to the nucleus, mitochondria, cell membrane, etc. Similarly, the U.S., Russia, Germany, Australia, etc. Are also doing some remarkable works. The modern appliances and tools being used to research on Ayurvedic medicines is something appreciable. The findings are validating those things which we read in our original sanskrit texts about what happens with all those Ayurvedic medicines and treatments. What these scientific labs are exploring and showing with the colorful pictures of the nucleus and mitochondria, like the Bhasm entering and the reaction thereof. I appreciate this but in the same breath, I must say the mushrooming of the different varieties of Ayurveda, particularly in the U.S. is not the right practice. So many schools of Ayurveda have opened. Someone is teaching Ayurveda, while someone is teaching mysterious Ayurveda, someone spiritual Ayurveda, and so on. This might harm real Ayurveda. Classical Ayurveda is the only Ayurveda. Jamnagar is that kind of place with authenticity. There they have a 3-month international course. As a teacher, I saw people coming and telling they have studied different types of Ayurveda. I used to tell them that we know only Brahma Ayurveda to make them consider what they were saying. Camouflaging of Ayurveda does not make it the real Ayurveda.
Some people fancy summoning the names of goddesses while taking a medicinal root of some herb and try to treat with this method. Can you believe it? These are tantrums, not any medical science. I only approve of the classical Ayurveda. I mean if you really want to bring the benefits of Ayurveda to your society, take the example of the Rosenberg Academy of Ayurveda. They have been doing some great work in the last 20 years. They have trained thousands of modern medicine practitioners in Ayurveda. They believe in Ayurveda. Such institutes are highly commendable. Ministry of Ayush has also certified them. They are doing significant work across Europe.
Your students want you to write a book. What do you think?
Yes, I know there are constraints of time. I have classes to take too. I have published a lot of my papers in all leading journals of Ayurveda. But books are yet a distant thought but maybe in 2-3 years, I might actually start writing one.
What are your hobbies, Prof. Chaudhary?
Teaching is my only hobby actually. Nothing else people often think that I am not that sociable. I get very less time to attend any kind of social event in personal life. My whole time is dedicated to academics. In case I have some free time, I love to offer prayers. I also like to read different kinds of books. So, you can say my hobby is reading too. In my library, you'd find several types of books, right from Ayurveda to political science to economics.
What about your family, do you think there is a young Ayurveda expert in making already?
See (laughs), I have one child. He already opted for engineering. So I don't know who will take it forward from me in my family. But I will always encourage those who want to pursue it as a career and service.
What's your advice to the students?
My advice to the students is that they should believe in Ayurveda, explore and practice it.
What is your message to the people on well-being?
I'd like to say don't be a blind follower of all the advertisements which appear in newspapers daily. First of all, consult a good Ayurvedic physician and get your treatment. Stop self-medication as advocated by such advertisements for any purpose or ailment. That's my humble request to my fellow country people.