Nestled in the suburbs of Poonamallee at Nazarathpeth, which is about an hour’s drive from the metropolis of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is the Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Ayurveda College and Hospital. Run by the Kanchi Math, a Hindu monastic institution, the college is dedicated to producing efficient and effective ayurvedic vaidyars for the Indian society. Dr Ramadas Maganti, the principal of this venerable institution, is an expert, among other things on musculoskeletal disorders.
On any given day one can find around 30 to 50 patients waiting patiently for their turn. Most of them have already consulted numerous orthopaedists, done X-rays , MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans but found no relief. They have finally turned to ayurveda with their hands filled with medical reports and their hearts brimming with hope. Most patients have come to the doctor after having heard from a close friend or a relative about a successful ayurvedic treatment and how Maganti has saved his patients from a spine or knee surgery.
It is an experience to watch Maganti at work. He asks questions to the patients for around 10 minutes, examines them and comes to a conclusion regarding the line of treatment he will adopt. Since the clinic is always crowded, only a vaidyar with years of experience can do justice to the patients waiting anxiously. A typical conversation between Maganti and his patients begins with the question: “So, how is it that you come to consult an ayurvedic vaidyar?” Reply patients: “I was told that I would need to undergo a spine surgery. Then I heard from some of my relatives that you helped them get better without surgery.”
Maganti then draws up an ayurvedic prescription for 10 days. Since many patients who have musculoskeletal issues and suffer from a build-up of ama or toxins in the system, a deepanapachana routine (to improve the appetite and kindle the digestive fire) is mostly prescribed. The treatment also includes medications to attack the cause of pain. Kokilakshamkashayam, Maharasnadikashayam and Mahayogarajaguggulu are some of the drugs commonly used.
In ayurveda, there is a concept of trial treatment, which is known as upashayam. Thus medicines are prescribed only for 10 days. The patient has to return and report on their health to continue the treatment. Depending on the condition, Maganti continues the medication, adds to it or changes it completely. If after 15 to 20 days the patient does not show any improvement, they are advised to be admitted for panchakarma. Many patients come in a stretcher to the clinic and go back walking within a couple of weeks or months depending on the severity of the disease. Medicines are then prescribed to be taken
at home and periodic check-ups are advised to ensure the patient remains healthy and away from the operation theatre.
Maganti’s clinic is well-known especially for those who come with various aches and pains —sometimes in the joints, sometimes the pain flits to the back of the body, sometimes these are wringing muscular pain. In most Indian households, there is at least one member suffering from an ache or pain in their body. This is often a precursor to rheumatoid arthritis, which is know as modakuvatam in Tamil and occurs as a result of ama or toxins which build up in the system due to improper or poor digestion and dosha vitiation. It can be treated with ayurveda and Maganti is an expert on the matter.
He is also famous for mitigating the effects of strokes, treatment of skin disorders such as psoriasis, respiratory disorders, diabetes, endocrine disorders, among other ailments. It boggles the human mind but every ayurvedic doctor treats the complete human body not just discrete organ systems. The writer is retired Additional Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. She can be reached at sheelarani.