Ayurveda is believed to have divine origins, but its historical journey is wrapped in mystery. To throw light on the fascinating past of this alternative medicine, the Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda Museum at Thaikattussery in Kerala showcases a treasure trove of information on the origin, growth and evolution of Ayurveda in India.
The private museum—believed to be the first Ayurvedic museum in the world—was built and is maintained by the Elayidath Thaikkattumooss family. Ashtavaidyan E T Parameswaran Mooss, the man behind the venture, says, “The museum was built as a gurudakshina to my grandfather, the late Ashtavaidyan Padma Shri E T Neelakandhan Mooss, the founder of the Vaidyaratnam Ayurvedic Group. The idea was proposed by my mother Sathi Antharjanam as a tribute to our forefather, who was a great exponent of Ayurveda. The museum depicts mythology, science, history and development of Ayurveda and the contribution of Ashtavaidya tradition, which would be beneficial to future generations to have an awareness about Ayurveda as a science and way of life.”
The entrance of the museum has a figure of Lord Dhanvantari, the ‘god of Ayurveda’, rising from the ocean with amrit (nectar) in hand.
Archaeological findings from the Indus Valley civilisation have proved that Ayurveda was practiced in India more than 5,000 years ago. Murals, sculptures and dioramas trace the journey of this mystical science and portray the mythical story of how Ayurveda originated from the gods and how it came to earth. As Ayurveda is considered an ‘upaveda’ of Atharvaveda, palm leaves with Sanskrit writings are displayed to represent the Vedas. There are also dioramas of Aryans riding horses through the Himalayan passes to India and ancient Indians practicing black magic to cure diseases, people performing yagnas and people in ashrams, apart from many others.
One of the main displays is the diorama of Sushruta, the father of surgery, performing an operation under rustic circumstances. Reena Abraham, a visitor, says, “I had learned about Sushruta in school. We came to the Vaidyaratnam Ayurvedic Hospital for my mother’s treatment, which is when I heard about this museum. It gives Ayurvedic history in a nutshell.” Parameswaran Mooss says, “We want to make this a destination for all who wants to know about Ayurveda in an authentic way.”
Apart from slices of history, the museum also has displays related to Ayurvedic medicines, surgical instruments, storage places, tools and Ayurvedic books and the sages who wrote them. Another section exhibits advanced ayurvedic practices like ‘rasayana’ and ‘Vajeekarana’ treatments, which are believed to recapture the ‘youth’ of a person. There is also has a section about how Ayurveda came into prominence in Kerala. The museum houses a 3D gallery as well.
A large part of the museum is dedicated to stalwarts from the Thaikkattu Mooss family who won accolades as dedicated Ayurvedic practitioners.
Huge murals on walls portray ancient stories about famed ayurveda practitioner Vaidyaratnam Parameswaran Mooss, who was believed to have psychic power.
The healing house
● The museum is believed to be the first Ayurvedic one in the world
● It was built as a tribute to the late Neelakandhan Mooss, founder of Vaidyaratnam Ayurvedic Group
● The museum depicts mythology, science, history and development of Ayurveda and the diorama of Sushruta, the father of surgery
● Archaeological findings from the Indus Valley civilisation show that Ayurveda was practiced in India more than 5,000 years ago