KOZHIKODE: The two were meeting after a gap of three years, kept apart by a raging pandemic. And tears rolled down their cheeks as they hugged each other. One is a Brazilian--47-year old Agnaldo Santos, known as Arjun Das--and the other Karunan Vaidyar, 87, of Nayanar road, Kathirur in Thalasserry. They met at an Ayurveda hospital in Azhiyur, conversing with the aid of a translator, on March 15.
"Arjun Das is saying that he is thankful to god for keeping you intact during the Covid times and for having another rendezvous with you," Dr C P Asghar, of the Greens Ayurveda Hospital, told Vaidyar in Malayalam, translating what Santos said in English. Karunan Vaidyar nodded happily.
Santos' camaraderie with Vaidyar, a local healer adept in traditional medicine and ayurveda practice, began in 2006 when he visited Kerala for the second time.
"I came here after falling head over heels in love with Indian culture. When I reached Kerala, I found many similarities with my country in terms of greenery, mountains, rivers, and the ocean. That feeling of deja vu was complete when I met Karunan Vaidyar. His deep knowledge in medicinal herbs, humility, and above all his compassionate character touched me deeply. Since then, we met 14 times every year and he has become a grandfather figure for me," Santos told TNIE.
He met Vaidyar for the first time at the Greens hospital, where Vaidyar was preparing traditional medicines. Vaidyar says that Santos is like a family member to him.
"No country, language, religion, race or ethnicity come between two persons building a life-long camaraderie. Das has a deep respect for ayurveda and traditional medicine. I am touched by his feelings towards our culture," said Karunan Vaidyar, who is the son-in-law of the renowned ayurveda practitioner late Chempan Nanu Vaidyar.
Admiring the sound mind and body of Vaidyar, Santos had once hesitantly asked him what keeps him going. "He replied that when he goes to bed every day, he would forgive all those who hurt him, and when he awakes, he would thank god for giving one more day. I was struck by that philosophy, which I would like to call as Indian," Santos said.
He said Brazil's indigenous tribes in the Amazon forest practise traditional medicine in a fashion similar to some of the ayurveda guidelines of Kerala. "Ayurveda is pure poetry," he said.
Santos took Indian name in 1999
Born in a Christian family, Santos became a vegetarian at 12 after learning about dharma, vedanta, yoga, and ayurveda. After completing high school in 1992, he pursued formal education in ayurveda and yoga, and become an ayurvedic practitioner and educator in Brazil.
Santos, who was renamed 'Arjun Das' by the late Swami Narasingh in 1999, runs his own ayurveda clinic--TriGuna Institute--in Brazil. He and his wife Renata also found a Malayali name for their elder daughter--'Leela'--who is 11 now.
"Karunan Vaidyar is my best source to access the richness of Vedic culture framed in a compassionate heart," said Santos, who is a frequent visitor to the Vishnu temple in Azhiyur and the Sree Krishna temple in Mahi.