Updated: July 13, 2021 7:51:18 am
PK Warrier, who died on Saturday at the age of 100, almost single-handedly transformed Kerala Ayurveda from a localised, tradition-bound treatment to a globally renowned healing system. Under his leadership, the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala (AVS) became an exemplar of Ayurvedic practice that combined the indigenous system’s ethical and epistemological framework and the evidence-based methodology of modern medicine.
Warrier, who lived an austere life, was essentially a master healer to whom rich and poor flocked from distant places. He was also a visionary and a pragmatic institution builder who recognised the need for indigenous systems to respond to the changing times. AVS was established by his uncle, Vaidyaratnam P S Varier, in 1902 as a traditional Ayurveda institution that offered clinical facilities and medicines. P K Warrier became the head of AVS in 1954. He was politically active during the Quit India struggle and engaged with the Communist movement. This exposure to public affairs, perhaps, influenced him to engage with Western science and technology and industrial production systems. With Warrier at the helm, AVS embarked on modernising its management of healthcare and production of medicines. The bitter concoctions and oils were turned into easy to carry and store tablets, capsules and gels and produced on an industrial scale. A research centre was established to study the pharmacology of Ayurvedic medicines and the findings published for peer review.
Warrier inspired a generation of traditional Ayurveda healers. He respected tradition but refused to be a revivalist. For him, Ayurveda was a secular and ethical practice of healing and a knowledge system open to scientific inquiry and reason. His renaissance spirit and compassion will guide Ayurveda practitioners in the decades to come.
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