West ‘hijacking’ Ayurveda

Hindustan Times (India), Jan. 12, 2003
Vijay Dutt

The big and famous like England’s future monarch Prince Charles, Pop Queen Madonna, Cherie Blair, QC and wife of Prime Minister Blair and Cher have taken to Ayurveda, the centuries-old Indian therapy, to ease their pressures and strains of public duty and fame.

But, the growing popularity of Ayurveda has turned it into a multi-million pound industry in the west. All forms of Ayurveda medicines and oils are available in High Street salons, spas and even in some chemist shops and GPs.

The Indian ayurveda purists and practitioners are livid and extremely concerned at what they call “hijacking” and “commercialisation” by the West which is threatening the ancient Indian healing and curing techniques.

Ayurveda practitioners and professors are coming over from India and many other parts of the world for a brainstorming conference next Friday in London to discuss ways to stop Britain and the United States from diluting the philosophy and purity of  ayurvedic medical techniques.

Gopi Warrier, chairman of the Ayurvedic Company of Great Britain has been campaigning for years to stop practice in Aurvedic treatment by those who have had what he calls a short course in Ayurveda and who use ingredients not equal to the standards laid down in Indian Ayurveda.

He even petitioned the Indian government to stop the literal plunder of Indian intellectual property. “ Our remedies are being pilfered… in order for spas and clinics to jump on a New Age bandwagon and con people.”

He and his colleagues may now be helped in their coming Friday deliberations by an investigation by the Observer. It sent a reporter to a Estee Lauder owned clinic Aveda which offers various treatments, to find out how much Ayurveda was understood.

The reporter was charged £45 for a back massage. She found that there was  no specific training in ayurvedic medicine for the clinic staff. The masseuse told her that there “are no places around that one can get good ayurvedic training”.

A spokeswoman for the company said that its treatements were based on ayurvedic principles but also incorporated other traditions. None of the staff claimed to be qualified ayurvedic doctors.

It is learnt that Dr Basappa Hadapad, from Kasturba Gandhi Medical College in Mangalore, would be using the Friday meet to describe the dangers of the incorrect use of the therapy. Wrong prescription can cause serious dangers, he will warn. He is particularly worried about the use of Shirodhara, in which oil is poured on the forehead to relieve migraine, stress and insomnia.

The conference could very well put the likes of Prince Charles and Cherie Blair on thier guard as people like them mostly want treatment for relieving stress. It may also persuade the Indian government to act said Warrier.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday January 13, 2003.
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