Friday, February 14, 2014

Ayurveda for everyone

That tiled house in the corner of a Triplicane street once belonged to Gopalacharlu, a renowned ayurvedic practitioner. To merely say his name that way is to lessen the man, because his renown was not just due of his personal expertise in ayurveda. Vaidyaratnam Pandit Deevi Gopalacharlu was also reputed to be a great teacher, borne out by the fact that at least two of his students - Dr K.N. Kesari and Bhishagratna Achanta Lakshmipathi - went on to become famous physicians themselves, with the latter succeeding his mentor as the principal of the ayurvedic college, after Gopalacharlu passed away in 1919.

Pandit Gopalacharlu was born in 1872 at Machilipatnam. He studied ayurveda at Mysore and started his practice at the Theosophical Society's Vaidyasala in Bangalore. After a while, he moved his practice to Madras. In 1898, he started the Ayurvedasramam to take ayurvedic medicines to the masses. It was located somewhere in George Town, because a signboard from around that time (now on sale at ebay) advertising the "Indian Nerve Tonic" also provides the location as "Ayurvedasramam, G.T. Madras". 

That tonic, "Jeevamrutham" was one of the best sellers from the Ayurvedasramam. The Wellcome Library of London, one of the richest troves of medical history, also has images (advertisements?) of three other products: Manasollasini, or The Memory Pills, Abalasanjeevani or The Nectar for Female Diseases, Hysteria, etc. and Narayana Thailum or The Gout, Rheumatism and Paralysis Destroyer. The Ayurvedasramam does not seem to be popular these days - Dr. Desikachaarlu, the Vaidyaratnam's great-great-grandson runs his practice at West Mambalam, a fair distance from George Town. The only indicator of the this house's heritage is a board - you can see it if you open the picture in a new tab and look below the gable - plugging Jeevamrutham!

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