There is nobody who doesn’t love listening to stories….and what if it is something that has turned to be the part of history??
then the urge is high ; and what if it is your ancestor’s story? HEAVENS!!! nothing can ever be better than that .
It was some months ago ; after haunting my dad ( wanting to know about his grandpa ) he sat down with me to share some parts of the past. As I grew up listening to bedtime stories which still continues (sounds a bit gawky for a “woman” to nag her dad to narrate stories).But he chucked this topic saying that , one should not talk about it.
I had no clue ; all that I knew was Great Grandpa was one of the most famous doctor(Ayurvedic)in the 1950’s ; and the fact that people respect that glory he left behind . All these stalked me with bullets of questions.. too much of queries boiled with my blood that I bloated him to narrate this man’s story, no matter what !
Left with no facade dad was defeated and he sat down to narrate .
It was in the 1950’s when Electricity , Roads , Transportation were a dream for everyone and an “era” when Snake biting was common to the people of every village .It is known that the snakes found in Kerala are 90% poisonous and to contrast , there were not much people who could treat the victims of snake biting except the indegineous “VISHAVYDYAS” ….. Allopathy was still unknown to the common people . , and when taken into consideration there were only a handful of people who were expertised in this tedious task of saving the life of people from being craddled in the hands of death . One amongst them was Sri.M.P Kunhiraman Vydyar .
In those days Visha Vydyam was considered to be a service ; mean to say that the people were not charged money for treatment as it was believed that if at all one charges money for saving a life , the treatment would be flawed and would go unsuccessful . If the victims after getting cured , wanted to thank his saviour in any manner like gifts , money etc ..the then vydyas accepted only a “Maangadan” towel ( മാങ്ങാടൻ തോർത്ത് ) but it was mandatory that they should never expect anything for serving the needy . It is in the months from October to January ; just after the rainy season , when the winter stretches its wings , the Snakes takes charge , which turns out to be a busy season for the VishaVydyas . But becoming one was never a cake -walk .
One has to go through a whole lot of scenarios before and during the course of being a VishaVydyan :
He has to understand and study innumerable SANKRIT MANTRAS from a guru….He should have a bold,brave,stern,confident and an unshakable personality…He should be selfless ..He should be that someone who can take any pain .He should also be mentally fit and he has to take up so many challenges on his own , like :
He has to go alone to the crematorium at late nights during AMAWASI and practice his mantras .He has to get down into the river infront of his house and also in a well from which no one utilises (colloquailly called “potta kinar” – പൊട്ട കിണർ- in malayalam) half drowned in water and meditate during the midnights of Lunar Eclipse (a time when even the poison-less snakes sprays poison ) .It is during this time that he would feel snakes slither all over him and undergo bites all over his body but he has to withstand all these so that he gets the courage to treat the patients.
It was a joint family then and more than 20 people in that large mansion of my great-grandfather . Every morning he comes out after bathing , wearing only a kaupeen and stamping on the muddy courtyard sprayed with cow dung , he looks like a Yogi whose body is wrapped in Bhasma . It is When the moon takes pace and the dusk rules over ,that the people come running for help from different places with the patient who has the venom spreading in him or they come for the Vydyar to take him to his patient . People nearby and the residents of the house are always at a “get-ready” motion as they know anything could happen in the very next moment and as dad keeps repeating “those were the days when selflessness was at its peak ” and they did whatever they could to help the Vydyar to find the “Pachha marunnu” ( പച്ച മരുന്ന് ) .
Sometimes ,when the Vydyar is to be taken to the victim who is at a long distance , before getting ready to treat the patient he forsees the fate of the patient through DOOTHALAKSHANAS and also by exhaling forcefully with the pointing finger on his nose ….( the exhalation concludes whether the bitten person would survive or perish) and it is according to that he takes his move .
When a victim is brought to my ancestral home the whole family of mine gets to work then ,running after one thing or the other and an air of seriousness prevails, though the children including my dad are happy as they get the time off from their studies ; they set out to help their grandpa . And the fact that the scene that takes place in the verandah , treating the victims can make anyone faint ….as the snake-bitten person does unusual moves , he screames out loud and even vomit blood .But great grandpa was never bothered about any of these . If he is sure about the survival of his patient, he slowly starts the treatment by chanting mantras and beating the bitten area with medicinal herbs and putting some unique stones while chanting mantras into a ” Vaal kindi” filled with water ; this water is poured onto the wound. This process continues for hours and then the poison starts coming from the bitten area .Sometimes the patient stay there for days and weeks until he recovers . At certain midnights great grandpa gets up all of a sudden as he would’ve forseen someone coming to him for help. He opens the door asking my grandmother to get ready with all the items required for treatment and he waits outside . The most important thing for a VishaVydyan is that his sixth sense should work well which is not found in any of the Allopathy doctors now .
VishaVydyam ; as time passed by was blown -away by “New Healthy Treatments ” but still the glory prevails as it is not a route where any brainless person can pass with ease like the new era’s medical treatments where money is all that is concerned , and it was meant to be precious and holy and above all it was something that dealt with selflessness and service . It might have deteriorated as the next generation could not digest the mantras or that they did not have the courage to do the same and also that they could not earn from this . Nobody really encouraged this as the mantras did not seep through and also because of certain myths that prevailed in the then uneducated society .
Though I could not see this great person who saved hundreds of lives … I’m very proud to be his Great Grand Daughter .