Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam, Shornur, Palakkad, Kerala, the oldest hospital, nursing home, pharmacy, and Ayurveda Padasala open to the public, still remains as the authentic pillar of genuine Ayurvedic heritage. A charitable trust registered under the Charitable Societies Act XXl Of 1860, it runs on a no profit no loss basis. It has been accredited as one of the best places for Ayurvedic treatments as well as for learning the Indian systems of medicine. Ayurveda, the science of life, follows a holistic approach toward human well-being. It strictly follows traditions laid down by the past masters, all the while, rejuvenating the body and soul of the subjects. The treatment modalities collectively called “Samajam Sampradayam” – a perfect blend of Astavaidya and Keraleeya Vaidya traditions is strictly followed by the institution till its inception.
The then Zamorin of Calicut Manavikraman Ettan Raja had a celestial vision in the general health of his subjects. He wanted the knowledge and wisdom in Ayurveda acquired by the Vaidyas, through ages of observation and learning to be made available to the common man when it was available only to the rich and the royals.
The British Government was much skeptic about Ayurveda and other Indian systems of medicine and they were reluctant to recognize its efficacy and purity. No measures were taken by the Government to promote indigenous medical systems till the establishment of Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam.
A revolutionary decision was taken by the Zamorin of Calicut Manavikraman Ettan Raja in the year 1902 to establish Samajam at Chalappuram in Kozhikode which was named “Arya Vaidya Samajam.” A padasala for teaching Ayurveda and a pharmacy for the preparation of medicines were also started along with Samajam. The first annual meeting witnessed the presence of Manavikrama Ettan Raja, Rama Varma Appan Thampuran, and the 6th prince, Kunjunni Thampuran of the Kochi State. The assemblage also included the presence of stalwarts like Maharaja Kerala Varma Kochunni Thampuran aka Midukkan Thampuran, a famous Visha vaidya, Kavalappara Mooppil Nair, Chirackal Ramavarma llaya Raja, KC Veerarayan Raja, Kollankottu Raja, Vasudeva Raja, Kuroor Damodaran Naboodirippad, Thriprangottu Parameswaran Mooss, Rao Bhadhur MC Krishna Varma Raja, Vengayil Kunjiraman Nair, Amramoli Ravunni Vaidyar, and the like-minded. P. S. Varier was the first secretary of Arya Vaidya Samajam. Kochunni Thampuran established the famous Ayurveda Visha Chikitsa Hospital at Thrissur. These rulers were deeply interested for the well-being of their people.
The two princely states in Kerala, the Kochi and the Malabar, were always at enmity and their bone of contention was the loss of the “Perumpadappu Swaroopam” of Kochi to the Zamorins of Malabar. They never met in peace but in war. A historic exception was made once when they met, not to discuss any princely or royal matters but to create an organization to serve the public on health-related matters and that was the beginning of a new era in health care, the advent of Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam.
Samajam – Through Ages
In 1913, a general body meeting in Samajam was held in the Palakkad Native School and it was decided to register it under the Charitable Society Act. The Arya Vaidya Samajam was renamed as “Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam” and a decision made to shift the location from Chalapuram to Cheruthuruthy, the central destination between the two princely states of Kochi and Malabar. The first-ever Ayurvedic Hospital for the general public in the world thus came into existence at Cheruthuruthy on the southern banks of river Nila (Bharathapuzha). The Inauguration of the Hospital was done under the presence of Madras Governor, Sir Arthur Lowely. The first-ever administrative body of the Samajam was thus formed with Rama Varma Appan Thampuran as its first President.
The Zamorin insisted for the service of the eminent physicians and famous Ashta Vaidyas to form a “Chikitsa Yogam,” a panel of doctors, and hence, the first-ever panel was formed under the leadership of the legendary Thriprangode Parameswaran Mooss with Alathiyur Neelakantan Nambi, Chirattamon Narayanan Mooss, Kuttancherry Aryan Mooss, Thaikatt Divakaran Mooss, Mooriyil Narayanan Nambisan, Amramoli Ravunni Vaidyar, Veyiloor Sanku Varrier, and two doctors qualified in modern medicine – Dr. CV. Rama Rao and Dr. E. Rama Varrier. This process of consulting patients by the panel of doctors was reintroduced in the year 1990 and continues even today as its head office at Shoranur as well as in all other branches. Happily, many institutions in modern times follow the Samajam Practice of starting a panel of physicians to discuss and find solutions to chronic ailments.
The attitude of the British Government toward Ayurveda changed when the Chief Justice of High Court, Sir Basil Scott, became bedridden due to a chronic illness and was cured by Ayurvedic treatments in the year 1911. He was advised about the effectiveness of Ayurveda by the Madras Governor, Sir Arthur Lowely, who later contacted Samajam through the Zamorin. The Samajam Chief Physician Triprangode Parameswaran Mooss was assigned to treat the Chief Justice. The Justice was astonished by the recovery from his chronic illness because he had misjudged Mooss’s knowledge considering it as sheer magic. Later, Mooss explained and convinced the Justice that Ayurveda is a well-structured medical doctrine evolved after ages of research and application.
Extremely satisfied by the service of Mooss, Justice spoke to the Governor General to honor Mooss. That was the first-ever “Vaidyaratnam” Title and was conferred to Thriprangode Parameswaran Mooss by the Viceroy Lord Charles Hardinge. Ashtavaidyan Thaikkatt Narayanan Mooss of Samajam was given the second Vaidyaratnam, and subsequently, the third award was given to Shri. P.S. Varier who was the first secretary of Samajam. All the three Vaidyas entitled with “Vaidyaratnam” were once the Chief Physicians of Samajam.
In 1940, owing to some differences of opinion with the Diwan Shanmughan Chetti the diwan of Kerala, the Samajam was shifted to the northern banks of the river Bharathapuzha in Shoranur, lies in the state of Malabar. There it flourished under the leadership of K. R. Padmanabha Iyer, the Secretary of Samajam who teamed up with Rao Bahadur AV Govinda Menon, to uplift Samajam and brought the name and fame it enjoys now. Popular personalities, namely former Prime Minister of India, Gulzarilal Nanda, Governors, namely R. Prakasham, Subbarayan, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Kamaraj Nadar, eminent classical musician Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, former Union Minister C. Subramaniam, legend Malayalam poet Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon, and eminent Sanskrit scholar Punnassery Neelakanda Sarma were the members of Samajam in its early days.
Ever since its inception, this institution has been fortunate enough to attract the very best talents in the field of Ayurvedic Science. Kochunni Thampuran (Eminent Visha Vaidya), Kuttanchery Valiya Aryan Mooss, Astavaidyan Vaidyaratnam Thaikkat Narayanan Mooss, Vaidyamadom Valiya Narayanan Namboodiri, Sri. Kelathu Kochunni Achan, Sri. Mooriyil Narayanan Nambisian Senior, Munda Vaidyar Padinjakara, and Govinda Varier were the pillars of Samajam at Cheruthuruthy, and when it was shifted to Shoranur, Kuttanchery Aryan Mooss, Vaidya Mahodadhi Vaidyamadam Valiya Narayan Namboodiri, Thirunavaya Shankaran Mooss, Ashtavaidyan Pulamanthol Shankaran Mooss, Aryan Mooss, K.V. Vaidyalinga Iyer, Dr. K. Sreedharan Nair, and Dr. Purushothaman Elayathu were the prominent vaidyas of Samajam. On the wings of their ideologies and voluntary services, it was just a matter of time before this institution grew up to occupy an exalted position in Kerala. It is fortunate that the three generations of the Ashtavaidya families are still associating with Samajam ever since its inception. It also witnesses the presence of exceptionally gifted personalities, namely Poomulli Neelakandan Namboothirippad aka “Aram Thampuram,” Avanapparambu Maheswaran Namboodirippad, Padmashree awardee Dr. K. Rajagopalan, Dr. K. P. Muraleedharan, Dr. Sr. Donata, Dr. TV. Menon, Dr. K. M. Parameswaran, and many more Vaidyas who became the body and spirit behind this institution.
The first Ayurvedic journal in Malayalam, Dhanwantari, was published by Samajam. The proceedings of the meetings and articles were published in it. The articles which are a hundred years old now were the true reflections ideologies of the masterminds. Those articles and discussions are still relevant to the scientific community and can be showcased as the quality of Ayurvedic education in that era.
Poomulli Neelakandan Namboothiripad Memorial Ayurveda Medical College, Cheruthuruthy
The Ayurveda College run by the Samajam was shut down in the late 1970s, following a syllabus upgradation, thus making Ayurveda a graduate course. Following a financial crisis, the resumption of college ended up as a dream. Poomulli Neelakandan Namboothiripad, a visionary and the longest-served president of Samajam, had a dream of establishing a Padasala on the banks of river Nila, where all the Indian science and philosophies including Ayurveda can be taught under an umbrella. The dream cherished only in 2007, after his death. With the blessings of H. H. Sri Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamigal, the 36th lineage of Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Sri Sarada Peetham, Sringeri, Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam and Sri Sarada Peetham joined hands together to establish the college at Cheruthuruthy. It was named Poomulli Neelakandan Namboothirippad Memorial (PNNM) Ayurveda Medical College as a great homage to the visionary of Ayurveda.PNNM is a NABH accredited 100 bedded hospital and ISO Certified institution, the College is recognized by the National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine, Department of AYUSH, and affiliated with the Kerala University of Health Sciences, Thrissur. The institution conducts Post Graduate, Under Graduate, and Paramedical courses of Ayurveda. Within this short span, it has become one of the top-notch educational institutions in India.
Academic Research and Information Center
Over l00 works on classical Ayurveda and related subject areas are digitalized and preserved for the use of future generations. And, still the work goes on. The information thus augmented is made universally accessible through different international languages.
At Samajam, various cases with autism have been managed effectively for the past two decades. Autistic children from all parts of the world come here for undergoing these effective measures under the expert supervision of experienced doctors and therapists. A book has been published by a patient Mr. Krishnan Narayan, “Wasted Talents” on his experience and benefits obtained by the treatments for autism. A National Seminar was organized at PNNM Ayurveda Medical College on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Research projects are in progress for diabetes, infertility, and gynecological disorders at Samajam and a few international projects on psoriasis and cancer are going on at college.
Hospital and Panel Consultation
The hospital campus provides a serene atmosphere with much greenery, giving good peace of mind to each patient. All Panchakarma treatments such as Vamana, Virechana, Nasya, Vasthy, and Rakthamoksha are being conducted here under the supervision of experts. A panel of doctors including eminent physicians drawn from Ayurveda and Modern Medicine discusses each case.
More than 200 employees are working in the pharmacy section, hospital section, and branches. Samajam runs a charitable dispensary providing free consultation, diagnosis, and supply of free medicines to the poor and needy.
The pharmacy attached to the hospital prepares fresh medicines prescribed to the patients. The preparation of medicines is in accordance with the formula and methods prescribed in the classic texts of Ayurveda. Nearly 500 formulae are applied in the preparation of medicines. The formulations such as Kashayams (decoction), Arishtasavas, medicated oils and ghees, pills, powders, and lehyams are prepared according to the classical techniques. Apart from these, special formulations are also produced to treat special conditions of diseases. Samajam also has stepped into the manufacture of nutraceuticals, considering its huge demand among the urban population. The quality control section maintains strict vigil in every step of productions of the products. The packing and storage of medicines are also strictly hygienic. Methods are absolutely traditional and mostly nonmechanized. Now, Samajam is in the forefront of Ayurveda with seven branches and many retail outlets in various parts of the country.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.