Aap Ki Dilli – Dil Se !.

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Report for submission to:

 

 

 

Professor Sneh Anand,

Head of Department

Dept of Biophysics,

Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

 

And

 

 

Convener

SVTEAMS

(Scientific Validation and Technical Evaluation of Ancient Medical Systems)

 

 Compiled by Dr Sumita Sharma (DNB Ophthal.)

 

 

June 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements: Besides the individuals named as resources, deep thanks are due to the following individuals and families for their help and shared knowledge:

 

1.  Late Satyanand Stokes, for showing the way

2. The Singhas, Kothgarh.

3.The Chaturvedis, New Delhi. Specially Moho for her photos and criticisms.

4. Late Gp Capt. (Retd) P.K Haldar, M.D (Path) for his medical insights

5.Wg.Cdr (Retd)S.K Kaushik, for his knowledge about ancient Indian systems.

6.Dr.Vijay Bhatkar, Padamshree, for access to modern scientific institutions.

7.Arnaud Xavier Bourasset and family, Montpellier, France.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline: Basic line of treatment used in the recovery of Mrs. Mamta Sen, diagnosed to be terminally ill with multi-organ failures involving

  1. Heart (cardiac arrest- cause unknown).
  2.  Large intestines  (paralytic ileus causing loss of bowel movements, leading to acute abdominal distension and inability to take food orally),
  3.  Kidneys (diabetic nephropathy leading to fluid retention in the body, worsened by maintenance of nutrition by IV drip),
  4.  Lungs (congestive pulmonary failure caused by fluid accumulation on account of renal and cardiac failure, necessitating application of mask oxygen for close to 3 weeks.) 
  5. Complications of dementia and irritability,
  6. And neuropathy (nerve degeneration) due 40 years history of unstable Type 2 diabetes.

 

 

 

Time line of treatment:

 

July 2005. – She was admitted at Kailash Hospital, NOIDA for respiratory distress (acute dry cough at night, acidity and vomiting. Symptoms also included heavy postnasal drip constipation and loss of mental orientation). Diagnosed as a case of pulmonary infection and chronic urinary tract infection, treated with antibiotics. Declared fit for discharge after 10 days. Discharge refused by her husband, who asked for a second opinion as there was no symptomatic improvement (dry cough and nasal discharge showed no noticeable reduction).

 

Excerpts from summary of  case notes:

 

Mrs. Mamta Sen, aged 71 years, presented on 24/7/2005, with history of retrosternal burning , vomiting (4 episodes)  and  breathlessness, of one-day duration. She  complained of a decrease in the frequency of urination noted for the same duration.

She also suffered from  continuous postnasal drip, persistent dry cough and  constipation lasting 5 days.

She is a known case of NIDDM with Diabetic Nephropathy and Diabetic Neuropathy, on Inj. Insulin mixtard 28 U /20 U.

Her general condition on presentation  was good, vitals were stable, and SPO2 was 97 %. Chest and CVS examination and per abdomen examination was within normal limits.

Diagnosis on admission: HTN with DM         

Investigations:

Her random blood sugar was 422 mg %

Serum electrolytes were within normal limits (Na: 132; K: 5; Ca; 9.3)

ECG revealed left anterior hemi block( LABH).

ECHO was within normal limits.

Blood urea was 68 mg%, Sr creatinine was 1.8

Thyroid function tests done on 29/7/05  revealed a raised TSH level, with decreased T3 level.

Troponin T monitoring was advised, which was within normal limits.

 

   After primary monitoring and dose adjustment of Insulin, the RBS was brought down to 222 mg %. By 25 /7/05.Pt was also started on Tab Clopigrel 75 mg twice a day (Anti platelet agent) and was kept on intravenous fluids, primarily ringer lactate, to stabilize her systemic condition.

 

On 29/7/05, She developed urinary tract infection (E coli). A repeat of Renal function tests revealed mild azotemia with Bld urea: 68, sr creatinine: 1.8, sr calcium 9, Sr albumin 3.

She was started on Tab S Numlo 2.5 mg once a day

                               Tab Furadantin 50 mg

                              And continued on inj Insulin, Tab Eltroxin and Tab Clopigrel as before.

 

 

 

  1. August 2005: Weeks 1-3:

Excerpt from case notes:

 

 She complained of frequent headaches on 3/8/05 and 4/8/05. Other systems remained stable and she was declared fit for discharge. As her initial symptoms of persistent post nasal drip and dry cough remained unabated, her husband,  a senior retired Air Force doctor, asked for a second opinion. The same evening of  4/8/05, she developed a sudden episode of severe cough, with the SPO2 falling to 82 % and recorded BP of 170/100. The bout of cough ended with a sudden cardiac arrest for which CPR was started and endotracheal intubation with IPPV was done. Sinus rhythm returned after 5 minutes. Suction revealed pink frothy sputum.

BP returned to 120/60 mm Hg.

Chest auscultation revealed B/L basal crepts.

 

Investigations revealed Normal haemogram parameters except for Hemoglobin which was 8 gm %. Electrolyte levels were normal. Cardiac enzymes were normal.

 ECG revealed preexisting LAHB with P Pulmonale.

ECHO showed a dilated Right atrium with mild TR.

Chest X Ray showed diffuse shadowing.

 

 

A diagnosis of:

DM with HTN with Diabetic nephropathy with

 ? Septicemia with ARDS

? Flash Pulmonary edema

? Pulmonary embolism

was made.

 

The patient was treated with:

Continuous ABG monitoring

2 VAC Packed  RBC

Intravenous nutritional supplements

IPP VENTILATION

Diuretics

Rest of the treatment remained same.

 

On 8/8/05 she was extubated and assisted ventilation using a bipap was used.

As the ECG showed ATRIAL FIBRILLATION, she was started on Inj Amiodarone 150 mg slow, later shifted to Tab Cordarone.

Tab Eltroxin was stopped and measures were taken to control the metabolic acidosis.

 

As the BP was fluctuating, she was started on tab Amlodepine 2.5 mg once a day.

 

On 11/8/05, She was shifted to mask ventilation. As her lung congestion was high, she was moved onto a semi solid diet. She was monitored over a period of 10 days, during which she complained of constipation. There was no passage of stools during this time.

Systemically she was stable

Per abdomen examination was within normal limits with normal bowel sounds.

She felt comfortable after flatus tube was used.

 

She remained constipated for 14 days.

 

On 23 /8/05, she developed abdominal distention with sluggish bowel sounds.

Chest revealed bilateral basal crepts.

She was systemically stable with normal electrolytes, except for hyponatremia. X-ray Abdomen showed distended stomach with a fluid level. Lying flat on her back caused   severe respiratory distress and she had to be kept sitting all the time.

Ryle’ s tube was advised. She had  minimal symptomatic relief but the distension increased with total loss of bowel sounds. Oral intake was stopped and she was restarted on IV drip through a central line.

 

She was given proctolysis enema twice but it did not give relief.

At this point in time, her treating physician opined that she was in a very critical state and prognosis was poor. The relatives were told verbally that as she was on IV nutrition, fluid retention in the body was going up and she was going into acute pulmonary compromise. An extremely guarded prognosis was explained to them with a time frame of  around one week.

 

Treatment given until then:

 

  1. Inj Lasix IV BD.
  1. Inj Merocrit 500 mg IV TDS
  2. Inj.Vanca 1 gm 50 ml NS IV OD
  3. Tab Cordarone
  1. Tab Eltroxin 50 uG OD
  2. Tab Zyloric 100 mg BD
  3. Tab Ganaton 50mg TDS
  4. Tab Ecospirin 75 mg OD
  5. Tab Amlong 500 mg
  6. Tab Tonact 20 mg OD
  7. Syp.Sparacid 10 ml TDS
  8. Syp  Astofer 10 ml TDS
  9. Syp Looz 30 ml HS
  10. Inj.Moxicip 400mg OD

 

 

 

August 2005: Week 4:-Family members,  (two of whom are allopathic doctors) carried out consultation with a team of Bombay based Ayurvedic practitioners from Ayushakti, Malad. One of them flew down to Delhi for a consultation. He, too, opined that pulse diagnosis showed her to be in a very critical state, and chances of recovery were less than 50%. He started her on “Kidney F” to restart kidney function, and advised an enema from a preparation of castor oil, “Anulom”, and 250 ml of warm water.

 

As the allopathic nursing team was reluctant to administer Ayurvedic medication, family members gave the enema and the medication themselves. An acupressurist worked for three days to restart bowel function and a team of three yoga practitioners from Maharashtra provided pranahuti. It is a system of energy medicine whose principles are bound to be labeled completely unscientific by the mainstream scientific establishment. However, it must be acknowledged that energy therapy contributed a great deal in keeping Mrs. Sen’s condition stable, until the intestinal obstruction was cleared.

 

 After application of Ayurvedic medication, (supplemented with acupressure), the excretory system started working and the paralytic ileus was reversed. Bowel sounds returned and she was started on oral nutrition.

 

September 2005: Week 1:Once free of intravenous drip, ascitis was brought under control and pulmonary failure reversed as well. She came off the oxygen within 4 days, and could maintain SP02 of 90% for upto 30 minutes unassisted. On the 5th of September 2005, two weeks after the initial assessment was made that she would not survive, Mrs. Mamata Sen was discharged from the hospital.

 

Excerpts from summary of case notes:

 

Her relatives then consulted Ayurvedic physicians in Mumbai, and  self-administered a castor oil enema (Ayurvedic preparation comprising of 250 ml of warm water, 20 ml castor oil, Hingu (Asofoetida) – ¼ tsp

 and 4 tablets of Anulom, (a herbal Ayurvedic medicine that induces peristalsis.) Following this she passed flatus and 5-6 pieces of rock  hard stools. She was then shifted out of the ICU to a normal room, and a repeat  Anulom / castor oil enema was administered after 2 days, which led to further evacuation of another 5-6 pieces of hard stools.

 

Following the evacuation , her abdominal distention decreased, bowel sounds returned and she was stabilized systemically. She was started on oral semi-solids and IV nutrition through the central line was discontinued.

She came off mask oxygen within 48 hours as basal  lungs  crepts reduced and she was able to maintain 90%SPO2 without assistance.

 

She was discharged from hospital within a week, on 5.9.2005, after a total period of 45 days.

 

Summary :Over a period of 45-day stay in the hospital, she had

NIDDM (Non-Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus) , diabetic nephropathy , diabetic neuropathy with mild azotemia, metabolic acidosis with Congestive Cardiac , urinary tract infection ,

? Septicemia with ARDS and pulmonary edema,

with acute gastric dilatation (secondary to Paralytic ileus secondary to ?chronic debility and immobilization? diabetic ketoacidosis? hypokalemia)

 

Final Diagnosis on discharge: Diabetes Mellitus/ Hyper-Tension /Bilateral pulmonary.fibrosis /septicemia/ Cardio-Respiratory Failure/ Hypothyroidism.

 

Advice on discharge:

  1. Diabetic diet
  2. Blood sugar 8 hrly and insulin
  3. Tab Moxicip 400 mg BD
  1. Tab Lasix 40 mg OD
  1. Lasilactone BD
  2. Zyloric
  3. Tab Ganaton 50 mg TDS
  4. Tab Ecosprin 75 mg
  5. Tab Tonact 10
  6. Syp Haemup
  7. CCM syp
  8. Duolin nebulisation
  9. Flohale nebulisation
  10. Syp Looz 30 ml
  11. Rabicip20 mg
  12. Eltroxin 50 ug.

 

.

 

 

September 2005: Week 2 (Sept 6-12):At the time of discharge, Mrs.Sen was still in a very critical state. After nearly 6 weeks of being confined to bed, she was unable to stand without being supported from both sides. She had compromised cardiac and kidney functions, severe lung impairment necessitating the night time use of oxygen and a semi-paralysed gastro-intestinal tract. Family members opted for home care in spite of her precarious condition because

a)      She had become weary of the ICU regimen and had also started losing hope of survival. She needed to be convinced that she was on her way to recovery.

b)      All medical inputs being provided at the ICU (monitoring of body parameters, regular diet, provision of mask oxygen and medication) could be done at home.  The only constraint was the inability to provide a sterile environment- this was offset by the mental and emotional boost the home environment would provide.

c)      Ayurvedic oil massages and medication could be administered at home; something that was not possible in the ICU.

 

 

A four member para-medical nursing team was hired through a private agency.

It consisted of

a)      Sister Mercy- a semi-trained nurse on her first nursing assignment. Having completed only one year of nursing school, what she lacked by the way of formal training and experience was more than offset by her total professionalism and commitment to her work.

b)      Shri Ghanshyam- physiotherapist with nearly 5 years of experience.

c)      Shri Verghese- Ayurvedic Masseuse with 10 years of experience

d)     Ms Urmila- nursing attendant.

 

 At home, all allopathic medication (14 drugs) was stopped except for insulin and Lasix. She was administered an enema every 48 hours till all the mass of hardened stools (approximately 5000 grams) was evacuated

 

September 2005: Week 3:. She was started on solids after a week. As the fluid balance in her body stabilized, accumulation in the lungs lessened and within 10 days she was able to stay off oxygen for upto 24 hours continuously.

 

September 2005: Week 4:After two weeks of physiotherapy, she was encouraged to start standing. The first time she stood up, her legs trembled violently and she could not stand for more than a minute. It must be noted that she was bearing weight on her legs after nearly two months of continuous confinement to bed. She was encouraged to stand for about 10 days like this, before she could take her first step.

 

The urinary catheter was then removed and she was able to walk, aided, to the bathroom. Urinary incontinence was seen during episodes of coughing, during sleep and during attempts to walk. It necessitated the use of adult diapers.

 

At night time, around 2-3 a.m., she would show symptoms of severe restlessness, coughing, hiccups, sneezing and occasional head aches. Symptoms were seen to be less on nights when bowel movements had taken place. Symptoms were controlled with Mahavat bhasma. There is no known allopathic diagnosis for symptoms like these, but the Ayurvedic concept of a pranic clock (body clock regulating the distribution of energy to different organ systems at fixed times) gave family members a rough idea of the cause of her symptoms. It was surmised that there was a time-based activation of a bio-energetic pathway that led to the manifestation of such symptoms.

 

 

October 2005-  Weeks 1-2:  Over the next two weeks, gradual improvement was seen. A set routine developed.

 

7.30-8.00–bed tea

9.00 a.m. -. sponge, change of clothes, brush teeth and comb hair. Fresh bed linen would be laid.

10.00 a.m.- Breakfast, consisting of cereals, milk, fruit juice and an egg.  She would then be given insulin.

11.a.m till 12.00-recreation time. Lie in bed listening to music.

12.00 a.m. – Physiotherapy for an hour- mobilizing all joints..

 

1.00 p.m.: Physiotherapy over, she would be helped to stand. Someone would have to hold her hand and give balance as she was quite unstable. She would then walk to the dining table and have her lunch.  Lunch consisted of rice, vegetable curry, fish and fried brinjals. Powdered Anulom was added to her food- she had started refusing all oral medication.

 

2.00 p.m.: She would then shift to the drawing room and sit there till tea- talking to members of the household, or watching television .

 

            pm : Kerala oil massage for an hour and half. Oils were varied- anti-vata oil (usually coconut) for her head, and balda· oil for the body.

 

  • · (proprietary Ayurvedic medicine containing 50g dugdha, and kashaya of :Usheer20g, bala20.g.lakhsha 20 g and various spices).

 6.00-8.00 pm: Tea and biscuits, and watch television until dinnertime. Dinner would be light.

9.00 p.m.: Evening dose of insulin, followed by homeopathic and Ayurvedic medication.

10.00 p.m.: She would sleep. Sleep would be un-interrupted till about 4.00 a.m., when she would develop a dry cough. Symptoms would disappear by 5.00 am and then she would sleep till 7.30-8.00 a.m.

 

Moods fluctuated. Morning she would be happy. As soon as  the routine of medication started, she would start getting irritated. She hated being ill and being dependent on other people.

 

 

October 2005-  Week 3:UTI recurs. Treated with injectible antibiotics. Creatinine levels increase, treated with acupuncture. Walks unaided for 1week.

 

October 2005- Week: On 27th October, falls and fractures head of left femur. Admitted to Kailash Hospital, not taken up for immediate surgery in view of past medical history. Declared as a high-risk patient, she was stabilized after a week’s treatment for chronic UTI.

 

November 2005 Weeks 1-2: Operated upon for insertion of DHS (Dynamic Hip Screw) under spinal anaesthesia.

 

November 2005 Weeks 3-4:  Discharged from hospital. Severe loss of appetite: cause unknown. Intake of food less than 200 grams a day (about 10 spoons of rice and curry, one egg) . Intake of water less than 200 ml a day.

 

December 2005 Weeks 1-2:  Following interventions by kriya-yogi Vimuktananda, appetite returns somewhat. Intake of food improves to 400 grams a day. Intake of water improves to 500 ml a day. Yoga interventions – conventionally considered to be in the realms of  “spiritual” medicine or plain quackery, depending upon who is talking- are manipulations of the human energy field using mental visualization techniques. Once the energy flows are streamlined, the body shows improved functioning. UTI recurs, treated with antibiotics.

 

December 2005 Week 3:  – first x-ray after surgery shows non-union of fracture after 40 days. Attributed to loss of appetite, mental depression, diabetic neuropathy, osteoporotic changes and reduced cardiac function. Started on calcitonin nasal spray.

 

December 2005 Week 4:  Unable to accept calcitonin. Started on Ayurvedic medication to increase natural release of anabolic  (tissue building) hormones and regenerate nerve and bone tissue.  Immediate effect- complaints of postural hypotension. Medication consists of compounds of mercury and other minerals/metals. Mercury is considered to be toxic to the human body. In view of the fact that non-healed hip fractures and subsequent confinement to bed result in fatalities to a large percentage (over 30%) of elderly women, a decision is taken to administer the Ayurvedic medication regardless of the risk. Bhasmas are prepared by chemically treating the base element with organic compounds until it becomes non-reactive with the human body.

 

January 2006 Weeks 1-3: -appetite improves significantly and starts eating about 1000 grams a day. Fluid intake of 1000 ml.  This is a four-fold increase over the post surgery initial intake levels. Mid January she is mobilised and made to stand, without any weight bearing but with full support. UTI recurs, treated with anti-biotic injections.

 

Week 4:  End January- x-ray shows significant union of fracture. Stands for periods upto 3 minutes with support and with partial weight bearing. Very afraid.

 

February 2006 Weeks 1-2– UTI recurs. Treated with injectible antibiotics for 15 days.

 

Weeks 3-4: Follow up with a 6- week course of oral antibiotics. Started on Bangsheel, a proprietary Ayurvedic medication prepared out of tin bhasma.

 

March 2006– walks with walker from bedroom to living room, toilet and back.

Her mental orientation has improved dramatically and it is opined that (?) Alzheimer’s has been reversed.  Chronic recurrent UTI has also been brought under control using combination of oral antibiotics and Estradiol cream (for cervicitis, identified as the cause of recurrence of UTI). The last application of injectible antibiotics was in February 2006.

April 2006- No complaints except for constipation and occasional pain in left leg. Walking thrice a day. Appetite normal, mentally very cheerful and oriented well. No complaints of UTI

 

May 2006-  Week 1:Complained of constipation for over 5 days. Stomach distended, abdomen very hard. Vomiting of frothy sputum, loss of appetite and severe lack of energy.  Did not walk for over 5 days. Basal crepts developed after 48 hours necessitating overnight use of oxygen.

 

 Siddhavali powder ( peristalsis inducing medication) supplied from a  Yoga ashram administered  orally on the evening of May 7th. Simultaneously, electro-stimulation of descending tract of colon carried out for over 3 hours at night, with one electrode placed over left lower abdomen, and the other on left lower back, one inch left of the spinal column. Time of application: between 4.a.m and 7.a.m, which is Vata time for the large intestine. Siddhavali powder administered again in the morning.  By mid-day, she evacuated over 2 kilogrammes of soft stools, after an initial evacuation of hardened stools. Started walking, mood elevated considerably and appetite regained.

 

Siddhavali powder administered once every 2 days now.

 

Week 2: Siddhavali powder dosage reduced to once every three days as frequency of bowel movement increased to twice a day- from once every five days. Slight irritability seen. Frothy sputum expectorated twice a day- very light quantity. Resumed walking about in the house.

 

Week 3: Minimal expectoration of frothy sputum once a day. Slight quantity of post nasal drip seen during meal times.  X-ray  of the fracture site shows near-complete union. Only major complaint is pain in the left leg- nearly 6 months after the surgery some significant pain has recurred. Cause-  ? reversal of diabetic neuropathy. ?  Muscular pain caused by walking.

 

Week 4: No complaints except for  occasional cough and pain in left leg.

 

 

Principles used

The first part of the material below is essential towards understanding the steps that were taken to rescue and rehabilitate Mrs. Mamata Sen from the terminal condition brought about by treatment through allopathy. The word   rescue is deliberate, because allopathy is based on a partial   understanding of the functioning of the human body, and it often fails to cure patients  on an enduring basis. Since allopathy is based upon application of industrially manufactured chemicals that symptomatically control disease, instead of going to the underlying cause of disease and removing it (unless the illness is on account of pathogens), modern medicine has few answers for chronic diseases. Most, if not all, medicines manufactured by modern technological processes give rise to many side-effects, a result of imperfect understanding on the part of modern biology about how the human body functions.

It is true that permanent allopathic cures exist for diseases that have pathogenic causes and many fatal diseases have been controlled or eliminated by modern medicine by the use of antibiotics. It is equally true that allopathic treatment for chronic diseases is usually based upon symptomatically controlling disease at a bio-chemical level or through surgical interventions with organ replacement.

It must also be acknowledged that in spite of allopathy’s limitations, it was the use of allopathic life saving medication and techniques that revived Mrs. Sen after her cardiac arrest and gave her a chance to live.

Similarly, antibiotics and modern techniques of surgery and anaesthesia allowed Mrs. Sen to combat recurrent UTI that kept sapping her energy; and allowed her a chance to recover from a hip fracture that is a major cause of severe morbidity and mortality. In conjunction with allopathy, the use of Ayurvedic diagnostic procedures and treatment brought her back to near- complete health.

(Interspersed in the paragraphs below are certain conclusions made while trying to understand Ayurvedic principles in the light of modern scientific knowledge. Given that very few of these principles have been validated in laboratories, these conclusions remain mere hypotheses).

Ayurveda is based upon the flow of energy through the human body. Energy is produced in the body at two major sites- the abdomen and the neuro-respiratory complex (head and lungs)[1]. The energy generation and distribution network through the body thus has two parallel processes and pathways.

a) Bio-chemical means of generation and distribution of energy (site- the abdomen):

The conventional path (also understood by to western science) consists of production of energy through digestion of food, and distribution of digested food by the circulatory system to all tissues in the body. This is a bio-chemical/mechanical process – digestion of food in the alimentary canal being a chemical process, transport to the cellular level being a mechanical process, and release of energy at the cell level being again a bio-chemical process.

Glucose derived from food is moved from its site of storage, the liver, via the blood stream, and carried to all the cells through a process of diffusion by plasma. At the cellular level, a chemical process , scientifically known as the Krebs’s cycle, converts glucose into carbon di-oxide and water. Energy is released during this process in the form of heat, electricity and probably light.

Proteins and fats are metabolized through two other cycles and ultimately end up releasing energy which is stored as ATP.

Energy derived from food is stored in the liver in the form of ATP (adenosine Tri-phosphate)[2]. Formula is: ADP + GTP → ATP + GDP (GDP stands for Glucose Di-phosphate, GTP for Glucose Tri-Phosphate). Heat is responsible for maintenance of body temperature.

Electricity is stored as potential charge in potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride and bi-carbonate ions,[3] and is utilized for muscular movements, transport of nutrients into the cell, cell division and the removal of wastes.

The role played by light in human metabolic processes is not yet known to modern science; however, use of light for healing was an integral part of Ayurveda and is seen in the storage of medicated oils in colored glass bottles and in the use of gemstones for healing.[4] Graphics: courtesy Elmhurst University websitehttp://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/630proteinmet.html

 

 

 

The mechanical and chemical pathways of energy flow described above are the basis of modern allopathic understanding of human metabolism. Allopathy does not  usually look for implementing enduring solutions for chronic diseases by interventions at a metabolic level or through energy field changes that can bring about sustainable health, and this is where a fundamental difference exists between the underlying philosophies of energy medicine and modern medicine. Perhaps the only two allopathic interventions where the bio-energetic field is treated are the use of cardiac pace-makers and the use of electrolytic supplements during oral re-hydration.

  The mechanical and chemical pathways of energy flow described above comprise but a part of Ayurvedic principles and processes.

This energy is produced through biological processes governed by the autonomous nervous system and it is hypothesized that the Sanskrit term prana (life force) refers to bioelectricity. (Hypothesis 1)[5] 

b) Bio-mechanical means of production and distribution of energy: (site- head)   As the largest consumer of energy, the human brain can act as a powerhouse  for the rest of the body as well. Meditation is used  in Eastern medicine to increase the level of ionic charge in the brain- the body then sends the free ions through internal energetic/neural pathways to other organ systems. This pathway explains the underlying cause for many psycho-somatic phenomena.

Another major source of energy in Ayurveda and yoga is the electro-magnetic field of the earth. Good conductors like gold, silver and copper were traditionally used in Ayurvedic acupuncture to interface body tissue with the electrostatic field around every human being[6]. Modern acupuncture uses micro-currents from a D.C source to obtain the same effect.

 Prana is the flow of energy through the entire human system, including the brain. Vata corresponds to the energy flow through the kidneys, large intestine, urinary bladder and pericardium. Its presence is detected by the forefinger. Pitta is measured by the flow of energy through the organ systems that modulate the metabolic rate – gall bladder, heart, small intestine and liver, and its presence is determined by the middle finger. Kapha organs are lungs, stomach, spleen and pancreas and kapha flow is detected by the ring finger. All three fingers are placed on the radial artery aft of the stylus process (bony projection on the wrist). A detailed explanation of the diagnostic process using Nadi analysis (interpretation of the radial pulse) is found in annotated texts[7]

 

 The body clock, set by the pineal gland, modulates this energy flow and maintains harmony in the body- each of the twelve organ systems in the body receives a peak pranic flow for two hours during every twenty four hour cycle.[8]

It is when the body makes demands upon organ systems when they are not functioning at the peak, but are energy deficient, that disturbances to their functioning sets in. These disturbances impair the normal metabolic processes of the body and result in increased toxicity of body tissues. Toxicity, a natural by- process of metabolism, causes cell death. Similarly, ageing and pathogens also cause cell death. Enough cells die and an organ begins to fail. Chronic disease is a condition brought about by disrupted energy flows through organ systems. Enough organs fail and an organism dies.

When serious disease has set in, immediate restoration of energy flow is brought about by acupuncture and Ayurvedic preparations. Acupuncture uses increased electromotive force to push ions through energy meridians (fascia and underlying nerve cells) that have become non-conductive, and increase the efficiency of associated organs by resonance, much in the manner of a cardiac pace-maker.  As improved energy flows bring the organ back to higher levels of functioning, the circulatory-excretory processes remove tissue toxicity and restore the energy flows to optimal, bringing about enduring health. A simple analogy would be the manner in which a car with a dead battery is started by connecting it with another battery by jumper cables. Once the motor starts, it charges its own battery and the car becomes self-sustaining.

 (Note: The above passage needs to be understood very clearly if one is to gain an insight into how traditional medicine works and gives results in cases considered to be untreatable by modern medicine).

 

Charge flows in four directions-

 

 

1.Udan Vayu (upwards), – hiccups, coughs, belching, speaking and memory

2.Apana Vayu (downwards)- swallowing, peristalsis, excretion, reproduction and

   menstruation

3. Vyan Vayu (outwards)- towards the peripheral limbs, similar to arterial flow

4.and Samana (inwards).- towards the heart, similar to venous flow.[9]

 

 

English versions of Sanskrit texts loosely use the word “airs” as a literal translation of the word “Vayu” but a closer , more precise definition would be “vector force”.

 

In energy medicine, increase in flow of downward moving energy along the spine increases supply to all the organs positioned on either side of the spinal cord-heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen and urinary bladder. Downward movement is induced by massage, by medication using Ayurvedic herbs and by meditation techniques. Health is maintained as long as this downward flow exists. Thus, in Ayurveda, Apana Vayu is called the King of Vayus.

 

Supplement of Ayurvedic herbs is done with minerals and metals in bio-friendly form for absorption at the cellular level to restore normal functioning of vital organs.

Principle used is again resonance-  an increase in the strength of local energy fields of cells/tissues by  obtained by resonance with the energy fields of the metal/mineral ions (Hypothesis 2).

 

Specific metals/minerals used in different proportions to restore normal functioning of specific organs.[10]

 

Ayurveda uses detoxification techniques (panchakarma) to increase the conductivity of body tissues, as well as to restore flows along their normal lines of action. Often, the use of specific foods and cooking techniques interferes with the natural electrical conductivity of body tissues. High on the list are micro-waved processed foods with chemical additives. If the body is well nourished and the mind is kept happy, the mind-body complex shifts the endocrine system into a self-healing process that is far more effective than any intervention by any doctor. Sound sleep is a necessary factor- for it is then that the body releases hormones that rebuild tissues (anabolic hormones)[11]. Release of the same hormones is also seen after strenuous exercise, which accounts for the immense health benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercises .

 

 Ayurvedic etiology of Mrs. Mamata Sen’s condition:

 

1. Cardiac arrest and paralytic ileus: Peristaltic movements were disrupted due to chronic constipation.  Constipation caused by sluggishness of the intestinal muscles and neural pathways due to diabetic neuropathy. Worsened by destruction of intestinal flora following heavy use of   antibiotics to control UTI and supposed pulmonary infection.  Blocked energy pathways caused peristaltic energy to flow upwards, instead letting it follow its normal downward movement. This gave rise to following symptoms seen at the time of admission, (none of which had any significance in allopathic terms)-

 

Respiratory distress (acute dry cough at night)- Abnormal Udan Vayu caused by Apana Vayu reversing its direction of motion.

Acidity and vomiting: Increased Pitta in the GI tract being pushed up by deranged Apana Vayu

Heavy postnasal drip : Increased Kapha in the head being driven by deranged Udan Vayu

Loss of mental orientation: Deranged Udan Vayu

Hiccups: Deranged Udan Vayu

Sneezing: Deranged Udan Vayu and

Headaches: Increased prana in the head , also caused by  increased Pitta, Vata ,Kapha or all three.

 

 Energy disruption led to near-terminal episode of cardiac arrest.[12] It is significant to note that she complained of severe headaches for 48 hours before her cardiac arrest, a symptom that was not considered significant by the treating allopathic doctors.

2.Renal failure caused by diabetic nephropathy.

3. Pulmonary failure caused by cardiac weakness coupled with ascitis (fluid retention caused by cardio-renal failure).

4. Alzheimer’s and loss of sensorium brought about by diabetic neuropathy.

 

Treatment:

Ayurvedic treatment was at four levels- knowledge, mind, energy and bodywork.

The body is visualized to have four concentric sheaths- the innermost being the physical body, enveloped by an energy field, which in turn is modulated by the brain. As the mind modulates production and utilization of energy, the will to live is thus paramount in any medical treatment. The will to live is modulated by the accuracy and type of knowledge stored in the brain.

 

Mind and emotion:

The mind was treated by three methods-

  1. There was a constant presence of a loved family member by her side- two sons, husband and daughter-in-law.6 hour shifts were maintained in the ICU, as well as at home. Efforts were always made to keep a matter-of-fact near-normal environment about her, including surrounding her with her favourite clothes, music, food, and, of course, friends and relatives.

 

  1.  At all points in time, she was kept fully in the picture about what was happening and why was she undergoing a particular process or being given a particular medicine. There was no attempt made to conceal anything- and yet, she was never told that she was critically ill.

 

 

  1. Targets given to her were small and immediately achievable within the next 10-15 minutes- the next dose of medicine, the next spoon of food or the next sip of water. Thus, even when she had huge goals in front of her, (for instance, being told to take 1000 ml of water daily, at a time when she was not even drinking three sips at a stretch), she would be asked to only focus on what was immediately achievable. Each achievement was applauded- and at no point in time was she ever scolded for non-achievement of a daily target. Small steps on a daily basis made a long haul of recovery from 8 months of being bed-ridden appear to be effort less.

 

The strong will power to live that she always had was reinforced by the above processes and used to treat the body at the next level- energy work. At all points in time, she willingly co-operated with (the some-times bizarre) procedures that were used to re-energise the body.

 

Energy work consisted of following therapies-

 

  1. Kriya Yoga: Specific breathing techniques are used to increase or decrease the production of the pancha mahabutas within the body. (Pancha Mahabhutas: five great elements: ether, air, water, fire, and earth. In modern terms, these would translate as space, gas, liquid, heat and solids).  Description of specific techniques used to balance Mrs. Sen’s energy fields are outside the purview of this tract; not the least because of the secrecy insisted upon by the practitioners of these processes. Given the crass nature of vulgarization of every process or product by market forces and the tendency of people to blindly develop mass hysteria when faced with purveyors of “spirituality”, such secrecy is understandable, though often counter-productive.

 

 

 

 

 

Duration of therapy: Ten days of chakra (bio- energy junction sites/plexus) balancing.

 

Current status: Therapy discontinued after restoration of appetite.

 

  1. Acupuncture: Electro acupuncture was used to decrease creatinine levels by stimulation of acupuncture points on the kidney meridians. It was discontinued following incidence of severe headaches after therapy[13].

 

 

  Duration of therapy: Ten days of acupuncture of the kidney meridian.

 

  Current status : Therapy discontinued after headaches developed. Creatinine levels    

                  maintained within limits using Ayurvedic medications.

 

 

  1.  TENS therapy using micro-currents: Application of micro electric currents through TENS technology (Trans cutenaeous electrical  nerve stimulation ) to

 

a)  stimulate muscular contractions in descending tract of large intestine to induce peristalsis in order to combat constipation.

 

b) create electric fields around fracture site to enhance calcium deposits.

 

 TENS works by electro-stimulation of nerves and muscle groups through gel filled pads that send trans-cutaneous electric stimuli to tissues underlying the point of application. As TENS is a technology developed in the West, conventional usage of TENS units is restricted to simple massage by auto-stimulation of muscle groups. The theory behind this is that

 

a)      pain relief is obtained by release of serotonin

b)      strength is obtained by repeated contractions of muscle groups

c)      calories are burnt painlessly, giving one effortless weight loss.

 

While the merit of these claims is yet to be scientifically validated, TENS units have another use. They can provide the user with the means to practice electro-acupuncture without having to go through the hassle of obtaining sterile needles, or having to acquire the detailed knowledge of human anatomy vital to the practice of acupuncture. Classical acupuncturists will stoutly critique any attempt at home therapies involving such an intricate science, and it is true that ignorance can be disastrous. However, a Do It Yourself approach to TENS based acupuncture can yield positive results, especially in situations where no trained practitioners are available. Acupuncture meridians maps are freely available nowadays, and there are enough books that give simple disease-treatment points charts in popular bookshops.

  

TENS pads placed along acupuncture meridians, obtain therapeutic benefits similar to electro-acupuncture. A practitioner trained to read a radial pulse in the Ayurvedic manner can easily discern the energy flows in the 12 organ meridians, and co-relate these with physiological symptoms. By varying the frequency, strength and polarity of electrical pulses sent along these meridians through the TENS pads, organs can be induced to perform at their optimal efficiency. Balance is deemed to have been obtained when all three “humors”- Vata, Pitta and Kapha are balanced. In modern terms, balance would mean equi-strength energy flows are achieved through three different sets of organ/nerve complexes, each set of organs differentiated from the others on the basis of frequency of the charge flowing through them.

 

 A small unit designed for home use was picked up in Singapore, and then jury-rigged to send continuous square wave pulses of fixed frequencies. This was done by the acquisition of a function pulse generator from an electronics shop, and attaching the TENS pads to the output line. The positive and negative electrodes were positioned so that current flow would be along the lines of force drawn on classic acupuncture charts. The Internet was sourced for tables in which sets of frequencies used for treating specific organs/ diseases have been compiled.

 

The applied current would

  1. Return the organ being treated to its optimal pulse rate (in the manner of a cardiac pace-maker) by application of appropriate frequencies.[14]
  2. Increase the current flow through the organ meridians, increasing the strength of the organ contractions.

 

The pads were additionally used to create a localized electro magnetic field around the fracture site. It may be noted that, combined with calcitonin therapy and the use of anabolic hormone releasing bhasmas, a satisfactory degree of bone union was seen 45 days after the first post-surgery x-ray, (which showed no union at all).

 

Duration of therapy: Six months of electro-stimulation of the descending tract of the large intestine for 30 minutes a day, and of the site of fracture for 30 minutes a day. Current status: Therapy discontinued after administration of Siddhavali powder found to be more effective in controlling constipation and inducing persistalsis. Therapy of  fracture site discontinued after latest x-ray (May 2006) showed near-complete union.

 

 

  1. Acupressure: The use of acupressure was restricted to

a)      Restarting her bowel movements in the ICU

b)      Controlling the dry cough that developed during meals.

 

Duration of therapy: Six days of  intensive therapy in the ICU in August 2005 to restart bowel functions.

Current status: Occasional interventions to control coughing spells during mealtimes.

 

 

  1. Ayurveda: Specific external therapeutic processes were used to streamline energy flows in Mrs. Sen’s case:

 

a)      Shirobasti- to reduce head aches, sneezing, irritability and mental disorientation. Anti-vata oil was applied on her forehead and scalp. 

b)      Siddha Paste: A paste of anulom, garlic and onion was applied on her navel, to stimulate the gastric plexus.

c)      Oil massages:

                                                                          i.      Abdominal massage

                                                                        ii.      Circulation enhancement massage

                                                                      iii.       Energy balancing massage

 

Duration of therapy: Seven months of intensive therapy at home, sometimes twice a day. Ayurvedic massage was the main line of treatment to keep all the vital functions operative. Lack of bodily movement during long periods of bed-ridden convalescence is known to cause fatal complications- especially pulmonary edema. Massage, coupled with TENS therapy, kept all the vital parameters intact.

Current Status: Treatment stopped as therapist is on leave. Siddhavali powder is used as alternate line of treatment to keep peristaltic energy flows intact.

 

 

 

Once energy work was commenced, results showed up in the body as well. It was complemented by following therapies at the level of the body.

 

 

 

a) Ayurveda:

  1. Revival of the GI tract.

 

  1. Intake: Primary source of bio-energy for the body was hot liquid well-cooked food (khichari and soups), which supplied basic protein and carbohydrates. Khichari has the added benefit of being cooked with traditional Indian spices (Bhuta Agnis), which improve assimilation at the cellular level. Hot fluids are easily assimilated– the body has to work less to digest the food.
  2.  Processing: Digestion enhanced through use of Ayurvedic formulations Super- Agni and Supachak churanam.  The former is a herbal wine that increases appetite and pachak pitta (digestive fire).  The latter stimulates different taste buds and releases digestive enzymes. 
  3.  Output: Effective elimination of faeces through the use of Ayurvedic, (alternated with allopathic) enemas, suppositories, and electro acupuncture;  supplemented with Looz, an allopathic laxative and Cremadiet (powdered Isaphgula (Psyllium) husk)). Over a period of nine months, the best results were obtained by the application of Siddhavali powder.

 

  1. Application of medicated oils
    1. to promote flow of nutrients via the skin to deeper underlying tissues for purposes of repair of the fractured bone.

 

 

3. Treatment of the whole body with Ayurvedic herbs and minerals designed to      

bring energy flows back to their natural order, as well as to rejuvenate and repair different organ systems. 

Ayurvedic medicines from Ayushakti:

  1. Anulom (peristalsis)
  2. Super Agni (digestive) 1-1 tsp for 30 days
  3. Kidney F (kidney failure) 1-1*15 days
  4. Uritone (kidney failure)  1-1-1-1 *7 days
  5. Shwas Jivan  (lung failure) 1-1*15 days
  6. Bangsheel- Ayurvedic medication using tin bhasma (urinary tract infection)

 

4. Treatment with non-toxic  Ayurvedic preparations of mercury as hormone release enhancers to stimulate production of anabolic hormones to bring about all around tissue regeneration at the level of skin, muscle, bone and nerve tissue .

 

     5.Dietary modifications to change urinary ph to combat chronic UTI-

  1. Fennel water (200 ml)

 

6. Other nutritive supplements.

 

a)  Lime juice, raspberries and oranges to combat chronic UTI     (increased vitamin C levels)

b)  Buttermilk intake to improve calcium levels for the fracture.

c) Nutralite supplements  of essential vitamins, amino acids, minerals and proteins .

d) Improved intake of natural vitamins and minerals through pomegranate juice to improve blood counts .     

d)     Diet: Normal diet (400 grams rice,60 grams fish,100 grams dal,1 chapatti, 1 egg, and 100 ml pomegranate juice,100 ml orange juice and 100 ml of buttermilk.

 

Duration of therapy: Seven months of Ayurvedic medication was the main line of treatment for restarting organ functions. Drugs varied as her condition kept changing.

Current Status: Ayurvedic preparations of mercury the mainstay of treatment for the last 5 months, primarily used to increase energy levels. These were coupled with herbal drugs to contain diabetic nephropathy and hepatic functions. Additional preparation of Calcium Bhasma to contain UTI.

b). Homeopathy:

Following homeopathic preparations were administered for constipation, Urinary Incontinence, congestion, and fracture.

  1. Opium 200
  2. Silicea 200
  3. Cantharis 200
  4. Symphtum 200

  Homeopathy was used a back up to Ayurveda. The medicines were administered continuously in conjunction with Ayurveda and it is difficult to ascertain what degree of efficacy they had in Mrs. Sen’s recovery.

 

Duration of therapy: Four months of intensive treatment until more efficacious Ayurvedic treatments were arranged.

Current status: Nil

 

c) Allopathy:

 

1.Conventional physiotherapy to maintain mobility of joints.

 

2.Following drugs were used

a)      Looz

b)      Lasix

c)      Proctolysis Enema

d)     Inj Insulin Humalog (N) 8 units, td.

e)       Injectible and oral anti-biotics for UTI

f)       Calcitonin nasal spray (for a week, then discontinued)

g)      Evalon estrogen topical application cream to contain cervicitis

Duration of therapy: Over 40 years of treatment for diabetes and three periods of hospitalization for cardiac angina before the latest episode. At the time of discharge, she was advised 15 prescription drugs.

 

Current status: All prescription drugs stopped on the day of discharge from the hospital except for insulin, Lasix and a laxative.  As of May 2006, she is only taking Insulin three times a day, along with Evalon topical cream.

 

On 25th May 2006, x-ray of the fracture site showed near complete union. Except for Insulin, Evalon and Ayurvedic medication to maintain energy levels, all other medication has been stopped.

 

Summary: In retrospect, it is surmised that her cardiac debility arose from chronic UTI, which was symptomatically treated with antibiotics but never really cured. Each bout of hospitalisation left her progressively weaker, until she developed a cardiac arrest following a bout of coughing. Allopathic interventions revived and restored some vital functions, but peristaltic disruptions led to a situation where she was not able to move away from intravenous support. That, in turn led to pulmonary congestion and failure.

 

Ayurvedic interventions reversed ileac paralysis and allowed her to move off intravenous support. Energy enhancers allowed her metabolic functions to stabilize at a level well above that required for life-support and brought about all around healing, including that of a fractured hip. Local hormonal application of estrogen allowed the body to bring a cervical infection under control, which was probably the underlying cause for recurrent urinary tract infection.

 

 

 

1.Compiled by Dr Sumita Sharma (MBBS,DNB Ophthal)  

       and Dr.U.C Sen (MBBS, DPH) ,Noida

 

with additional inputs from:

  1. Dr Deepali Shastri (BAMS, Bombay), Ayushakti
  2. Kriya Yogi Vimuktananda ,Varanasi
  3. Capt.Sudipt Sen., Mumbai. Ph +919820213265

         sudiptsen@yahoo.co.in

 

 

Resources:

 

 

  1. Ayushakti Ayurved Health Care Centre:  Drs.  Pankaj and Smita Naram,

Bhadran Nagar Cross Road No 2, Mumbai,   

      Off S.V Road, Opp Milap Cinema,

      Malad West

      Mumbai-400064

      Maharashtra.

      India

      Tel: 0091-22-28065757

       www.ayushakti.com

  

     resource: Consultation and proprietary Ayurvedic medication

 

3.  Kailash Hospital and Research Centre,

H-33, Sector –27

Noida –201 301

U.P

India

Tel-0091-11-914444444, 914440444,914535455

 

resource: Allopathic consultations and treatment

 

 

  1. Kriya Yogi Vimuktananda,                   

B-22/153 A2

Vinayka P.O

Mehmoorganj

Varanasi

U.P

India

Mobile: 0091-9838674463

 

resource: Kriya Yoga  energy work

 

  1. Shiva Yogi Gagangiri Ashram,

Khopoli,

Maharashtra

India.

 

 resource: 1.Dr Anil Mulik, Accupressurist

                 2.Siddhavali Ayurvedic medication

  1. Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai

modelle@vsnl.net

 

resource: pranahuti

 

 

  1.  Shri Matsyendranath, Sangli,

 Maharashtra.

 

resource: pranahuti

 

 

  1. Dr Sujata Vaidya, Pune

Maharashtra

 

resource: pranahuti

 

 

  1. Dr  S.Bannerji, Varanasi

      

resource: Homeopathic consultations and medication.

 

 

 

9.Dr.S.Bhagewadekar, Pune

                                             

                              resource: Ayurvedic Bhasmas               

 

 

————————————————————————————————————

 

Further reading:

 

  1. The Self Aware Universe:  Amit Goswami
  2. Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide: David Frawley
  3. Yoga and Ayurveda: David Frawley
  4. Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity: Robert  E. Svoboda
  5. Lost Secrets of Ayurvedic Acupuncture-Dr.Frank Ros
  6. Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: Dr.V.Lad
  7. The Sivananda Book of Meditation: Swami Sivananda
  8. Patanjali’s Yoga Shastras: BKS Iyengar
  9. The Healing Power of Gemstones:  H.Johari
  10. Secrets of the Pulse- The Ancient Art of Ayurvedic Pulse Diagnosis- Dr V.D. Lad
  11. Acupressure Techniques: Julian Kenyon
  12. The Healing Energies of Light: Roger Coghill
  13. Massage for Pain Relief: Peijian Shen
  14. The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity: Daniel Reid.

 


[1] The site of prana is in the head and the lungs: ref:  Dr.Frank Ros: “Lost secrets of Ayurvedic Acupuncture”

[2] Encyclopedia Britannica

[3] Encyclopedia Britannica

[4] Johari:The Healing Power of Gemstones.

[5] Patanjali’s Yoga Shastras-BKS Iyengar

[6] Lost Secrets of Ayurvedic Acupuncture-Dr.Frank Ros

[7] Secrets of the Pulse- The Ancient Art of Ayurvedic Pulse Diagnosis- Dr V.D. Lad

[8] Lost secrets of Ayurvedic Acupuncture:Dr.Frank Ros

 

[9]  Various texts: Frawley, Vasant Lad and Dr Frank Ros

[10]  Ayurveda and the Mind: Dr David Frawley

[11] Internet articles on the use of Human Growth Hormones ( HGH)

[12] Ref case notes: Dr Deepali Shastri, Ayushakti.

[13]

Note: The use of  needle acupuncture died out in India along with the decline of Ayurveda. Very few acupuncturists exist in India. Most modern Ayurveda practitioners do not know that acupuncture is an important adjunct of Ayurveda. Of late, Chinese acupuncture is being re-introduced in certain allopathic hospitals in India. In Delhi, the Sir Gangaram Hospital and the Apollo group of hospitals have departments of alternate medicine.

[14] Ref organ/frequency correspondence charts:  various internet sites

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Mumbai, October 2 2008 ( Indian Express)  “Despite being one of the largest producers of academic degrees in the world, the quality of education (in India) is still unsatisfactory,” said ex-chairman and chief mentor, Infosys, Narayana Murthy while delivering a lecture on the ‘need for world class educational institutions’ to a gathering comprising students, professors and alumni of the University Institute of Chemical Technolgy (UICT), Matunga.

 

“ India has hardly produced any worthwhile inventions. Almost every technology we use is from abroad. The reason is the low quality and quantity of our doctoral programmes and our emphasis on rote learning,” he rued as the audience listened in rapt attention.

 

History of Rote Learning: It seems reasonable to assume that it represents the earliest and the original teaching method. Among the first to break with the rote tradition were Greek scholars like Aristotle, the teacher, and his pupil Plato. The Greek concept of learning through questioning, which was taken up by the Egyptians and then the Romans, resulted in a spectacular knowledge explosion in mathematics, the sciences, architecture and philosophy. The Mediterranean basin (what was the then Western world) had become the hub of a remarkable human awakening.  When the “Western world” began to break apart, its symbols of intellectual progress, the university and library in Alexandria , were torched. Thereafter the questioning approach to teaching and learning all but disappeared. With learning restricted primarily to rote-drill memorization as taught in the monasteries there was a dramatic decline both in reading and intellectual production. It was the rediscovery of the Greek philosophers, among them Plato and Aristotle, which actualized the Renaissance. With it came an intellectual reawakening that created the Western world of today.

 

What is Rote Learning?

 

Rote learning is learning something by repeating it, over and over and over again; saying the same thing and trying to remember how to say it; trying to say it fluently and fast, without trying to understand the content. Rote-drill learning by its very nature makes fewer cognitive demands and therefore fewer demands on our brain’s integration of previous experience and knowledge. For this reason, it requires less intellectual involvement and students are never intellectually challenged.

 

What is its drawbacks?

 

Drilling students to memorize small bits of disconnected information doesn’t require thinking on the part of either the teacher or the students.  The danger of rote teaching is that it allows, even encourages,students to avoid having to think. Because it can be so comfortable, rote-drill instruction subtly undermines the importance of reasoning not only for the students but also for the teacher.

 

 Students who have the endowment to become outstanding abstract thinkers, to be major contributors to knowledge, find no need for the work required for genuine thinking and questioning. They are discouraged from indulging in such pleasures. As a result, what can be highly original minds are instead turned into parrots  that spout back other people’s ideas and findings, albeit with impressive accuracy and detail.

 

There is another possible danger created by rote teaching. It is its indoctrination potential. Note: rote teaching and indoctrination have a linked history. If you want to indoctrinate you do not want questioning. Therefore you teach using the rote memorization approach. The results of rote teaching with the intent to indoctrinate can range from bland and stupid to truly terrifying. Much of the mindless mob violence seen in India can be traced back to the lack of independent critical thinking inherent in the Indian psyche.

 

 Who practices rote learning in India ?

 

Nearly everybody practices rote learning in India . Indian parents emphasise the importance of passing exams. This process begins in kindergarten and goes right through the system to graduation from high school.Parents will do virtually anything to achieve their aims for their children. At one level this is very admirable, but it has unintended consequences. Parental pressure is brought to bear on the school principal, if there is a perception that students do not do well at the school, as in “get good marks in the exams”, parents are liable to complain or take children away and send them to a “better school”.

 

 

 

 

Are there any alternatives to Rote Learning?

 

The very opposite of Rote based learning is comprehension based learning, where the pupil questions his/her teacher till there is a very clear understanding of the lesson objectives, and the underlying principles behind each topic is established in the student’s mind.

learned knowledge is fully understood by the individual and that the individual knows how that specific fact relates to other stored facts in his/her brain.

 

The student reads carefully, trying to make sense out of the topic being taught. When asked to recall the material, the individual can remember almost all of the important terms and facts in the lesson. Furthermore, when asked to use the information to solve problems, she/he generates many possible solutions. In this scenario, the student not only possesses relevant knowledge, but s/he also can use that knowledge to solve problems and understand new concepts and can transfer the knowledge to new problems and new learning situations.  As comprehension and integration of ideas takes time, individuals who are taught this way appear slower on the uptake but they can reason in terms of implications, of abstraction. They are thinking organisms and are able to reason, analyse and innovate. The ability to invent leads to technological advancement , which is is what separates the Third World from the First.

This method of teaching is alien to the Indian educational system.

 

 It demands that every teacher is himself/herself clearly understands the topic he/she is trying to teach, and is able to explain it to his/her students without getting upset with the implied erosion to authority that a inquiry based teaching system entails. Keeping in mind that introduction of such a system entails training the teachers first, a very systemic broad based attempt has to be made to change the mindset and processes followed by Indian educators.

 

Is there any place in India where this change has taken place?

The Rishi Valley school in Karnataka has done away with rote learning and replaced it with activity based learning. The school has a rural out reach programme and has been cited by, and partnered with UNESCO to develop an Activity Based Learning module for the Tamil Nadu Government for all the state run schools. The following paragraphs are excerpts from the school and UNESCO websites.

“After fifteen years of intense work, we have developed a unique structure for village education that consists of a network of Satellite Schools where a community-based curriculum is taught by village youth trained in especially designed multi-grade methodologies, where the academic curriculum is graded for individual levels of learning, grounded in up-to-date information, and framed in the local idiom and, finally, where the curriculum is integrated with activities aimed to promote conservation, and sustain local culture.

The education kit called ‘School in a Box’ consists of graded cards. These cards represented a breaking down of the learning process into smaller units. Groups of cards are then assembled into a set of ‘milestones’, which lead students from level I to level V in the areas of language, mathematics and environmental science.

These carefully designed ‘study cards’ and ‘work cards’ are supported by a pictorial ‘achievement ladder’ that gives a clear sequential organization to what are essentially self-learning materials.

Children at different levels within a single classroom share the same kit. A textbook in each subject for each child can be dispensed with or used as enrichment material.

The cards allow children to learn at their own pace by selecting, with the help of the ‘achievement ladder’, the appropriate ‘study card’ for their level and performing the necessary follow-up activities or exercises contained in the ‘work cards’. This method encourages silent self-study and individualized learning, though teacher instruction and group work are also a necessary part of the learning process. It gave ample room to the fast-learner as well as the slow-learner to progress at their own pace. Student absenteeism is not a problem in our schools because a student is able to simply take up where he or she had left off on returning to school after a period of absence.

Learning by rote and dry comprehension exercises are abandoned in favour of activity-based learning. Work cards supported by teaching aids are prepared in such a way that children are actively involved in what she is doing and the possibility of her sitting “dreaming” in front of an open book is reduced to the minimum.

Given the rich folk tradition in which our villages are steeped, folk art, folk songs and local stories and legends are also incorporated into the curriculum. Education is seen not as a process of trying to bring every educated person’s competencies to one homogenized level, thereby alienating the child from his own roots and ironing out cultural differences, but as a tool for deepening an understanding of herself, of her traditions and roots, while also exposing her to a wider cultural and knowledge base. This value-based model of education communicates ideals such as tolerance for other cultures, protection of the environment, preservation of folklore and local medicinal traditions.

The model of rural education provides a viable and attractive alternative to traditional education in villages, based on the one teacher per class, mono-grade, mono-level model”

http://www.rishivalley.org/rural_education/methodology.htm

 

“Chennai, Tamil Nadu, September 1: Each day, Amudha, a teacher at the Corporation Primary School in Chennai’s Thiruvanmiyur area, looks forward to school. “It’s encouraging to see children asking questions, voice their opinions and enjoy their lessons, something they never did just a couple of years ago. They treat me as their friend and I like it.’’, she says with delight.

 

Amudha’s optimism isn’t misplaced. When the Corporation of Chennai adopted Activity Based Learning (ABL) on a trial basis in 13 government schools in the city in 2003, it was in effect transforming the way children till then had been taught.A transforming trip

 

 

 

The effort paid off. “Children today are able to understand what they learn. The system allows children to learn at their own pace and hence slow learning does not stop a child from gaining an education.  I feel proud to be part of this system,’’ says Meera, an ABL teacher at the Corporation Middle School in the city’s Purasaiwalkam area.

Earlier, even if a child didn’t do well in class, he or she was promoted to the next grade. That’s why, shockingly, even fifth-graders struggled to read a simple sentence in Tamil, their mother tongue. With ABL, the teachers had an opportunity to change that.

Today, ABL classrooms encourage children to ask many questions and think creatively. Amudha, Shanthi, Sathianathan and Meera say they will give all it takes to help poor children get the education they deserve, to make learning child-friendly and to build confidence in the young minds. 

They are encouraged to see their children motivated to learn well. “As teachers, we are happy to have a chance to give these children quality education. Even at home I’m thinking of new activities like puzzles and picture stories to present in class. I hope the system will be adopted successfully across Tamil Nadu,’’ says Shanthi.

As the children excitedly took to this new teaching-learning method, the teachers met every Saturday to discuss ways to improve card content, correct symmetry in material presentation and exchange ideas to induce participative learning. In February 2004 the revised cards were out and soon, all 270 government schools in the city were using them.

Many of the children in government-run schools come from marginalized families or are very poor. “While making the activity cards, I would constantly think about how much these children go through emotionally. I wanted to make their learning as joyful as possible,’’ says Sathianathan, who teaches at the Corporation Primary School in Pulianthope.

Starting this June, the State Government has taken the ABL learning initiative to 4,000 Government-run schools in the state. The way children are learning is changing across the state thanks to the efforts of hundreds of teachers like Shanti and Amudha.”

(http://www.unicef.org/india/resources_2276.htm)

 

There are 26 states in India. Are the other states and the Central Government implementing activity based learning in their schools and colleges?

 

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in operative in 35 states and Union territories of India . There are other attempts made in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh,Karnataka, Himachal,West Bengal, Gujarat,Punjab, Kerala , UP and Uttarakhand (a total of 10 states) to improve the quality of education but no other state follows the ABL model in TN, which has been commended by UNESCO, the World Bank and the European Union as well. The following article in the TOI is of interest:

CHENNAI: Going by the reviews of an expert team from the World Bank and the European Commission, a silent revolution in primary education has begun in Tamil Nadu.

 

 

The team , on a two-day tour to study the implementation of the activity-based learning (ABL) and active learning methodologies (ALM) in schools in Tamil Nadu, was all praise for the state for adopting on such a large scale with such a high rate of success the new pedagogies in one-and-ahalf years.

 

 

 

(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Chennai/TNs_teaching_methods_impress_WB_team_/articleshow/3401327.cms)

 

The challenge before India is to get the other 34 states and Union Territiories to follow suit.  You can advocate change in your state by working with advocacy groups. The Government of India has partnered with the Azim Premjee Foundation and you may like to contact them at:



Advocacy and Communication,
Azim Premji Foundation
134 Doddakannelli,
Next to Wipro Corporate Office,
Sarjapur Road,
Bangalore – 560035

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sudipt

 

Telephone: 91- 80 – 66144900 / 01 / 02
Fax: 91 – 80 – 66144903

 

Email at :

 

 
 

 

 

 

The team – comprising Venita Kaul, Deepa Shankar and Savita Dhingra from the World Bank and Shanti Jagannathan from the European Commission – studied five Corporation and governmentaided schools in Chennai and 10 panchayat union schools in Dharmapuri district.

“We are extremely impressed with the improvement in the quality of learning among the children in schools adopting the ABL method,” said Venita Kaul, senior education specialist, World Bank.

“There are good initiatives in other states, but they are still in the pilot project stage and are less comprehensive. And they don’t incorporate individual-based learning. Credit goes to Tamil Nadu for elaborating and scaling up an innovative project,” Kaul said.
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The team feels that compared to other states Tamil Nadu had taken a quantum leap in primary education – something that would have implications when the children move to higher classes.

In January, a joint review mission was conducted by officials from the World Bank and the Central and State governments .

While expressing satisfaction over the enrolment in schools, they had recommended enhancing the quality of education . This time, the team, on a “study mission” (as one of the members called it), saw a marked improvement.

A senior official of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan wing said the team noted that the new pedagogy allowed children to learn at their own pace and also individual learning. They also appreciated the in-built evaluation that the system allowed where a child moves to the next milestone only if he or she is able to perform the appropriate activities: a novelty considering that the normal curriculum is usually straitjacketed.

Democratic principles are followed in the classroom with the child deciding when to move to the next activity. Kaul refers to this as “the rights of children being ensured in class.”

“The team told us that the challenge lay in sustaining the momentum of development,” the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan official said.

 

What’s impressive is the holistic approach to education in schools across the state. “The methodology is well-entrenched . There’s no fumbling and the children don’t give unsure answers,” said Kaul. “

 

 
 
 

 

Amudha was among the first 26 teachers who were selected for training at Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh. They learnt the fundamentals of activity based learning from the UNICEF supported project there. [UNICEF supports Chennai Corporation in their schools programme and RISHI Valley Education Resource Centre (RIVER) has been identified and advocated by UNICEF  as a resource agency to promote child-centred and activity-based learning]

 

Back home in Chennai, they got to work together.  Shanthi, her colleague, remembers the many hours the team spent analyzing the best way to present words and numbers and add colour to lessons with rhymes, song, drama and charts. “We wanted to help children gain a real education,’’ she says. They created activity-cards, shattering conservative convictions that creating curricula was the exclusive preserve of the highly-learned.

 

 
 
 

 

The principal does not want this so the pressure comes to bear on the teachers who work long and hard. The only way they can deliver the results wanted is to teach using rote learning methods. They need to know the questions and they teach the answers and the children learn them off by heart. Then every one is happy.

Unfortunately this is a “no risk” teaching method. The principal runs a good school, the teachers deliver exam results and the parents are happy. This results in students who do not know what risk is about, because the teaching involves no risk or very low risk. When the students get to university they feel very comfortable with this kind of education and demand it on occasions.

The problem with this kind of education system is that if you want creativity you cannot have it. Creativity by its very nature is a very risky business. To be creative one must take risks. With creativity one steps into the unknown and one is not sure what will happen, or how a creative effort will be accepted. One may fail dismally but due to the no risk rote learning method failure cannot be tolerated, because one has always got positive results.

 

This results in a population in which very few people take risks.