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Sudha Pani: The Celestial Healer
|by Dr. Padmaja Bhogte|
It is Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi – the juncture to worship Lord Dhanwantari believed to be the Father of Ayurveda & an embodiment of Lord Vishnu. It is a long-running convention in the society of Ayurvedic practitioners to share out a holy submission consisting of ‘Gul-Dhane’, a mixture of jaggery and coriander seeds. Ayurveda is a spiritual science in itself.When needed, Lord Vishnu himself incarnated as Lord Dhanwantari & reestablished the tradition of Ayurveda in the world to help relieve some of human suffering. It is also believed that the peccadillo of brutality meted out on the flora & fauna in view to prepare medicines is paid off by donating a division called the ‘Dhanwantari Bhag’ from the prepared medications.
Dhanwantari is a representative of the branch of Surgery in Ayurveda (Shalyatantra). The term Shalya represents suffering or violence. ‘Dhanu’ is the science which helps in eradicating these sufferings & hence the one who has through knowledge of this science & makes human free of anguish is called Dhanwantari. So the name refers not only to the divine preserver of Ayurveda, but is also associated with the hierarchy and rich medical tradition in the history of India. Here lies the importance of worshipping Lord Dhanwantari in order to bring health & happiness into the world.
Lord Dhanwantari has been worshipped right from the epoch of Ramayana & Mahabharata which also consist of narratives regarding his appearance.The Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana describes the story of churning of ocean of milk (Samudra Manthana) which led to the emergence of fourteen gems, of which Lord Dhanwantari was one. Similar references are also found in Harivanshapurana, Bhagvata, Brahmanda, Vishnupurana, Vayu & Agnipurana. Lord Dhanwantari surfaced clad in bright yellow, his curly hair was anointed with oil and he wore shining earrings made of pearl. As he emerged, he was holding a conch, leech, a chakra (one of the divine weapons of Lord Vishnu) and the long sought pot of ambrosia, for which he is also called Sudha Pani (“carrying nectar”), one in each arm.
The four things held by Lord Dhanwantari in his arms symbolize four different aspects of Ayurveda. The chakra stands for the elimination of all ailments arising due to the contamination of the elements earth (bhumi), water (jala), air (vayu) & time (kala). The delightful resonance materializing due to the blowing of the conch shell results in purification of the air. The leech is an indication that surgical procedures have been in existence since ancient times & finally the pot containing the ambrosia represents the nectar of all divine medicinal plants.
The churning of the ocean represents the spiritual endeavor of a person to achieve self-realization through concentration of mind, withdrawal of the senses and control of all desires. It also appeals the practitioners to be active & be devoted towards their profession. Eachand every human being craves & struggles for a healthy & happy life. It is written in the scriptures that, “One who remsember the name of Dhanwantari is set free from all ailments.” It is believed that the practice of worshipping Lord Dhanwantari by enlightening the lamp & reciting ‘Dhanwantari Stavan’ at the commencement of all activities in the field of Ayurveda leads to their successful accomplishment. Let us all on this sacred occasion of Dhanteras pray for a long-lasting healthy & prosperous life.
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