P.K. Warrier—Epitome of a Glowing Ayurveda Tradition

Among the many things that Kerala is famous for, the most prominent is its rich Ayurvedic tradition. Some seven decades ago, one man found himself at the inflection point of that great legacy, helming an institution that to this day represents the purest essence of that glowing tradition.

That man was Dr. P.K. Warrier, and the institution, Kottackal Arya Vaidya Sala. Born on 5 June 1921, Dr. Warrier turns 100 today.

Dr. Warrier took over the reins of the Kottackal Arya Vaidya Sala, located in Malappuram in north Kerala, in 1954, precisely at the time when India began its journey from a backward agrarian nation towards one that harnessed nature and technology to emerge as one the top five economies as the third millennium dawned.

Dr. Warrier, the youngest nephew of Vaidyaratnam P. S. Warrier, the founder of Kottackal Arya Vaidya Sala, was at once a witness to and a participant in that journey, guiding the institution as its Chief Physician and Managing Trustee, after his elder brother’s demise in a plane crash, into the single important destination for anyone seeking ayurvedic remedies from their ailments, be they from within India or abroad. Today, Kottackal is the synonym for authentic Ayurveda and over 30% of its patrons reach this far corner of Kerala from different parts of the globe.

Under Dr. Warrier’s stewardship, Kottackal Arya Vaidya Sala has evolved into a premier institution of ayurvedic learning, research and drug manufacture. The Vaidya Sala today has five hospitals, a 300-bed facility and a charity hospital at Kottackal, and treating hospitals at Kochi, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. The Vaidya Sala is also a major manufacturer of ayurvedic drugs, its three state-of-the-art drug manufacturing facilities having an annual turnover of $20 million.

Through the often-difficult journey through the second half of the last century, Dr. Warrier remained unwavering in his commitment to authentic ayurvedic practices and the lofty tradition of being there to cure all, regardless of their economic status. Over 800,000 people benefit every year from free consultations at Vaidya Sala’s hospitals and the twenty-two branches located in different parts of Kerala and India.

Dr. Warrier has all along been a proponent of the idea of the Ayurveda practitioner getting an insightful understanding of a patient’s condition in the traditional way, through close interaction and physical examination, rather than through diagnostic investigations. Even so, he has always been ready to acknowledge the validity of other systems of medicine and ever so keen to keep himself abreast of the developments in these fields.

Dr. Warrier has tried to propagate this holistic approach to treatment of diseases through his writings and speeches, contributing heavily to contemporary medical literature. His writings, speeches and research papers have been compiled under the title ‘Padamudrakal’. As Secretary of Arya Vaidya Samajam, he guided the growth of the Vaidyaratnam P.S. Warrier Ayurveda College (previously Arya Vaidya Pathasala) for over two decades, during the time when it was upgraded to an Ayurveda College. 

Dr. Warrier made special efforts to incorporate technological innovations in the manufacturing processes of Ayurvedic medicines to enhance their efficacy and quality. In order to make the medicinal preparations more accurate, he established a research laboratory for the identification of medicinal plants and to ascertain the chemical identity of its pharmaceutical constituents. Now, this facility has grown into the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research, a full-fledged research institution.

Dr. Warrier served as the Dean of Ayurveda in Calicut University and was Chairman of its Board of Studies. In recognition of his unique academic achievements, the University awarded an honorary D. Litt. to him in 1999. Well known as an ardent supporter of medical ethics, Dr. Warrier was honoured with many awards and distinctions over the last over seven decades. The nation honoured him with the ‘Padma Shri’ in 1999 and the ‘Padma Bhushan’ in 2010.

No wonder then that Dr. Warrier, is today the tallest of the Ayurveda practitioners in the world, Kottackal Arya Vaidya Sala the epitome of all that is good and great about Ayurveda, the science of life.

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