My final post on my Ayurveda ‘retreat’. Two topics have come up, besides many who have asked simply for further information on certain ailments which have been passed on to the doctors. Some have already booked for stays here. A couple from Perth with a third friend just arrived. I am thrilled!
No! These folks cannot do anything about reversing your ageing process! But, they can attempt to lead one towards a quality old age, by treatment, massages, prescriptive food and drink but most importantly, to attempt to make one change one’s habits towards a healthier living and attention towards one’s body, mind and spirit. They attempt to help kick-start that change within you. The rest is up to you.
Let me start with something rather humorous. A young lady wrote to me on Whatsapp asking what I do when getting massaged. I told her that as soon as the masseurs begin their mantra chant to their goddess/diety of wellness, my mouth automatically says Waheguru! “But”, she wrote, “your head is uncovered!” I was taken aback and wrote back: “So is most of my body. After all I am getting massaged!” Well, I was not exactly at an Akhand Kirteni Jatha smagam chanting Waheguru, Waheguru with a dumalla on my head, weaponry and bana!
She must have taken a day to recover from that because a day later she asked me: “So, do you do naam simran while being massaged?” I said, “Yes, I either recite Waheguru, Waheguru, or the Mool Mantr mainly.” Her next question truly flipped me. “Do you recite the Mool Mantr to Gurpersaadh or Nanak hosi bhi sach?” I did not know what that had to do with the massage itself, but, I am what I am.
My answer was, “Sometimes to Gurpersaadh and sometimes to Nanak Hosi bhi sach. Sometimes I do the whole 5 paudis of JapJi Sahib. In fact I like the ending of JapJi Sahib from ‘Sachkhand vesai Niringkar …’, so I do 5 paudis, end with starting from ‘Sachkhand vesai Niringkar’ and finish with the salok!” I ended up giving her a discourse, as I deem it, on ‘Naam’.
As humans, or maybe it is our ‘Indian’ originality, we do like restrictive practices. It must be human nature! I ask myself – are we supposed to open the minds of our youth? Or, close them! Do we teach the freedom that Sikhi accords or do we give them restrictive practices, otherwise the Gods or Guru Ji at least, will get angry with us?
First of all, there have been some questions about wearing of kekkars. I really have nothing further to add to that. I think, “mat vich reten jwahar manek, je ik Gur ki Sikh suni…”.
Guru Ji shows us the path. At the end we should use our own intellectual faculties. Interpret Gurbani the way you believe it deep down in your heart or, just follow what you have been told. It is your choice. Yes, there is a choice. Your budhi, your intellect can come into play. Do use your budhi. ‘Qediyai surt, mat, mun, budh…’.
The second is that some have had bad experiences with Ayurveda. I would suggest that one would have bad experiences with western trained doctors, chiropractors, Chinese healers, etc. One needs to be very careful where one goes for treatment.
As far as Ayurveda is concerned, firstly, at least read about it. Read about kapha, pita, and watha; the doshas; etc. Generally, as it appears to my simple mind, they attempt to align the fire, water as I understand it, or what the Chinese refer to as ‘chi’ in your body – to rejuvenate it and kickstart it in the right direction.
My experiences are that initially, as treatment starts after fairly intense diagnosis, I do become quite sick with the treatment. Loss of appetite, body aches, lethargy, headaches, general bodily dis-ease. There are those who flip out at that point and go away with negative stories about Ayurveda. One needs to stick it out.
Then I will say, for every one ‘good’ Ayurveda centre there are probably five which are ‘not so good’, even though the industry is well regulated here in Kerala. I have had the opportunity to visit some and they range from those which are virtually day visit hospitals with hospital beds, wards and private rooms. Think General Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
On the other end, there are others which are like holiday resorts where the rich come to be pampered. They have pools, villas, servants and some supposedly Ayurveda massages and treatment, and doctors to attend to you if you have ailments. Plenty of cosmetics and fun and comfort. Very costly and I am not certain how effective.
The one I frequent is like a stately convalescence retirement-type home in a former nutmeg orchard in rural Kerala on the outer rim of Cochin, with the mighty Periyar River running beside it. Good efficient doctors, proficient masseurs, great staff – a family atmosphere and … hygienic. Certainly not 5-star, but it has the basic amenities.
Yes, I have had the honour to be part of a group which also keeps in touch via Whatsapp, and we have come together like a jatha. On the last visit a couple of years ago, we had dawn and dusk satsangs and kirtan. I found that I am so weak as the treatment progresses that it becomes difficult for me to meet others, or even go to the ‘kitchen’ where most gather to have food and mingle.
But, as luck would have it, about 15 ‘members’ were coming together just as I was leaving, to keep each other company. The ‘Whatsapp group’ keeps in touch exchanging information, other frivolities and also advice, like how to peg down the prices which can fluctuate. Evening satsang with Rehras Sahib has already started!
Yes, costs. I do not like to say this, but this is the one factor which can become rather uncomfortable, unless you are fairly well off of course! There are variations in prices. We have been unable to peg down management towards prices.
At the end of the day – BARGAIN! Whatsapp group members will advise you. Administration attempts to quote overseas visitors/patients in US dollars. They do give cheaper rates to ‘Indians’. Ask for local rupee rates! After all these are Malayalees – very careful with their money! Very business minded but due credit to them – they do provide a commendable service. No one gets rich quick providing a service like Ayurveda!
But I will suggest that if you do mention my name here, they will think twice about overcharging you. We do have some collective bargaining clout. Their official rate at present is about Rp14,500 for a double, per 24 hours – all inclusive – accommodation, consultation, treatment, medicine, food, dhobi. Demand one fixed price. No surprises at the end! The price has been known to have been knocked down to 12,500 for our group members. If others have had it cheaper, they are not talking!
Official prices are higher especially those in US dollars. Single rates are higher than half and one should bargain if staying a longer period. Even I cannot give you a straight answer! For all the amazing service, you are on your own where price is concerned!
Again, I am not promoting Ayurveda. I am promoting that you become more conscious of your health in a holistic way, with Naam at the centre of your being. I have had and still have a number of very close friends, way closer to Guru Ji than me pass away very young because in my opinion, they were complacent about their health. Their words ring unhappily in my ears. “Dya Singh, Waheguru dha naam levo atay vendo. Saadi dor than Usdhey hath hai.” They have neglected health and exercise and became stricken with ailments. Deep down, I do not think that we are meant to neglect our health. If Gurbani even hints at that, I do not think that is right. Gurbani would not do that.
OK, I stood on the scale on the first day at 110kgs. I lost 3 and a half kgs at the ‘madh’ point. On the second last day my weight is 104.7kgs. OK, I did not lose the earth shattering 10kgs I hoped for. But, I have lost at least 5kg while here. I am told that it will still go further down at least for one more week. Then, it is up to me. So less nasi lemak and teh tarik and certainly no tambah on my return visit to Malaysia!
I feel lighter. Heck, I feel healthier. I feel happier!!! I look forward to my next long walk in Malaysia and living life to the fullest, with Naam in my heart – till the final call, which who knows, could even be tomorrow … or tonight! Only Waheguru knows. “Hukmai endher sabh ko bahar Hukm na koye.” Be Happy, Healthy and Holy, as Yogi Harbhajan Singh Ji used to say.
I am ready to do kirtan hajri anywhere in the world or conduct some classes on ‘Sikhing’!
My last word here is that I sincerely believe that as one gets older and we start to get in touch with our mortality, then, it is imperative that we put aside at least 2 weeks out of 52 for health rejuvenation. How you do it, is up to you! Mine is this ‘ayurveda retreat’.
Malaysian-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. He is also the author of SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Dya Singh revisits Kerala ayurveda journey – Part II (Asia Samachar, 5 June 2019)
Dya Singh revisits Kerala ayurveda journey (Asia Samachar, 26 May 2019)
Postcards from the Road: Delhi for Dastarbandhi (Asia Samachar, 18 Feb 2019)
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