If planning to go for Panchakarma, the week or two before take extra care not to eat any heavy food or meals late at night. By taking light foods like mung dal and basmati rice with vegetables you will prepare the body for this beautiful cleansing process.
When I set out upon my research I did not anticipate that the spotlight would fall upon a very little known area of Ayurveda known as Marma but somehow the course that I was sailing took me upon an encounter with living masters in this ancient, simple and effective treatment.
Marma is one of the lesser known methods used in Ayurveda, Sushruta refers to it in some detail as well as other texts, but in truth it is a traditional knowledge that needs to be handed down from guru to disciple, from heart to heart. The basis is the use of various points on the body which are all interlinked like a complex circuitry and produce different results when pressed or massaged.
When healthy and balanced, energy or prana flows freely through the body like a pure stream. Modern lifestyle and ignorance causes us to take wrong food, improper use of our mind and senses and to do things that are counter-health and thus the little rivers of prana become blocked and result in physical, mental and emotional blocks and also disease. Marma uses an attuned awareness of these points to release blocks, nourish the body and subsequently heal.
The marma practitioner, can heal the body be it a physical, mental or emotional ailment, with the simple awareness of it's energy centres and how to unblock what has become blocked.
DR. PANKAJ NARAM AND BABA RAAM DAS
When I first witnessed Marma treatments at Dr. Naram's clinic known as Ayushakti in a suburb of Mumbai, I knew something quite magical was in process. I was luckily partaking in seminars that had been prepared for a doctors training course in Mumbai and got to observe Dr. Naram in action performing a part of the Marma tradition he practices called Peccoti. Peccoti is a combination of holding certain Marma points in conjunction with a brisk pressure on various positions on the middle, upper-middle and upper back. The result is that stress, tension, blockage, and inflexibilities that are held in our backs, are released suddenly and with much relief. Noone would imagine that pressing tension out of the spine could result in such an array of sounds and there are a regular concertina of cracks and pops and the back seems to melt under the practitioners hands and the muscles that surround the spinal column become more relaxed and in pose.
Following the release on the back, a few further points are held in the lower back to lock and ground the changes (each Marma point links to a certain place in our inner mind and corresponds with a certain dynamic and quality of nature). Then the patient turns around and the umbilical point is pressed so that the stress release and changes can be held in place in the centre of the being.
I witnessed Peccoti perform miracles and heard countless many stories of very chronic immobility's, stresses, confusions, conflicts, and more, all dissolving in a simple and elegant manor.
Dr. Pankaj learnt Peccoti from his Guru, Baba Raam Das, a legendary 125 year ascetic and Yogi who passed this privileged knowledge to Dr. Pankaj. Even well into his hundreds, Baba Raam Das was practicing Peccoti on his patients, a living example of the practical application of Ayurveda. The Upanishads say after all that each man is entitled to at least 100 years of healthful living. It is thus only though our mistakes and also the divergence from mother nature in our society, that we suffer such a rifetude of disease in today's world.
In recent months I began too practicing Peccoti on all who came into my home in the Nepali Himalayas and I witnessed it's profound transforming effect on people. Old habits, inflexibilities, pains and confusion quickly cleared after a session of treatments. This was marma magic in action.
Dr. Pankaj also has a profound array of other Marma applications that he uses with great skill and talent in his Ayushakti clinic and on his tours around the world. It is very beautiful to see such a non-invasive method produce such rapid and lasting results.
Peccoti for example has very dramatic effects on psychosomatic and mental disorders as these are mostly rooted in a voracious excess of Vata or wind in the physiology and as the spinal column is cleared and released and the rib cage aligned, our breath so changes and so follows the mind and ultimately it settles.
The real beauty was to see how clearly Dr. Pankaj was a living embodiment of a true healer, his selfless wish was to serve all life and to share his wisdom and tools with all who came his way.
This year I will continue further practical research into this school of Marma as taught by Baba Raam Das and Dr. Pankaj and continue to reflect upon it's miraculous effects.
HANUMAN DAS - SON OF THE WIND
By mere chance after a sincere prayer to discover more about Marma, I had the grace and fortune to meet a man from South India named Hanuman Das right here in Nepal. Hanuman Das just happened to be spending some weeks in Kathmandu, his first journey out of his mother India.
He was born in a family of traditional Marma and Kalari (South Indian Martial Arts) practitioners and was deeply schooled by his grandfather, father and uncle in this ancient knowledge.
Like many of my teachers in India, his family held a traditional handed down collection of palm leaf ancient texts which revealed the secrets of this art he practiced.
Hanuman Das is exceptionally knowledgeable in all aspects of Ayurveda. His particular speciality is Marma and it's applications to heal physical disabilities and ailments. It was very beautiful to watch his hands move as his exceptionally sensitive fingers strolled the various energy lines and meridians on the body with precision accuracy. His martial arts training also exuded in his medical techniques and there was utmost skill, precision and control in all that was done.
His grandfather had been one of the bodyguard for the previous Maharaja of his state and there was a long history of his family in the royal courts as the knowledge they held, both as warriors and healers, was greatly revered and in that age.
Hanuman Das insisted I take upon training in both Marma and Martial Arts, but I expressed that my school of Ayurveda was one of complete and total ahimsa (non-harming) and I would gladly succumb to deep studies in the healing aspects.
Like a mechanic, he would skillfully find the nodes of energy on the body and press them with required force or apply certain oils. Sometimes a paste, sometimes heat or fomentation. Beneath his actions was a deep awareness and skill as he addressed which of the three humours needed balancing and which points and pressures to apply for achieving this.
His family also have much traditional knowledge on treating injuries, even otherwise fatal injuries. In Hanuman's accompany was a young man who had suffered a very severe and possibly fatal injury to his head in Europe, he had met Hanuman who had fixed it without any surgical intervention other than those provided by his thumb and fingers. Nothing short of a miracle by modern standards!
He informed how broken and fractured bones could be healed to a point of removing the cast within 7-days and completely fused with 41 days. Special oils and internal medicines were used in such cases which accelerated the natural healing processes of the body.
Though my time was limited with him, I sensed deeply that we would meet again and he extended a sincere invitation that I undertake further studies with him in the art of Marma. I gladly accepted and sometime in the near future I will spend some time in Kerala to begin this journey.
What came to mind was how much knowledge had been lost in the last thousands of years and despite the magnitude of the loss and amnesia of our modern world, there still were little islands of pure knowledge bubbling from springs of eternal truth.
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This article was published on Thursday 03 February, 2005.