Avid tamil film watchers would recall this line from Kudumbam oru Kadambam -"Paithyakara hospital lla vaidhyam patkara doctor ru ke paithyam puditcha .... " . As an answer to Visu' s question stands the temple dedicated to Lord Dhanvantri in Walajapet , Tamil nadu.
Walajapet is a small industrial town , 100 kms off chennai on the Chennai -Bangalore route. Once famous (infamous) for its tanneries and export units, today it is on a path of correcting the wrongs done to the eco system.
15 minutes into Walajapet , there is a right turn with a board inviting you to meet Dr. Dhanvantri , Physician to Lord Venkatesa Perumal.
A small temple breaks the seemingly unbroken horizon . Logs of wood guide you around the compact structure in circles. The pathway is lined on either side with rows of butter cup flowers and bright marigolds. The smell of burnt ghee being poured into the fire welcomes you to the abode of Lord Dhanvantri.
Dhanvantri is the lord of medicine and authored Ayurveda. The temple on Walajapet is dedicated to him in an effort to bring solace and hope to millions around the world of any caste and creed. An imposing 6 1/2 feet idol stands smiling calmly at the hundereds who enter the sanctum everyday.
The head priest of the temple, Balaji explains about the history in a way that would see any marketing consultant back to school.
"Welcome to the home of Doctor of Doctors. If you have noticed,this temple is designed in a way , akin to a hospital. You have ramps to climb up to the sanctum, a waiting area before you meet the doctor. The waiting area ofcourse is lined with herbal plantations ,the scent of which starts the cure before you meet the doc.
He is Dhanvantri( pointing to the 6 footer). Look at his face- a pleasantly smiling one seemingly asking you - Hello , so how are you doing today? The main idol is placed on a lotus base (padma peetam) around which the mantra would be inscribed. On the one hand Dhanvantri will be holding the pot of nectar (amrita kalasam) and have a seendhal kodi (herb) hanging by his side.
The intriguing part is that a leech (atta poochi, in Tamil) is sculpted on his chest."
(leech therapy was part of the Indian medicine system and is now practiced in western countries.)
I could not help but notice , the silver stethoscope on the idol's right hand.
Balaji traced my gaze and responded in a typical Visu style "Doctors by profession also come here to research solutions of the unknown. This temple's base is filled by 50 crore mantras . So when you walk around the temple the vibrations emanate postive energies that fill your system."
I walked around the temple to feel the vibrations. You dont need to be a believer in the supernatural powers or cosmic energy to feel rejuvenated. The fresh air, uninterrupted gaze of the spherical earth, scent of herbs and flowers, fluttering of birds and butterflies, the temple seemed to rekindle a hope in those who visited.
The vision of Dhanvantri Swami Kovil was best articulated by Angelina , a volunteer at the temple.
-' No disease is curable in its entirety, There are no shortcuts to pain reduction, all one needs is a hope that life is worth living and that alone gives you the strength to move ahead. The temple stands testimony to generating that hope. Be it when you see others coping with suffering - you feel you are not all that alone, or when you see that nature has more to offer than what we think. I was an atheist till I came here. Now I am a believer , a believer in creating the urge to live. '
As the van wound itself way back on to the highway, the transformation in the small town was evident. Every house had a bit of the temple - A tulsi maadam and a neem tree. Walajapet was right on its way to being cured.