The Legacy of Gangaprasad Sen – The Father of Ayurveda Renaissance in India

The house at 17 Kumartuli Street, North Kolkata, holds a decrepit façade and a forlorn look and is easy to miss if one is not searching for it. But about 200 years ago, this house was the Mecca of Ayurveda practioners in Bengal and from here started the Ayurveda Renaissance in India. Here lived one of Ayurveda’s most celebrated practitioners of his times, Gangaprasad Sen (1824-1896). This house saw some of the most path breaking practices in Ayurveda being firmed up. Here walked some of the most eminent personalities of those times, including Sri Ramkrishna Parmahansa who was the patient of Ganagaprasad Sen.

Gangaprasad Sen_Branolia

History remembers Gangaprasad Sen as the harbinger of the Ayurveda Renaissance in India. He began practice in Kolkata at the age of 19. He probably was the first person to export Ayurvedic medicine to Europe and America. He introduced the fixed consultation fee which equaled or surpassed the fee of the contemporary British physicians practicing in Calcutta. In the same way he introduced a fixed price list of ayurvedic medicines and advertised the same in newspapers as was the norm for western medicine. He was the first to publish a Ayurvedic journal in Bengali named Ayurveda Sanjivini for the purpose of upholding the stature of ayurvedic medicine. He established a tol in his home where students would be provided free room and boarding along with instructions in Ayurveda.

When the nineteenth century saw a sporadic fall in the popularity of ancient Indian medicine, he brought Ayurveda up to a standard mark. When western medicine started touching base with Indian masses, Ayurveda was perhaps the most popular among other indigenous methods of treatment. There was no sense of competition among the various Indian methods that were practiced during the time and Ayurveda was no doubt the most reputed.

During their initial years, the European doctors had to take help from the local Kavirajas to understand the diagnoses and treatments for diseases that were not in the least familiar to them. This was the late eighteenth century, Calcutta was fast becoming a hub for settlements and trading activities. Open drains, marshy lands, mosquito-borne fevers and the general lack of initiatives in the field of public health issues soon gave rise to an exorbitant mortality rate. Herein, European doctors cashed in the fear of diseases and started treating the rich and the elite for an expensive fee of one gold coin per visit. Soon, western medicine started picking up in popularity among the elite and the Kavirajas were often held guilty for deaths caused by administering Ayurvedic potions. The colonial government held the opinion that western medicine was more ‘scientific’ and ‘sophisticated’. The Ayurveda Renaissance changed the course of this school of thought.

Gangaprasad Sen and his students elevated the Ayurvedic medicines to the same stature as the allopathic medicine and attracted public interest to it in a way that brought back faith to the age-old science of Ayurveda. Bijoyratna Sen, a student of Gangaprasad Sen continued the work of his teacher in popularizing Ayurveda and encouraged the cooperation of traditional and western medical system. He even helped start a college where both the systems of medicines were taught side by side.

We intend to keep up with the legacy of the great stalwarts of Ayurveda. Our products are herbal therapeutics instrumental in dispensing Ayurvedic care for the last 95 years. We are committed to keeping alive the tradition of Ayurveda with the best production facilities and research labs.

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