Around a fortnight from now, Kedar, a US citizen, is all set to undergo the rare and unique ayurveda treatment of kayakalpa, termed as turning young.
He becomes Dr Sethumadhavan's fifth patient who will undertake this tedious treatment inside a dark chamber, cut off from the outside world for at least three months. It is seen as going back into the womb to be reborn again, young, bubbly and hearty.
It was in 2011 that Dr Sethumadhavan had his first patient, 92-year-old Yugal Saran Maharaj who went into the 'trigarbha' (three-chamber) kuti (house) and stayed there in the dark for 45 days for this rejuvenation. And when he came out, it was strands of pitch black hair, no numbness of limbs, no swelling, hardened teeth and in his own words he experienced 'youthful stirrings'. Hale and hearty, Maharaj, an ascetic and ayurveda practitioner from Rajasthan, is still active and daily treks long distances to meet people and patients
Way back in the 60s Dr Sethumadhavan vowed to practice this form of treatment. One of his professors in the medical college said kayakalpa treatment was something done in the past and did not elaborate, claiming it was not practised now. The ‘young angry’ student that Sethumadhavan was, immediately sought details of the treatment and was told to ‘sit down and keep quiet’. He then announced that he would practise it and the determination saw Maharaj become his first full-fledged patient to enter the chambered hut built as per ancient texts spending over Rs 32 lakhs.
“In the chamber, one undergoes the process of change like an embryo in the womb,” Dr Sethumadhavan. Preparations for this begin much before that.
The second person was Kolaceck Antonin (53), a Czech, who went further to stay inside for 64 days.
Then went in Lalitha (69), based in Canada. She carried with her a diary where she jotted down her feelings sitting inside and also the changes she felt physically. “This is indeed an authentic reference for students of ayurveda,” says Dr Sethumadhavan who runs the Padinjarakara Ayurveda Hospital and Research Centre in Ottapalam, Palakkad district.
It was in 2017 that a Briton, Brendon, (65) went in and stayed for 90 days to step out ‘young’ and is doing fine now back in his country.
Many have been in constant touch with Dr Sethumadhavan to ‘turn young’. But revealing his experience, Maharaj has a word of caution that this is no treatment for the fickle-hearted. Sitting alone inside a dark chamber for days together with no contact with the world outside and consuming just limited quantity medicines supplemented with a glass of milk is no easy stuff, he said coming out of the chamber way back in 2011.
Dr Sethumadhavan says there were several who approached him. But this needs willpower to stay secluded from everything around, including light, for this long. I had a tough time dissuading people,” he adds.
Kedar, originally from the Texas in the US, is fully determined. He has been in India for 24 years. A disciple of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Kedar (69) is based in Uttara Kashi and practises and teaches transcendental meditation. “None in my family can ever imagine that I could ever leave my ranch and lead the life of an ascetic,” he says. He has read about kayakalpa and is ready to go beyond 90 days.
He says he has sponsors for this treatment where he may have to shell out some Rs 30 lakh. “It's not about becoming young. My sponsors want me to continue to do good services for long to people around me,” he says.
Dr Sethumadhavan is busy preparing the medicines. The cow from which the milk is taken to prepare the medicine has been on a diet of herbs for quite some time. A number of herbs that go into the making of the medicinal preparation have been collected. Kedar too is being given a special diet and has had trial runs, sitting inside the innermost chamber from dawn to dusk. Various tests have been done and will be repeated after Kedar comes out after treatment. The results will certainly be astounding, says the confident physician.