The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

From Vaidyam to Kerala Ayurveda. Socio-cultural transformation of a regional medicine

Leena Abraham

The transformation of ayurveda under the influence of modernity, as it unfolded in the last century in the south western Indian state of Kerala, has been the subject of several studies. These studies focus mainly on the twin processes of institutionalisation and modernization, and stress the exemplary leadership of P.S. Varier and the cultural and political infl uence of his institution: the Arya Vaidya Sala, situated in Kottakkal in North Kerala. Varier and his institutions symbolise modernity marked by scientific temper, technological innovation and entrepreneurship. They are emblematic of the cultural transformation of vaidyam [medicine], a formation of interrelated indigenous medical knowledge, into a unified regional medicine, currently known as Kerala Ayurveda.

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