Goodness of Ayurveda reaches the shores of Germany
Hendrik Wiethase, a German national, makes it a point to spend at least two months, every year, in Kerala soaking in the rich culture and learning more about the traditional sciences of the state. He is busy searching for students and encouraging them, to share his passion for Ayurveda by travelling all the way to Kerala, when he is back home in Germany.
“We have established an educational institution for Germans who want to study Ayurveda and we assist them in coming to Kerala and learning Ayurveda firsthand from Kalaris and various traditional doctors,” he says. He also directs Germans, seeking treatment, to Ayurvedic centres in the state.
Mr. Wiethase, a filmmaker by profession, discovered Kerala by accident. Thanks to his passion for archery. “I learned archery at a very young age and when I grew up I began to approach it more scientifically. I then found out that the traditional Indian science of Dhanurveda, contained many useful tips for archers and I first came to Kerala to research on the subject,” he said.
Mr. Wiethase said that it was 8 years ago and he had now developed his own archery techniques incorporating numerous lessons from Dhanurveda.
Meanwhile, Wiethase discovered the ancient martial art, Kalari. He developed a deep interest in Ayurveda, which was introduced by the various treatment methods taught in the subject. However, his efforts to whip up the same level of interest in Germany, has not been entirely successful, he said.
“In Germany, most of the people interested in Ayurveda are only interested in the wellness aspects of it. They just want to learn about the fancy massages and other superficial techniques but are not interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of the subject,” he says.
Despite this, in order to make Germans aware of Ayurveda and the potential that it has to offer medical science, Mr. Wiethase is moving forward with his efforts. The shooting of a documentary on Kerala, made by Mr. Wiethase, that he plans to broadcast on German television, is currently being wrapped up. “I have had a couple of documentaries that I made, shown on it so it should not be too hard. I recently shot a segment at the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala,” he said.
Mr. Wiethase is a frequent visitor at the Hindustan Kalari, Kozhikode. Dr. Lal Krishnan, a consultant there is quick to recognize the contributions that the German has made to Kalari. “Dhanurveda is actually a part of ancient Kalari that was lost sometime during the British rule. Now it exists only among a few tribes. Wiethase stayed with these tribes and put the entire science of archery together. Pupils here affectionately call him Dronacharya,” he says.