Clad in warm winter jackets in a foggy winter morning, me along with all my classmates waited anxiously for the bus that was supposed to haul us from Rampur college to several educational spots. It was 21st of December, 2015, the day that our respected teacher Mr. Ananta Prakash Subedi had suggested for us to visit a few medicinal plant nurseries and yoga centres as a part of practical of our academic curriculum: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. It was 6 past 30 when the bus arrived in front of the campus gate. Our teacher climbed down from the bus and laid out the details of the destination and all the propriety that we were supposed to follow during the tour. Firstly, we would go to Meghauli to visit a MAPs nursery and head back to Tadi to visit District Ayurveda Health Centre and finally culminate the tour at Radha Sarbeshwor Bhajanashram at Devghat.
After imbibing all the information from the teacher we hopped in the bus from the college gate and headed toward our first destination – Meghauli. On reaching meghauli we were guided by an erudite old man named Dunda pani kafle who had profound knowledge of Ayurveda and was well versed in plants that are medicinally important. No sooner had we descended from the bus he goaded us for jogging. And so we did. He, too, jogged with us. While jogging he informed us about the benefits of it. After enough of frantic jogging, he stopped us and lectured us about alolam bilolam, kapal bhati and several other yoga techniques that baba Ramdev recommends. He was a follower of baba Ramdev himself. He wanted us to start practicing yoga to remain healthy spiritually as well as physically.
After taking some photos with this wise old man, we headed toward Bishnu Ayurveda Herbal Production Farm, of which he was the founder. An entrepreneur of a sort he had started a commercial medicinal plant nursery to fill the void of medicinal nurseries in the area. The motivation that drove him for this profession was not an ordinary one. The knowledge of healing techniques through the use of MAPs was bequeathed to him by his ancestors. That he was relishing this profession was manifested in his beaming smile he possessed while dealing with the students. He greeted us in his farm with hot tea with lemon grass flavour.
Then he was onto spewing out all the knowledge he had about his cherished nursery plants. He showed us many different species of medicinal plants, ranging from the tree of Tej patta to tulsi plant, plucking out the leaves of some herbs while pinching the buds of some other. He taught us the medicinal properties of manifolds of plants that were new to us as well as informed us about the medicinal values of those commonplace plants that we portrait as weeds.
He portrayed ocimum plant as a panacea. He had a predilection toward this plant because of its ability to heal illness from common cold to cancer. His knowledge about the benefits of this plant did infact dovetailed with the scientific evidences. During the course of his explanation about the uses of this plant he lamented about the very little effort from the scientific community to study the potential of this plant to cure the incurable disease; cancer. He traced the first use of this plant to the holy book of hindu-the Veda. Ayurveda, in particular, is regarded as bible of the information of-if not all many-medicinally important plants.
Along with his didactic lessons about those plants, his explanations were punctuated by the lamentation over the government’s indifference toward this sector. He underpinned the irony that various sectors of agriculture were receiving an unprecedented attention from the concerned authority in the recent years while this sector was still as abject despite its equally important role in the economic growth of the country. During the entire session my friends were very attentive and noting out important facts that the expert orated.
At the end of the day, the man intended to deliver to us three important messages: the importance of some Medicinal and Aromatic plants (MAPS); the need of the country to dig in the prospects of these medicinal plants in international market through research; and the possibility of MAPS to create job in our own country. These three sectors in fact merit undivided attention from all the people concerned. There is a dire need of research on the efficacy of most MAPs and their production pockets within the country. On the other hand, the study of its demand in the international markets and the well documented data about its current export-import trend deserves equal attention.
The educational tour was indeed a remarkable success. The effort of Mr subedi sir to familiarize us with the existing medicinal plants through an expert in the field was commendable. Mr Dunda pani kafle on the other hand, was very receptive and amiable and addressed queries of some attentive students despite a lot of frivolity shown by some others with poise. With some theoretical knowledge about most of MAPs, we had the opportunity to glean some more field-based insights about the prospect of these plants in enhancing country’s economy.