Ayurveda, a vibrant living system, stands for a total concept of life, which explains the total well being of the complex combination of spiritual, mental, and physical levels that are constantly reacting against environment. It is originated from god, Time proven, Taught by sages and made it flexible with easily adaptive, simple and natural principles. It is the world’s most ancient, yet uniquely futuristic system of healing and good health. This is the most eco-friendly system of treatment with no harmful side effects. Which relies completely on herbs and natural substances to heal and maintain good health. Ayurveda stresses on Preventive aspects and aggressive on complete cure from the diseases without relapse.
In Kerala, Ashtavaidyas, who were famous for their skills since time immemorial were previously known as Ashtangavaidyas, which means they were proficient in all the eight branches of Ayurveda. In the beginning there were 18 families practising Ayurveda, which indicates that Ashtavaidyas doesn’t mean just 8 families.
Kerala was divided into 18 districts for convenience to rule in ancient times and it is believed that all these districts had Ashtavaidya families. Each district had a Vaidya family. Gradually the number of Vaidya families decreased. Among them Eledath Thaikkattu, Vaidyamadam, Kuttancheri, Pulamanthol, Vayaskara, Alathiyoor, Thrissur Thaikkattu, Karanthol, Choondal, Parappur, Chirattaman and Velladu were the prominent families. Among them the 8 families that exist now are Eledath Thaikkattu, Vayaskara, Chirattamannu, Thrissur Thaikkattu, Alathiyoor, Kuttancheri, Pulamanthol & Vaidyamadam. There are no Vaidyas in Kuttancheri family now.
Ayurveda is a living tradition in Kerala. Rather than a medical system, it is a lifestyle of the people regarding diet, regimen to simple health care tips and medications. It was developed by constant observation experimentation and experience. While this basic knowledge flourished among common men the experimentation was going on at a higher level among traditional vaidyas, the caretakers of health of the society. Reading and practicing the Ayurvedic classics, mainly based on Ashtanga Hridaya, the classical treatments were modified and enhanced to suit the common man most effectively, imbibing the essence from the folklore medicine also. This silent revolution in the field of Ayurveda enabled to become the center of attraction especially in Keraleeya Panchakarma Therapies. One of the most important roles in this revolution was played by the “ASHTAVAIDYAS”, who were the disciples of Vaghbhata and enlightened with knowledge of Astangas of Ayurveda from the age of Lord Parasuraama. ‘Vaghbhada’ who was a native of ‘Sindhudesh’, migrated to South and reached Kerala. He had lot of disciples there and breathed his last at the then famous Ashtavaidya family Pulamanthol Mooss.
The illam of Eledathu Thaikkattu mooss is situated in Thaikkattussery, near Ollur in Thrissur district. Ashtavaidya families known as Elamkunnapuzha Kuriyedath and Puranattukara Kurumbepathy have dissolved and become one as Eledath Thaikkattu family. The Eledath Thaikkattu Mooss family is still continuing their medical practise with indefatigable spirit.
Durgadevi with embrasis in her hand is the chosen deity of Eleyadath Thaikkattu mana.
Pulamanthol Mooss’ Illam is in Malappuram district. In olden times they were Vaidyas of Samoothiri and Valluvakonathiri. It is in the Pulamanthol Illam that Vagbhata spent his last days. Now those in Vayaskara have been adopted from Pulamanthol. The present Thrissur Thaikkattu Mooss is also member of the Pulamanthol family.
Rudra and Dhanwanthari are their chosen deities.
There were three branches for Kuttancheri Mooss’ family– one in Vaduthala near Kochi, the second one in Koranellur near Wadakkanchery and the third one in Akalanam in Ponnani taluk. Now the only family that exists is the Elekkuttanchey family near Wadakkanchery. They were the Vaidyas of the Kochi royal family. Now there are no practising Vaidyas in the Kuttanchery family.
Nelluvai Dhanwanthari is their chosen deity.
Thrissur Thaikkattu Mooss.
Previously their home was in Malappuram District. They were Vaidyas of the Samoothiri. Once an elderly person from that family went to Zamorine of Kozhikkod to treat Shakthan Thampuran of Kochi who was an enemy of the Samoothiri. That Vaidya was extradited when he came back. The Mooss and his family left the place and reached Thrissur Shakthan Thampuran who was there at that time received the Mooss with honour and built a home for him in Kizhakumpattukara. That Mooss had only one daughter and she was married to a Mooss from the Eledath Thaikkattu family.
Vettekkaran (Kirathamoorthy) is their chosen deity.
It is in Kottayam district. They were vaidyas of Thekkumkoor royal family. They were famous in surgery. As they dissected dead bodies and performed surgeries they were given a low rank among other Vaidya families.
Their house was situated in Angadippuram in Valluvanadu Taluk. They migrated to Travancore later. Then they stayed in Cherthala for sometime. After that under the auspices of the Maharajas of Tranvancore they settled in Olassa permanently. The famous Narayanan Mooss who was Tranvancore Ayurveda Director from 1938 to 1944 was a member of this family. It was his son who was the first to learn Alloppathy among Ashtavaidyas and is now practising as a paediatrician in America.
Dhanwathari is their chosen deity.
Their Illam is in Triprangott village of Tirur Taluk of Malappuram district. They were known as Nambis. It is believed that the Aswinidevas cross examined the Nambis and were satisfied and gave them a book. The book was received with the left hand and so there is a belief that if they give medicine with the left hand or do massage with the left hand it is more effective.
It is in Mezhathur near Trithala in Ponnani Taluk. Several eminent Vaidyas have taken birth in this family. There is a story that Valiya Narayanan Namboothiri had given rasayana chikitsa treatment to a leper and cured him.
Dhanwantharimoorthi is their chosen deity.
The treasure of knowledge, which the Ashtavaidyas have, should be imbibed by all Vaidyas. Let us bow in reverence and pay humble salutations to the great wisdom and knowledge of Ashtavaidyas.