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Dr PK Warrier: The Man Who Took Ayurveda to the World

Dr PK Warrier

Dr PK Warrier

He won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for biography and autobiography in 2008 for his book ‘Smriti Parva

Panniyampilly Krishnankutty Warrier, popularly known as Dr PK Warrier, who played a pivotal role in popularising Kerala’s traditional mode of treatment across the globe, passed away on Saturday. He was the chief physician and Managing Trustee of Vaidyaratnam P.S. Varier’s Aryavaidya Sala known as Kottakkal Aryavaidya Sala, one of the leading Ayurvedic healthcare chains in the country. He breathed his last at  Kailasa Mandiram, the headquarters of the Arya Vaidya Sala at Kottakkal in Malappuram, five weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday. His birth centenary celebrations were held on June 8.

A freedom fighter, Dr Warrier took over as the managing trustee of the Kottakkal Aryavaidya Sala in 1954. He became a synonym for Ayurveda in modern times with his immense contributions in making the practice accessible to the common masses and augmenting research in drug standardisation and development. During his seven-decade-long service, Dr Warrier treated a large number of  VVIPs, including presidents and prime ministers of many countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep grief over his passing.

In a tweet, he said, “Saddened by the passing away of Dr. PK Warrier. His contributions to popularise Ayurveda will always be remembered. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti."

In 2015, a rare plant, seen 1500 ft above sea level and flowers from November to March, was named in honour of Dr Warrier. The Gymnostachyum Warrieranum’s speciality is its yellow and blue coloured flowers and it can reach up to 70 cms. A research team led by Dr Indira Balachandran and Dr KM Prabhakumar, scientists at the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research of Kottakkal Aryavaidya Sala, discovered the plant from the Aaralam wildlife sanctuary in Kannur. ​

He won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award for biography and autobiography in 2008 for his book ‘Smriti Parvam’. He was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2010 and a Padma Sri in 1999. Calicut University honoured him with a DLitt in 1999. He has many honorary degrees to his credit, including a Doctor of Medicine award from the University of Copenhagen.

He coauthored ‘Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Species’, a five-volume treatise on 500 species of Indian medicinal plants. He has many research papers in the fields of Ayurveda and ethnopharmacology.

“He embraced modernity by keeping the values of tradition. Hence it moved from the fire stoves fuelled by wood to steam plant and kashayams in bottles to tablets and thailams to gel. He led a team to publish a  five-volume treatise on 500 species of Indian medicinal plants. It is an invaluable legacy," wrote Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on his Facebook page.

“For treatment, everyone from heads of nations to the orphaned and abandoned, approached him. With the support of the medical community, he provided them treatment along with compassion. Secular and progressive perspectives were his hallmark. He valued personal bonds and relationships,”  added the chief minister.

Born to Sreedharan Namboodiri and Panniyampilly Kunhi Warasyar on June 5, 1921, Dr Warrier did his schooling at Kottakkal. He joined Kottakkal Aryavaidya Sala at the age of 20. However, he dropped Ayurveda studies under the guidance of Vaidyaratnam P S Warrier, his uncle and founder of Kottakkal Aryavaidya Sala, as he was captivated by the freedom struggle during the Quit India movement.

Dr Warrier’s wife Madhavikutty, a poet, and son Vijayan Warrier died a few years ago. He is survived by his son Balachandra Warrier and daughter Subhadra Ramachandran.

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first published:July 10, 2021, 18:24 IST