Awaiting the guru

The concept of gurukula goes back to the Vedic age, where students live in residence to learn from a teacher. Prior to British rule, it was the main educational platform in India and South Asia, and was supported by donation. The word gurukula is a combination of the word guru, meaning teacher, and Kula, meaning extended family.

As in many countries, school has been the great equalizer among the attendees, as all were there to learn equally regardless of caste or economic standing. Even young girls were invited at the gurus feet.Today gurukula is still alive in India, as a temporary but significant form of learning; a type of special situation where students observe and serve the teacher in order to gain a deeper understanding of the subject at hand,while forming a community with each other.

Dr. Lad has built this clinic in his home city to provide free health care to the farming community here. He has invited practitioners ( 10 this year) to come and witness the very intimate process of healing that Ayurveda has to offer. We will assist him in the new clinic that he has built in the outskirts and also in the city clinic; we will mix his herbal prescriptions, and administer therapies; we will do service to the clinic by helping with chores, and we will learn in class from him during the down time. It has a faint similarity to a western medical residency, although we are required to faithfully do our practices and sleep, eat and work in a balanced and healthy way; a far cry from the caffeine laden sleep deprived paradigm that is often the experience of medical residents in the west.

The air is thick with anticipation of Dr.lads arrival. He is known as a humble, devotional man, but the praise and heartfelt devotion toward his upcoming presence is almost god -like. Maybe it’s the newly sparkling empty treatment rooms and the heightened anxiety of his staff, but I am tuned in to the arrival like a fresh young student, both eager and nervous about the future.