A true plural being . .His daily life adorned the roles of an Ayurveda physician, visionary, teacher, administrator and entrepreneur. The profound equilibrium that he maintained between these roles lead many to treat him as a sage.
P.R. Krishna Kumar was born in 1951 as the son of Arya Vaidyan P. V. Rama Varier, the founder of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP), a Rama Varier.Rama Varier was a trendsetter in his own way, as evidenced by the establishment of AVP during his time. Even today, experts are surprised that Rama Varier could think of starting the company as a Public Limited Company. As early as the 1940s, globalization of Ayurveda was his vision and creating a new breed of physicians was his great desire.
PR Krishna Kumar became an ayurvedic physician himself and the founded the AVP RESEARCH FOUNDATION. Krishna Kumar has always stood for scientific validation of Ayurveda, and incorporation of the best of modern science in both clinical practice and medicine production, particularly in the organizations that he heads, and that too, without compromising traditional standards. It was with this intention that he supported the creation of the AVT Institute for Advanced Research (AVTAR) to conduct clinical, literary, field and drug researches and to train aspiring Ayurveda scholars. The purpose of the institute is to “back up tradition with evidence”.
In his early 20’s, he struck out on a road not traveled by Ayurveda in those days. He approached the office of the WHO representative in India to request steps to establish a global scientific footing for Ayurveda, but only received sarcasm for his pains, since the officials could see Ayurveda only as a form of ” “black magic “. Continuing his fight for the cause, however, he eventually convinced them of its value and persuaded them to participate in the first clinical research on Ayurveda treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
This was started in 1977 under a WHO and ICMR partnership. Attracting appreciation and criticism from different corners, the study presented the only model available at the time. In recognition for that and his continued efforts to bring quality research to the field of Ayurveda, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, funded a clinical trial project recently through University of Washington (2004–2006). It was the very first time that such a study had been funded outside the USA. The trial was successful, and has been accepted for publication in indexed, peer-reviewed journals.Krishna Kumar had always felt that only a scientifically validated Ayurveda could achieve global acceptance.
Krishna Kumar sir, successfully implemented a number of projects approved by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Environment in various areas and topics related to Ayurveda. For example, his execution of a Department of Environment funded “All India Coordinated Project on the Ethnobiology of Tribals in the Western Ghats (1985–88)” was widely praised.
With his matchless zeal, he was actively involved in many other pioneering activities: The ” Kshetropasana Trust ” founded together with noted spiritual leader Prema Pandurang, to revive and rejuvenate those values and ideals of Indian culture that have seemingly been forgotten in the modern era, and to uplift the weaker and downtrodden classes in society; and the “Bharatamuni Foundation for Asian Culture”, an organization created by the famous Natya Shastra artist Ms. Padma Subrahmanyam for research on cultural identities and to enhance dialog between scholars and Asian artists, both performing artists and those associated with puppet theater, painting and sculpture.
In 2003, P.R. Krishna Kumar sir founded AVT Institute for Advanced Research, later renamed as AVP Research Foundation, to promote scientific research in ayurveda. The foundation initiated several research programs which included a study, funded jointly with the – National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the “University of Washington”, and the “University of California”, to ascertain the efficacy of ayurvedic medicines in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.In the same year, the foundation also launched a clinical documentation program, called ” RUDRA “, to promote practice-based evidence in Ayurveda.
Krishna Kumar’s perennial concern was with the quality of Ayurveda students and lacunae in the learning process. He quoted Vivekananda: “There is a gross difference between the eastern and western sciences. The Indian seers, with their vision turned inward created analytical sciences, while other civilizations, like that of the Greeks, with their minds turned outward, created the sciences of generalization. This is a simple yet significant difference in the approaches of these types of science. A student without initial training or even interest in ‘looking within’ will experience cultural shock when faced with classical Ayurveda topics”. This would never let Ayurveda get its recognition . . He said. Will this even hold today is the question . . If it does it would mean a wastage of years of hard work of many great men and a loss of valuable treasure.
He was was also the chancellor of the Avinashilingam University, and the chairman of CAR-Keralam (Confederation for Ayurvedic Renaissance – Keralam), a resource centre involved in efforts to standardize ayurvedic medicines. Krishna Kumar slept very little; demanding schedules kept him active for almost 20 hrs each day. His long working hours, wide range of activities, and frequent travels in spite of health issues, would humble even a normal healthy person. He traveled across the length and breadth of India and also outside with passionate commitments to his beliefs and representing Ayurveda.
In recognition of his contributions to the field of Ayurveda, the Government of India conferred the prestigious “Padma Shri” award on him in 2009. In his words, it is “a recognition for Ayurveda”.
P. R. Krishna Kumar (23 September 1951 – 16 September 2020)
A huge thanks to Indulal sir for this thoroughly researched contribution