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Wholesome Healing: Back to tradition


Dr. Isaac Mathai. Photo: Special Arrangement

Living better should come to you as easily as breathing, says Dr. Issac Mathai who talks about his attitude to healthcare and his new book on holistic healing.

The Soukya International Holistic Health Centre has, for over a dozen years now, been a classic example of how integrated holistic healing can also be a million-dollar business.
The man behind the place and the concept, Dr. Issac Mathai, is clear that the holistic way is the only way to live. Excerpts from an interview
Willy-nilly, an elitist tag has come to be associated with Soukya, the place where the Windsor royals, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Sting, Madonna, Rajnikanth and other celebs come to heal. What do you have to say about that?
And elitist equals expensive. Is that what you mean? Well, that is the purpose. Homeopathy has an image of being too low-key at best, cheap at its worst. I am out to change that perception. I want the technique involved in this discipline to be valued as highly as the medicines, their healing powers, themselves.
So yes, I will say it: Soukya is one of the most expensive holistic healing places in the world… as also the most successful healthcare business in the world. But, you see, I deliver the goods.
I charge what I charge only because I know the quality and efficacy of what I offer. I don’t charge to make money, and my patients know that. I do my charity work quietly; I started my first charity clinic as far back as 1991, I have a chain of rural health centres, all run as efficiently as Soukya is.
What is Soukya’s USP?
The seamless integration of a holistic way of life in the most efficient manner possible.
Once you get on to this path, it should become a part of your life. Living better should come to you as easily as breathing. Soukya helps you with that integration.
Is the average Indian any closer to a holistic attitude to life in this frantic age?
This is a cliché but times really are changing. Today there is a return to tradition, helped in a large way by our Prime Minister’s call to promote yoga and meditation.
It is a period of transition. I was there before the holistic method became fashionable, and I will be there when people realise it is the only way of living.
There seems to be a strong religious connect between holistic healing and religion in the book. You talk often of prayer; there is a strong accent on spirituality. What of the non-believer patient?
My emphasis is on spirituality. My brand of healing is more spiritual in nature than religious.
You don’t believe in God, fine. I direct your attention to a belief in some form of energy, like say, sunlight. You don’t wish to connect with God or pray, then connect with nature, tap into your spiritual self, be at peace.
Yoga was rejected in some parts of the U.S. for its perceived link to the Hindu religion. Your take on this?
Yoga’s origins lie in Hinduism. There is no escaping that fact, no running away from it. But to reject something so vital to lifestyle management for its link with a culture or religion is a display of ignorance. It works to the detriment of those who would scoff or reject.
Are you comfortable with the right-wing appropriation of holistic healing and yoga?
I just don’t see any right-wing agenda being promoted. I see our national assets like yoga and meditation being promoted. And I’m thankful for that.
At every talk I give, I point out that it is essential to promote our living heritage from the ground up. Schools should have yoga classes. Medical students should be given some training in holistics. Not to practice it as a professional if they don’t care to do so; just to stop the ridicule, which generally stems from ignorance and misconceptions.
Allopathy should be the alternate form of medicine. I’m all for promoting traditional therapies.
What are your plans for the near future?
I keep getting enquiries to open Soukya centres in different parts of the world. I need to think seriously about that.
My Sahaya centre is a 30-bed place now; I need to upgrade it to at least 200 beds. We grow our own vegetables and fruit; even have small- sized patches of vineyard as well as apiaries. We have to now look at having a full-fledged organic farm.

Then there are more books on the anvil: holistic health for men, for children, a holistic cookbook. The future looks happily busy!

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