I am 5 feet and 4 inches tall.
Specky is 4 feet and 11 inches tall.
My son Pushkin is 5 feet and 7 inches tall.
My son is much stronger than I am and loves rowing and kayaking.
My son is fond of rowing in the Thames.
My son plays games like basketball.
My son is a good swimmer too.

Why do you think I wrote the above lines? Obviously, to give you a truthful picture of a child who has grown well. Let me also tell you that my son, as a toddler, did face a regular set of problems and issues that any child would face. I believe that toddlers have an equal chance of going either way… towards a growth-enhanced phase or towards a retro-growth state. The tragedy is that as toddlers they are in no position to decide on the path that would ultimately make or mar their lives. Parents have to take this decision. Informed decisions.

I remember there were days when Pushkin wouldn’t eat the way a normally growing child would… and this would leave us worried and stressed.

‘Why do you think his milk intake has reduced,’ I would ask Specky and she would think and answer, ‘No idea.’

Then there were days when the bowel movement seemed disturbed or there would be phlegm troubling him or he would simply appear exhausted not active enough… and we would be thinking, ‘He probably needs some medical intervention.’

‘Let’s consult the paediatrician,’ I normally said.

Sure enough, the visit would lead to the expected prescriptions of tonics and a whole new range of fancy bottled stuff that would have almost the same ingredients as the ones in the earlier lot. Specky’s expected refrain would be, ‘It’s the same things. Even the micrograms aren’t different. It is just the brand-name that changes. Will this really help?’

‘Sure,’ I’d answer back, ‘have faith.’

‘Why not try an alternative treatment?’

‘Ayurveda? Aren’t those jadi-bootis going to be too empirical for a toddler? Anyway, I think they are generally too bitter for kids.’

This was when we met Ashok ji.

Ashok ji told us that not all Ayurvedic medicines were sugar-coated or sweet… but they never objected to being combined with small quantities of honey or jiggery. ‘Camouflaging bitterness is possible by reducing the decoctions by further boiling them to the powder form and giving to children in a capsule form,’ he said in a clear tone, and then after a while, added, ‘Growth of a child isn’t always about medicines. A generally good lifestyle always is beneficial.’

I remember Specky being bothered about Pushkin’s chest congestion and the constant wheezing he always felt.

Ashok ji told us that lungs were an important organ and wheezing or breathlessness would, in most cases, lead to the blood carrying less and less oxygen supply. ‘Can you imagine what harm this may do?’ he asked her.

Specky was apprehensive and replied, ‘No.’

‘The brain needs the most oxygen,’ he said, ‘and a reduced lung function obviously leads to less oxygen supply to the brain which implies an even lesser glucose metabolism there. What do think this can lead to?’

I intervened and said, ‘Obviously, a lesser brain function which in simpler terms means less intelligence. And, Ashok ji, I also know that the maximum brain growth takes place in the first seven to nine years. These are also the years when the overall growth of a child is taking place. Yes, I think I now understand why lung function is directly related to growth.’

Ashok ji then told us the DBC + WET formula for countering lung issues and keeping them healthy enough.

D = Dry hair
B = Proper bath
C = A mix of camphor in lukewarm mustard oil rubbed on the chest above the sternum in a clockwise direction does wonders… followed by hot and wet fomentation
W = Warm water to drink after this is done will keep the phlegm in the lungs fluid enough to be thrown out
E = Eat the right things… for instance, avoid butter milk, curd, and thick milk when the problem is congestion in the chest
T = Turmeric in milk

He also told us about eucalyptus leaves and the way their addition to inhalation therapy was simply miraculous… the truth is that even I do this last one at least for a few days during the times when bronchitis bothers me and this keeps me smiling. I go a step further and take eucalyptus steam bath for the whole body.

Let me also quote an Ayurvedic proverb here now that we are so focused on the need to eat right:

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.

During those years I also learned that Ayurveda does take us nearer to nature. We decided to have a set of potted plants with medicinal values that could be used for not just adequate growth for a child but also for a whole range of ailments… after all, there is something called home-remedies! I learned that the biological constitution or the genetic make-up of an individual, which remains constant throughout one’s life, is called Prakriti or nature. PRA refers to before, beginning, commencement or source of origin, in different contexts. Similarly KRITI means creation or to do. Therefore, PRAKRITI means ‘the first formed nature’ or ‘the original form of the being’. This biological judiciary controls the physical and mental faculties of each of us. The rest of the things that I know are obviously further divided into ayurvedic classifications of vaata, pitta, and kapha… but then for me as a layman it was enough to know that each of us has a different combination of these types that I just mentioned and this is what makes us so differently susceptible to the myriad diseases that we encounter. The way out is to understand the world of plants and how they can help us all lead lives with ‘growth’ inbuilt in it.

I have prepared a list of indoor plants release oxygen, shrubs, herbs, and trees that I believe should be a part of every kitchen garden (obviously barring the trees here in this list)… well, at least some of them if not all.

Common Names are also given: Sanskrit (S), Hindi (H), English (E)


Adathoda vasica – a shrub
Adusa(H) – Vaasa(S)


Aloe vera – a plant
Indian Aloe(E) – Kumari(S)


Andrographis paniculata – a plant
The Creat(E) – Kirayat(H) – Kalamegha(S)


Asparagus racemosus – a climber
Shakakul(H) – Satavari(S)


Bacopa monerri – a plant
Water hyssop(E) – Brahmi(H) – Brahmi(S)


Basella alba – a climber
Indian spinach(E) – Poi, Lalbaclu(H) – Upodika, Potaki(S)


Centella asiatica – a herb
Indian Pennywort(E) – Thulkuri, Brihmi(H) – Mandukaparni(S)


Coleus aromaticus – a shrub
Patharchur(H) – Pashanabhedi(S)


Cymbopogon citratus – a grass
Lemon grass(E) 


Cynodon dactylon – a grass
Bermuda grass(E) – Dub(H) – Durva(S)


Gymnema sylvestre – a climber
Periploca of the woods(E) – Gudmar, Meshasingi(H) – Meshasringi(S)


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – a shrub
Shoe-flower, Chinese Rose(E) – Jasund(H) – Japa, Japapuspa(S)


Lawsonia inermis – a shrub
Henna(E) – Mehndi(H) – Madayantika(S)


Moringa oliefera – a tree
Drumstick(E) – Sohjna, Sahijana(H) – Sigru(S)


Murraya koengii – a tree
Curry leaf tree(E) – Katnim, Karipatta(H) – Surabhi(S)


Ocimum sanctum – a herb
Holy basil(E) – Tulsi(H) – Tulasi(S)


Phyllanthus amerus – a plant
Bhu amla(H) – Bhu dharti, Bhuin amla(S)


Piper longum – a climber
Long pepper(E) – Pipali, Pipaamula(H) – Pippali(S)


Punica granatum – a tree
Pomegranate(E) – Anar(H) – Dadima(S)


Tinospora cordifolia – a climber
Moon Creeper(E) – Giloya(H) – Guduchi, Amrita(S)


Withania somnifera – a shrub
Indian ginseng, Winter cherry(E) – Asgandh(H) – Ashvagandha(S)

What we have found over these years is that the more you plant from this list, the more you tend to begin reading up on them. It is the reading up on this list that becomes the start of a romance with a form of Ayurveda that brings nature right into the heart of your home. When this happens, we find that the five elements that make us and our bodies converging through knowledge and into our very being. This is when the bliss of growth enters. We realised this years ago when Pushkin was in his growing and formative years.

Sebastian Pole, in ‘Discovering the True You with Ayurveda: How to Nourish, Rejuvenate, and Transform Your Life’, says: “Because we cannot scrub our inner body we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs, and mind. This is the art of Ayurveda.”

When we adapt from nature, the possibility of anything synthetic gets much reduced. This is the reason I prefer wearing khadi most of the time and I do tend to avoid synthetic yarns and fabrics. I am sure khadi helps the body remain fresh in any season and is a fabric that breathes! Thus such fabrics do lend a hand in letting us keep life aligned with organic growth!

Now that we are talking of processed and synthetic stuff, let me also add here that a similar logic prevails even in architecture. Laurie Baker says: ‘My observation is that vernacular architecture almost always has good answers to all our problems.’ He went on to add that mud adobes used to construct houses is not just economy-friendly but also makes the houses breathe well and this is what makes them so important for the right growth of society!

Growth or right growth is what we need in all aspects of our lives… and this is vital not just for kids in their formative years. The further we remain from made-up synthetic concepts, the better we will be placed to exude natural smiles… always!


This post is about a fallacy called synthetic products… and talks about the relevance of Ayurveda for a natural growth. Indiblogger has again given bloggers a chance to talk about this wonderful topic… and sponsors of the blogging contest is DABUR LAL TAIL

Arvind Passey
17 November 2013