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The Lost Art of Lineage: Why Continuation of Tradition Sets the Ayurvedic Institute Apart

The definition of Lineage according to Merriam Webster dictionary is, “ A descent in a line from a common progenitor.” Vedic mythology tells of the journey of Ayurveda as the ancient wisdom was realized by Brahma the creator, and passed down to Prajapati the Hindu lord of creatures. Prajapati then passed the knowledge onto the Ashwin twins, who then gifted Ayurveda to Indra the King of the gods. Indra then passed these teachings to the Sages of ancient times, Kashyap, Dhanwantari and Bharadwaj. 

While this story is based in myth, the themes of faith in the divine and dedicating a life to service remain as relevant today as they did 5,000 years ago. Although many ancient lineages have been lost and forgotten, the traditions of Vasant Lad’s lineage continue to thrive at the Ayurvedic Institute, enriching the lives of all who come to learn the art of Ayurveda. 

A brief History of Vasant Lad’s Lineage

Word of The Guru

Born in Pune, India Vasant Lad was introduced to Ayurveda from the age of 10 where he was exposed to his Gurus teaching and the trajectory of his life was changed forever. Originally accompanying his father to listen to this Guru, a young Vasant Lad would have never imagined the initiation he would receive. This guru told him “You will be a great Ayurvedic student and teacher, and you will go abroad–you will write books and you will teach people about Ayurveda”. 

As fate will have it, Vasant Lad eventually received his Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pune in 1968 and later his Masters of Ayurvedic Science from Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya in 1980. Upon receiving these degrees, Vasant went on to serve as director of the Ayurvedic Hospital in Pune, India for three years. In addition to directing the hospital, Vasant Lad also went on to teach Clinical Medicine at the Pune University College of Ayurvedic Medicine for 15 years. 

Student becomes the Teacher 

As predicted by his Guru, Vasant Lad went on to travel to the United States in the 80’s, sharing and spreading the ancient knowledge and lineage of Ayurveda. In 1984 The Ayurvedic Institute was established in Albuquerque by Vasant Lad, who would continue to serve as the Principal instructor for the school into the present, nearly 40 years. While Vasant Lad will speak to the culture shock of transitioning to the United States and assimilating into the culture of New Mexico, there are still so many elements of his lineage from Pune India that were preserved from the start, and for good reason.

Alive and Well: examples of Vasant Lad’s Lineage in the classroom

The Vedic Classroom

The Ayurvedic Institute takes pride in what Vasant Lad calls a Vedic Classroom. Although each passing decade is marked by further advance in technology, the classroom environment established provides a reprieve from the litany of devices we have all become accustomed to carry. As a technology free classroom all phone calls, texts and social media use are prohibited. In addition, students are encouraged to center themselves before each lecture takes place, with soft speaking and gentle meditation. This sets the tone for the class and establishes a resonant frequency between students. 

Listening to Speaker

Vasant Lad is also known to reference a “Speaker”. This personification of divinity provides a tangible idea for students to comprehend, as the divine will literally speak through Vasant Lad. These transmissions are all dependent on the atmosphere of the classroom, and the more peaceful, sattvic and surrendering the communal student consciousness is, the more likely “Speaker” will arrive.

Prayer to Ganesha, Sarawati & Ganga

More specifically to Vasant Lad’s guru’s lineage, students are taught opening and closing Sanskrit prayers for each and every class. These prayers cannot be found on the internet or other yogic texts in full. Passed down strictly via oral tradition, these prayers connect the student body directly with the ancestry and guru’s who have come before and align their higher selves before each lecture. These long, sanskrit chants can be a difficult first step for students to learn in their first year yet quickly become engraved into their very being. Graduates have said that after even months or years without recitation all of the chants will come back within an instant.

While there are individuals who undoubtedly struggle or disagree with this policy, there is an undeniable energetic effect felt in the classroom. Outside of his brilliant Ayurvedic knowledge and expertise, Vasant Lad is also a brilliantly gifted artist and singer. To sing with Dr. Lad as he performs a puja, or recites daily prayers is an incredibly potent way to connect with the lineage of Dr. Lad and Ayurveda as a whole. 

Why preservation of traditions cultivates unique education

The preservation of this lineage not only makes a student’s experience at the Ayurvedic Institute a profound cultural experience but also a deeply spiritual one. In ancient times, only a reserved caste were allowed the honor to study Ayurveda. Vasant Lad is one of the many pioneers who have gifted Ayurveda to the entire world and with it the honor of studying a once private and revered science. 

Sourced Cited

“Lineage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lineage. Accessed 15 Jun. 2022.

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The spiritual journey starts here

Picture of Vasant Lad BAM&S, MASc

Vasant Lad BAM&S, MASc

A native of India, he served for three years as Medical Director of the Ayurveda Hospital in Pune, India. He was Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Pune University College of Ayurvedic Medicine for 15 years. He holds a Bachelor’s of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAM&S) degree from the University of Pune and a Master’s of Ayurvedic Science (MASc) degree from Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya. The author of numerous books, Vasant Lad is respected throughout the world for his knowledge of Ayurveda.