Sunday, September 8, 2013

Parao Leprosy hospital - further thoughts

While researching the Aghori way of life in the city of Varanasi I was taken to Avadhoot Bhagwan Ram Kustha Sewa Ashram, which is located on the other bank of the Holy Ganges.

There it was explained to me that the temple was founded in 1961 and while its roots where in Aghori they had moved on as they said ‘into the modern world’. Part of their development was moving from practices that were seen as abhorrent to working with the lowest of society, the lepers. With this view, Parampujya Aghoreshwar started a service centre at Parao, Varanasi for the lepers in January 1962.

Parao Leprosy hospital - Images by Darragh Mason Field

This centre adopts the Ayurvedic and Fakiri system of treatment and prepares most of the medicines and received acknowledgement from the Guinness book of records for treating more leprosy patients in the world with 99,045 patients registered with ‘full’ leprosy and 147,503 with ‘partial’ leprosy all of which have been cured. The patients are treated for free and on recovery they are expected to serve in the kitchens to treat the current patients for a period of time in return. No debt, no medical insurance.

When one looks at the prohibitive cost of medical treatment in the west, particularly the United States, one can only look at the Avadhoot Bhagwan ashram and its inclusive way it accepts patients and the incredible success rate as simply extraordinary.

The Ashram not only provides free treatment but also clothing, food and accommodation to the Leper patients. The treatment program is not only designed to heal the physical aliment but also to treat the mental and emotional damage suffered through Leprosy. In that the patient is shown to be an important member of the community at the Ashram, valued by their peers and Ashram members and contributing to the wellbeing of all.

 Not only has the Ashram the greatest level of success in treating this devastating disease worldwide it also has great success with cured patients returning to mainstream society leading full lives with families and friends.

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