Vaidya Brihaspati Deva Triguna's is one house in the capital where one can reach without its address. There is neither a name plate nor a board at his residence or clinic.
But ask anyone at Sarai Kale Khan village in East Delhi about the vaidya (doctor) and the narrow road leads you right there, for the entire neighbourhood knows the celebrated ayurveda doctor.

Such is the popularity of this 86-year-old 'vaidya', whose four generations have been practicing ayurveda, that prestigious city hospitals refer cases to him. Interestingly, a number of doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) too visit Triguna for their own treatment. From governors and bureaucrats to politicians and common men, all throng his place throughout the day. The unending line of patients comes from all over India and from foreign countries including Europe, the US and neighbouring Pakistan.

"Our motto has been to provide our patients a better and healthier life and help them live longer," said Triguna, recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the Padma Vibhushan this year conferred upon him by the Government of India for his contribution to ayurveda. He added, "But I am pained by the 'symptom treatment' approach these days, which relieves a person from pain and fever temporarily. When the symptoms recur, people decide on alternative systems like ayurveda as a last resort. Only those who realise the side effects of allopathic medicines, look for treatment, by which a disease can be rooted out."

His son Vaidya Devendra, who received the Padma Shree five years ago, simplifies, "We believe in a holistic approach for any treatment. And I believe high technology surgeries would not be required if lifestyle changes were incorporated. But then in an emergency a surgery is required as ayurveda has its own limitations. Thus there is a need of an appropriate combination of both."

Blood cancer, kidney malfunctions, abdominal diseases, skin diseases, spondilitis, asthma, arthritis, diseases like insomnia and blood pressure are some of the diseases the father-son duo has cured.

Devendra recalls the case of an additional health secretary of the government of India. "Detected as having blood cancer, this patient was admitted to AIIMS for several months and advised further treatment abroad at the New York Cancer Hospital. The doctors there told him he had only a week more to live. That's when someone in New York recommended our name." The treatment began and the results were corroborated by AIIMS. Within a few months the patient joined office cured of blood cancer in six months. "Unfortunately, after a year-and-a-half he developed pneumonia and was admitted again at AIIMS. Denied outside treatment, he died of pneumonia, but not cancer," Devendra informed.

From early morning people start pouring in to the Trigunas' clinic - a place comprising three large halls capable of accommodating about 250 persons at one time. On an average they get 400 patients every day. The rush is such that appointments are fixed through a token system. People generally call up a day in advance and take numbers. There is no consultation fee, only Rs.10 to Rs.15 for a week's medicine.

The ayurvedic medicines made from various herbs also include a mix of saffron, diamonds, pearls, gold, silver, iron, copper and zinc. About two dozen people assist Trigunas' in collecting herbs and preparing medicines. In the profession for the past 64 years, Triguna came to Delhi from a village in Jalandhar, Punjab, and set up practice in 1950. He is credited with helping spread ayurveda in the West.

"Since 1978, I have been to various countries at least four times a year. I realised that ayurveda was being followed more rigourously in the West than in India. The age-old ayurvedic system of nadi vidya (pulse diagnosis) is as relevant today as it was millions of years ago unlike allopathy where drugs keep changing," he stated.

Asked why the family never thought of moving to any prestigious uptown locality, Devendra remarked, "Firstly, the space required cost a whopping sum. Secondly, our mission has been service to people, without commercial attachments."