February 2016 By Suma Varughese Vijaya Venkat, founder of The Health Awareness Centre, and a diehard health activist for the greater part of her life, left her body on January 6th, just a few days before her 78th birthday on January 30th. Vijaya Venkat,: A trail blazer in health practices She was a friend to Life Positive, and my own personal friend, for many years. A warm-hearted, spontaneous, child-like woman with a total passion for promoting her perspective on health, she was a lovable but hard taskmaster. She would often take issue with me about articles that I published that ran counter to her view, but her intention was so pure that one could never take it personally, and we would soon kiss and make up. Almost all her life Vijaya has taken the road less travelled. Starting off as an activist for the Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, she gradually moved into health and nutrition. Beginning with the principles of natural hygiene, she advocated a diet free of all whites (no milk, sugar, maida, refined salt or refined oils), and a judicious consumption of grains. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds were emphasised. A brilliant, inventive cook, Vijaya emerged with innovative recipes revolving around this rather Spartan menu, and soon began a highly popular dabba service. Gradually, she began to take her own intuitive path, increasingly advocating complete alignment with Mother Nature. Her regimen included rest, sleep, emotional well-being and eschewing artificial light, in addition to the right diet. Through these measures, Venkat has enabled thousands of people to regain their health, including those suffering from cancer. I have personally known of people who have healed from rheumatoid arthritis, and acid reflux. Jerroo Mulla, a media lecturer, attributes her recovery from cancer to the treatment she was given at the centre. Still, it has to be admitted that her treatment did not work for everyone. She is survived by her three children, son, Hari, elder daughter, Navina, and younger daughter, Anju. For several years, Anju has been running the centre alongside her mother, and will hopefully continue the good work begun by her mother. At a prayer meeting in honour of her memory, Mumbai’s elite poured into the Arya Samaj hall in hundreds until there was no standing room, listening reverentially to the beautiful Arya Samaj service. Later, they were invited to place their thumb print on the painting of an elegant Tree of Life, embellished with some of her better known pronouncements such as “Self-care is earth care”. At a time when the world is shifting towards a holistic way of life, Vijaya Venkat did more than most in persuading patients to give holistic healing measures a try. Her tireless efforts have earned her our deep gratitude. May she continue her ministry wherever she is now bound.
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