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Health In Traditions - Ajay Jain

Pratibha Shah

Talk of Lord Krishna and what conjures up is a playful, youthful image. We can only guess about the secrets of Krishna’s endless energy and cheerfulness. But our very own youthful and energetic Krishna of New England is ready to share with all of us, his personal approach to life, happiness and health. Let us meet Ajay Jain, the man who dons many caps - a management guy, an amazing actor, an Art of Living senior practitioner, a Yoga practitioner, a husband, a father – and understand the secrets behind his and his family’s health.

I first met Ajay at the end of a Hindi play in which he played the lead role. I was suitably impressed by his natural acting skills. But a chance meeting with his wife Rekha Jain a few months later intrigued me enough to set up an interview about the family’s health practices. We were speaking about some herbs and she casually mentioned that in her family, they visit the doctor only for annual physical exams. She also talked about how her husband had influenced her to get on the path of holistic wholesome health for herself and the whole family. I had to know more, for me and for all of us.

Sitting on the comfortable couch in their living room and after a delicious ‘sattvik’ vegetarian dinner, I start rolling out my questions to Ajay, with Rekha chipping in to add interesting tidbits.

Ajay was born and brought up in Kolkatta, which is the Homeopathy capital of India. Not surprisingly, his mother is a staunch follower of Homeopathy. This meant that whenever little Ajay fell ill, the first line of treatment would be home remedies, then homeopathy and then finally Allopathy, if at all still needed. Ajay recounted an interesting experience with Homeopathy in his early life. As a young child, Ajay would get malaria very frequently. His father would let mother and son experiment with Homeopathy for a couple days but when the fever would not come down or school was being missed, he would quickly resort to Allopathy. This meant frequent use of quinine – the then drug of choice for malaria. Ajay suffered from many side effects of quinine. His homeopathy practitioner always requested that if the treatment was not broken and if he could treat Ajay without any hindrance, Ajay would stop getting malaria altogether. On one of the malaria episodes, he was finally given that chance and to my amazement, Ajay said that he indeed never got malaria again. Incredible! Bill Gates should find this guy, I joked.

More recently, Ajay was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2004. He was referred to an Endocrinologist for assessment and treatment. He got an appointment for 2 months later. In the meantime, he decided to call his Homeopathy practitioner in India and consult him. He was given one mega dose of a homeopathy medicine and was told that his Thyroid would be functioning normally after that.  Indeed, the checkup 2 months later revealed normal levels of the Thyroid hormone. Since then, his Thyroid hormone levels have been tested every six months for the past 2.5 years. They have always come out normal.

When Rekha came into the Jain household after marriage, she was very accustomed to taking a pill or two of modern drugs for all her ills. Especially for her frequent headaches, she would invariably reach out for a pain killer. It took her two years to start opening up to some home remedies and occasionally Homeopathy for her recurrent headaches. Today she rarely uses modern medicine. Ajay and Rekha have two beautiful kids, aged 16 and 10. They are being brought up on natural remedies and natural methods of healing as well. As of now, use of modern drugs in the Jain household is limited to very acute conditions only.

Rekha, who is an excellent cook and enjoys cooking, makes fresh food every day for the entire family. Both husband and wife believe that a healthy nutritious diet is the key to good health.  Ajay counts his blessings because he grew up on fresh home cooked food and is happy to see his children get the same strong foundation for health. They buy predominantly organic. Labels are diligently read. Processed foods, refined foods and sodas are a big no no. Food is cooked healthy – less oil, less frying, no overload of spices, etc. Kids have to follow the strict rule of finishing all the veggies that are served on their plate. Although everyone enjoys food, no one overeats. Some foods that are commonly used are – fenugreek sprouts, lentil sprouts, ghee sweetmeats in winter, millet flour ‘rotis’ (bread) with jiggery (precursor to raw sugar) and ghee, breads made with chickpea flour or pea flour, quinoa, brown rice and lot of seasonal vegetables.  Dry fruits and nuts especially almonds and walnuts, dates, cranberry, flex/pumpkin seeds and seasonal fruits are liberally used for snacking and otherwise. Rekha also makes fresh fruit juice and smoothies at home. Yogurt is homemade too. Use of microwave and non-stick ware is very minimal. Ajay lays a lot of stress on proper water intake throughout the day. He himself starts his day with a liter of water. Lastly, the Jain family brings home raw milk. They are big fans of raw milk and have been using it for the entire family for a few years now.

I love what Ajay said when I asked him about food.  He said: ‘Everyone has come on this planet with a fixed amount of ration. It is up to them in how many installments they want to eat it; more now and less later or in even amounts throughout.’ He also says ‘Eat best, eat less’. An interesting perspective!

Ajay was initiated into the practice of Yoga by his mother at a very early age. He took Art of Living course about 10 years back. He has his own set of Yoga and Art of Living practices which he does religiously every morning. He does not go to a gym or play a sport regularly, but he likes to walk as and when possible. Rekha and kids also get plenty of physical activity in the form of yoga, basketball, running and others – whatever is seasonally possible. Both children are also trained in Art of Living for kids and practice it intermittently. 10 year old Riti has been learning Bhartanatyam for past few years and practices it regularly.

When asked for his mantra for health, Ajay says – ‘A disease free body, a stress free mind and a happy soul’. That pretty much sums up all aspects of health – physical, mental as well as spiritual.  Simple, basic and yet profound!!

I leave with a great sense of joy and hope. Ajay and Rekha are not only leading a holistic, wholesome, healthy life, they are also nurturing two future citizens of this world, inculcating in them practices that will in all probability not only help them lead healthy lives themselves but will also help them become instruments to disseminate these basic principles into all lives that they influence. I pray that the Jains continue to practice preventive health and in the process, continue to influence and inspire friends and family. People like the Jain family will ultimately become epicenters that will ripple strong healthy practices into societies and communities all around them. Amen!!

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