An artist among doctors and a doctor among artists
He practices modern medicine at one of the premier Ayurveda health centres in the world – the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala Charitable Hospital. What’s more, this allopathy physician is the hospital superintendent since 1971. But what really sets Dr. P. Balachandra Warrior apart is the warm relationship he shares with his patients. No matter how hectic his day is, and it invariably is, Dr. Balachandran’s unhurried approach, affable manner and concern for his patients remains the same. For the scores of patients, from all walks of life, who flock to his door every day, he’s a godsend and a saviour.
The Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, thanks to the broadmindedness and foresight of its founder Vaidyaratnam P.S. Warrior, integrates ayurveda and allopathy treatments for a holistic cure. At a time when medical costs are exorbitant and driving millions of people to poverty every year across the country, this hospital, which provides quality treatment, medicine and food for free to thousands who can’t afford private health care, is a welcome exception and Dr. Balachandra Warrior has made it his life’s work to keep it so.
You might call him old fashioned, but he believes that mutual trust between doctor and patient is extremely important for successful treatment – a welcome change from doctors who charge through the nose, prescribe a battery of tests and drugs after a cursory examination, and even perform unnecessary surgeries for profit.
A connoisseur of art
There’s another interesting facet to this wonderful physician – he’s a connoisseur of classical music, art and literature. In spite of his busy schedule, he somehow ekes out time to follow his passion; and with him at the helm, the Arya Vaidya Sala often becomes a space for discussions and debates around temple art and music, augmenting the construction and exchange of Valluvanadan ethos and aesthetics. In his friends circle are noted writers like M T Vasudevan Nair and C Radhakrishnan and the singer K J Yesudas.
It helps that Arya Vaidya Sala is a preferred rejuvenation centre for artists and performers, who come here annually to regain physical and mental vigour after year-round performances. Over the years Dr. Balachandran has treated a galaxy of illustrious stars many of whom have become his close friends and appreciate his grasp in literature, classical music and performance arts such as Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Thayambaka and Panchavadyam.
The list of his patients often looks like a who’s who of the arts with such names like Thayambaka supremo Thrithala Keshavan, singing maestro Semmankudy Sreenivasa Aiyyer, Kathakali artist Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, Kathakali singer Kalamandalam Unnikrishna Kurup and others like Njheralath Rama Poduval, Pallavur brothers, Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, Aliparambil Sivarama Poduval, Kadavallur Aravindakshan, Edappal Appunni, Pookkattiri Divakaran, Neelakandan Nambeesan, Mattannoor Sankarankutty Marar, Krishnankutty Nair, Kuttan Marar, Vasu Nedungadi, Paloor Achuthan Nair and Mekkara Narayanan Nair.
This central committee member of the IMA also finds time to help organise local temple festivals and cultural events and even hosts various art and music programmes. He also writes on music, percussion and art and has several articles to his credit in mainstream Malayalam magazines and dailies.
No wonder M T Vasudevan Nair describes him as a ‘physician full of imagination.’
Dr. Balachandran hails from Nellayi, near Cherpplassery in Palakkad district. His wife Dr. Indira Balachandran, is a renowned herbologist, and head of the herbology department, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala. He has two children – Kishore (doctor based in England) and Kavitha.