Anand Meena is a resident Guni at the Udaipur office of JJVS. Born in 1955, he has been working with Jagran for 6 years and has received trainings in Myotherapy and Aaditherapy. His father was a revolutionary politician and part of the local panchayat during the fight for Independence from Britain. Following the expensive campaign that resulted in his father’s election into office, the family was in financial crisis for many years. After leaving school in the 5th standard, he got married at age 15, a common age among tribal villagers. He began to farm and sell vegetable and dairy products, and he also got involved in illegal smuggling for a time. His first cousin was a Guni and insisted that Anand leave his other sources of income and learn about traditional medicine from him. However, following this training he became very ill for 7 years – he believes from a curse from someone in his village. Seeking treatment, he found his teacher, a spiritual healer who cured him of his 7-year illness. Anand Ji was inspired by this healer and asked to train under him so that he could fight all of the evils in this world and help people recover from illnesses. His teacher taught him about all of the medicinal plants that he knew and Anand became a skilled healer in the village.
After being identified by JJVS, he immersed himself fully in learning new skills, collaborating with other Gunis, and utilizing JJVS resources. Through JJVS, he has come to know about medicinal plants from many different parts of India and how to grow them in different environments. He has also been trained in Aaditherapy, an ancient art to India that focuses on putting pressure on different points of the body to help alleviate pain. With greater recognition through JJVS, he now earns more money and is able to see more patients. He was even recognized for his Guni skills in Delhi, which makes him very proud and happy that he and his profession are receiving respect for their work.
In early times, the villagers did not trust or respect his Guni knowledge. Few people were literate, and many did not understand Ayurvedic medicine and preferred the allopathic medicine in hospitals and government clinics. From his personal experiences, Anand Ji feels that allopathic medicine is very expensive and does not address the root problems of various health issues in the same way as Ayurvedic medicine. Allopathic medicine sometimes results in unexpected reactions in the body and does not provide the mental peace necessary for complete healing. People now want an instant cure for their problems and do not care about potential side effects of taking multiple pills. In addition to the ineffectiveness of allopathy, the nearest hospital in his village is 10 kilometers away, a dangerous and expensive distance to travel in case of medical emergencies. In the past, the people only went to Anand Ji as a last option, but now, thanks to the recognition and training that he has received from Jagran, many people trust his knowledge and come to him for treatment of common illnesses.
To Anand Ji, a Guni is someone who has extensive knowledge on herbal medicine and techniques for muscle and bone pain alleviation. It is a profession for people to earn an income, but those who do it are not interested in money. He is currently teaching his daughter and daughter-in-law, after having them help him make medicinal powders and balms and noticing how much they enjoyed the work.
In his opinion, Gunis are needed now more than ever. In earlier times, the only option for treatment was ayurvedic medicine, and food was fresh and healthy. Now, according to Anand Ji, everything is polluted and not fresh. People eat bad things for their health, and their poor diet has resulted in many new diseases. Where before there was only fever and malaria, now there is diabetes, acidity, cancer, joint pains, back pains and arthritis. No one is directly responsible for this change, he recognizes – it has happened with the changing times, where people exercise less, sleep less and eat less healthy foods. Packaged and processed foods like pizza, burgers and chips are now in the village, and old traditions have been forgotten or lost. People used to burn medicinal plants to prevent malaria, but now they do not because western culture is more prevalent.