Gunis: Tribal Healers

  1. What are methods of healing used by tribals in Mewar?
  2. What special knowledge have the tribals inherited?
  3. How are tribal healing systems preserved?
  4. What are the advantages of these systems?
  5. How are these systems strengthened?

One of the unique intangible forms of cultural heritage of Mewar is the traditional health healing system that includes the age-old methods of treatment and therapies known to cure human diseases. Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of treatments in India that utilizes plants for curing diseases.

In India are found 6000 to 7000 species of medicinal plants distributed in 150 agro climatic zones. Rajasthan has about 2000 species of medicinal plants and a large number of them grow in Mewar. About 80% of the population lives in villages and tribals of different communities’ form about 50% population of the state. Living in close touch with forests the tribals have inherited deep knowledge of medicinal plants and their utility.

Apart from Ayurveda there also exist the non-documented form of traditional health healing systems that are passed on from one generation to another within a community through interaction and observation. This knowledge is also transferred through ancient Guru Shishya Parampara (Master Pupil Tradition) in which pupils from other families also receive traditional knowledge. In the past this form of traditional knowledge was confined to rural areas where certain tribal communities were practising it for treatment of human health problems and diseases. However, during the last few decades, the facility of this method of treatment has been available to Udaipurites through medical camps organized by some NGOs.

In Rajasthan, the local practitioners who cure through such traditional knowledge are known as Gunis, a Hindi term that means knowledge possessors. The word is used for a person dwelling in interior rural area who possesses traditional knowledge of health healing systems. Vaidya, Vaidyaraj, Amchis, Gaitas, Uche and Bhagat Danga are some other names by which traditional healers are known in India.

It has been observed that for a large number of people, it is not possible to afford the expensive medicines prescribed in some other systems. In addition, there is also possibility of adverse side effects. The medicinal formulations prepared from herbal plants consist of essential natural components that are vital for human health.

Efforts have been made to strengthen this system through identification of Gunis for mobilizing their health services for poor people. Training programmes to impart knowledge of disease symptoms, advance therapies, preparation and preservation of herbal formulations and identification and cultivation of herbal plants to Gunis have been organized with the help of botanists, doctors, etc. To motivate the trainees, certificated of appreciation are given.

Guni Asharams have been opened as an institutional model for mobilizing the Gunis health services and building their capacity in exploring the traditional methods of diagnosis and treatment. Training of Gunis also includes knowledge of naturopathy, aaditherapy and myopotherapy that are helpful In treating chronic diseases.

Gunis traditional knowledge has been documented in Community Health Knowledge Register (CHKR) in which treatment of 38 types of diseases with different formulations has been described. The evidence of these formulations have also been found in historical documents like Charak Samhita, Bhavpraksha, Ashtanga, Samgraha, and Samgandhara Samhita. Community Health Knowledge Registers are referred to by Gunis and Vaidyas for treatment. Herbarium files consisting of taxonomal details of more than 300 herbal plants have been prepared and they are being used as reference material by Gunis and scholars. Thirty eight formulations prepared by Gunis have been authorized by a group of specialized Ayurveda doctors through rapid test where the evidence has been traced back to ancient Ayurveda literature. BSF and CISF have also started making use of Guni treatment.

Some organizations invite Gunis in camps for the benefit of Udaipurites.

We should be proud of the ancient traditional tribal system of medicine passed on from generations and that is harmless and inexpensive. It needs to be preserved and promoted.

For contacting Gunis and herbal treatment, one may contact:
Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti
Sapetia Road, Bedla, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Phone: 0294-2441322
Email: [email protected]