Journeys to the Frontiers of Healing


"Health Care as if the Earth
and Human Being Mattered
Feb 26 - March 5, 2006
at Dr. Vandana Shiva's Navdanya Farm Center

Dehradun, Uttaranchal

"Indian Traditional Medicine:
Options for Public Health
March 7 - March 14, 2006
at Jagran Jan's Traditional Healers Ashram

Everyone planning to attend either or both of these courses is requested to submit a pre-tour registration form as soon as possible so the course content can be tailored to the needs and experience of participants.

The registration forms can be downloaded here
either as an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file
or as an MS Word .doc file
Please fill one out and mail it to:

Big Medicine, PO Box 13,
Kennebunkport, ME, USA 04046

Mission   |   Participants   |    Course Descriptions   |   Visa   |    Costs   |    Contact

Big Medicine Tours offer interactive learning adventures with leading mind/body/ecology masters in India and Japan. Designed for men and women now involved or deeply interested in healing, environmental defense and/or eco-psychology, these journeys will introduce participants to exceptional individuals who are redefining the limits of Asia's great medical traditions. These teachers are not only masters of their respective disciplines, they are mindfully expanding the concept of human well-being to include the health of the entire eco-social surround. In other words, we will be meeting and studying with skilled traditional healers who are also striving to regenerate their communities with sustainable life-styles, eco-spiritual awareness and vigorous grassroots democracy.



To enrich participants with practical skills, suggestive insights and traditional lore while firing their imagination with convivial new visions of life, health and community. Besides intensive study sessions, hands-on workshops and field work, these tours will offer aesthetically lush experiences of two of the world's richest cultures.


We hope to attract spirited individuals who believe the celebration of life is inextricably linked to sensual wonder, societal empathy and the health of the greater whole. We shall keep the tours small and intimate (nine people max), so all participants may enjoy the maximum attention, interaction and personalized care.


Big Medicine is organizing two consecutive Eco-Somatic courses in India for 2006. Participants are welcome to take either course but are encouraged to take both. There is a 48-hour R&R break in Delhi between the two.

Our first course, "Health Care as if the Earth and Human Being Mattered," will be held at Bija Vidyapeeth, the International College for Sustainable Living, founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva in Dehradun, Uttaranchal. (See their website at

The second course, "Indian Traditional Medicine: Options for Public Health" will be held in collaboration with Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, a health, environment, & community development NGO that works with indigenous tribes around Udaipur, Rajasthan.

(February 26th - March 4th 2006)

This course will explore two vital concepts for understanding and achieving "public health" in any society:
  1. Health is not merely the absence of disease but a sense of total social, economic, political, physical and spiritual well-being;
  2. We are inextricably linked to the web of life on this planet and are dependent on all aspects of its health.
We will examine how current "globalized" corporate and governmental activities in South Asia both ignore and violate these insights, and study how they have disrupted public health systems and the environment in India (and throughout the world).

Led by public health advocate Dr. Mira Shiva, and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, we will focus on the various ways corporatized medical, health and agricultural trends now dangerously contradict the basic precepts of traditional health teachings from India and China, as well as the World Health Organization's Public Health Manifesto, all of which affirm the inseparable organic unity of each human being and the environmental surround. (This wisdom will be dramatized by a brief review of Indian cultural insights into body-environment interdependence from music, art and literature.)

We will also consider the crushing impact accelerating "globalization" has had on the weakest social sectors: women, children and the poor. Most importantly, we will survey the various Indian people's movements working to shift to sustainable modes of health and environmental care, as well as the economic and societal promise of their approaches.

The teachers will consist of community health experts, ecologists, organic farmers, an ayurvedic doctor, a yoga teacher, and a classical vocalist trained in India's spiritual music traditions. We will invite participants to expand the scope of the discussions with their own questions, insights, and personal experiences. There will be sufficient time within the day to form break-out groups to discuss specific topics in greater depth. Participants will also have frequent opportunities to practice yoga, meditation, and shram dan (voluntary labor offerings) in the farm fields and/or campus kitchen. The schedule offers a variety of local cultural activities, but given the imposing scenery, we also recommend long walks through the rolling fields and farm villages, swimming in the mountain streams, or simply bathing in the green air and bird song at dawn and dusk.


- Arrival at Bija Vidyapeeth Campus

"Trans-national economic agendas & impact on third world food, seed and water security -- The Indian Experience"
Lecture/discussion with Dr. Vandana Shiva, physicist, environmental activist and founder of Navdanya and Bija-Vidyapeeth Research and education institutes.

"Health Care As If The Earth And Human Being Matter -- Navdanya Solutions"
Lecture/discussion with Dr. Vandana Shiva


"Ecology of the Body -- The Yogic View"
Lecture/discussion with Ms. Rani Sahay (Msc), Navdanya Research Scholar and Sivananda Ashram trained yoga teacher

"The Human Body in Indian art, literature and song."
Lecture/discussion with Ms. Vidya Rao Indian Classical vocalist


Morning & Afternoon:
"Ecology of the Body -- Perspectives of Ayurveda and modern science" Lecture/Discussion with Dr. Jyotsna, BAMS, MD (AY), co-founder/director, Arogya Kalp (organization dedicated to the spread of Ayurveda and holistic living).


"The Global Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex" -- Healthcare implications for the most vulnerable populations"
Lecture/discussion with Dr. Mira Shiva senior Public Health advocate Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI)

"Health Care As If the Earth and Human Being Matter
-- Emerging Grassroots Public Health Solutions"
Lecture/discussion with Dr. Mira Shiva


All day:
Field Trip on Shiv Ratri, festival of Lord Siva, to meet with Navdanya project farmers and join in their sacred festivities


"From Seed to Table - Food Security and Food Safety"
Lecture/discussion with Maya, co-ordinator Navdanya's "Seed to Table" movement and Bija Vidyapeeth director

"Restoring Organic Agriculture for the Health of the Earth"
Dr. Poonan Pande, Navdanya agronomist and researcher


Wrap-up, closing ceremony & departure.


Navdanya Organic Food Outlet at Delhi Haat
Navdanya Staff

Navdanya Organic Food Cafe
Navdanya Staff

All tour members will receive formal Bijya Vidyapeeth certificates recognizing their participation and completion of the course.

International College for Sustainable Living

Bija Vidyapeeth is the education wing of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, world renowned ecologist and green activist. Its courses offer practical knowledge and training for community empowerment, eco-social health and sustainable living. This institute is leading the battle for comprehensive health, environment and democratization policies in India, and its staff will help us understand how ecological problems now impact the country's public health.

Dawn at Edge of BV Campus

Crew at 2002 BV Water Resources Seminar

The Bija Vidyapeeth campus is located on the Foundation's Navdanya organic farm. nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya and Shivalik mountains between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The Navdanya farm is designed as a project to conserve agro-diversity and give farmers a voice in the political, economic and ecological aspects of their work. Navdanya means nine seeds and represents the various sources of India's food security. It also suggests a diverse ecological balance at every level, from the environment of the planet to the internal environment of our bodies. The farm has rejuvenated the biodiversity of a previously barren landscape devastated by years of eucalyptus monoculture. More than 600 varieties of plants now flourish there, including 250 varieties of rice, 30 varieties of wheat, and many kinds of pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, and medicinal plants.

Navdanya founder, Dr. Vandana Shiva is a celebrated scientist, progressive orator and director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. The Foundation is devoted to participatory research that intimately involves local people and a wide-ranging interdisciplinary approach that reflects the dynamic interconnections of the web of life.

Dr. Mira Shiva is an eminent physician and public health activist who has campaigned for decades in overlapping arenas of health care and human rights.

Vidya Rao is a sacred musicologist and renowned vocalist trained in India's thumri or "light classical" tradition. She is well known across the sub-continent for her electrifying performance of ancient songs of love, devotion and spiritual yearning.

Dr Jyotsna is an Ayurvedic physician and co-founder/director of Arogya Kalp, an institute dedicated to spreading Ayurvedic knowledge and medicine. In the past she worked in rural Rajasthan on water conservation, organic farming, holistic health and ayurveda. She works closely with the Navdanya Institute on intellectual property rights issues and advises the institute on the nutritional and medicinal properties of organically grown foods and herbs.

Ms. Rani Sahay, MSc, is a Navdanya researcher on water and agriculture issues as well as a Sivananda Ashram-trained Hatha Yoga instructor.

(7th March - 14th March 2006)

This course explores the holistic lifestyle, philosophy, medicinal practices and livelihood of the gunis or traditional village healers. It covers the role Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti's community workers have played since 1987 in identifying, promoting and re-empowering the traditional health practitioners.

The JJVS initiated traditional health movement has spread from their local base in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan to six other States in the country. We will learn about the multi-tiered, interactive, interdisciplinary, eco-sensitive plant-based health education system that the institute employs to upgrade the knowledge base of local gunis, ayurveds, botanists and community workers. The strength of the JJVS Guni Movement is evidenced by its flourishing growth despite the fact that traditional healers still lack formal recognition or support within India's public health system.

The "National Guni Mission" recently drafted by JJVS, its sister organizations and guni networks in northern India urges the Indian Health Ministry to recognize that traditional healers actually provide 60 to 80 percent of all rural health care at nominal rates or no cost whatever. Their in-depth knowledge of the medicinal plant world and its healing applications make them the rightful experts in a holistic, nature-based approach to health care. Their reliance on botanical medicines makes them the natural stewards of the forest and propagators of medicinal plants. Honoring them and employing their medical expertise and botanical knowledge within the nation's public health and eco-restoration efforts would be both wise and effective, and long overdue.

Immersed in the gentle, hospitable culture and lifestyle of village Rajasthan, course participants will gain a unique perspective on the dynamic, organic societal relations that underlie rural democracy and eco-social sustainability. One example of this is the traditional healers' benevolent and graceful assurance to their villages, "Health Care is for All."

March 7th Tuesday

Arrival at Udaipur Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti (JJVS) Premises


Location: JJVS office, VALI

Introduction of JJVS Health staff & selected Gunis ? Pratapi-bai, Udai Singh etc. Presentation of National Guni Mission activities ? origins, progress and current activities. Bhanwar Dhabai, JJVS Founder & Co-Director

Presentation of Grassroots democracy and rural development initiatives. Ganesh Purohit, JJVS Founder & Co-Director

Location: Guni Ashram, Kurabar

Welcome & cultural ceremony by traditional healers

Guni Ashram's activities - Medicinal plant garden / Guni-run nursery and herbal manufacturing unit Dr. GP Singh Jhala, JJVS Staff Botanist


Location: Guni Clinic, Rodada

Discussion session with Guni Rodi-bai & interaction with villagers and patients about her traditional treatment practices.

Guni residence, Karakali

Guni Pratabi-bai's residence:
Cultural program of indigenous music and dance followed by discussion with Guni Pratabi-bai, her family members and neighbors regarding their work & livelihoods. This includes information on the home collection and preservation of herbs, indigenous knowledge / technology, and social customs / rituals for conservation of medicinal plants. Vaidhya Jiyalal, JJVS staff Ayurved Mr. Bhagwati Purohit, JJVS Staff Social Worker

Location: JJVS Valli office

Panchkarma theory and massage -- Introduction & demonstration
JJVS staff Ayurveds, Dr. R.K. Deshwal and Dr. R.L. Choudary

(Massage therapy available for willing participants)


All Day:
Field Visit: Banki Forest Farm - Medicinal Plants Nursery & Research Center
Mr. U. R. Seol, Forest officer, Rajasthan state, Udaipur division,

Jhadol Forest Division. NAL SANDOL VANOSHDHI UDHYAN (Medicinal Plants Garden)
Dr. Satish Sharma, Forest officer, Rajasthan state, Udaipur division


Field visit: JHAMESHWAR Temple & village homes

Interactive visit with community organizations to discuss natural resource management, social issues, grassroots democracy, and soil - water conservation initiatives. Mr. G.L. Verma, JJVS community worker
Mr. Narendra Gujar, JJVS community worker

JJVS, Valli office
Evening session:
Panchkarma & massage therapy.


Morning & Afternoon:

Field visit: "DEVRA" (sacred place for ritual healing practices) & BHOPA (Shaman employing prayer & ritual healing practices)

Cultural event - Bhajan Mandali: devotional songs and dances with JJVS staff, gunis and villagers.


All Day:
Field Visit: Jaisamand Lake area
Presentation of indigenous self-reliance initiatives in the Jaisamand Lake area.

We will visit self-help groups involved in JJVS initiated self-reliance projects for community upliftment, These include natural resource management efforts such as soil & water conservation measures, indigenous grain preservation, and seed banking.


Feedback and review meeting with key JJVS staff

Certification ceremony followed by local rituals

Return to Udaipur

In 1987, Jagran Jan began working with the indigenous Bhil, Gameti, Mina and Gerasian tribes to improve their economic, social and political conditions. However, the tribes soon requested that they focus on the poor public health care in the region and its environmental degradation. In 1989 the Jagran initiated an innovative public health movement based on a holistic wedding of classical and indigenous medical traditions. Jagran helped design the educational format, but the resulting health care system and environmental stewardship program is run directly by the tribes and their Goan Ke Guni or village wisemen, as the tribal people call their new healers. More than 300 gunies have graduated from Jagran Jan and now collaborate with the institute to train village healers from other rural regions as well as urban women's health groups.

A Rajasthan village Havan
(Pre-healing purification ceremony)

Mr. Ganesh Purohit and Ms. Bhanwar Dhabai, the charismatic young founders of Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, as well as their botanist, J. C. Jhala and staff Ayurveds Dr. Jiya Lal Jat and Dr. Ram Kishore.

Delhi native, Rita Dixit-Kubiak is a Hatha Yoga & Zen Shiatsu teacher\trainer and health-&-ecology researcher with offices in Maine and Kyoto, Japan. After finishing her Friends World College thesis on "East Asian Medicine in Modern Japan," she founded Kyoto's Meta-medical Forum, an interdisciplinary seminar series designed to enhance interaction between Japan's health practitioners and environmental activists. From 1993 to 1998, she led scores of Kyoto residents on annual education, ecology and reforestation tours to the Udaipur region, creating an enduring citizen-driven sister-city collaboration. A sample of her recent writings and interviews on activism, health and ecology are available here


COURSE I: "Health Care - as if the Earth and Human Being Mattered"

$1500 - payable to Big Medicine

(includes in-country travel, food, accommodations & course fees)
Plus (approx) $850 to $1150 International Airfare

TOTAL COST: $2350 to $2650 (plus air ticket taxes)
depending on your chosen flight.

Day 1 Arrival in Delhi & Hotel*
Day 2 Hotel in Delhi (optional Delhi historic sites tour**)
Day 3 Train to Dehradun - Bija Vidyapeeth
Day 4~9 Bija Vidyapeeth campus
Day 10 Bija Vidyapeeth - Train to Delhi from Dehradun / Hotel in Delhi
Day 11 Return flight to the US

* The Delhi lodgings will be at the New Haven Hotel.
** Delhi Tour Option: please add an extra $50 to Big Medicine your check.

COURSE II: "Indian Traditional Medicine, Options for Public Health"

$1500 - payable to Big Medicine

(includes in-country travel, food, accommodations & course fees)
Plus (approx) $850 to $1150 International Airfare

TOTAL COST: $2350 to $2650 (plus air ticket taxes)
depending on your chosen flight.

Day 1 Arrival in Delhi and hotel*.
Day 2 Overnight train to Udaipur (optional Delhi historic sites tour**)
Day 3 Hotel in Udaipur
Day 4 Hotel in Udaipur/ Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti Udaipur Center
Day 5~9 Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti's Traditional Healers' Ashram,
       Kurabad village, Udaipur, Rajasthan Day 10 Overnight train to Delhi
Day 11 Hotel in Delhi
Day 12 Return flight to US. (optional: Delhi museum tour*)

* The Delhi lodgings will be at the New Haven Hotel.
** Delhi Tour Options: please add an extra $50 to your Big Medicine check for each desired Delhi tour.)

FOR BOTH COURSES (Highly Recommended!)

$2000 - payable to Big Medicine
(includes in-country travel, food, accommodations & course fees)
Plus (approx) $850 to $1150 International Airfare
TOTAL COST: $2850 to $3150 (plus air ticket taxes)
depending on your chosen flight.

Day 1 Arrival in Delhi
Day 2 Hotel* in Delhi (optional Delhi historical sites tour**)
Day 3 Train to Dehradun - Bija Vidyapeeth campus
Day 4~9 Bija Vidyapeeth campus
Day 10 Bija Vidyapeeth - Train to Delhi from Dehradun/ Hotel in Delhi
Day 11 Hotel in Delhi (optional Taj Mahal, Agra tour**)
Day 12 Hotel in Delhi (optional Delhi museum tour**)
Day 13 Overnight train to Udaipur
Day 14 Hotel in Udaipur
Day 15 Hotel in Udaipur/ Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, Udaipur office
Day 16-21 Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti's Traditional Healers' Ashram,
       Kurabad village, Udaipur, Rajasthan
Day 22 Overnight train to Delhi
Day 23 Hotel in Delhi
Day 24 Return flight to US.

* The Delhi lodgings will be at the New Haven Hotel.
** Tour Options: please add an extra $50.00 to your Big Medicine check for each desired Delhi tour and/or an extra $135.00 for the Agra/Taj Mahal tour.

Besides your US passport
(click HERE if you don't have one),
you will also need a current Indian tourist visa.
You can download an Indian visa application form HERE
and then submit it by mail (requires 10~12 days)
or bring it directly to an Indian Consulate-General (takes a few hours)

US/India airfares are projected to range from roughly $850 to $1150 depending on airline and city of origin. Please request info on recommended discount travel agencies when applying for or inquiring about your selected tour(s).

International Travel Notes

  • Air India has a 4% surcharge if paying by credit card.
Cancellation Policy
  • Airlines have varying policies on fees for changes or cancellations in the weeks leading up to your scheduled time of departure. Please check with your international ticket agent for details.
  • Any changes or cancellations for tour arrangements from Jan 1 - Feb 1 will cost 15% of the total package requested.
  • Any changes or cancellations from Feb 2 - Feb 15 will cost 50% of total package requested.
  • After Feb 16 it will be 100%.
  • All requests for changes or cancellations should be sent in writing or by email.


BIG MEDICINE is a Maine-based non-profit research\education organization dedicated to promoting and\or developing promising post-corporate paradigms for public health, social welfare and truly democratic governance.

PO Box 13, Kennebunkport, Maine 04046
Tel: (207) 967-2390