The fourth generation Goud, Bathini Harinath Goud recounts the incredible tale behind the incredible cure but keeps the aura of secret surrounding the family's cure story intact
Long long ago, in what is now called Doodhbowli lived a toddy merchant called Veeranna Goud. Veeranna was known for his helpful nature. He would spend 25 per cent of his profit from each pot of toddy on the needy.
On a stormy Mrigasira Karti night in the year 1845, a wandering holy man from the Himalayas who was south-bound knocked on his door. He was soaked wet due to train, hungry and requested for shelter.
“My great grandfather offered him shelter, food and some dry clothes. The sage rested that night and on the following day when he was about to leave, he passed on a secret,” reveals Bathini Harinath Goud. That secret is now what we call the ‘fish medicine' or the ‘fish prasadam.' Sounds like a page from grandpa's tales, but true, vouches Goud. Since then the Goud household has been giving this medicine to those suffering from asthma.
A week ahead of the fish prasadam day on June 8, the Goud household is busy. From children as young as eight years old to the senior most member in the Goud family each one is taking note of every detail that requires attention.
In the living room of their modest house at Kavadiguda, the two youngest kids are glued to Doremon. The hand phone is ringing incessantly; Bathini Harinath Goud takes a break from the preparations and answers the call.
“A caller from Pune is enquiring about the possibility of a vegetarian way to take the medicine. I am the fourth generation person who is administering this medicine. It started with my great grandfather. Now we are preparing the fifth and sixth generation,” says Bathini Goud, introducing his grandsons.
Of the five brothers and five sisters, Bathini Harinath Goud is the one who took keen interest to the practice when he saw his grandfather administer the medicine. “My brothers know it too and help me on the final day. Initially I assisted my elder brothers but unfortunately after their demise it has come to me. After me it is my nephew who will continue along with his cousins,” says Bathini Goud.
Following the tradition of the family, the ‘secret formula' of the medicine is only shared with the immediate male members of the family.
The living room of the house is stacked with laminated photographs of the family in action. Photos of prime ministers, presidents, chief ministers and actors jostle for space with trophies, certificates and medals won by Harinath Goud for his service. “We refer to the secret formula as prasadam. Something divine and unadulterated. The sage never came back but he left a secret that helped many people lead normal life,” says Goud.
What about the controversies? “This is not new. The British threatened our grandfather, our father had to deal with protests and we had people challenging us with lab tests. We are not afraid, there is nothing dubious in our medicine,” he smiles.
What about the dwindling numbers? “Very simple, when people get cured there is no need to come back. Whether we treat one or lakhs of people the satisfaction is boundless,” says Goud.
The prasadam became popular when his great grandfather started giving it to people who suffered from asthma. “The year was 1845. He would help people within the village. Then came the time of my grandfather. Transport system improved and people came on bullock carts from nearby villages. When it was my father's time the medicine became a little more popular. Because that was the time when people travelled in buses and trains. And now we have people coming from Australia, the UK and the USA, thanks to the Internet,” he smiles, pointing out his website address on his visiting card.
He is soon joined by his wife. She offers cold drinks and hands several files, a bag and more files to Harinath Goud. “Sumitra has always been a help. We just returned from Haridwar after purchasing certain raw material for the prasadam. The rest of the ingredients are procured here and few grown in a piece of land in Shamshabad. I know the exact measurement and my wife pounds them all together. When it comes to mixing every member of the family joins. However, it is our sons and their wives who can mix. The others can administer. My daughter doesn't know the secret but is an expert in administering the prasadam to children. Now we are training our grandsons in preparing the fish with the prasadam. The training begins with the knack to hold the fish and shove the medicine in its mouth. They will get to administer it only after a certain age,” he explains.
So is the family all about medicine and jadi buti? “No, of course not. I was a basketball player and also acted in two movies. One is Ek Nari Brahmachari (with Jitender and Mumtaz) other is Jeevita Chakram (Telugu). In both the movies I played the role of a friend. My wife is a great cook and loves hosting non-vegetarian lunches and dinners for family and friends. We are very normal household with normal activities,” he laughs.