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Making Mukuttu

When you come to Rasa Ayurveda, you’ll have the chance to see, smell, touch and experience the healing power of traditional medicinal oils like Murivenna, Mukuttu, Pinda Tailam, Chinjaadi, Karpooradi and Bringaamalakaadi, to name a few. In the last few weeks, we’ve filled five big bharani traditional, glazed ceramic containers with golden, ruby and emerald-hued healing oils, hand-made in the traditional way.

My brother and partner here at Rasa Ayurveda ‘Sanju’ has a background in traditional Siddha Vaidya medicine, so closely related to Ayurveda. Mukuttu is a Siddha formula, and is a good all-purpose massage oil, indicated for many rashes and skin diseases. It’s balanced and cooling yet slightly penetrating, and with the right tweak of ingredients calms Vata dosha as well. Mukuttu means “three,” and refers to the base oils castor, coconut and sesame. Twenty eight herbal and minerals ingredients form the kalka in this formula, including coral, Licorice, Indian Sarsaparilla and Vetiver.

In traditional oil-making, the kalka is the pounded mass of dry or fresh ingredients which are mixed with some liquid (in the case of Mukuttu the liquid is milk) then stirred into base oil(s) and cooked until reaching a certain consistency or “point.” For every oil, there is a particular moment when it should be removed from the fire to ensure it will suit its intended use. Oils made for internal application, body application, and head application are each considered properly finished at a different moment of readiness. This photo by Elisabeth Roberts shows Sanju and I checking the “point” of a batch of Mukuttu. By feeling and listening to the sound of the kalka between our fingers, we can assess the point, and with Grace behind us take the oil at the perfect time, then strain it into a fresh vessel, ready for use.

The kalka for each oil formula has slightly different characteristics, so it takes time and experience to learn when the correct point is for each oil formula. Sanju has mastered correctly reading the “point” of the kalka, which is one reason I enjoy my chance to stir the urali (bronze oil-making pot) under his watchful eye as Rasa Ayurveda’s main oil-maker and teacher of oil-making.

When made correctly, Mukuttu has a lovely rose crystal color, and an attractive fragrance. On the skin, it’s very soothing and protective, yet stubtle enough to deliver the oils’ effects thoroughly to the superficial dhatus.

Here’s what one patient Mary Fleischman, from Seattle had to say recently:

“After seeing Ayurvedic oils being made right before my eyes at Rasa Ayurveda, I felt a deeper power in receiving my therapies. What a realization! I was not only being treated with healing oil formulas containing ingredients designed to bring balance to my tissues, but also with the palpable energy of the joy, thoughtfulness and dedication in the people involved in the preparation of every hand-made drop. Caring, healing energy was being created for me even before I lay down on the therapy table, starting with the collection of botanicals, fuel and skillful combining of time and ingredients in a big, beautiful traditional pot, stirred over a coconut husk fire with loving intention.

Medicinal oil making is our favorite activity, so we are truly delighted when women like Mary get benefit from our labors. As long as we have patients to treat, we’ll be making oils in this way.


by Niika Quistgard, Director/Managing Director

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