Gandhiji's view of health.

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(copied from various sources)

Gandhiji had very early in life lost faith in modern medicine. He was convinced that for good health all that was necessary was to live according to the laws of Nature in regard to diet, fresh air, exercise, clean surroundings and a pure heart. Instead of this, man was tempted by modern medical knowledge to indulge himself to his heart's content, break every law of health and morality and then seek a cure through commercialized drugs. In revolt from this Gandhiji sought to discover for himself a sane way of overcoming disease without the use of medicines.

Besides, medicine tends to treat disease as merely a matter concerning the body. But Gandhiji viewing man as a whole finds that disease of the body is chiefly due to mental or spiritual causes and can be permanently cured only when man's entire attitude to life is changed. The cure of bodily disease must therefore, according to him, be sought primarily in the realm of the spirit, in self-discipline and self-mastery through brahmacharya, in a thoughtful observance of the laws of Nature in regard to health, and in bringing about a physical and social environment conducive to the development of a sound body and a sound mind.

Gandhiji's conception of Nature Cure is therefore much wider than what is generally understood by that term. It is not merely a cure of disease after it has occurred but an attempt to prevent disease altogether by living according to the laws of Nature which, according to him, are the same as the laws of God. Accordingly it involves not only the use of earth, water, air, sunlight, fasts and such like to cure disease, but even more a transformation of one's entire life —physical, mental, moral and social — through Ramanama or faith in God, alias His Law.

Rama- nama is not, therefore, for him mere magic which when uttered through the lips will work wonders of itself. It signifies, as already said, a complete change in the heart and mode of life of the individual, whereby the individual comes to be in tune with the infinite and so obtains never-failing disease- conquering life and strength from the Source of all life.

Say's Gandhiji in the book A Guide to Health;

We have got into the habit of calling in a doctor for the most trivial diseases. Where there is no regular doctor available, we take the advice of mere quacks. We labour under the fatal delusion that no disease can be cured without medicine. This has been responsible for more mischief to mankind than any other evil. It is of course, necessary that our diseases should be cured, but they cannot be cured by medicines.

Not only are medicines merely useless, but at times even positively harmful. For a diseased man to take drugs and medicines would be as foolish as to try to cover up the filth that has accumulated in the inside of the house. The more we cover up the filth, the more rapidly does putrefaction go on. The same is the case with the human body. Illness or disease is only Nature’s warning that filth has accumulated in some portion or other of the body; and it would surely be the part of wisdom to allow Nature to remove the filth, instead of covering it up by the help of medicines.

Those who take medicines are really rendering the task of Nature doubly difficult. It is, on the other hand, quite easy for us to help Nature in her task by remembering certain elementary principles,—by fasting, for instance, so that the filth may not accumulate all the more, and by vigorous exercise in the open air, so that some of the filth may escape in the form of perspiration. And the one thing that is supremely necessary is to keep our minds strictly under control.

We find from experience that, when once a bottle of medicine gets itself introduced into a home, it never thinks of going out, but only goes on drawing other bottles in its train. We come across numberless human beings who are afflicted by some disease or other all through their lives in spite of their pathetic devotion to medicines. They are to-day under the treatment of this doctor, to-morrow of that. They spend all their life in a futile search after a doctor who will cure them for good. As the late Justice Stephen (who was for some time in India) said, it is really astonishing that drugs of which so little is known should be applied by doctors to bodies of which they know still less! Some of the greatest doctors of the West themselves have now come to hold this view. Sir Astley Cooper, for instance, admits that the ‘science’ of medicine is mostly mere guess-work; Dr. Baker and Dr. Frank hold that more people die of medicines than of diseases; and Dr. Masongood even goes to the extent of saying that more men have fallen victims to medicine than to war, famine and pestilence combined!

It is also a matter of experience that diseases increase in proportion to the increase in the number of doctors in a place. The demand for drugs has become so widespread that even the meanest papers are sure of getting advertisements of quack medicines, if of nothing else. In a recent book on the Patent Medicines we are told that the Fruit-salts and syrups, for which we pay from Rs. 2 to Rs. 5, cost to their manufacturers only from a quarter of an anna to one anna! No wonder, then, that their compositions should be so scrupulously kept a secret.

We will, therefore, assure our readers that there is absolutely no necessity for them to seek the aid of doctors. To those, however, who may not be willing to boycott doctors and medicines altogether, we will say, “As far as possible, possess your souls in patience, and do not trouble the doctors. In case you are forced at length to call in the aid of a doctor, be sure to get a good man; then, follow his directions strictly, and do not call in another doctor, unless by his own advice. But remember, above all, that the curing of your disease does not rest ultimately in the hands of any doctor.”