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Gandhi&Health:Celebrating150yearsDrSkGolamMortuja2ndyearMD(CommunityMedicine)NorthBengalMedicalCollegeWestBengalTheFatherofNation,MohandasKaramchandGandhiwasanindependentthinker.Hiscontributiontothemankindhasimmenseimportantandisourinspiration.AformidablelawyerandculturedintellectualbestknownforachievingIndia’sindependencethroughnon-violentresistanceandwaswiseinmattersrelatingtohealthandfitness.Gandhijiincorporatededucationinhealthandhygieneinhis18-pointconstructiveprogrammesaimedatachievingcompleteindependencebytruthfulandnon-violentmeans.Heemphasisedonvegetarianism,whichisinseparablefromnaturopathicwayoftreatment. Hewroteabouthisexperimentsinhisownpublication"Indianopinion"underthetitle"Guidetohealth"andsomearticlesonnaturecure,useoffiveelementsanditseffects.HedescribedPhysicalandmentalhealthinthelightofIndianphilosophybasedonVedicscripturessaysthat,thereshouldbebalancebetween5motororgansand5senseorgans.Ourmentalpoisedependsuponwhatweperceivethro'oursenseorganssincechildhood.Stimulatingscene,literaturewillhaveadverseeffectonourmind.Ifweutterbadwordsthelistenergetsdisturbed,hisemotionsgetnegativeimpact.One,whoquarrels,uttersbadwordsalsogetdisturbed.Thusmindplaysadualfunction.Soothingaffectionatewordswillcreatejoy.WorshipingGod,Chantingprayers,ObservingNaturesbeauty,fruits,vegetable,colourfulflowers,butterflies,mountains,streamswhichweobserveandexperiencebringjoy.Weperceivequalitiesofsubstancesthro'senses,wegetknowledgeabouta"substance"butsubstancedoesn'thaveanysenseorknowledge.Thetruthperceivedthro'sensewas,isandwillbetherei.e."Omnipresent".Thatisthetruthofthenature. Healwaysusedtosaythathealthdependsuponhowoneobservesthelawsofnature.Ifoneisawareandpracticesself-disciplineandgoodimpressionsincechildhood(Sanskara)thenonlyhealthcanbemaintained.Anydeviationfromthelawsofnaturewhichareomnipresent,willcauseillhealth.Thecommemorationofthe150thbirthanniversaryofMahatmaGandhiwillbecelebratedfromOctober2,2018toOctober2,2020.”ItisHealththatisrealWealthandnotpiecesofgoldandsilver”.Helookedatallideasregardinghealthinadifferentwaywhichsupportedthetheoryofneutrality.Hebelievesthatmodernmedicineisthebaneofmanwhenusedtoperpetuatebadhabits.Unpleasantreactionstofooddrinkorbadhabitsareourbody'swayoftellingustoformbetterhabitsbutinsteadweresorttomedicinetomaskthesymptomsandinculcatesfaithinourbody'sownself-healingmechanisms.Gandhi’sbookon”KeystoHealth”isoneofthemostpopularthanallofhiswritingswhichshedslightonimportanceofhisideasregardinghealth.Itisnecessaryto

understandthemeaningofthewordhealth,whichmeansbodyeaseanditisacompletestateofphysical,mentalandsocialwellbeingnotmerelyabsenceofdiseaseorinfirmity.Ahealthymanisapersonwhosebodyisfreefromdiseaseandcancarryonhisnormalactivitieswithoutfatigue.Gandhistatesthatitisnecessarytohaveknowledgeaboutone’sbodywhichmostofthemareignorantabout.HestatesthathumanbodyiscomposedoffiveelementswhichancientphilosophershavedescribedasEarth,Water,Vacancy,LightandAir.Hefurtherstatesthatgoodworkingofthehumanbodydependsupontheharmoniousactivityofthevariouscomponentparts.ThefirstelementWaterwhichisbasicnecessityoflifeshouldbepureandit’sthemunicipality’sresponsibilitytoprovidecleanwaterandtomaintainthesewageanddrainagesystemineachandeverycommunity..ThesecondelementAirwithoutwhichwecan’tliveissurroundedusonallsides.Gandhisaysthatthosewhodonotknowhowtobreatheshouldtakebreathingexercises,furtherhegivestheimportanceofcleaningthenostrilsandtheimportanceofsleepingunderopensky.ThethirdelementEarthwhichcanbeusedasnature’swaytotreatailmentsi.e.,mudpoulticestocuescorpionsting.Theotherelementlightwhichwegetfromsunhasmanyusessuchassunbaths.ThelastvacancywhichcanbealsotermedasAkash(ETHER)whichhelpstomaintainandregainhealth.TheinnersightofGandhiji’sviewsonhealthisstillpertinentandhasimmenseimportanceforbettermentofmankindandbasedon1.Nonviolence-Love-Ahimsa:Bywayofobservingnon-violenceatphysicalandmentallevelistheonlywaytokeephealthyatmosphereineverywhere.Naturehasbestowedlovewhilecreatinglifeintheformofanimalsandplants.Killing,destroyinganimals,plants,pollutingearth,water,environmentbygreed,jealousy,hatred,urgeforpossessionhascreatedimbalanceinphysicallevelatlarge.Violentstimulatingthoughtsarisebecauseofstimulatingdietandurgetopossesswhich(superiorityoveranimals,plants)disturbsourinternalenvironment.Notlookingafterself,injuringselfwithintoxicatingagentssuchastobacco,alcohol,stimulatingspicyfoodetc.disturbsthedigestionandassimilation,whichisthebasiccauseofmanydiseases.Indulgenceovertheseintoxicatingsubstanceshasadverseeffectonthethinkingprocessaswellwhichinturnleadstoprovocativebehaviorandtheindividualiscaughtintheviciouscyclewhichismainobstacleforthegrowthofanation.ThereforeGandhiji,eminentnaturopaths,advocatedvegetariandietwhichnaturehascreatedfortheherbivoroushumanbeing.Allvegetables,fruits,cerealsarenon-stimulatingandhavepositiveeffectonhealthandmind.2.Brahmacharya(Celibacy):AccordingtohimBrahmacharyaleadtoahealthylifewhichleadstorealizationofGod.Therealizationisthroughpracticingself-restraintofsenses.Gandhijiwasobservingcelibacysince1906Thenextpointtofocusonis:whatistheuseofthehumanbody?Gandhirepliestoit

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that,”everythingintheworldcanbeusedandabusedanditappliestoourbodytoo.Weabuseitwhenweuseitforselfishpurposes,inordertoharmarebody.Itisputtorightuseifweexerciseself-restraintanddedicateourselvestotheserviceofthewholeworld.FurthermoreAyurvedaandNaturopathybelievethat,thevitalfluid,whichhascapacitytoprocreate,hastobeconserved.Ifitiswastedduetooverindulgenceithasdelitariouseffectonthebodyandmind.Celibacydoesn'thavereferenceonlyforseminalejaculation,butithasawidermeaningofcontrolover5senseorgans,5motororgansandthe11thsensoryandmotorfunctionofmind.Thereforemoderationinallactivitiesisnecessaryforcelibacyduringmarriedlife.Itisalsonowaday’switnessedthatilleffectofoverindulgenceinsensoryandmotororganswhichhasresultedinoutbreakofHIV,AIDS,highprevalenceofpsychosomaticdiseases,anddisturbedrelationship.3.ControlovertheFoodandTaste(Aswad):Gandhijidividesfoodintothreecategories:vegetarian,fleshandmixed.Accordingtohim,vegetarianisbestamongallfollowedbymixed.Allnaturalfoodstuffsaretolerablesincebirth.Infantsandbabiesdonotoverfeed.Allmedicalpathiesagreethat,mostoftheproblemsariseduetomodifieddiet,overeatingprocessedfood.Gandhistatestheimportanceofmilk,cereals,pulses,fruits,vegetables,fatsandtheproportioninwhichitshouldbeused. Hehimselfexperiencedtheeffectofnaturalfoodforcontrollingsexualandotherurges.Foodheadvisedshouldbetakenlikemedicine.Onecannotconsumemorefruitsandvegetables,cerealsintheirnaturalform.Self.RegardingcondimentsGandhisays,thatbodyrequirescertainsaltswhichmostlyoccurnaturallyinvariousfoodstuffsandfromhispersonalexperimentsoffiftyyearsisthatthereisnoneedforsuchcondimentstokeepbodyhealthyexceptisnecessaryformedicinalpurposesMovingforwardletusconsiderhowoftenandhowmuchtoeat?HereGandhireplies,”Foodshouldbetakenasamatterofdutyevenasamedicinetosustainthebody,neverforthesatisfactionofpalate.Thereshouldbeself-controlassuchhabitsofeldersinfluencechildrentosomeextent.”4.Cleanlinessandsocio-economicstatus:Itisprovenfactthatsocial,economicalandenvironmentalfactorsinfluencethehealthstatusofanycountry.Onsocialaswellas,religiousgroundequalityisimportantforsocialhealth.ThemostimportantreasonforillnessinIndiaisthedefectiveandharmfulmethodofansweringcallsofnature.Theunhygienictoiletsanddefecatinginopenleadstomajordiseases.Hencesanitationisamajorproblem.ForimprovingtheconditionsGandhihadmadeacommitteeinAfricaandalsoinAhmadabadwherevolunteerswouldvisiteverynookand

cornerandalsohomestocheckandeducateregardingsanitation.Butitwaslaterobservedthatoldhabitsdiehard.Peoplearecleanasindividualsbutnotasmembersofsociety.Invillagespeoplebathe,washclothesanddrinkwaterfromsamestreamwhichisveryunhygienic.GandhiwasquietdisturbedbytheuntidysightofpilgrimageplacesinIndia.Itistheworkofmunicipalitiesandalsocommonmantokeepthesurroundingclean.AlsoeveryreligionstressesontheimportanceofcleanlinessandGandhistatedthatIndiansshouldimitatethewesterncountriesregardingcleanliness.5.Others:FurthermorethereareothersfactorswhichcontrolourhealthwasdescribedbyGandhijiindifferentoccasiona)Gotobedearlyandwakeupearlyb)Fastingisgoodforhealthc)Walk,walk,walkd)Avoidalcoholandtobaccoe)PracticeMeditationf)ThinkPositiveg)Forgiveyourselfandothersh)ShowCompassionItiseasytorememberGandhionlyathismostemaciated,weakfromweeksoffastinginanattempttoendBritain’sunjustoccupationofIndia.AndwhileGandhididpushhisbodytophysicalextremestoenactpoliticalchange,itisimportanttorememberhisstrengthaswellhishealthwhichisfitforanyconidition.OurInstitutes'approachtowardshealthisbaseduponGandhiji'svision.Gandhijiwasoftheopinionthat,thetreatmentshouldbeverysimple.NaturalelementslikeSun,Air,Earth;waterandfoodavailablelocally,physicallabour(Shram)shouldbeusedfortreatmentofacuteandchronicdiseases.Itshouldbeaffordabletopooraswellasavailabletoallothers.Gandhiji'sconceptofnaturalpositivehealthatthephysical,psychologicallevelgoesbeyondtheWHOdefinitionofhealth.Hisconceptsgouptosubtlelevelofhumanexistence.

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