21. At Uruli Kanchan
Gandhiji presented Ramanama to the village folk assembled at Uruli Kanchan as a natural Therapeutic No. I for the cure of bodily ailments: "In the song that we have just sung the devotee says, 'O Hari, You are the reliever of the people's distress.' The promise here is universal. It is not qualified or restricted to any particular kind of ailment." He told them of the conditions of success. The efficacy of Ramanama would depend on whether it was or was not backed by a living faith. "If you are subject to anger, eat and sleep for indulgence, not solely for sustenance, you do not know the meaning of Ramanama. Your recitation of it is mere lip service. Ramanama, to be efficacious, must absorb your entire being during its recitation and express itself in your whole life."
Patients began to come in from the next morning. There were about thirty of them. Gandhiji examined five or six of them and prescribed to them all, more or less, the same treatment with slight variations, according to the nature of each case, i.e., recitation of Ramanama, sun bath, friction and hip baths, a simple eliminative diet of milk, buttermilk, fruit and fruit juices with plenty of clean fresh water to drink. "It has truly been observed," he explained, at the evening prayer gathering, "that all mental and physical ailments are due to one common cause. It is, therefore, but natural that there should be a common remedy for them, too. There is a unity of cure, as ther is in disease. The Shastras say so. Therefore, I prescribed Ramanama and almost the same treatment to all the patients who came to me this morning. But we have a knack of explaining away the Shcistras in life, when they do not suit our convenience. We have deluded ourselves into the belief that the Shastras arc meant only for the benefit of the soul in the life to come, that the end of dharma is to acquire merit after death. I do not share that view. If dharma has no practical use in this life, it has none for me in the next.
"There is hardly anyone in this world who is completely free from ailment whether bodily or mental. For some of these, there is no earthly cure. For instance, Ramanama cannot perform the miracle of restoring to you a lost limb. But it can perform the still greater miracle of helping you to enjoy an ineffable peace1 in spite of the loss while you live, and rob death of its sting and the grave its victory at the journey's end. Since death must come soon or late to everyone, why should one worry over the time?"
He then proceeded to give them his first discourse on Nature Cure principles. The following is its gist:
Nature Cure Expounded
"Man's physical body is composed of five natural elements, i.e., air, water, earth, fire or tejas (the energizing principle) and ether (space). The soul quickens it.
"The most essential of these is air. Man can live without food for several weeks, without water for sometime, but without air he cannot live for more than a few minutes. God has, therefore, made air universally available. Shortages of food or water there be at times, but of air never. In spite of it, we foolishly deprive ourselves of God's blessing of fresh and pure air by sleeping, within doors, with doors and windows shut. One may shut the doors and windows if he is afraid of thieves at night. But why should one shut oneself up?
"To get fresh air, one must sleep in the open. But it is no good sleeping in open only to breathe dust and dirt-laden air. The place where you sleep must be free from both. Some people cover their faces as a protection against dust and coal. It is a remedy worse than the disease. Then, there is the evil habit of breathing through the mouth. Mouth is the organ of ingestion. It is not the organ of breathing. The air passing through the nasal passages is filtered and purified and at the same time warmed up before it enters the lungs.
"Anyone who fouls the air by spitting about carelessly, throwing refuse and rubbish or otherwise dirtying the ground, sins against man and Nature. Man's body is the temple of God. Anyone who fouls the air that is to enter that temple desecrates it. He takes the name of Rama in vain."
1 There is no greater spell-binder of peace than the name of God.
- Press Report, 10-1-1946