Extracts from Letters written by Gandhiji to Uruli-Kanchan Workers
[Extracts from letters written by Gandhiji during the years 1946 and 1947 to those in charge of the Uruli-Kanchan Clinic.]
Take only as many patients as you can attend to well. Our main object is to prevent disease. I would regard our treatment as perfect if we could teach the people there how to keep free from disease. So please explain our viewpoint to all there — to boys, girls and older folk.
Never mind if no patient turns up. We should visit the houses of the people and teach them cleanliness. We may also go to schools to teach it. Give every moment to this work. Cleanliness is the main thing to be taught as it includes most else.
It is good that your work is proceeding well. It is necessary for one to have kshetra sannyasa for getting on with the work.
No good work can be done in a day. If it could be accomplished within a day, it would have little value. We must cultivate patience, and for cultivating patience, we should develop an attitude of disinterestedness. Where there is disinterestedness, only good can result out of doing what is good. Such is my firm faith. Therefore, pray do not bother about results. Just as we are free from anxiety knowing fully well that the sun will rise tomorrow, similarly we should be free from anxiety in regard to every good work. There may be a day when the sun will not rise but there will never come a day when good does not result out of one's efforts from doing what is good. We should, therefore, persist in our work in the faith that some day people will come to understand it.
I shall be satisfied with the work at Uruli if it is steady and sound. Never mind if the progress is slow.
Children should not go without milk. It is certainly desirable to raise a few cows there.
I doubt if we can do without milk. It is difficult to come to a decision in this matter without experimenting oneself. You may certainly try it with some one who can live entirely without milk.
There is no harm if one takes ghee and milk along with purnanna. If one gets on without milk, that is a different matter, and a great achievement, but I am afraid that it is not possible.
I very much like the idea of purnanna. I myself want to try it If I succeed, I can free myself from great bother. But I am sorry I have not been able still to make the experiment.
Rather than gruel in the morning it is perhaps better to take homemade biscuits which require to be chewed, and fruits. You may have milk immediately after that or in the afternoon. But this is only a suggestion.
Do you collect and make use of the seeds of the mango fruit or do you throw them away?
Does Dr. Bhagwat carry on experiments in diet? Here the water is unwholesome. Can he suggest a simple means of purifying it?
I do not see any harm in providing the latrines with good septic tanks. Only you must realize that if they are not properly constructed or if they are not satisfactorily looked after, they will prove dangerous.
If the tub in which a diseased person has taken his bath is disinfected with ashes hot as cinders, the tub becomes fit for use by others, howsoever contagious the disease may have been. I myself would not mind bathing in such a tub.
In the absence of planks you may have thick bamboos tied together, they will serve as planks to step on. This will be very cheap and will do as a bridge. Pits without such planks or bamboos are useless. One can use even old iron rails in the place of planks.
It is not proper if the land has been registered in my name. I do not mind if I am declared as one of the trustees of the land If the land is registered in my name, and I expire, it will create complications. In such a contingency, you may make use of this letter and have all disputes arising out of it cleared. You may then state, that the land is not mine personally, but that it is meant to be utilized for (he preservation of the health of the poor inhabitants of Uruli-Kanchan and for all other projects arising out of it.
It does not matter, if the Trust is drawn up as a part of the Poona Trust, nor does it matter if it is an independent Trust. If it is drawn up as a sub-Trust, local people must have a place in it, and we must also gather beforehand their views in the matter.
Cow-activities cannot be included in the Trust. You can do cow-work through the Goseva-Sangh1 Else the work you are engaged in will come to naught. By attempting too much both the activities are likely to suffer. Or if some one there knows about cows, carry on the work in consultation with him. You should try and make the Arogyabhavan (Health Home) self- supporting. The shortness of funds will be set right. It is not necessary to put more men on that task (i.e. the collection of funds). Once your decisions are known, money can be obtained. A well is, of course, necessary. Have it dug. You say that a boring-well can be had for a sum of Rs. 4,000/-. Well, personally I feel inclined to go in for it or we can follow in this respect the methods of construction of water-wells adopted by the military and use them in the way they did. I believe we can get enough water even from their water works. In our scheme for the cows I am sure the buffalo can have no place. If we do not insist upon having only cows (i.e. to the exclusion of buffaloes), they are as well as dead and gone and after them the buffaloes. Experts on animal breeding too are of this opinion.
If you undertake agriculture on behalf of the institution, employing labour on wages, I believe you will come to grief. Though this is my opinion, I will accept and consent to whatever you finally decide upon after mutual consultations.
I do not mind your carrying on the agriculture work in partnership with others, but we cannot lend money for bullocks and such like. We are not capital-owners, but trustees. Trustees are for a specific purpose only. Our mission is the encouragement of Nature Cure. We cannot, therefore, incur such expenses. We may do (in agriculture) only whatever we can by means of personal labour. Water is indispensable in every way, expenses on it are justified: only of course we must make sure that water will be available if it is to be a tube-well. We may do only that much sowing that we can personally do with our own hands. We may grow vegetables or fruits required by us, but not grains. Milk is indispensable, so it is essential that we should maintain some cows. Such expenses are unavoidable.
I feel it is better that the work (at Uruli) should go on independently (for whatever happens to the main, i.e. Poona Trust, it is desirable that Uruli work should continue). Besides, the whole responsibility for the work is on the shoulders of Manibhai. For this reason also the Trust should be an independent Trust.
I do not see anything wrong in the work at Purandar also being independent. A university is all right, but where are the workers? There is not even a school much less a college to teach the science of Nature Cure. How then can one expect to have a university? Even if you get immersed in the Purandar work, I do not fear, on that account, any harm to the Trust. If you get fully absorbed in the work wherever it is and are successful in carrying on Nature Cure, I would think that it is a part of the Trust work that you are doing. In whatever way you succeed in the Nature Cure treatment, the Trust stands to gain.
You may have, for Uruli, a local Trust, independent of the main (Poona) Trust. If it is an independent Trust, you are free to carry on, under the rules of the Trust, village reconstruction activities. These activities may include agriculture, cow-protection, weaving, oil-pressing, etc. Nature Cure should be a part of the activities. I leave it to the local workers to decide whether the Trust should be an independent one or a part of the main (Poona) Trust. If you wish to have it as an independent Trust, you should be prepared to stand on your own legs and to do all the work with a full sense of responsibility. If it is a part of the main (Poona) Trust you can act only according to the rules of the main Trust. In that case you cannot undertake village reconstruction activities.
Agriculture, cow-protection, oil-pressing, etc. if desired to be carried on under the rules of the Trust, must be made self- supporting. You should be fully prepared to undertake all this. I would be glad if you could dispense with the use of the bullock in your activities. The local people should be persuaded to take up the cow-protection work. Definitely our undertaking should not be on a capitalist basis. For such activities as agriculture, cow-protection, oil-pressing, etc., you could engage the services of local people, actuated with a spirit of service. Members of the families of persons engaged by you should also be employed. The use of oil-engines is, of course, to be banned.
If local patients do not take advantage of the hospitals, patients from outside the village may be admitted. But local patients should have the preference and the expenses for their treatment should be borne by the institution. Outside patients should pay for treatment.
The treatment for all must be simple. This must be incorporated in the Trust-Deed. Men or women workers from outside, if willing to work, may do so out of a spirit of service. No salaries can be given to them. Servants must be procured locally. They should be given wages. Children from ten to twelve may be engaged on payment of wages. They should be educated under the Wardha Scheme. A few workers actuated with a spirit of service should be obtained from outside. Attempts should be made to train local workers and children. Patients should be admitted strictly according to the capacity of the institution. The workers shall have to observe the rules of the Ashram. Easy rules may be framed for servants.
Hospital equipment should be very simple. It would be much better if they could be locally made. Pots of kiln-baked earth may be used for tubs. Tubs can be made even from tin. In place of cots, wooden planks, supported by bricks may be used. But these are mere suggestions. I believe meat cannot be used in any treatment. I do not say this from a religious point of view. Kavo can serve the purpose of tea. Coffee made from wheat flour must be used in the place of ordinary coffee. Bidi can never be given. It does not matter if patients do not turn up on account of this handicap. People should be taught in this regard. Patients suffering from dangerous diseases like tuberculosis should be admitted only if separate arrangements can be made for them. Honey, without the killing of bees, (i.e. by means of bee culture) should be locally obtained. The village- folk should be taught bee-keeping. You can have bee-rearing in the institution too. Arrangements should be made for the supply of cow-milk and cow-ghee. When cow-milk is not available, buffalo-milk or goat-milk may be supplied.
Additional expenditure may be incurred for the preservation of health, if needed. Every inmate of the Ashram must put in at least seven hours of work. I do not like the idea of inmates cooking separately for themselves.
Gradually you will be able to draw workers from Uruli itself. It will be a flaw in your work if you always depended upon workers from outside —it will be a defect in the work for Nature Cure.
You will not have heavy work if you accept only as many patients as you can treat. If youngsters come forward, as volunteers, you can train them. You will require a lady worker from outside; but I am afraid you will not be able to get one on your own. Let us see how things shape themselves.
I like the idea of your arranging a Primary Teachers' Camp.
Your assurance that it will entail no liability is welcome.
If Premabahen does anything there on behalf of Kasturba Nidhi2 it is indeed excellent; but we cannot shoulder any financial responsibility on that account. She should therefore do only what is covered by the Kasturba Nidhi.
In the end the village itself should meet all the expenses. If it cannot, it will be a question whether we can permanently settle there. We cannot encourage Nature Cure in villages by means of outside funds.
I regard this presentation of purse as of slight importance. I require your fullest co-operation in the great work that we intend to accomplish here —and that work is the physical, mental and spiritual development of Uruli. This calls for help from all—young and old, men, women and children of all communities. We can put an end to our threefold troubles (i.e. physical, mental and spiritual) only if we give up our communal and sectarian differences. If Uruli-Kanchan can accomplish this, we may have hope for the seven lakhs of Indian villages.
Nature Cure does not relate to the body only but also to the mind. Ramanama is the only help in keeping up mental health; and a person desiring to avail himself of it, should be pure, full of faith and devoted. Nature Cure without this has absolutely no value for me.
The path of celibacy (Brahmacharya) is as magnificent as it is difficult. The farther a man gets on it, the deeper is the sense of magnificence, purity and cleanliness that he experiences. I know it is very important for one to know how to proceed on this path. Thinking much over it I am convinced that Ramanama (the constant muttering of the name of God with faith) is the best help. But it must spring from the heart and not be merely muttered by the lips. Of course ceaseless service of others must accompany it. Eating should be regarded as merely a necessary fee that we pay to our bodies. It should be well-balanced. Ramanama is not a substitute for these, but it includes all this. It is also a mark of one's withdrawing into one's own soul. It is evident that there can be no celibacy as long as attachment (to worldly affairs) persists.
I am prepared to answer questions on celibacy, but please understand that only what springs from your own inner self is real and should be followed. The articles of Vinoba are excellent, but for one who is convinced of the greatness of celibacy the greatest support is Ramanama; since once the greatness is acknowledged, it ceases to be a subject of the mind and becomes a matter of the heart. And the heart is controlled by God as I have always experienced. He who acknowledges God as his Master cannot afford to waste even a single moment. If you waver from celibacy even in thought, take it that for that one moment you have shed vigilance, and the moment has gone waste.
Nature Cure, service of the village, and Ashram life are to me three facets of one homogeneous whole. From the standpoint of Nature Cure they are indivisible. When you attain the highest state in Nature Cure, service to the village has already been achieved, and I cannot imagine any system of Nature Cure divorced of the Ashram life.
Do not expect to secure any one from outside with a knowledge of Nature Cure. You should try to gather as much knowledge of it as possible yourself. I would regard any Nature Cure specialist, unwilling to work within the limits of Ashram rules, unacceptable to us.
We have no magic wand by means of which we can at once remove from our midst the evils of drinking or prostitution. But I firmly believe that if we have force of character, we shall succeed in the end. You should try and find out what persons are addicted to drinking, and do what you can for them. You should discover from where they obtain their Liquor. I believe something can be done if you can trace the mischief- makers and discover what kind of gambling is going on there, whether there are any houses of prostitution, etc.
According to me Nature Cure is treatment both of the body and the soul. So, if I succeed in curing the people here (Delhi) of their mental crookedness, it is bound to have a salutary effect on the Uruli work also. It will be a very fine example of Nature Cure indeed.
1. An association for the protection and welfare of cows.
2. Fund collected in memory of Kasturba, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, to be utilized for carrying out schemes for the welfare of women and children, more especially in the villages.