On the boat bringing them (my wife and the children) to South Africa, Ramdas, my third son, broke his arm while playing with the ship's captain. The captain looked after him well and had him attended to by the ship's doctor. Ramdas landed with his hand in a sling. The doctor had advised that, as soon as we reached home, the wound should be dressed by a qualified doctor. But this was the time when I was full of faith in my experiments in earth treatment. I had even succeeded in persuading some of my clients who had faith in my quackery to try the earth and water treatment.
What then was I to do
for Ramdas? He was just eight years old. I asked him if he would mind my
dressing his wound. With a smile he said he did not mind at all. It was
not possible for him at that age to decide what was the best thing for
him, but he knew very well the distinction between quackery and proper
medical treatment. And he knew my habit of home treatment and had faith
enough to trust himself to me. In fear and trembling I undid the
bandage, washed the wound, applied a clean earth poultice and tied the
arm up again. This sort of dressing went on daily for about a month
until the wound was completely healed. There was no hitch, and the wound
took no more time to heal than the ship's doctor had said it would under
the usual treatment.
This and other
experiments enhanced my faith in such household remedies, and I now
proceeded with them with more self-confidence. I widened the sphere of
their application, trying the earth and water and fasting treatment in
cases of wounds, fevers, dyspepsia, jaundice and other complaints, with
success on most occasions. But nowadays I have not the confidence I had
in South Africa, and experience has even shown that these experiments
involve obvious risks.
The reference here,
therefore, to these experiments is not meant to demonstrate their
success. I cannot claim complete success for any experiment. Even
medical men can make no such claims for their experiments. My object is
only to show that he who would go in for novel experiments must begin
with himself. That leads to a quicker discovery of truth, and God always
protects honest experimenter.