It is established beyond doubt that ignorance and
neglect of the laws of health and hygiene are responsible for the majority of
disease to which mankind is heir. The very high death rate among us is no doubt
due largely to our gnawing poverty, but it could be mitigated if the people were
properly educated about their health and hygiene.
Mens sana in corpore sano is perhaps the
first law for humanity. A healthy mind in a healthy body is a self-evident
truth. There is an inevitable connection between mind and body. If we were in
possession of healthy minds, we would shed all violence and, naturally obeying
the laws of health, we would have healthy bodies without an effort.
The fundamental laws of health and hygiene are
simple and easily learnt. The difficulty is about their observance. Here are
Think the purest thoughts and banish all idle and impure thoughts.
Breathe the freshest air day and night.
Establish a balance between bodily labour and mental work.
Stand erect, sit erect, and be neat and clean in
every one of your acts, and let these be an expression of your inner condition.
Eat to live for service of fellow-men. Do not live
for indulging yourselves. Hence your food must be just enough to keep your mind
and body in good order. Man becomes what he eats.
Your water, food and air must be clean, and you
will not be satisfied with mere personal cleanliness, but you will infect your
surroundings with the same three-fold cleanliness that you will desire for
Constructive Programme, pp.18-9
Use one grain at a time. Chapati, rice and pulses,
milk, ghee, gur and oil are used in ordinary households besides vegetable and
fruit. I regard this, an unhealthy combination. Those who get animal protein in
the shape of milk, cheese, eggs or meat need not use pulses at all, the poor
people get only vegetable protein. If the well-to-do give up pulses and oils,
they set free these two essentials for the poor who get neither animal protein
nor animal fat. Then the grain eaten should not be sloppy. Half the quantity
suffices when it is eaten dry and not dripped in gravy. It is well to eat with
raw salads such as onion, carrot, radish, salad leaves, tomatoes. An ounce or
two of salads serve the purpose of eight ounces of cooked vegetables. Chapatis
or bread should not be eaten with milk. To begin with, one meal may be raw
vegetables and chapati or bread, and the other cooked vegetables with milk or
Sweet dishes should be eliminated altogether.
Instead gur or sugar in small quantities may be taken with milk or bread or by
Fresh fruit is good to eat, but only a little is
necessary to give tone to the system. It is an expensive article, and an
over-indulgence by the well-to-do has deprived the poor and the ailing of an
article which they need much more than the well-to-do.
Any medical man who has studied the science of
dietetics will certify that what I have suggested can do no harm to the body; on
the contrary it must conduce to better health.
The unlimited capacity of the plant world be
sustain man at his highest is a region yet unexplored by modern medical science
which through force of habit pins its faith on the shambles or at least milk and
it’s by products. It is duty which awaits discharge by Indian medical men whose
tradition is vegetarian. The fast developing researches about vitamins and the
possibility of getting the most important of them directly from the sun bids
fair to revolutionize many of the accepted theories and beliefs propounded by
medical science about food.
Young India, 18-7’29
It almost seems to me that it is reserved for lay
enthusiasts to cut their way through a mountain of difficulties even at the risk
of their lives to find the truth. I should be satisfied if scientists would lend
their assistance to such humble seekers.
Young India, 15-8-‘29
I believe that man has little need to drug
himself. 999 cases out of a thousand can be brought round by means of a
well-regulated diet, water and earth treatment and similar household remedies.
Instead of using the body as a temple of God we
use it as a vehicle for indulgences, and are not ashamed to run to medical men
for help in our effort to increase them and abuse the earthly tabernacle.
Young India, 8-8-‘29
There is a great deal of truth in the saying that
man becomes what he eats. The grosser the food the grosser the body.
I do feel the spiritual progress does demand at
some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the
satisfaction of our bodily wants. The beautiful lines of Goldsmith occur to me
as I tell you of my vegetarian fad:
No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn,
Taught by the Power that pities me
I learn to pity them.
India’s Case for Swaraj, p.402
I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at
any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings
ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in
copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it. Experience teaches that
animal food in the formation of character or in subjugating the flesh. Diet is a
powerful factor not to be neglected. But to sum up all religion in terms of
diet, as is often done in India, is as wrong as it is to disregard all restraint
in regard to diet and to give full reins to one’s appetite. Vegetarianism is one
of the priceless gifts of Hinduism. It may not be lightly given up. It is
necessary, therefore, to correct the error the vegetarianism has made us weak in
mind or body or passive or inert in action. The greatest Hindu reformers have
been the activist in their generation and they have invariably been vegetarians.
Who could show greater activity than say Shankara or Dayananda in their times?
Young India, 7-10-‘26
When to Fast
Out of the fullness of my own experience and that
of fellow cranks, I say without hesitation, fast (1) if you are constipated, (2)
If you are anaemic, (3) if you are feverish,(4) If you are rheumatic,(5) if you
have a headache, (6) if you are rheumatic, (7) if you are gouty, (8) if you are
fretting and fuming, (9) if you are depressed, (10) if you are overjoyed, and
you will avoid medical prescription and patent medicines.
Young India, 17-12-‘25
I believe that we should be able to accommodate
ourselves to the food eaten in the provinces other than our won. I know that
this is not so simple a question as it appears, I know southerners who have made
a herculean effort to take to Gujarati food and failed. Gujaratis will not take
to the southern mode of cooking. Bengal produces dainties which the other
provinces will not easily relish. If we would be national instead of provincial,
we would have to have an interchange of habits as to food, simplify our tastes
and produce healthy dishes all can take with impunity. This means a careful
study of the food, taken by different provinces, but there are different styles
n the same province, among the different communities. It is necessary,
therefore, for national workers to study the foods and the methods of preparing
them in the various provinces and discover common, simple and cheap dishes which
all can take without upsetting the digestive apparatus. In any case, it must be
a shame for workers not to know the manners and customs of different provinces
and communities….What can and should be aimed at are common dishes for common
people. This I know is easily if we should be aimed at are easily possible,
volunteers will have to learn the art of cooking and for this purpose they will
have also to study the values of different foods and evolve common dishes easily
and cheaply prepared.
Leper is a word of bad odour. India is perhaps a
home of lepers next only to Central Africa. Yet they are as much a part of
society as the tallest among us. But the tall absorb our attention though they
are least in need of it. The Lot of the lepers who are much in need of attention
is studied neglect. I am tempted to call it heartless, which it certainly is, in
terms on non-violence. It is largely the missionary who, be it said to his
credit, bestows care on him. The only institution run by a bestows care on him.
The only institution run by an Indian, as a pure labour of love, is by Shri
Manohar Diwan near Wardha. It is working under the inspiration and guidance of
Shri Vinoba Bhave. If India is pulsating with new life, there would not be a
leper or beggar in India uncared for. What The leper is in India, that we are,
if we will but look about us, for the modern civilized world. Examine the
condition of our brethren across the ocean and the truth of my remark will be
borne home to us.
Delhi Diary, p.108
There are many other contagious diseases like
scabies, cholera, plague, even common cold. Leprosy is far less infectious
perhaps than these. Why should there be a stigma about leprosy any more than
about other infectious diseases? Real leprosy is attached to an unclean mind. To
look down upon fellow human beings, to condemn any community or class of men, is
a sign of a diseased mind, far worse than physical leprosy. Such men are real
lepers of society. He himself did not attach much importance to names. A rose
would not lose its fragrance if it was called by any other name.
Delhi Diary, p.111