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Nature Cure Clinic
Readers are aware that I have become a co-trustee with Shree Jehangir Patel and with Dr. Dinshah Mehta in his clinic at Poona. A condition of the Trust is that from January 1st this year the clinic should become a clinic for the poor instead of for the rich. My fervent hope is that rich patients will, if they come, pay to their fullest capacity and yet live in the same wards as the poor. I believe that by doing so they will derive more benefit from henceforth. Those unwilling to abide by this condition need not trouble to go to the clinic. This rule is necessary.
In addition to treatment for their ailments, poor patients will also be taught how to live healthy lives. It is a common belief today that Nature Cure is expensive, more so than Ayurvedic or allopathic. If this is proved to be true I shall have to admit failure. But I believe that the opposite is true and my experience also bears out the belief. It is the duty of a Nature Cure doctor not only to look after the body but also pay attention to and prescribe for the soul of a patient. This best prescription for the soul is of course Ramanama (God's name). I cannot today go into the meaning of and method of applying Ramanama. I will only say that the poor do not stand in need of much medicine. They die uncared for as it is. Their ignorance makes them blind to what Nature teaches us. If the Poona experiment succeeds, Dr. Dinshah Mehta's dream of a Nature Cure University will come true.
Help of India's true Nature Cure doctors is needed in this great work for the country. There can be no question of making money in it. The need is for those who are filled with the spirit of service to the poor, and only with a sufficient number of such doctors can the work progress.
Harijan, 10-2-'46

I feel that I know the method of Nature Cure for the villagers of India. Therefore I should at once have known that Nature Cure for the villagers could not be attempted in Poona City. But a Trust was made. Very sober Jehangirji Patel permitted himself to be a co-trustee with Dr. Mehta and me and I hastened to Poona to run for the poor, Dr. Mehta's erstwhile clinic which was designed for the rich. I suggested some drastic changes but last Monday the knowledge dawned upon me that I was a fool to think that I could ever hope to make an institute for the poor in a town. I realised that if I cared for the ailing poor, I must go to them and not expect them to come to me. This is true of ordinary medical treatment. It is much more so of Nature Cure. How is a villager coming to Poona to understand and carry out my instructions to apply mud poultices, take sun cure, hip and friction sitz baths or certain foods cooked conservatively? He would expect me to give him a powder or a potion to swallow and be done with it. Nature Cure connotes a way of life which has to be learnt; it is not a drug cure as we understand it. The treatment to be efficacious can, therefore, only take place in or near a man's cottage or house. It demands from its physician sympathy and patience and knowledge of human nature. When he has successfully practised in this manner in a village or villages, when enough men and women have understood the secret of Nature Cure, a nucleus for a Nature Cure University is founded. It should not have required eleven days' special stay in the Institute to discover this simple truth that I did not need a huge building and all its attendant paraphernalia for my purpose. I do not know whether to laugh or weep over my folly. I laughed at it and made haste to undo the blunder. This confession completes the reparation.
Harijan, 17-3-'46

Many persons wish to come to Uruli-Kanchan in order to learn Nature Cure. The Nature Cure of my conception for the villagers is limited to rendering such aid as can be given to them through what can be procured in the village. For example, I would not need either electricity or ice for them.
Such work can only be for those like me who have become village-minded, whose heart even while they live in a city is in the village. Therefore, the Trustees have given over the work entirely to me.
Now to my conception of Nature Cure. I have from time to time written a little about it, but as the idea is developing, it will be a good thing to tell something regarding its limitations in Uruli-Kanchan. Human ailments, whether of village or town, are of three kinds, viz. bodily, mental and spiritual. And what applies to one individual applies generally to the other and also to society as a whole.
The majority of the inhabitants of Uruli-Kanchan are business folk. Mangs live on one side of the village. Mahars on another and people of the Kanchan caste on yet another. The name of the village is derived from this last group. There are some gypsies living here too, who are termed criminal tribes under the law. The Mangs earn their living by making ropes etc. They were well off during the war but have now fallen on bad days and are living from hand to mouth. The problem that faces the Nature Cure doctor is how to deal with the malady of the Mangs, which is by no means an ailment to be ignored. It is really the duty of the businessmen in Uruli- Kanchan to stamp out this social disease. No medicines from any dispensary are going to avail in this case and yet it is no less poisonous a disease than cholera. Some of the tenements of the Mangs are fit only for a bonfire. But burning will not provide them with new dwellings. Where would they put their belongings, where would they seek shelter from rain and cold? These are the difficulties to be overcome and the Nature Cure physician cannot be blind to them. What can be done for the criminal tribes? They do not deliberately commit crime for the joy of it. They are victims of an age-long tradition and therefore labelled criminals. It becomes the duty of the residents of Uruli-Kanchan to free them from the evil habit. The Nature Cure man may not neglect this work. Such problems will continually face him. Thus on reflection we can see that the field of work for him is very wide and that it is work for true Swaraj. It can succeed through God's grace, only if all the workers and residents of Uruli-Kanchan are true and determined to reach the goal.
Harijan, 11-8-'46