Key To Health : Free Health 2022
FREE HEALTH :- THE HUMAN BODY
It is necessary to understand the meaning of the word health, before entering
upon a description of the human body. In health, means body ease. He is a
healthy man whose body is free from all disease; he carries on his normal
activities without fatigue. Such a man should be able with ease to walk ten to
twelve miles a day, and perform ordinary physical labour without getting tired.
He can digest ordinary simple food. His mind and his senses are in a state of
harmony and poise. This definition does not include prize fighters and such like.
A man with extraordinary physical strength is not necessarily healthy. He has
merely developed his musculature, possibly at the expense of something else.
It is necessary to have enough knowledge of the human body which is expected
to attain the above standard of health.God alone knows what kind of education was prevalent in ancient times.
Research workers on the subject may be able to tell us something, but only
something, about it. But all of us have some experience of modern education in
this country. It has no relation with our everyday life. Thus, it leaves us almost
utterly ignorant about our own body. Our knowledge of our own village and our
fields shares a similar fate. We are taught on the other hand, much about things
that have no bearing on our daily life. I do not mean to say that such knowledge
is of no use. But everything has its own place. We must first know enough of our
own body, our own house, our village and its surroundings, the crops that grow
there and its history before going on to anything else. General knowledge
broad-based on this primary knowledge, alone can enrich life.
The human body is composed of what the ancient philosophers have described
as the five elements. These are earth, water, vacancy, light and air.
All human activity is carried on by means of the mind aided by the ten senses.
These are the five senses of action, i.e. hands, feet, mouth, anus and the
genitals, and the five senses of perception, i.e. the sense of touch through the
skin, of smell through the nose, of taste through the tongue, of seeing through
the eyes and of hearing through the ears. Thinking is the function of the mind
and some people have called it the eleventh sense. In health all the senses and
the mind act in perfect co-ordination.
The inner working of the human machine is wonderful. The human body is the
universe in miniature. That which cannot be found in the body is not to be
found in the universe. Hence the philosopher’s formula, that the universe
within reflects the universe without. It follows therefore that our knowledge of
our own body could be perfect we would know the universe. But even the very
best of doctors and hakims and vaids have not been able to acquire it. It will be
presumptuous for a layman to aspire to it. No one has yet discovered an
instrument which can give us any information about the human mind. Scientists
have given attractive descriptions of the activities going on within and without
the body, but no one can say what sets the wheel going. Who can explain the
why and wherefore of death or foretell its time? In short, after infinite reading
and writing, after infinite experience, man has come to know how little he
A happy working of the human machine depends upon the harmonious activity
of the various component parts. If all these work in an orderly manner, the
machine runs smoothly. If even one of the essential parts is out of order, it
comes to a stop. For instance, if the digestion is out of order, the whole body
becomes slack. Therefore, he who takes indigestion and constipation lightly
does not know the a-b-c of the rules of health. These two are the root cause of
the innumerable ailments.
The question that demands our attention next is: what is the use of the human
body? Everything in the world can be used and abused. This applies to the body
also. We abuse it when we use it for selfish purposes, for self-indulgence or in
order to harm another. It is put to its right use if we exercise self-restraint and
dedicate ourselves to the service of the whole world. The human soul is a part
of the universal spirit of God. When all our activity is directed towards the
realization of this link, the body becomes a temple worthy for the spirit to live
The body has been described as a mine of dirt. Looked at in its proper
perspective, there is no exaggeration in this statement. If the body was nothing
else but this, there could be no point in talking such pains to look after it. But if
this so-called mine of dirt can be put to its proper use, it becames our first duty
to cleanse it and keep it in a fit condition. The mines of precious stones and
gold also have the look of ordinary earth on the surface. The knowledge that
there are gold and precious stones underneath, induces men to spend millions
and engage scientific brains in order to get at what lies in those mines.
Similarly, we cannot take too much pains over keeping in a fit condition the
temple of the spirit-the human body.
Man came into the world in order to pay off the debt owed by him to it, that is
to say, in order to serve God and (or through) His creation. Keeping this point of
view in front of him, man acts as a guardian of his body. It becomes his duty to
take such care of his body as to enable it to practise the ideal of service to the
best of its ability.
Free health :- AIR
No one can live without air as one can without water for a few days and without
food much longer. Therefore, nature has surrounded us with air on all sides so
that we can get it without any effort.
We take in air through the nose into our lungs. The lungs act as a sort of
bellows. The atmospheric air which we breathe in has a life-giving substance-a
gas known as oxygen. The air that we breathe out contains poisonous gases.
These can kill us if they are not immediately allowed to spread out and get
diluted by the atmospheric air. Hence the necessity of proper ventilation.
The air comes into close contact with blood in the lungs and purifies it. Many
people do not know the art of breathing. This defect prevents an adequate
purification of their blood. Some people breathe through the mouth instead of
through the nose. This is a bad habit. Nature has so designed the nose that it
acts as a sort of filter for the ingoing air and also warms it. In mouth breathers
the atmospheric air reaches the lungs without the preliminary filtration or
warming. It follows therefore that those who do not know how to breathe
should take breathing exercises. They are as easy to learn as they are useful. I
do not wish to go into a discussion of the various asanas or postures. I do not
mean to say that these are not important or useful. But I do wish to emphasize
that a well-regulated life outweighs the advantage of studying and practising
elaborate postures or exercises. Any comfortable posture that ensures breathing
through the nose and free chest expansion is enough for our purposes.
If we keep the mouth tightly close, the breathing will have to be carried out by
the nose. Just as we wash our mouth every morning, the nose should be also be
cleaned. Clean water, cold or lukewarm water, is the best agent for that
purpose. It should be taken in a cup or in the palm of the hand and drawn up
through the nostrils. It is possible to draw the water up through one nostril, the
other remaining closed, and expel it through the other by opening it and closing
the former. The process should be carried out gently so as to avoid discomfort.
In order to cleanse the back portion of the nose known as nasopharynx, water
should be brought out by the mouth or even swallowed.
We must see that the air that we breathe in is fresh. It is good to cultivate the
habit of sleeping in the open under the stars. The fear of catching a chill should
be dismissed from the mind. Cold can be kept out by plenty of covering. This
covering should not extend beyond the neck. If cold is felt on the head, it can
be covered with a separate piece of cloth. The opening of the respiratory
passage – the nose – should never be covered up.
The day clothes should be changed for loose night clothes before retiring. As a
matter of fact no clothes are necessary at night when one sleeps covered with a
sheet. Tight-fitting clothes should be avoided even during the day.
The atmospheric air around us is not always pure, neither is it the same in every
country. The choice of the country does not always lie in our hands but the
choice of a suitable house in a suitable locality does rest with us to some
extent. The general rule should be to live in a locality which is not too
congested and insist upon the house being well-lighted and wellventilated.
free health :- WATER
Next to air, water is a necessity of life. We cannot live without it for more than
a few days, just as without air we cannot live for more than a few minutes.
Therefore, as in the case of the air, nature has provided us with ample amount
of water. Man cannot live on barren land where there is no water. Vast tracts of
desert land lie utterly uninhabited.
In order to keep healthy, everyone should take 5lbs. of water or other liquid
food in 24 hours. Drinking water must be pure. In many places it is difficult to
get pure water. There is always risk in drinking well water. The water of
shallow wells, and even deep wells with a stair-case leading down to the water
level, should be considered absolutely unfit for drinking purposes. The difficulty
is that the appearance and even the taste of water are no guide to its purity.
Water which appears perfectly harmless to look at and to taste, can act as
poison. The old custom of not drinking from an unknown well or from a
stranger’s house is worth copying.
In Bengal almost every house has a kachcha tank attached to it. As a rule the
water of these is unfit for drinking purpose. River water also is frequently not
fit for drinking, particularly where the river is used for navigation or where it
passes by a big city and receives its drainage and sewage water.
In spite of what I have said, I know there are millions of people who have to
drink what I have described as impure water. But that does not mean that their
example is worthy of being copied. Nature has provided us with sufficient
reserve of vitality. But for that, man would have long ago disappeared from the
face of the earth because of his own mistakes and transgressions of the rules of
Here we are concerned merely with the role of water with regard to health.
Wherever we are doubtful about the purity of water, it should be boiled before
drinking. In practice it amounts to this that everyone should carry his drinking
water with him. Many orthodox Hindus in India do not drink water whilst
travelling on account of religious prejudices. Surely, the enlightened can do for
the sake of health what the unenlightened do in the name of religion!
Free Health :- FOOD
Whilst it is true that man cannot live without air and water, the thing that
nourishes the body is food. Hence the saying, food is life.
Food can be divided into three categories: vegetarian, flesh and mixed. Flesh
foods include fowl and fish. Milk is an animal product and cannot by any means
be included in a strictly vegetarian diet. It serves the purpose of meat to a very
large extent. In medical language it is classified as animal food. A layman does
not consider milk to be animal food. On the other hand, eggs are regarded by
the layman as a flesh food. In reality, they are not. Nowadays sterile eggs are
also produced. The hen is not allowed to see the cock and yet it lays eggs. A
sterile egg never develops into a chick. Therefore, he who can take milk should
have no objection to taking sterile eggs.
Medical opinion is mostly in favour of a mixed diet, although there is a growing
school, which is strongly of the opinion that anatomical and physiological
evidence is in favour of man being a vegetarian. His teeth, his stomach,
intestines, etc. seem to prove that nature has meant man to be a vegetarian.
Vegetarian diet, besides grains, pulses, edible roots, tubers and leaves, includes
fruits, both fresh and dry. Dry fruit includes nuts like almonds, pistachio,
I have always been in favour of pure vegetarian diet. But experience has taught
me that in order to keep perfectly fit, vegetarian diet must include milk and
milk products such as curd, butter, ghee, etc. This is a significant departure
from my original idea. I excluded milk from my diet for six years. At that time, I
felt none the worse for the denial. But in the year 1917, as a result of my own
ignorance, I was laid down with severe dysentery. I was reduced to a skeleton,
but I stubbornly refused to take any medicine and with equal stubbornness
refused to take milk or buttermilk. But I could not build up my body and pick up
sufficient strength to leave the bed. I had taken a vow of not taking milk. A
medical friend suggested that at the time of taking a vow, I could have had in
my mind only the milk of the cow and buffalo; why would the vow prevent me
from taking goat’s milk? My wife supported him and I yielded. Really speaking,
for one who has given up milk, though at the time of taking the vow only the
cow and the buffalo were in mind, milk should be taboo. All animal milks have
practically the same composition, though the proportion of the components
varies in each case. So I may be said to have kept merely the letter, not the
spirit, of the vow. Be that as it may, goat’s milk was produced immediately and
I drank it. It seemed to bring me new life. I picked up rapidly and was soon able
to leave the bed. On account of this and several similar experiences, I have
been forced to admit the necessity of adding milk to the strict vegetarian diet.
But I am convinced that in the vast vegetable kingdom there must be some
kind, which, while supplying those necessary substances which we derive from
milk and meat, is free from their drawbacks, ethical and other.
In my opinion there are definite drawbacks in taking milk or meat. In order to
get meat we have to kill. And we are certainly not entitled to any other milk
except the mother’s milk in our infancy. Over and above the moral drawback,
there are others, purely from the point of view of health. Both milk and meat
bring with them the defects of the animal from which they are derived.
Domesticated cattle are hardly ever perfectly healthy. Just like man, cattle
suffer from innumerable diseases. Several of these are over-looked even when
the cattle are subjected to periodical medical examinations. Besides, medical
examination of all the cattle in India seems to be an impossible feat, at any
rate for the present. I am conducting a dairy at the Sevagram Ashram. I can
easily get help from medical friends. Yet I cannot say with certainty that all the
cattle in the Sevagram Dairy are healthy. On the contrary, a cow that had been
considered to be healthy by everybody was found to be suffering from
tuberculosis. Before this diagnosis was made, the milk of that cow had been
used regularly in the Ashram. The Ashram also takes milk from the farmers in
the neighbourhood. Their cattle have not been medically examined. It is
difficult to determine whether a particular specimen of milk is safe for
consumption or not. We have to rest content with as much safety as boiling of
the milk can assure us of. If the Ashram cannot boast of fool-proof medical
examination of its cattle, and be certain of the safety of its dairy products, the
situation elsewhere is not likely to be much better. What applies to the milk
cattle applies to a much greater extent to the animals slaughtered for meat. As
a general rule, man just depends upon luck to escape from such risks. He does
not seem to worry much about his health. He considers himself to be quite safe
in his medical fortress in the shape of doctors, vaids and hakims. His main worry
and concern is how to get wealth and positive in society. This worry
overshadows all the rest. Therefore, so long as some selfless scientist does not,
as a result of patient research work, discover a vegetable substitute for milk
and meat, man will go on taking meat and milk.
Now let us consider mixed diet. Man requires food which can supply tissue
building substances to provide for the growth and daily wear and tear of the
body. It should also contain something which can supply energy, fat, certain
salts and roughage to help the excretion of waste matter. Tissue building
substances are known as proteins. They are obtained from milk, meat, eggs,
pulses and nuts. The protein contained in milk and meat, in other words, the
animal protein being more easily digestible and assimilable, are much valuable
than vegetable proteins. Milk is superior to meat. The medicos tell us that in
cases where meat cannot be digested, milk is digested quite easily. For
vegetarians milk being the only source of animal proteins, is a very important
article of diet. The proteins in raw eggs are considered to be the most easily
digestible of all proteins.
But everybody cannot afford to drink milk. And milk is not available in every
place. I would like to mention here a very important fact with regard to milk.
Contrary to the popular belief, skimmed milk is a very valuable article of diet.
There are times when it proves even more useful than whole milk. The chief
function of milk is to supply animal proteins for tissue building and tissue
repair. Skimming while it partially removes the fats, does not affect the
proteins at all. Moreover, the available skimming instruments cannot remove all
the fat from milk. Neither is there any likelihood of such an instrument being
The body requires other things besides milk, whole or skimmed. I give the
second place to cereals-wheat, rice, jawar, bajri etc. These are used as the
staple diet. Different cereals are used as staple in different provinces in India.
In many places, more than one kind of cereals are eaten at the same time, for
instance, small quantities of wheat, bajri and rice are often served together.
This mixture is not necessary for the nourishment of the body. It makes it
difficult to regulate the quantity of food intake, and puts an extra strain upon
digestion. As all these varieties supply starch mainly, it is better to take one
only, at a time. Wheat may well be described as the king among the cereals. If
we glance at the world map, we find that wheat occupies the first place. From
the point of view of health, if we can get wheat, rice and other cereals become
unnecessary. If wheat is not available and jawar, etc. cannot be taken on
account of dislike or difficulty in digesting them, rice has to be resorted to.
The cereals should be properly cleansed, ground on a grinding stone, and the
resulting flour used as it is. Sieving of the flour should be avoided. It is likely to
remove the bhusi or the pericarp which is a rich source of salts and vitamins,
both of which are most valuable from the point of view of nutrition. The
pericarp also supplies roughage, which helps the action of the bowels. Rice
grain being very delicate, nature has provided it with an outer covering or
epicarp. This is not edible. In order to remove this inedible portion, rice has to
be pounded. Pounding should be just sufficient to remove the epicarp on the
outer skin of the rice grain. But machine pounding not only removes the outer
skin, but also polishes the rice by removing its pericarp. The explanation of the
popularity of polished rice lies in the fact that polishing helps preservation. The
pericarp is very sweet and unless it is removed, rice is easily attacked by
certain organisms. Polished rice and wheat without its pericarp, supply us with
almost pure starch. Important constituents of the cereals are lost with the
removal of the pericarp. The pericarp of the rice is sold as rice polishing. This
and the pericarp of wheat can be cooked and eaten by themselves. The can be
also made into chapatis or cakes. It is possible that rice chapatis may be more
easily digestible than whole rice and in this form a lesser quantity may result in
We are in the habit of dipping each morsel of the chapati in vegetable or dal gravy before eating it. The result is that most people swallow their food without proper mastication. Mastication is an important step in the process of digestion, especially that of starch. Digestion of starch begins on its coming into contact with saliva in the mouth. Mastication ensures a thorough mixing of food with saliva. Therefore, starchy foods should be eaten in a relatively dry form, which results in a greater flow of saliva and also necessitates their thorough mastication. After the starch supplying cereals come the protein supplying pulses-beans, lentils, etc. Almost everybody seems to think that pulses are an essential constituent of diet. Even meat eaters must have pulses. It is easy to understand that those who have to do hard manual work and who cannot afford to drink milk, cannot do without pulses. But I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that those who follow sedentary occupations as for instance, clerks, businessmen, lawyers, doctors, teachers and those who are not too poor to buy milk, do not require pulses. Pulses are generally considered to be difficult to digest and are eaten in a much smaller quantity than cereals. Out of the varieties of pulses, peas, gram and haricot beans are considered to be the most and mung and masoor (lentils) the least difficult to digest. Vegetables and fruits should come third on our list. One would expect them to be cheap and easily available in India. But it is not so. They are generally considered to be delicacies meant for the city people. In the villages fresh vegetables are a rarity, and in most places fruit is also not available. This shortage of greens and fruits is a slur on the administration of India. The villagers can grow plenty of green vegetables if they wish to. The question of fruits cannot be solved so easily. The land legislation is bad from the villager’s standpoint. But I am transgressing. Among fresh vegetables, a fair amount of leafy vegetables must be taken every day. I do not include potatoes, sweet potatoes, suran, etc. which supply starch mainly, among vegetables. They should be put down in the same category as starch supplying cereals. A fair helping of ordinary fresh vegetables is advisable.
Certain varieties such as cucumber, tomatoes, mustard and cress and other
tender leaves need not be cooked. They should be washed properly and then
eaten raw in small quantities.
As for fruits, our daily diet should include the available fruits of the season,
e.g. mangoes, jambu, guavas, grapes, papaiyas, limes-sweet or sour-oranges,
moosambi, etc. should all be used in their season. The best time for taking fruit
is in the early morning. A breakfast of fruit and milk should give full
satisfaction. Those who take an early lunch may well have a breakfast of fruit
Banana is a good fruit. But as it is very rich in starch, it takes the place of
bread. Milk and banana make a perfect meal.
A certain amount of fat is also necessary. This can be had in the form of ghee or
oil. If ghee can be had, oil becomes unnecessary. It is difficult to digest and is
not so nourishing as pure ghee. An ounce and a half of ghee per head per day,
should be considered ample to supply the needs of the body. Whole milk also is
a source of ghee. Those who cannot afford it should take enough oil to supply
the need for fat. Among oils, sweet oil, groundnut oil and cocoa-nut oil should
be given preference. Oil must be fresh. If available, it is better to use hand-
pressed oil. Oil and ghee sold in the bazaar are generally quiet useless. It is a
matter of great sorrow and shame. But so long as honesty has not become an
integral part of business morals, whether through legislation or through
education, the individual will have to procure the pure article with patience
and diligence. One should never be satisfied to take what one can get,
irrespective of its quality. It is far better to do without ghee and oil altogether
than to eat rancid oil and adulterated ghee. As in the case of fats, a certain
amount of sugar is also necessary. Although sweet fruits supply plenty of sugar,
there is no harm in taking one to one and a half ounces of sugar, brown or white
in a day. If one cannot get sweet fruits, sugar may become a necessity. But the
undue prominence given to sweet things nowadays is wrong. City folk eat too
much of sweet things. Milk puddings, milk sweets and sweets of other kinds are
consumed in large quantities. They are all unnecessary and are harmful except
when taken in very small quantities. It may be said without any fear of
exaggeration that to partake of sweetmeats and other delicacies, in a country
where the millions do not even get an ordinary full meal, is equivalent to
What applies to sweets, applies with equal force to ghee and oil. There is no
need to eat food fried in ghee or oil. To use up ghee in making puris and laddus
is thoughtless extravagance. Those who are not used to such food cannot eat
these things at all. For instance, Englishmen on their first coming into our
country cannot eat our sweets and fried foodstuffs. Those that do eat them I
have often seen fall ill. Taste is acquired, not born with us. All the delicacies of
the world cannot equal the relish that hunger gives to food. A hungry man will
eat a dry piece of bread with the greatest relish, whereas one who is not hungry
will refuse the best of sweetmeats.
Now let us consider how often and how much should one eat. Food should be
taken as a matter of duty-even as a medicine-to sustain the body, never for the
satisfaction of the palate. Thus, pleasurable feeling comes from satisfaction of
real hunger. Therefore, we can say that relish is dependent upon hunger and
not outside it. Because of our wrong habits and artificial way of living, very few
people know what their system requires. Our parents who bring us into this
world do not, as a rule, cultivate self-control. Their habits and their way of
living influence the children to a certain extent. The mother’s food during
pregnancy is bound to affect the child. After that during childhood, the mother
pampers the child with all sorts of tasty foods. She gives the child a little bit
out of whatever she herself may be eating and the child’s digestive system gets
a wrong training from its infancy. Habits once formed are difficult to shed.
There are very few who succeed in getting rid of them. But when the
realization comes to man that he is his own bodyguard, and his body has been
dedicated to service, he desires to learn laws of keeping his body in a fit
condition and tries hard to follow them.