It is easy to remember Gandhi only at his most emaciated, weak from weeks of fasting in an attempt to end Britain’s unjust occupation of India. And while Gandhi did push his body to physical extremes to enact political change, it is important to remember his strength as well.
A formidable lawyer and cultured intellectual, Gandhi attended university in London and channelled that leadership and experience into a movement that awed the entire world. Best known for achieving India’s independence through non-violent resistance, Gandhi was wise in matters relating to health and fitness
We at My Medical Mantra have compiled a few quotes from Mahatma Gandhi on his views regarding health:
On natural cures: “The man who accepts Nature Cure never begs. ‘Self – help enhances self – respect’. He takes steps to cure himself by eliminating poisons from the system and takes precautions against falling ill in the future”
“Disease springs from a willful or ignorant breach of the laws of Nature. It follows, therefore, that timely return to those laws should mean restoration”
(From the book Key to Health by Mahatma Gandhi)
On eating: Gandhi famously said, “The body was never meant to be treated as a refuse bin, holding all the foods that the palate demands.”
On vegetarianism: “Vegetarian food is the healthiest, most economical, makes efficient use of land and fosters values of non-violence and humanitarianism”
(From the book An Autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth, written by M.K. Gandhi)
On moderation: “In order to keep health, no matter what you ate, it was necessary to cut down the quantity of your food, and reduce the number of meals. Become moderate; err on the side of less, rather than on the side of more”
(From the book The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, written by M.K. Gandhi)
On raw food: “The ethical value of uncooked food is incomparable. Economically this food has possibilities which no cooked food can have. I, therefore, seek the sympathetic help of all medical men and laymen who are interested in reformed dietetics.
(Young India, 13-6-1929)
On fasting: “A genuine fast cleanses the body, mind and soul. It crucifies the flesh and to that extent sets the soul free”
(From the book Diet and Diet Reforms, written by M.K. Gandhi)
On walking: “I used to walk about 8 miles every day and in all I had three walks daily, one in the evening at 5.30 p.m. for an hour and the other always for 30 or 45 minutes before going to bed”.
Gandhi called walking the prince of exercises. It was primarily those long walks, he said, that “kept me practically free from illness throughout my stay in England and gave me a fairly strong body”.
On hydrotherapy: “The public should know that the speciality of nature cure methods lies in the fact that being natural, they can be safely practised by laymen”
“An intelligent use of hot water gives relief in many cases”
“In cases of cold feet or aching of legs, the foot bath should not last for more than fifteen minutes. This treatment improves the local circulation and gives immediate relief”
(From the book Key to Health, written by M.K. Gandhi)
On massage: “In cases where circulation has become sluggish, the leg muscles feel sore and there is peculiar ache and feeling of discomfort in the legs, an ice massage does a lot of good. This treatment is more effective in summer months. Massaging a weak patient with ice in winter might prove a risky affair”
(From the book Nature Cure, written by M.K. Gandhi)
Source: Key to Health, with inputs from interviews and works written by Mahatma Gandhi