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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 149  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 69-71

Mahatma Gandhi and Nature Cure

National Institute of Naturopathy, Pune, India

Date of Submission27-Nov-2018
Date of Web Publication22-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr Komarraju Satyalakshmi
Director, National Institute of Naturopathy, Pune 411001, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.251660

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How to cite this article:
Satyalakshmi K. Mahatma Gandhi and Nature Cure. Indian J Med Res 2019;149, Suppl S1:69-71

How to cite this URL:
Satyalakshmi K. Mahatma Gandhi and Nature Cure. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Mar 5];149, Suppl S1:69-71. Available from:

If we go through the experiments made by Mahatma Gandhi on several aspects of life, what comes clear is that he had a fair knowledge that health is not, and cannot be, a commodity but an outcome, or rather, a by-product of various human activities. Food, exercise, cleanliness, education, clothing, housing, agriculture, work, employment all have a bearing on the health of an individual and, even more importantly, an individual's engagement with the community and God. Hence, selfless work and prayer were made an integral part of the daily routine in his 'ashram life'. His health determinants dictated him to adopt nature cure and recommend to all others as it emphasizes self-responsibility and provides self-reliance. According to him, so long as people depend on drugs, doctors and hospitals for their health needs, they are not truly liberated.

“I suggest that they (scientists & doctors) should turn their attention towards the seven lakhs of the villages of India. They would immediately discover that all the qualified men and women are required for village service, not after the manner of the West, but after the manner of the East. They will then adapt themselves to many indigenous systems.”

“India does not need imported drugs from the West when she has an inexhaustible stock of a variety of drugs grown in the villages themselves. But more than drugs they have to teach the people the right mode of living.”

(Harijan, 15-6-1947, p. 1845)

Any chronicle on the system of nature cure in India will be incomplete without noting the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi to society in general and to Indian naturopathy in particular. He was a staunch practitioner of naturopathy all through his life. There were scores of instances where he experimented with the system on himself, his family members and ultimately on the public who followed him in letter and spirit. In 1897 and 1900, he assisted his wife in delivering Ramdas and Devdas by reading obstetrics manuals in Durban. And, later, treated his children only with naturopathy. He and his volunteers used naturopathy modalities to treat Boer War-wounded soldiers as well as during a plague outbreak in South Africa.

Gandhiji's introduction to nature cure began with his conviction in vegetarianism. For him, vegetarianism is in spiritual harmony with the rest of Nature. He insisted that man didn't have to kill to eat. Vegetarian food is the healthiest, most economical, makes efficient use of land and fosters values of non-violence and humanitarianism. Apart from a cultural habit, and a vow administered by his mother, he learnt why it was right to be a vegetarian by reading: Henry Salt's A Plea For Vegetarianism, Howard William's The Ethics of Diet, and Anna Kingsford's The Perfect Way in Diet while he was doing law in the 1880s in London. Gandhiji was greatly influenced by Adolf Just's book, Return To Nature, The Paradise Regained and Louis Kuhne's New Science of Healing.

He had written many articles and books on nature cure. To name a few: Key to Health, Nature Cure, Diet and Diet Reforms, Prayer and Vegetarianism.

He initiated a nature cure hospital in a small village near Pune, Urlikanchan, to provide medical services to the rural poor. This was an offshoot of the Nature Cure Clinic and Sanatorium at Pune which was serving only the urban rich at that time. To this day, it is a standing testimony to the values cherished by Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi's connection with National Institute of Naturopathy: On January 2, 1932, Dr. Dinshah Mehta met Gandhiji in Bombay upon the latter's invitation. It lasted for 21 minutes and continued as a life-long intimate association. Dr. Dinshah became Gandhiji's personal nature cure physician till the end. He supervised two of the three world-famous 21 day-fasts of Gandhiji and many other shorter ones.

It is recorded history that, from August 21 to November 18, 1945, Gandhiji took a 90-day in-patient course of treatments from Dr. Dinshah in his Nature Cure Clinic and Sanatorium at Poona. It greatly improved his health. During this period, Mahatma Gandhi gained 6 lbs. (2.7 kg.) in weight and felt greatly refreshed. He remarked confidently: “I shall now live for 120 years!” Earlier, he had been wishing for it. He was in fairly good health when he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Otherwise, who knows, he may have lived that long. Mahatma's conviction got concretized when he had signed on a trust deed with a promise to serve the people of India through nature cure by dedicating his remaining life.

Mahatma Gandhi founded the All India Nature Cure Foundation trust on November 18, 1945; with the Institution – the Nature Cure Clinic and Sanatorium, Poona – as its nucleus. This is the only Nature Cure Trust, the deed of which was signed by Mahatma Gandhi. In the trust deed, the objects of making this charitable trust have been specified as spreading the knowledge of the science of nature cure in all its aspects and expanding the activity of nature cure therapeutics so as to make its benefits available to all classes of people and especially the poor, putting said institution on a permanent basis, with the ultimate object of creating from it a Nature Cure University.

Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India has declared November 18 as Naturopathy Day and it is celebrated by all Naturopaths and Naturopathy enthusiasts all over the country and across the globe.

According to Gandhi, nature cure means a change for the better in one's outlook on life itself. It means regulation of one's life in accordance with the laws of health. It is not a matter of taking free medicine from the hospital or for fees.

“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…”

(Harijan, 2-6-1946, p. 165)

“My love of nature cure and of indigenous systems does not blind me to the advance that Western medicine has made in spite of the fact that I have stigmatized it as black magic. I have used the harsh term, and I do not withdraw it, because of the fact that it has countenanced vivisection and all the awfulness it means and because it will stop at no practice, however bad it may be, if it prolongs the life of the body and because it ignores the immortal soul which resides in the body. I cling to nature cure in spite of its great limitations and in spite of the lazy pretensions of nature curists.”

(Harijan, 11-8-1946, p. 259)

Gandhiji writes in Hind Swaraj on doctors: “The business of a doctor is to take care of the body, or, properly speaking, not even that. Their business is really to rid the body of diseases that may afflict it. How do these diseases arise? Surely by our negligence or indulgence. I have indulged in vice, I contract a disease, a doctor cures me, the odds are that I shall repeat the vice. Had the doctor not intervened, Nature would have done its work, and I would have acquired mastery over myself, would have been freed from vice and would have become happy… A continuance of a course of medicine must, therefore, result in loss of control over the mind.

“In these circumstances, we are unfit to serve the country. To follow modern (English) medicine is to deepen our slavery.”

   Gandhi's Prescription For Suffering Millions of India Top

“Eat sparingly, now and then fast; err on the lower side rather than over eating.”

Gandhiji worked to end the social stigma associated with the disease of leprosy and to bring about the reintegration of leprosy patients in the mainstream of society.

Gandhi's Motto: Self-reliance (Swawalambana) is possible only when there is self-health-reliance (Swasthawalambana). Nature Cure provides self-health-reliance by teaching 'how to live healthy lives' without medicines and doctors.

“I hold that where the rules of personal, domestic and public sanitation are strictly observed and due care is taken in the matter of diet and exercise, there should be no occasion for illness or disease. Where there is absolute purity, inner and outer, illness becomes impossible. If the village people could but understand this, they would not need doctors, hakims or vaidyas…”

(Harijan, 26-5-1946, p. 153)

“The man who eats to live, who is friends with the five powers – earth, water, ether, sun and air – and who is a servant of God, the Creator of all these, ought not to fall ill. If he does, he will remain calm relying on God and die in peace, if need be.

“If there are any medicinal herbs in the fields of his village, he may make use of them. Crores live and die like this without a murmur. They have not so much as heard of a doctor, much less seen one face to face.”

(Harijan, 1-9-1946, p. 285–6)

There are many instances to show that Mahatma Gandhi was more than convinced that to depend on external sources for our needs is to deepen our slavery that included health needs. Thus he strongly recommended the practice of nature cure, which lays a lot of stress on the individual's responsibility. And he firmly believed that doctors should also have to be teachers and mentors and not just therapy dispensers. Cure without reform will make people irresponsible and make them immoral. Not only will there be a drain on resources, but the dependence continues.

   Financial Support & Sponsorship: Top

   Conflicts of Interest: Top

   References Top

Dadaji R, Dr. Mehta D. Mahatma Gandhi the Beloved Patient, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay; 1992.

Gandhi M. Diet and Diet Reform. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad; 1949.

Gandhi MK, Nayyar ST. Key to Health. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad; 1948.

Gandhi MK. An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad; 1927.

Gandhi MK. Hind Swaraj. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad; 1938.

Gandhi MK. The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism. Navajivan; 1959.

Mehta DK. Fundamental Laws of Health. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay; 1988


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