Basic Health Practicesby PR Sarkar
Proper health needs proper water drinking, sexual restraint, use of mud packs, sunbathing, fresh air, fasting, and mental purity
“Ápashcavishvabheśajii” – that is, “water is medicine for all diseases.” Truly, all types of disease can be relieved if one knows how to use water properly. To maintain the internal functions of the body without hindrance and to maintain the internal liquid balance, everyone should drink a sufficient quantity of water every day. A healthy person can consume three or four seers of water a day, a sick person four or five seers, and a person suffering from skin disease, five or six seers. These amounts of water help cure a disease to a great extent.
Drinking water is good, but water with a little lemon and a little salt is still better. Drinking a lot of water at a time is harmful, especially for heart patients.
People should not taint their sex lives by over-indulgence. Everyone should remember that shukra is the ultimate element of the body, and if it is absent or somehow impaired, all the elements of the body may become impaired and invite attacks of various diseases.
Intercourse more than four times a month leads to wastage of shukra, which culminates in debility of the nerve-cells, nerve-fibres, glands, etc. People may become aware of the physical debility caused by this immoderate loss of shukra belatedly, but they will begin to feel the mental and spiritual loss right away. That is why it is not at all desirable for adolescents and young people to remain ignorant of sexual matters. And when it comes down to a choice between restraint and lack of restraint, it is better not even to stipulate four times a month, but simply to say= the more restraint the better.
Soil possesses great curative properties. With cuts, scratches, sores and boils, if soil is applied properly, it can be especially helpful in curing the disease and drawing out the poisonous substances. If the mud-pack starts cracking within about three hours after drying, or if the pack becomes stale, then the pack should be thrown away. The wound should then be cleansed carefully with some antiseptic, and after giving it a sun-bath, a fresh pack should be applied.
Healthy persons or persons suffering from skin disease should smear their bodies with yellow soil, massage themselves, then immerse themselves in a river or in a pond. This will certainly give good results. It is desirable for everyone to use this mud-massage now and then when they bathe. Those who are suffering from leprosy or other diseases characterized by contaminated sores should definitely have such a mud-massage followed by a bath every day.
The meaning of Átapa Snána is “sun-bathing,” but sunshine is not the same for all countries at all times. Therefore, it is not possible to fix the best time for sun-bathing. But at the present time, in the plains of Bihar, a sun-bath can be taken during the summer until 10 a.m. and during the winter between noon and 2 PM.
During the sun-bath, the diseased parts of the body are exposed to the sun’s rays while the remaining parts are kept in the shade. When the affected area becomes hot after leaving it in the sun for fifteen to twenty minutes, it should be brought into the shade and the procedures described below followed.
- If there is rheumatism or gout in that part of the body, that part should, under advice, be massaged with oil for four or five minutes.
- If it is a skin disease, then that area should be massaged with neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.) oil for four or five minutes.
- In the case of other diseases, the affected area should be massaged with a cool, wet towel that has been wrung out. After the temperature of the area has come down to normal, it can once again be exposed to the sun’s rays. After leaving it in the sun for fifteen or twenty minutes, again cool the area by massaging with oil or a towel in the aforesaid manner. Exposure to sun and massage can be done in the same manner again and again. But during the last massage, instead of using oil, it is desirable to wipe with a wet towel in all cases except that of skin disease.
If a healthy or sick person so desires, he or she may take a sun-bath over the entire body. In this case, after the completion of the sun-bath, the whole body must be thoroughly wiped off with a wet towel. When taking a sun-bath over the entire body, one should wear little or no clothes and keep the back to the sun.
If the diseased area is in the front portion of the body, that is to say, the face, chest, stomach, etc., then it can be kept uncovered but the remaining portions must be kept covered. One should always remember, “Expose the stomach to fire and the back to sun”; i.e., if you need to warm yourself at a fire, keep the stomach towards the fire, never the back.
Taking The Air
Pure, fresh air has the power to cure diseases. It is advisable to breathe in as fully as possible, because when we do so, the air gets an opportunity to penetrate the lungs completely. It is better to take a walk in the fresh air than to ride a vehicle.
If the body does not work up a sufficient sweat, then you should know that you have not taken the air properly.
*Superphysics note= Breathing sea-air is good for iodine intake to avoid goiter or gland swelling
During fasting the body’s organs get a good rest, and the healing process is more rapid. It is possible for one to get relief even from chronic skin diseases if one goes on a long fast and drinks plenty of water with lemon juice. Only persons in very good health and with good energy should fast without water. Persons suffering from gall or kidney-stones should never undertake a waterless fast.
Sick persons and people in mediocre health should observe fasting taking plenty of lemon juice and water. Persons who are very weak may take a small quantity of fruit and milk. Persons who, for whatever reason, do not fast on Ekádashii, Púrńimá and Amávasyá should at least abstain from taking rice, fried vegetables, pulses and non-vegetarian food on those days. They should also take just a little milk, fruit and dry things on the evenings of Púrńimá and Amávasyá.
Mental purity helps particularly in keeping a person healthy. Impure thoughts increase the acidity of the blood and invite disorders of the stomach, heart and brain. That is why every human being should make a strong as habit as possible of selfless service and Iishvara Prańidhána (meditation).
The best way to attain mental purity is to follow Yama and Niyama.