Ancient Travellers, Gujarat, Health for Life Tips
Comments 63

Why Do I Like Gandhi?

Because he was an admirable Walker, to start with.

2nd of October is imprinted in each Indians heart. Not only because it is M.K Gandhi’s birthdate. But to us growing up in India this day was always a holiday till we knew why?

From my last year’s Essay on Knowing Gandhi and Learning from Mahatma, I myself have come a long way in understanding Politics and Public Service. I have taken small steps in sharing my Yoga dhyana and health as a class, and as much speaking about many issues with children and parents at School and otherwise.

I have long admired MK Gandhi. But not only for the usual reasons, some of you may know from previous year’s essays. But Something where I connect with him. He was a great walker; indeed one of the hardiest, most determined walkers of all time. I acknowledge it because I love walking myself and I can say with authority that no day has gone empty where I hadn’t spend an hour or more taking time out to walk or play. Even though I haven’t taken strides like walking the length and breath of India in one go but I do have ideas and projects that If the universe and the circumstances permit, I would really like to make walking happen.

For Gandhiji, Walking was both an exercise and a great political tool. He walked as a child, instead of playing cricket, which he disliked. In London as a student lawyer he would walk eight to ten miles each day, and was convinced that it kept him healthy despite the privations of a vegetarian diet in a carnivorous country; in Bombay as a young barrister he would walk one and a half hours each day. In Paris, as an Eiffel tower-hating tourist, visiting the great exhibition of 1890, he walked almost everywhere. On the salt March of 1930, he walked more than two hundred and forty miles as an act of political and economic protest against British rule; and he died walking at the age of seventy-eight, supported by his two great nieces, abha and manu; whom he referred to as his walking-sticks. His last steps from his bedroom in Birla house through the garden are immortalised in stone. One hundred and eighty two foot shaped concrete lozenges, each one in thick ink, have been cemented into the pathway, as if his feet had been divine and had left terracotta weal upon the paving stones. Impiously, I had once as a child many years ago stepped upon those lozenges, one by one, counting them, tracing the final seconds of his life.

The Gandhi Smriti Museum in Neu Delhi


In his remarkable 1942 pamphlet key to Health, Gandhi declares that a brisk walk in the open is the best form of exercise. During the walk the mouth should be closed and breathing should be done through the nose. The nose, he points out is an air filter that requires daily cleaning and suggests this alternative to the widespread sub continental and British practice of public nose picking. He even draws my attention as soon I learnt that his knowledge was rooted deeply in Yoga. For when he talks about practicing one Yogic Kriya called Neti that I myself do on regular basis, Drawing saline water up through one nostril, as the other remaining closed, and expel it through the other by opening it and closing the former. In Yogic rituals it is one of the six kriyas to clean ones nasal system. It almost takes away any headache or heaviness one may have of the head. It brings freshness to the mind, better vision to the eyes, a whole lot of clarity and sharp focus; if anyone continues it for even a short period of time.

While talking about Health in general, one thing that I particularly liked, and was made to do as a child for a brief period was, when he talks about cultivating the habit of sleeping in the open under stars. The fear of catching a chill should be dismissed from the mind. Cold can be kept out by plenty of covering. And 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. And interestingly he continues to speak as a matter of fact no clothes are necessary at night when one sleeps covered with a sheet.

Even though Gandhiji In Key to Health, speaks on almost every food, drink, intoxicants, condiments and the five his experiments with the five elements in his ashram in Gujarat, I particularly want to share his views on Food and milk products because in India and may be elsewhere it had been a topic of talk amongst public and intellectuals, other health experts on his vows and choices.

He says, “I have always been in favor 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. 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. 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. From then on I picked up rapidly and was soon able to leave the bed. Hence on the account of this and several similar experiences, I have been forced to admit the necessity of adding milk to the strict vegetarian diet.”


He was known never to take a vow in haste, he used to think and feel about it. But once it was taken, we know it apart from some mischievous theories that he had broken any vow.

He also recommended hot water, honey and lemon as a healthy nourishing drink, which can well substitute for tea or coffee. He was also a proponent of the scientific collection of honey in a way that did not kill any bees. And also something that I read in his most popular autobiography ‘My Experiments with Truth” which I took seriously and ongoing, there he had mentioned- Never give up the practice of writing a diary once you have resolved to do so. If not immediately, you will certainly realize its advantages later. This habit itself will guard us against many of our shortcomings, as the diary will be a permanent witness of these. Must remember that All the slips must be noted in the diary as soon as you get back to your desk, because there should be no need to condemn them. Criticism is always taken for granted.

He for Indians of twentieth century was a living, walking god.

His final walk while he was walking to his place of evening prayer and discussion, where large crowds would gather each day, when he was shot dead- his last words, as he went down, he remembered Rama, the ancient warrior king Lord, who himself thousands of years ago had traversed the whole of India, first to keep his words for his vow to his father and further to find his love of life, mother Sita walking all the way to Sri Lanka.

Now tell me Why should not I like this man?

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This entry was posted in: Ancient Travellers, Gujarat, Health for Life Tips

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Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

63 Comments

  1. What a wonderful post about MK Gandhi! There are many points I could make but the most important for me is to say that walking, staying mobile, has saved my own physical and mental health. Thank you, Narayan. Now I must find a good book about Gandhi to compliment your excellent post. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Ashley apologies for writing late. And you are welcome. His writings are deeply personal and subtly motivational. Thank you again Ashley

      Like

  2. In this post-truth world, I admire him most for his devotion to truth, and the fact that he cared about everyone – not just one section of society: the greatest good of all, and not of the greatest number.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely overlooked this aspect of his Hitha. You are right. As a child I boasted to understand this while reading experiments with truth. He gave a lot of weight and meaning to word which had lost its value, truth. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Satyam was a word bandied about a lot when I was young. But I truly did not understand its meaning or its value until a few years ago, when its absence made me realise how very important it was.

        Thanks for your post, too, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. I love that you picked out a quality of his that I hadn’t ever thought about, which really brings out his positive energy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I read all Narayan’s posts and I share his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi whose autobiography is permanently on my desk together with works of Rabindranath Tagore. All the points Narayan makes about Gandhi’s passion for walking, paying attention to breathing , right diet, I not only understand but practice too. Walking
    was my passion, and I never used to take a bus in London, preferring walking. While living in the mountains , I could go up first thing in the morning and comeback at night. As vegeterian, I love milk, and so the question Narayan asked is easy, because everything about Gandhi is logical, makes sense and leads to a good health.
    Excellent post, Narayan, especially apt as it is Gandhi’s birthday’s anniversary.
    I love in particular the original way Narayan found to write about walking while others concentrated on Gandhi’s very commendable political movement.
    I love the photo from Gandhi’s museum. Thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sometimes one is asked who one would chose to meet, if it were possible. I would love to have met this man. Just to have been in his presence would have been such a great honour. I so appreciate you writing about him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting viewpoint of Ghandi’s life. I enjoyed hour-long walks for several years until my knees and hips cried out: No more! As for drinking milk, I prefer using rice milk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So much to learn from this post. Thank you. I will spend more time with it over the days to come. Ghandi was an amazing man.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for writing this. I enjoyed it very much. For me, walking is — wow. I don’t think I want to put words on it — but liberty? Beauty? Meditation? and more. All my life walking in nature (running for a while) was my way out of an ugly family situation. Nature never lies, never fights, never calls names, never manipulates and then? A walk in nature drenches a person (as it drenched Bear and me today) in truth. To be there? Walk, no other way.

    Not long ago, a couple of springs, when the Sandhill Cranes were here on their migration north, I was walking out there where they were. A really nice woman stopped and said, “Have you seen any cranes?” At that moment, they were flying over her car.

    I didn’t say, “Get out of your car.” I just told her the field in which they could be found standing around. But I thought, “OK, on foot I’m not going to cover many miles, but I’m not here for that.” Hundreds of cranes flew over my dog and me and my heart almost burst. ”

    I’ve fought hard to retain the ability to walk. I admire Gandhi, too, and your post has taught me more. One of his influences (also mine) wrote a beautiful essay about…Walking.

    “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.”

    Here’s the whole text. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1022/1022-h/1022-h.htm

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  10. Remarkable advice. A co formation of some habits and also new ideas for how to live my best life. Many thanks, friend. Blessings to you on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. KK says

    When the journalist, Vince Walker went to interview him, Gandhi ji laughingly said, ‘what a coincidence! You are a walker, I’m also a walker.’ Thank you, Narayan ji for this great post covering topics like Neti and milk.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree, Mr. Gandhi was one of history’s most unique men, and his dedication to India’s independence from British rule was one of history’s most unusual “revolutions.” Though the UK’s intent in ruling the “colonies” was to provide British liberty and rule of law to other peoples, this rarely worked out in practical terms… as the colonies of North America had discovered in the late 1700s! 😉
    But Gandhi’s “revolt” without ever raising a rifle was the only practical way for Indian independence, unlike the American revolution.
    His commitment to peaceful civil disobedience led the way for men like Martin Luther King, Jr. to follow in his steps to win equal rights for minorities here.
    However, through all his devotion to right practices, he never claimed deity as Jesus did. He was certainly a great man, and though Anita and I only walk about 2-4 miles per day, we hope to follow in his steps and in the steps of Jesus.
    ❤️& 🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such an elaborate and kind comment c.a

      But you know, Making other your slaves for only profit and ruling them can never work in long term. And we can see how it gradually is coming back to Britain today. And Yes, even though world knew Gandhi for his non-violent approach to move the masses, it took an enormous violence and blood bath across the country. The unfortunate partition that still lingers kind of everywhere and not just India after Britishers left, as they stupidly drew lines while leaving. Just saying c.a as Gandhi became the go to man for the britishers, he could speak in english and even be as Indian as all Indians. My last year’s post was all about why I don’t like Gandhi 🙂 Hence this year I thought his impressions certainly changed a lot in me and hence wanted to cover this time.
      I have immense respect for Martin L. King, we read about his work in school.

      Thanks for the words always, c.a

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for sharing this aspect of Gandhiji. We too walk regularly every evening. Fortunately we l8ve in a small place and each walk is like being with Nature. Many years ago we were in Ahmedabad. My husband had to attend a conference. I went to Sabarmati Ashram and spent the day there. It is such a peaceful place and I will remember that day . Thank you for this post.

    Like

  14. Beautiful post most of us know many things about Gandhi ji but this is the first time I knew about his walking which is a very important exercise for health. Thanks for sharing ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  15. what a beautiful tribute to Gandhi Nara! I love this and of course I applaud his walking for health and changing the world. You gave justice and great wisdom to your words through your awesome post and pictures. 💗

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  16. Hi Narayanan
    I must agree with you that on many accounts and Gandhi to my mind is a great leader. His book My experiments with truth helped me when I had decided to be honest to myself and my feelings. One day when me and my daughter made a decision that if someone asked us about what my ex was doing for an occupation, we would be honest and say nothing. When we discussed this we had shared our difficulty in remembering what we usually said. It was hilarious as we would change the designation/company whatever as we pleased and even be very creative in our answers. Soon, we realized it is ok to say the truth. So, what he does not want to earn, it is his choice. That realization helped all of us. Ever since, I have learnt to be honest about my opinions and the book helped me to do that.

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  17. A great inspiration. I too am a walker, although not miles and miles like Ghandi, but it’s a way to exercise that brings me outside to enjoy nature. Although I only spent a short time in India, I was honored to visit that museum and walk alongside those footsteps.

    Like

  18. AJ says

    Beautifully insightful piece. I would like to trace those lozenges as well. 🙂

    I think Gandhi walked also as an insistence of his humanity. Our earliest ancestors practically walked the earth and reached even remote land masses without the luxury of vehicles. We were born to walk and Gandhi simply did so.

    Like

    • Apologies for writing late AJ. You are right, our earliest ancestors walked as we are anyhow supposed to. To me walking gives the best education one can actually receive from.

      Like

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