One of the reasons for this state of things is that medicos as a rule are not interested in our health, but only in our ill-health. The average medical man, when driven into a corner in private friendly conversation is apt to reply: "If health becomes the fashion, then where are we?" No medico ever forgets his own personal interest in maintaining the existing social order.

This would be doubted by many that are persuaded that medicos as a class are high-minded men and are therefore worthy of unlimited trust. The truth about the medicos is neatly expressed in the following passage in a letter published in a periodical and reproduced in the Vaccination Inquirer, September 1st, 1941:

"Whilst on the subject of medical prestige one would like to gird at the traditional notion, sedulously fostered in many circles, that the medical profession, as regards its integrity of action and honesty of purpose, transcends that of other professions. I number among my friends and acquaintances a great many medical men, and to be frank, they are a mixed breed, possessing in varying degrees good and bad qualities, so common to us all. The truth is, of course, that the doctor is just as much concerned with the financial side of his profession as any other professional man. There are noble and ignoble men in every walk of life, and it is unadulterated nonsense to state by implication that the doctor has a higher degree of morality or nobility of character than other men. In the main the doctor enters upon his career for the return it offers, social and financial, not for the good it can confer on his fellow men. Let us discard cant and humbug and face the facts."

It was once remarked by Shri Vinoba Bhave:

"There is no real antagonism between diseases on the one hand and doctors and hospitals on the other; if there were this antagonism, then every increase in the number of doctors and of hospitals must be followed by a decrease of disease among the people; but this is not what happens; an increase of doctors and hospitals is always followed by an increase of disease."

We may add that this increase is a vicious circle. To cope with the increase of disease more and more doctors are turned out and more hospitals are built and this leads to a further increase, which compels another increase of doctors and hospitals; and this process goes on without end. It can end only with the extinction of the human race. Innumerable observers, some of them doctors, have testified to this fact. We may here refer to the contents of the book, Man the Unknown, by Dr Alexis Carrel, who was by no means a hostile critic of medicine.

Not being interested in health, medicos as a rule do not give any Hygienic advice to their patients. Besides, even if some of them wanted to give such advice, they would be handicapped by their ignorance of the subject; medical students until recently were not taught Hygiene, and such Hygiene as they are now taught is defective and grievously wrong in many important particulars; certainly medicos do not know the basic principles and rules of living for health as taught in our Natural Hygiene.

There is a passage in the confessional utterances gone through, mechanically, by Christians in their churches on Sundays, which runs thus: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and there is no health in us."

It might occur to some that the word "health" occurring in this passage means "spiritual health". But a reading of the gospels of that religion rather suggests that the son of God was as much concerned with physical as with spiritual health [thus "wholeness". Editor]; it does not appear that he saw any real line of demarcation between the two, and in this he agrees with our own great sages who have given us our sacred lore. It is said that he healed the sick ["made whole". Editor] and gave every one of them the parting exhortation, "Go thou and sin ["fall short of the mark". Editor] no more." We look upon religion, ethics, and Hygiene as integral parts of one single science, the divine science of living for health and holiness.

The shortcomings of medical practice are all due to the fact that medicine is a system of violence; this shall be made clear as we proceed. The right principle and policy is non-violence, which is the guiding principle of Natural Hygiene. This policy proceeds from right knowledge of the fundamentals of true biology, which will be the subject of a later chapter. Such knowledge does not exist in "medical science" and hence it is quackery.

The blessedness of non-violence can well be seen from the following story, which shows how one of our great pioneers, Dr Edward Hooker Dewey of the US, became converted to this policy. After finishing his medical course he served for some time as an Army Doctor. In the wards he observed that, notwithstanding the great divergence of the methods followed by individual doctors, the results were about the same, and this weakened his faith in the truth of the teaching he had received. When he settled down to practice in a small town, almost his first case was that of an adolescent girl, suffering from an ulcer of the stomach, who could not retain anything that was given, whether food, water, or medicine; whatever was given was vomited after a great deal of suffering; but after this she was relieved. To Dewey it seemed that Mother Nature—the Queen of Creation—was telling him: "Do not interfere with me and my patient!" And he obeyed, understanding that the ordinances of Nature must prevail over all human authority. For 16 days nothing was given. On the 17th day the patient demanded water; it was given and it agreed perfectly. After one or two days she demanded a little of some particular food; this was given and it agreed. Thus little by little, without medical interference, the patient recovered her health within a month, and the recovery was perfect.

About the same time another patient, suffering in the same way in the same town, was treated by an orthodox medico on the policy of violence; the patient suffered terribly all the time, because the routine was adhered to in utter disregard of the patient’s sufferings due to her inability to digest and assimilate what was given. After two months of such cruelty at the hands of the medico, the patient escaped him by death. By comparing these two cases, Dr Dewey came to the conclusion that medicine is not in harmony with the order of Nature. Thereafter he followed the way of non-violence, in which the patient is left free to fast, and is given no "medicine". This was the origin of the Fasting Cure. Dr Dewey also discovered the No-Breakfast Plan. Thus it was that Dewey started the quest of the fundamental truth of Vital Economy which finds a place in this book.

That there is a mysterious power inside the living body which is ever safeguarding life and health and even curing diseases in a radical way by restoring lost health, provided there is no foolish intermeddling, will be seen from these two parallel cases treated by two doctors, following diametrically opposite policies. The same lesson is conveyed by the following case of self-cure of a buffalo-calf, which occurred in Davangere, a village in the northwest corner of the Mysore State. There in the house of a Brahman merchant a buffalo-calf had been ill; the efforts of the local vet only made it worse; the calf seemed to be dying, and so nothing more was done to it.

One morning a younger member of the family, on coming out from his bedroom, saw the dying calf tied to a peg along with the other animals in the cattle shed. To him it seemed that this was needless cruelty, and so he got a servant to untie the calf. Now the calf, being free, got up on its legs with great difficulty and proceeded towards the open space, where the sun was shining. The servant wanted to tie it up again, but the master forbade him, knowing that sunlight was good for the sick. The calf basked in the sun until it had enough, then went into the shed, sipped a little water and fasted. The calf followed this routine for about three days, became quite well, and began to take food. What was needed in this case was simply to fast and non-interference by medicaments. The inmates of the house were astonished to see that the programme followed by the calf was substantially the same as that prescribed by the author for the aged mistress of the house, suffering from medically incurable chronic rheumatism; and they asked one another: "How did this buffalo-calf come to know of ‘Sharma’s treatment’?"

In the West, Hygienists call this Indwelling Power "Nature". But from our sacred lore we learn that Nature, Prakriti, is just the divine power that creates, sustains, destroys, and recreates the universe. She is immanent in all creatures and maintains them in health so long as they do not seriously transgress her laws, which are the laws of God, because she is not separate from God. So it must be understood that this blessed science is a divine science, and that God himself is the indwelling healer in all creatures, and also the teacher of this true science.

Herein is a relevant paragraph from a book, Physiology, by Huxley and Youmans:

"All who have watched the progress of the healing art in recent times will note that among the most enlightened practitioners there has been a steadily diminishing confidence in medication and an increasing reliance on the sanitary influence of Nature. It is notorious that in proportion to people’s ignorance of their own constitution and the true cause of disease is their credulous confidence in pills, potions, and quackish absurdities, and while this ignorance continues there will of course be plenty of doctors who will pander to it. And not the least benefits likely to follow the better diffusion of physiological and sanitary information will be the protection of the community from the numberless impostures of charlatans and a better discrimination of qualifications of competent physicians." (from an issue of the Human Culture Digest, Los Angeles, California.)

From this it will be clear that quackery flourishes on the ignorance of the people. The quack is one who does not know the existence and value of Nature’s healing power.

It may be objected by some readers that it is important to bring in the name of God here. Our reply is that we are not only believers in God, but also believe in the fundamental unity and inseparability of all true knowledge, and it comes naturally to us to trace to God all the blessings that we enjoy in life, and among those blessings the right knowledge by which we live to some good purpose. We freely concede to others the right to accept only what appeals to them as true and to reject all else. That does not prevent us from teaching the science as we understand it. But whoever wishes to follow this system must at least accept the belief that there is, in the living body, a mysterious power not known to science, which Hygienists and even some doctors have agreed to call Nature’s healing power, vis medicatrix naturae. We shall deal with the unity of all true knowledge later. Those that believe in God, whatever religion they may follow, will find no difficulty in accepting the teaching given here, because we shall steer clear of all sectarianism, as far as possible; not only Hindus, but also Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, and others will find that the teaching given here is in harmony with their own religions; down to date no believer has raised any objections to this our teaching.

Medicos can, if they will, come to see that there is an indwelling healing power that can work miracles of healing far exceeding their own skill, because their own books tell them that in some rare cases—always when there is no intermeddling by medication—there occur what are called "spontaneous cures". What prevents such cures occurring much more frequently is medical violence; but this is something that medicos as a class will refuse to acknowledge. Even those medicos that admit the existence of an inner healing power more or less honestly believe that they are helping that power, when in fact they are doing violence to it. Really these spontaneous cures are cures by divine grace, or as they say in the West, by Nature, and hence they would take place in nearly every case if only there is intelligent cooperation with the inner healer, or at least no medical interference.

It will later be shown that medicos are as a rule ignorant of the Hygienic teaching that disease is a healthward process—a vital process—which is the reason for our policy of non-violence. That is why they do not see that their policy of violence is wrong, and is even a sin against God. The consequence is that their patients steadily become less and less healthy as the years pass, and suffer from worse and worse diseases, until they come to a state which even the medicos are compelled to recognise as "incurable", which means, in most cases, only incurable by them. These are the medical failures. Really all medical patients are medical failures all the time, because they never are restored to health by the medical ministrations, and hence are never radically cured. It is only when there is such a complete loss of vitality and ruination of health that the case is recognised as a medical failure; but even then no one—neither doctor nor patient—suspects that it is the doctor’s ignorance that is to blame for the failure. Some of these failures are redeemed by taking to the Hygienic way. But nowadays the medical policy seems to be to go on treating the patient until he dies so that he might not get restored to health by one whom they would call a quack—they themselves being the worst of all quacks. That is to say, if nowadays a medical failure is to be redeemed from his hopeless state, he himself must come to know the truth and dismiss his doctor. There is hope for such hopeless patients only by taking refuge at the feet of God; there is no other hope.