At the AYUSH-NIN naturopathy camp: Warming up with a flash mob dancing (at least that’s what they call it these days); Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha lighting the lamp of Gandhian enlightenment along with AYUSH Union Minister Shripad Yesso Naik and NIN Director Prof (Dr) K Satya Lakshmi

Tara Narayan drops by at the Mega Naturopathy Camp on at the Kala Academy and comes away with lots of food for thought…

AFTER yoga it is the turn of naturopathy. Not that naturopathy originated in India but got a boost in India courtesy ‘Father of the Nation’ Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after he returned to his homeland post-travels abroad. It is time for us to remember a man who was assassinated because he loved everyone Indian and non-Indian and didn’t believe in discriminating between people on the basis of religion, caste, color or economic status.

 The three-day Mega Naturopathy Camp organised by the AYUSH Ministry  in association with the Regional Outreach Bureau Maharashtra in collaboration with the Pune-based National Institute for Naturopathy at the Darya Sangam grounds of the Kala Academy from September 30 to October 2, 2019, was the first of 150 such camps planned for the people to re-discover something Gandhiji advocated with rare passion — naturopathy as the alternate system of healing. Even he thought we should move on from mainstream allopathy to naturopathy and presumably it is going to happen in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new India!

Never mind that the story of healthcare over the millenniums can be traced from traditional naturopathy systems to allopathy which has ruled the roost for the last so many hundred years increasingly…most mainstream doctors today forget that Father of Modern Medicine Hippocrates of Greece civilization did have such bottom lines advice as “Let food be thy medicine, medicine thy food” and “First, do no harm,” etcetera.

It would be poetic justice if as a civilization we do move  from allopathy back to naturopathy (with some fine differences). Naturopathy’s philosophies originated in Germany and Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries when the doctors of that time learned from traditional wisdom and understood the valuable role of the body in self-healing with the help of such therapies as hydrotherapy, herbal medicines, better quality of water, food, air to breathe, sunshine to bask in, peace of mind in sleep and so on. Even then I imagine stress must have ruled the gamut of ailments and diseases which plagued people well to do and not well to do.

While the Father of Naturopathy is Benedict Lust, reportedly the word “naturopathy” was coined by John Scheel in 1895 who is considered the Father of US Naturopathy. Most of the famous sanitoriums which came up for the wealthy in Europe offered healing along naturopathic principles, predominantly dependent on the availability of fresh air, water, nutritious food…preferably a bountiful sleep after watching a glorious sunset over snow-capped Alpine mountains! Sanitoriums of old have been replaced by the wellness retreats of our times which too more or less cater to a wealthy clientele seeking better parameters of health.

Mahatma Gandhi did much for the cause of aam aadmi naturopathy-based ashrams (or traditional retreats where aam aadmi could retire for a while seeking better health according to naturopathy’s principles and ethics and spiritual blessings). Most of the Gandhian ashrams I dare say have either been taken over and run by the  government’s AYUSH Ministry today. Or metamorphosed into private retreats offering healing at a price which may or may not be in the aam aadmi bracket. Needless to say in India it is Ayurveda which rules with its 5,000 old origins, much of Ayurveda has shades of naturopathy enshrined within its tenets of health and primary philosophies. This makes naturopathy and Ayurveda a perfect combo to promote back to live in India if Union Minister for AYUSH Shripad Naik can swing it with the vast sums of the public exchequer at his disposal. And wishfully not so much of genuine concern for khaas aadmi (which is only too ready to climb onto any public bandwagon of profit) but for aam aadmi where the real big problems of loss of health, vitality and despair are. We may remember that much of this country still struggles to stay alive below poverty level despite Narendra Modi’s programs to leap into the First World status quo of progress and development. 

It is a matter of joy that AYUSH is reviving naturopathy as an old time and tested health cure module with its scheduled mega camps the country over to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha who inaugurated the Mega Naturopath Camp in Panaji on September 30, 2019, spoke warmly to the 500 odd audience made up mostly of naturopathy students, teachers from the country over, and local visitors , spoke warmly of how she had imbibed some of the lessons of “Rashtrapita”  Mahatma Gandhi while a young teacher in Bihar. She is all for the present movement of “Jano Gandhi, Mano Gandhi” with such  naturopathy camps. 

She recalled Gandhiji visiting their village and at a shibir a mother brought up her child to him with the complaint that he was eating too many sweets to ruin his teeth! Gandhiji advised her to return after ten days. When mother returned with child Gandhiji gently spoke to him about the why sweets were bad to eat too much of. When the mother exclaimed, “Well you could have said that the first day I brought him to you! Gandhji replied, `Well, the story is I love my sweets too. How could I tell the boy not to eat sweets then? But for the last ten days I’ve stayed away from sweets and so today I can tell him how bad they are for him and all of us!’” Moral of the story: Gandhiji liked to set an example and live up to whatever advice he gave others.

Governor Mridula recounted how at her sasural she found garelu medicine was practiced along naturopathy lines, beginning with her father-in-law who was a Gandhivadi. She also observed that one of the reasons why so many visitors appreciate Goa is because of its natural green beauty and they like the air, water, “Goa is close to nature.” She is all for restoring respect to traditional medicines like “haldi dudh” and urged the  younger generation to study Gandhi’s life story for “there is a Gandhi in us, thodi si hai!” Gandhiji was not only for inner moral and ethical cleanliness but also outer cleanliness of body and environment.

Needless to say the governor who speaks eloquent Hindi always has a fund of lively stories to recount to make a point. Others who spoke included AYUSH Union Minister Shripad Naik, who too speaking in more formal Hindi said his ministry is working overtime to bring the benefits of the alternate medicine systems to the people. When the matter of celebrating Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary came up it was decided to focus on something little known or forgotten — Gandhiji’s passion for naturopathy’s healing therapies.

The minister said the Mega Naturopathy Camp in Goa was organised in short time. At first it was to take place in Pune at the National Institute of Naturopathy, but that was not feasible. So he offered Goa as the ideal state for the first camp. After all Goa despite its high income indices copes with so many lifestyle diseases may be better treated the naturopathy way. He too dwelt on the menace of plastics for which the whole world is guilty, “Modiji’s aim is dharti ki raksha karna hai and towards this end we must do everything. We must walk the Mahatma Gandhi’s way if we want to live in harmony! Naturopathy is the best way of living.” 

Others who spoke on the occasion of the naturopathy camp included Prof (Dr) Satya Lakshmi (director, National Institute of Naturopathy), Pramod Kumar Pathak (Additional Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH) and  Esmeralda Diaz of PIB. This is not the first naturopathy camp being held in Goa, but this time there are more Goan participants at the naturopathy fair taking place alongside with the talks and exhibitions. Medicinal plants, health-friendly snacks, herbal supplements, wild honey, local vegetables and fruit…lots of cloth bags, and much more to see and buy for visitors, last day Wednesday, Oct 3, 2019. Come to think of it’s not a bad idea at all to join the mass movement back to naturopathy and Ayurveda to backtrack into the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi!  

At the mega naturopathy camp…

Exhibition and stalls of natural and environment-friendly things to invest in for a sustainable lifestyle

Accompanying the naturopathy mela… Earth Keepers’ Zita with lots of organic and natural products, also local greens, vegetables and fruit, and that is Darryl D’Souza (founder of Earth Keepers Goa) with German vegan friend Ayaa and her inviting snacks like dehydrated pizza chips!
Herambi Chandra with a wonderful Marabu Rootz collection of dry herbal and spice tea, coffee and soup mixes
Pragati self-help group women Namita, Deepali and Shubadra, distributing ladoos of ukde tandool (Goan red rice) and naachni (raagi) absolutely free of charge!
Taila pure turmeric oil and very desirable premium soaps hand blended and crafted by Raviraj S of Bangalore… soaps from `150 to `400!
Medicinal plant exhibits
clockwise from left) The Sankalpa range of herbal and health products; shopping for seeds can be exciting…. always difficult to find a vegetable or fruit plant going extinct because nobody is planting or farming it any more; how easy it is to cook naturopathy style — Dr Shubhangi and Dr Praveen of NIN (Pune) conduct a cookery class session for the audience; Dr Anura Kandaswamy from Kuala Lumpur introduced visitors to the intricacies of water chemistry and electro-magnetic radiation affecting us vis-à-vis water, pay attention to the kind of water you drink… hey, did you know water has memory?

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