By Anuradha Vashisht
Acharya S. Swaminathan fights a lonesome, yet determined, battle to establish the true principles of Nature and the science of natural health against remedy-mindedness and disease appeasement methods.
Way back in early 1950s, when Acharya Seshadri Swaminathan was asked to compulsorily contribute to the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) as an employee in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, he was stupefied.
To the foremost disciple of world-renowned Father of Nature Cure in India, Acharya K. Lakshmana Sarma, the suggestion seemed nothing less than outrageous. At that time, about 700 to 800 central government employees, who were followers of Mahatma Gandhi, and who had learnt the science of natural hygiene from Swaminathan, sent representations to the Ministry of Health, requesting to be exempted from making this compulsory monthly payment. Their reason was that since they totally believed in nature cure and the medical facilities provided in the scheme were of absolutely no value to them, they would never utilise the scheme.
Without going into the merits of the case, and in its usual arrogance and bias, the Ministry of Health sent a circular to all ministries that no such request might be entertained. Following this, a senior official of the Labour and Employment Ministry called Swaminathan and said: ‘Your request has been turned down. Now you would have to pay through your nose.’
To this, Swaminathan replied: ‘Sir, as a conscientious objector, my request should, in all fairness, ought to be accepted. However, since it has been rejected, to satisfy my conscience, I shall have to do severe prayaschitta (penance). For every rupee that I am forced to contribute towards the scheme, I shall educate at least a hundred persons from among the public to take to Nature to maintain their health, and avoid all types of medication.’
This vow of his was over and above the promise he had already made to his guru, Swami Pranava Brahmendra Anand Saraswati, of committing his entire life to taking the message of positive health to the common people, at the cost of his own spiritual pursuits and evolution.
‘I wanted to take sanyas, but my Guru, Swami Brahmendra, who initiated me into yoga and philosophy, said that in this lifetime it is not my prarabhda (destiny). It was his aadesh (command) that I study deeply the science of natural hygiene from Acharya Sarma and then educate the people.’ However, he did seek permission from his Guru to remain a celibate.
For those who have known Swaminathan closely (there are some who are his followers for over five decades) the spirit and the essence behind the vow taken by him is no less than that taken by Bheesham Pitamah, the grand patriarch of the Mahabharata.
For 55 years, and at age four-score and more, he has single-mindedly kept the promise he made to himself and to his guru. From early 1950s onwards, he has stuck to his schedule of the morning lectures in some park or the other in the city of Delhi. Only the mode of transportation has changed. When age permitted, he rode his bicycle to the early morning lectures. Today, at age 83 plus, the organisers of his lectures arrange for a cab.
Come rain or hailstorm, as long as the lectures are announced, every morning 6 o`clock for the next three weeks, very diligently, he delivers a series of 21 lectures. Every three weeks, the venue changes, the group of people change; but some people from the previous group stick to him.
Coming from an ordinary background, his strength of character has made him an extraordinary person. His staunch idealism, his radical and original thought process, and his pulsating faith in the philosophy by which he has lived throughout his life is what makes him stand out.
Any attempt to adorn him with awards or honours has come to naught. He refuses to be swayed by appreciations, gratitude, and thankfulness. As he selflessly sticks to his commitment, and moves on towards the ‘completion of his destiny’ in this lifetime, he refuses to gather an iota of the karmic dust on his soul garment.
If he were to host a website and document the number of people he has helped move away from chronic and deadly diseases; if he were to list all those who he helped say goodbye to disease forever and move back towards positive health, it would put all existing websites on the subject to shame.
But he would do none of this, because that is not his aim. His mission is to bring home to every individual the point that each can be his or her own doctor, that one need not ever-today or in future-be dependent on drugs, medications, doctors and hospitals.
Speaking of his guru Acharya Sarma, Swaminathan says that he was the only person who interpreted life`s day-to-day problems with a spiritual approach. He dealt with physical and mental problems with a spiritual angle.
The fact that Acharya Sarma`s magnum opus, Practical Nature Cure (the essence of his lifelong study into the science of natural health), appears actually a misnomer is brought about quite succinctly by Acharya Swaminathan: ‘It is nature `care` and not nature `cure`.’ And this is what makes Acharya Swaminathan stand miles ahead of those who practise nature cure.
He is wary of using the word cure, which connotes some external application to effect treatment of a disease. What he preaches is the science of natural hygiene, and by helping others to practise the laws of nature, he has helped countless to get rid of problems as wide-ranging as arthritis and dyspepsia to cancer and tumours. The science he believes in propagates no symptomatic cure.
In fact that is a major reason-besides the fact that he is against any commercialisation of this ancient wisdom-that he evokes extreme reactions in people who have come in contact with him for whatever reason. He is either revered to a point of extreme devotion or his extreme idealism is hugely misunderstood.
Baldev Verma, a follower and disciple of Swaminathan for the last 48 years, is all reverence as he talks about his guru: ‘He is an acharya. While a shikshak (teacher) educates but does not follow what he teaches, an acharya teaches and also follows what he teaches. It is rare to find a man so integrated, so complete in the modern world.’ Today, Verma helps Acharya Swaminathan in providing help and guidance to those who come to seek it.
Verma relates that many years ago, the acharya conducted a five-year advanced course, which taught the seeker the complete theory and the application of natural hygiene and cure. To Swaminathan`s dismay, most of his students, immediately after the course finished, opened `business` clinics to cure the ailing people. Never again, in his life, did he take up another advanced study group. What irks him is the concept of selling health. As he rightly believes, what is a way of life can only be lived, or taught; it cannot be packaged and marketed. So anyone who is doing so is not helping the individual to move towards complete health.
Shashi Verma, along with husband V.K. Verma, has been following the laws of nature as taught by Swaminathan for the last about eight years. They never had to use any medication all these years. Today, she is a staunch propagator of this health-enhancing system. Two years ago, she felt the need to go deeper into the subject and took on further study under the Acharya`s guidance. ‘I have dived deep into this ocean called Swamiji, and come out with pure pearls,’ says Shashi with great feeling.
Swaminathan is deeply concerned that each individual should be able to take care of his or her own health, without any dependence on anything but nature and his own commonsense. ‘As Acharya Sarma would often say: `Commonsense applied to an uncommon extent is wisdom,`’ says Swaminathan with a twinkle in his eye. ‘I want every individual to wisely apply the laws of nature to his own self to always retain his optimum level of health. The science of nature `care` is applied physiology, applied psychology, applied nutrition and applied ethics. Here, every individual should also practise virtue at every level, since every virtue has nutritive value for the human body, mind and soul. Thus, it is important for holistic health that one should also practise the virtues of serenity, regularity, sincerity, simplicity, charity, magnanimity and nobility.’
‘A lot of people these days talk of holistic health remedies for curing people…,’ I mumble meekly, by now in total awe of his serenity and his spirit of child-like purity.
‘I am not a believer of khichri-pathy,’ says the Acharya in good humour. Next moment he is sombre: ‘The Laws of Nature are eternal, immutable, inviolable. No one can ever escape or circumvent them. Does anyone truly understand the meaning of holistic? Holistic is not using various methodologies of cure simultaneously to give relief to the patient. Holistic is a total approach. It is a way of life. Man is a triple unity of body-mind-spirit. We cannot maintain health unless we care for all three as nature intended us to.’
Explaining the laws of nature, he sums up: ‘Hygiene is the science of health that is based on the principles of cleanliness, which means that we also need to keep our insides clean. But how can one maintain internal cleanliness when we eat such unhygienic stuff like refined, processed, packaged and tinned foods, which can give you nothing but disease. The problem is that the modern man eats too much, breathes too little and eliminates incompletely.’
‘The fact is that no one is looking for health; everyone is looking for ways to fight disease. You have to see things in their proper perspective. If you light the lamp, darkness would go. So if you increase your health levels, there would be no disease,’ he stresses. And adds: ‘But beware. Natural hygiene is not another alternative to medicine; actually there is no alternative to it. It is a way of life.’
His wit is at its best as quotable quotes keep flowing: ‘From politicians to saints and sanyasins, everyone is besotted with remedy-mindedness.’ ‘People these days have no time to live; they are busy with their livelihoods.’
As I take leave of him, I feel there is something very touching about his dedication and commitment to the cause he has taken up. But the next instant it dawns upon me that he is truly detached from his karma, is seeking no results, and is only accepting and fulfilling his prarabdha, and gracefully so. And yet, as I look into his eyes I see only deep compassion reflected in them. Involuntarily, my hands extend to his feet.
o People these days have no time to live; they are busy with their livelihood
o Natural hygiene is not another alternative to medicine; actually there is no alternative to natural hygiene
o The science of nature `care` is applied physiology, applied psychology, applied nutrition and applied ethics
His mission is to bring home to every individual the point that each can be his or her own doctor, that one need not ever-today or in future-be dependent on drugs, medications, doctors and hospitals.
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