Gandhi and Science*****The Gandhian Perspective onHealthPankaj S. JoshiMumbai
Plan for the TalkI. Was Gandhi Scientific Minded?II. Gandhian Approach to Health1. Love and Care2. Back to Nature3. Scientific Analysis andResearch All the TimeIII. Concluding Remarks and suggestions
Was GandhiScientific Minded and Logical?This is a Question frequently Askedand Hotly Debated
The Nature of ScienceWhat is Science?In its essence, it is the Search for Truth; thefundamental laws that govern the UniverseIn that sense, Gandhis method had itsscientific basis.
Aldous Huxley was among the first tobrand Gandhi and his movements `anti-science:“Tolstoyans and Gandhiites tell us to `return tonature, in other words, abandon sciencealtogether and live like primitives....the troublewith this advise is it cannot be followed...science and technology allowed humanpopulation to double...but they advocateslaughter...compared to which Timur and ChangizKhan would look trivial...”
Nehru responded to Huxley: “It [Gandhis] maynot be a correct attitude; its logic may be faulty...”This was followed up by Indian Science policymakers and scientists such as Meghnad Saha,who told Russians that he and his brotherscientists had “as little regard” for Gandhiseconomic and social theories as youthe Russians have for Tolstoy...All in all, Gandhi was branded as entirelyretrograde
They made clear divisions: He was some onewho could mobilize masses, and therefore usefulin that way, but he was a `religious man andnot a `science man, and to that extentirrelevant in the modern age, with retrogradeviewsEven today, these views are shared by alarge section of Indian intelligentsia,even when they readily acknowledge Gandhisability to mobilize people for freedom movement
This is to such an extent thatScience policy writings in India, creating theVision of a Future Indiathus make no mention of GandhiThere is in a way a `Missing Gandhi in theScience and Intellectual policies of India, andat the same time there is a missing `Sciencein the Gandhian studies.This is not good for a healthy intellectual andcultural growth of the Nation!!
The sewing machine, Mahatma Gandhi declared, ``was one of the few useful things ever invented.Was Gandhi always againstMachineryandIndustrialization?
Machines are merely toolsandNot our Masters...This image of his being anti-science datesback from the early days of his bookHIND-SWARAJwhich just completed 100 years in 2009Probably he just told it too stronglyand it appeared to many that he was plainlyanti-Science
Gandhi did not condemn the scientifictemper of west, but he objected to the use ofscientific discoveries against humanity.It is not realized often that he was asevere critic of Modern Civilizationbut not of Science or ScientificMethod
Gandhis Approach to HealthLove and CareBack to NatureScientific Analysis
Love and Care was his PrimaryMantra – Always and Ever** There are several instances of his attending tothe Seek & Ailing giving that work the TopmostPriority over All Others VIP engagements...** The Sabarmati ashram Instance... TreatmentsIn South Africa and India...** Services to the Plague affected populations...He in fact said, “Tending to the Ailing and Seek hasbeen Very Near and Dear to My Heart...
As he explained clearly: “...my life consists ofnothing else but numerous experiments withtruth... If I can narrate them in a dispassionateand humble spirit...Far be it from me to claim anydegree of perfectness“I claim for them nothing more than does ascientist who, though he conducts hisexperiments with utmost accuracy, forethoughtand minuteness, never claims any finality onconclusions, but keeps an open mind...“I have gone through deep self-introspection,searched myself through and through, andexamined and analysed every situation.”
If you study his Thoughts, Actions andWritings, you find that he analysed andinvestigated his own life in same microscopicmanner, going to the minutest detailsThe same applied to His Work in theField of HealthIntrospection and going into theFinest and Minutest Details washis key strength
“Geometry was a new subject in which, I was notparticularly strong...and the English mediummade it still more difficult for me.When, however, with much effort I reachedthirteenth proposition of Euclid, the uttersimplicity of the subject was suddenly revealedto me. A subject which only requires a pure andsimple use of ones reasoning power could not bedifficult. Ever since... geometry has beenboth easy and interesting for me.”His was clearly an extremelyLogical Mind...no question onthat
With the same precision HeThought, Worked and Experimentedon Health all his life* He spent a very considerable time and effortthinking on health Issues—from Early Youth toSouth Africa and in India* He in fact complained that our leaders do notPay enough attention to their Health... Gokhale...* He constantly experimented on Health, Food,And was Extremely keen on Public Hygiene andTotally Meticulous on Cleanliness
He was in contact with best of theScientific authorities of his daySir J. C. Bose came and met him (Mum.1924)Previously (1917), he went to Calcutta to attend“opening of Boses research Institute”, and said,“It was spiritual affair rather than a public show.”“Thanks to the marvellous researches of ...Bose...his discoveries are revolutionizing theaccepted...”Sir C V Raman and Lady Raman come anddiscuss with him (1936)Important scientists such as J. C. Bose, C. V.Raman and P. C. Ray were put as Membersof the Khadi Development Board
Post-graduate ResearchGandhi Seva Sangh (1935) was meant forpost-graduate study and thinking and research.Gandhi suggested that other institutions, mainlybusy with `Action would not have timeto do this. Gandhi Seva Sangh must study,understand and investigate the key principlesand basics on `khadi, `charkha, `EkadashaVrata and such other basics.It is obvious that Gandhi laid enormousemphasis on Study, Thinking & Researchand analysing the Fundamentals
P. C. Ray and GandhiWhen Gandhi established and created a University,the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, in 1920,He invited Dr Prafullchandra Ray, the well-knownchemist, to come and inaugurate the sameANY POLITICIAN OR FAMOUS STATESMANWOULD HAVE OBLIGED HIM, BUT IT ISINTERESTING THAT HE THOUGHT OF ASCIENTISTDr P. C. Ray came over and did the Inaugural...
Was Gandhiaware ofThe Amazing UniverseThe Profound Puzzles that it brings&Future DirectionsandNew Perspectives Emerging
The UniverseThe visible Universe is made of Stars andGalaxiesEach Galaxy contains 400 to 500 Billion StarsUniverse has Billions of such GalaxiesUniverse is ExpandingNOW, WE FIND THAT THE UNIVERSEACCELERATES!
Gandhi & the Universe“...this Universe which is millions of times vasterthan the earth...”“..and what are we in this mighty Universe? Weare less than...And what about the magnificentcanopy of heaven...”“if...heavenly bodies do not work like machines,the Universe would come to a standstill...”“..like atom in this Universe..our existence asembodied beings is purely momentary...”“..An all pervading, conscious Power fills ourUniverse which we call God...”“...If we carefully observe and examine theUniverse, we shall see that...”
“...As in the body so in universe. The body everdies, yet lives. Similarly the Cosmos asexpressed in the creation ever dies yet remainsalive..”“...that talent which can see the Universe in anatom...”“..there is an orderliness in the Universe, there isan unalterable law...over the will of everyman...so that none of us can wrong theUniverse...”“..would befall the universe if the sun becamecapricious and went in for a variety of pastimes..there is a monotony that sustains...”“..A man of world can as little comprehend theUniverse as a fish living in the ocean can fathomits depths...”
The Universe“There is an orderliness in the Universe,there is an unalterable law governingevery thing and every being that exists orlives. It is no blind law; for no blind lawcan govern the conduct of living beings.”HE APPEARS TO BE AWARE OF THEVASTNESS AND INFINITE NATURE OF THEUNIVERSEOf course, as is well-known, Kakasaheb haswritten wonderful articles on Nature, Aakash-darshan, Stars, sky-watching, astronomy
WOULD GANDHI BE INTERESTED INTELESCOPE? YES !!WELL, HE USED TELEPHONEProbably he would also be interested in theSpace Telescope TODAY,because just as he analysed hisown life in Microscopic detail, in the sameway, he had a Telescopic vision and alwayswanted and tried to see things faraway.HIS COMMENTS ON MODERN CIVILIZATIONEXACTLY SHOW THAT
The Amazing UniverseHe was always interested in knowing about NewDiscoveries and Developments in ScienceHe was aware that we needNew Eyes to See the UniverseHe also looked aware on the Deep relation ofHuman Mind and the UniverseHe did not say why bother about Universe-Do We not have enough problems on Earth?-
“I KNOW NOTHING OF THE SCIENCE OFASTROLOGY AND I CONSIDER ITTO BE A SCIENCE, IF IT IS A SCIENCE, OFDOUBTFUL VALUE, TO BESEVERELY LEFT ALONE BY THOSEWHO HAVE ANY FAITH INPROVIDENCE.”AT THE SAME TIME,Totally Against Blind Faith
Criticized strongly the Lack of Researchin AyurvedaHis dialogue with Vaidyas continued fora while and he strongly emphasized that we mustnot just have Blind Faith in all that is “Old”and all that is “Traditional”He emphasized the need forResearch and Investigationsagain and again,Be it Khadi, Ayurveda or anyany other discipline
International Connections withScientists and PhilosophersMadam Curies daughter, Eve Curie meetsGandhi (1942), Gandhi reads the Madam Curiebook, and has the following to say: “Vah to Sacchitapaswini thi. Muze hota hai, Paris jake uska ghardekh aau. Hamare kisi vigyani ne aisa dukh nahibhoga...Hamane to Angrezo ki maherbani seAngrezo ke dhang se kam karana hi sikha.Shodh vibhag aadi ke Safed Hathi khade kar liye.Itana paisa kharch hota hai. Itani badiprayogshala e Tata ne, sarkar ne khadi ki, parkam vaha par kitana hota hai?”(From Sushila Nayar, `Karavas ki Kahani)
His affection to Scientists andthe Scientific MethodSushila Nayar says: “Madam Curie ki kitab seto bas Bapu chipak gaye hain. Is kitab ki lekhika,unki ladaki Eve Curie Bapu se milane Delhi mainaayi thi. Bole, us ladki se muze aachhi jan-pahechan karani thi...syam ko muz se bole,Tuze is kitab ka Hindi main sunder anuvadkarana hoga...”
Gandhi-Einstein CorrespondenceThe two greats never met, but have had anexchange of letters where they deeplyappreciated each-others workEinstein writes to Gandhi in 1931, when hewas in UK, “...your work shows to the worldthat goal can be achieved without violence...I hope to meet you in future..”Gandhi replies to him in Berlin, “...its a matterof great satisfaction that you found my workuseful...look forward to meet you, that too inIndia, in my Ashram..”THE GREAT RESPECT TO EACH OTHERIS OBVIOUS
From his statements on the Universe, hiscomments on the Scientific Method, hisContacts and Conversations withImportant Scientists of his time, it appearsthatHe was aware of this Global PerspectiveHe did not want to see cosmos in a fragmentedway&Was aware of our place in this vast UniverseandOur great Ignorance on Universe and itsBasic Laws
Similarly, Gandhi believed in such aHolisticand Global approach to HumanHealth and Well-beingHe was not a Single-track person,Health and Health Care was such aGlobal issue for him, connectedclosely with Human Well-being...
What would Gandhi say on TodaysHealth-care Systems?** Well, perhaps He would have said: “Place theHumanity First and Money the Last !!”** He would have said: “Go back to Nature—Intervene Only when Inevitable...”** He would have said: “In Sickness, Allow theBody to Heal itself, Do not Go on Putting inUnnecessary Drugs...”** HE WOULD HAVE PAID UTMOSTATTENTION TO RESEARCH ANDINNOVATION** Narayan Hridayalaya – Shri Gunavant Shah
His Emphasis on Nature Cure* The Human Body is derived from the ElementsOf Nature – Earth-Water-Air-Light-Space- Gandhisaid We must use these as much as possible toHeal the Body* Then Only, if Needed, One could go to MedicalTreatment – But Not Otherwise- According tohim, majority of ailments could be healedthroughNature Cure*Only 15-20% would need Medical Intervention orMedical Surgery- and He was Open to that...
But even in Life and Death situations,Morality was Supreme for Him* Extending Life by Hook or Crook was not everything for him... In fact, He thought Death is aFriend, and not an Enemy!* He was willing to Die for the sake of Principles,As is well-known...** THE CRUCIAL POINT IS, HE HAD FULLFAITH IN NATURE AND HE WAS ENTIRELYFOR FEARLESSNESS* His remarkable Letter to Kasturba from Jail... “Iwill be very Happy if You die This Way...” Onreading this you will surely say, “VandeMataram...Bande me hai Dam!!”
Surveys tell - Gandhians Live Longand Healthy Lives... Free fromDisease and Medicines* Basically, He believed that Disease is an UnnaturalCondition, brought about by Our Own UnhealthyWays of Living and Behavior...* If you follow Correct Set of Principles and theCorrect Ways of Life, by and large, you will live adisease-free and Healthy Life...* Fearlessness and Internal Freedom offers you Bestof the Health – Both of Body & Mind...
Of course, He was against the Cultureof lots of Hospitals and Doctors,making it all into a Big-Business !!* More and more of Hospitals and more and moreDoctors (and Lawyers) meant Decay of the Society toHim...* He believed We should not need so many of them!Because...True Health emerges from Healthy Habits, HealthyLiving, Healthy Environment, and a HealthyApproach to Life – and Not from Very ManyDoctors and Hospitals...
Environmental concerns featured alwaysvery strongly in his work and writings, eventhough he never used this word explicitly.Today, he would have criticised the ModernCulture of Polluting Machines even muchmore strongly!!He would then have launched a MajorEnvironment Protection Movement of anabsolutely International Magnitude, using allcurrently available Modern CommunicationTools!!HE WOULD HAVE PERHAPS LOVED THE ITAND NANO REVOLUTIONS, CALLING THEM`NON-VIOLENT SCIENCE COMPARED TOROCKETS AND NUCLEAR, AND WOULDMAKE THEIR FULL USE!!
IN LIGHT OF ALL THISDISCUSSION... HERE IS ASUGGESTION** Can we not call all these Hospitals differently,As Health Care Centers, or still better, asHEALTH CENTERS only ??** “Jaslok Health Center”, or “Kokilaben AmbaniHealth Center” looks much better to me!! TheWord `Hospital does NOT have a very PositiveMeaning in the Society or to a Common Man...** Let us not treat Patients as Objects for Money-Making- They should be given Love and TaughtHealthy Life Style...
Gandhian Science&Gandhian CosmologyA deeper Dialogueand Thinking on theGandhis Way of Looking at the UniverseThis Is the right time and ripe time to do it inanInternational and Global Way!!LET US DO IT...
Man & the UniverseThere is the SmallestWorld of Atoms fromour Scale -and thereis the Vast Universearound us..What is our Place inthe Universe?