It is necessary to understand the meaning of the
word health, before entering upon a description of the human body. To
be in health, means to have the body in ease. He is a healthy man whose
body is free from all disease; he carries on his normal activities without
Such a man should be able with ease to walk ten to twelve
miles a day, and perform ordinary physical labour without getting tired.
He can digest ordinary simple food. His mind and his senses are in a state
of harmony and poise. This definition does not include prize fighters
and such like. A man with extraordinary physical strength is not necessarily
healthy. He has merely developed his musculature, possible at the expense
of something else.
It is necessary to have enough knowledge of the human body which is expected
to attain the above standard of health.
God alone knows what kind of education was prevalent in ancient times.
Research workers on the subject may be able to tell us something, but
only something, about it. But all of us have some experience of modern
education in this country. It has no relation with out everyday life.
thus, it leaves us almost utterly ignorant about our own body. Our knowledge
of our own village and our fields shares a similar fate. We are taught
on the other hand, much about things that have no bearing on our daily
life. I do not mean to say that such knowledge is of no use. But everything
has its own place. We must first know enough of our own body, our own
house, our village and its surroundings, the crops that grow there and
its history before going on to anything else. General knowledge broad-based
on this primary knowledge, alone can enrich life.
The human body is composed of what the ancient philosophers have described
as the five elements. These are earth, water, vacancy, light and air.
All human activity is carried on by means of the mind aided by the ten
senses. These are the five senses of action, i.e., hands, feet, mouth,
anus and genitlals, and the five senses of perception, i.e. the sense
of touch through the tongue, of seeing through the eyes and of hearing
through the ears. Thinking is the function of the mind and some people
have called it the eleventh sense. In health all the senses and the mind
act in perfect co-ordination.
The inner working of the human machine is wonderful. The human body is
the universe in miniature. That which cannot be found in the body is not
to be found in the universe. Hence the philosopher?s formula, that
the universe within reflects the universe without. It follows therefore
that if our knowledge of our own body could be perfect we would know the
universe. But even the very best of doctors and hakims and vaids have
not been able to acquire it. It will be presumptuous for a layman to aspire
to it. No one has yet discovered an instrument which can give us any information
about the human mind. Scientists have given attractive descriptions of
the activities going on within and without the body, but no one can say
what sets the wheel going. Who can explain the why and wherefore of death
or foretell its time? In short, after infinite reading and writing, after
infinite experience, man has come to know how little he knows.
A happy working of the human machine depends upon the harmonious activity
of the various component parts. If all these work in an orderly manner,
the machine runs smoothly. If even one of the essential parts is out or
order, it comes to a stop. For instance, if the digestion is out of order,
the whole body becomes slack. Therefore, he who takes indigestion and
constipation lightly does not know the a-b-c of the rules of health. These
two are the root cause of innumerable ailments.
The body has been described as a mine of dirt. Looked at in its proper
perspective, there is no exaggeration in this statement. If the body was
nothing else but this, there could be no point in taking such pains to
look after it. But if this so-called mine of dirt can be put to its proper
use, it becomes our first duty to cleanse it and keep it in a fit condition.
The mines of precious stones and gold also have the look of ordinary earth
on the surface. The knowledge that there are gold and precious stones
underneath induces men to spend millions and engage scientific brains
in order to get at what lies in those mines. Similarly, we cannot take
too much pains over keeping in a fit condition the temple of the spirit
- the human body.
Man came into the world in order to pay off the debt
owed by him to it, that is to say, in order to serve God and (or through)
His creation. Keeping this point of view in front of him, man acts as
a guardian of his body. It becomes his duty to take such care of his body
as to enable it to practise the ideal of service to the best of its ability.