Hygiene & Physical Exercise
The importance of hygiene was taught to me right from my childhood. Not only that it was hammered into the minds of other children like me that unhygienic and filthy things needed to be got rid of and condemned. Dirty clothes, dirty utensils, dirty bedding, dirty hair, dirty nails and dirty teeth always brought punishment for us. Thus I grew in an atmosphere in which strict rules of hygiene were observed. For years I had taken training in hygiene, which were both, inside and outside. I had known the benefits of both. Hence, how could I ignore it even during my life of solitude in the Himalayas? I do not accept the view that the life of an ascetic nurtures filthiness and neglects cleanliness. It is actually the temple of purity. How can an ascetic be a worshipper of impurity?
An expert teacher came everyday to give us training in physical exercise. We had to do physical exercise on all days except Sundays. In the beginning, I was not at all interested in it. The change came after fourteen years. I came to know about an incident in the life of Tilak Maharaj. It said that at first Tilak Maharaj had a very weak body. Then one day he felt disturbed by that fact. Hence, he resolved to become healthy, strong and sturdy. With a mad frenzy, he started doing the ‘dand-bethak’ (sit-ups) exercise. It brought beautiful results. His whole physical constitution changed. Reading about that incident had a very good effect on my mind. Around that time, I came across Maharshi Dayanand's biography 'Zandadhari' in which the incidents about his physical strength had been described in great detail. I also had a chance to read about the life of his great disciple Swami Shraddhanand. I was convinced that it was not right to neglect the body. If one wished to make life great and serve himself and others, it was necessary to keep body strong and healthy. Even for reaping the benefits of a happy life, it is necessary to have a lovely and strong body. Physical health is absolutely essential even for the pursuit of religion and spiritual attainment. The body is the foundation. How could one hope to build the high edifice of spiritual development by showing disrespect to the body?
These thoughts generated in me love for physical exercise. I had a very weak physique. After reading some literature on Yoga and about the lives of some ‘yogis’, I felt the need for physical training in the beginning. Hence, I resorted to the training. I started doing ‘Dand-Bethak’, ‘Suryanamaskar’ and ‘Shirsasana’ with great enthusiasm. My indifference to physical exercise was gone for good. My love for physical exercise continued to grow. It had a beneficial effect both on my body and mind. The body and the mind are mutually related. Hence, the one necessarily affects the other. My physical constitution changed because of physical exercise. Today I possess a good body. It cooperates with me in my work. Hence I recommend to every man and woman to develop love for physical exercise and practice it and take pains to make the body beautiful and strong.