My Personal Fasting Experience
My mother observed a one-day fast about ten times a year. Later my sisters did the same. I noticed that women in most of our related families fasted similarly. Very few men ever fasted. To me the idea sounded good, so following my mother’s example I fasted occasionally. I was not conscious of its health benefits.
However, I heard that cows and buffalos stopped eating when they were ill and they started eating as soon as they got well with or without home treatment. Nine times out of ten they recovered. Only old animals with severe illness died. Later in America, where many people keep dogs, I heard that dogs also fast when they are sick. There was an obvious connection between health and fasting. But I must admit I didn’t see it at that time, nor did I suspect that this might be true for all living animals and plants.
After college I worked for about a year at Wardha and 4 years at Rasulia. At both these places I got a chance to know and work with many outstanding men and women. One thing out of many that I learned from them was to avoid taking medicines. To stay healthy I must regularly use and exercise all parts of my body, eat right food in moderate quantity, and make my immune system strong. Most of my life I have followed this advice and have not eaten pills except when it was absolutely essential.
About 20 years ago, in 1990, I visited Ateeta Ashram. My stomach was upset and it had been sick for a whole month. I consulted Swami Sahajananda. He asked me to fast for three days. I agreed. On the third day he brought some cooked ridge gourd for me to eat. But after hearing what was going on inside me he said I should not eat and stretch my fast for 2 more days. Again on the 5th day he advised continuing fasting for 3 more days. So I broke the fast after full 8 days. Silently, he made me a friend and a convert to the idea of fasting for healing. He shared his knowledge with me and gave me a good book to read.
Two days later I noticed I was passing two kinds of excreta with a 15 minute gap: first the regular stool and then old, hard, reddish, and sticky stuff. I showed them to Sahajananda. After looking closely he stood up, smiled and shook my hand. “You are lucky,” he said. “Your stomach was healed in the first two days of fasting. But you were still fasting and available for more toning work. Your body took up the work of cleaning the intestines. It is a major cleansing job that doctors rarely undertake in hospitals on very serious patients. They often remove up to 2 kilograms of muck.”
The work in my stomach continued for one full month. I could feel it and actually locate where it had reached. After cleansing was done I felt lighter, cleaner, and better able to digest and absorb food. I noticed that I needed to eat smaller quantity than earlier. I was much healthier and felt ten years younger. Twenty years later till today the effect still continues.
As you would imagine, this was a major enlightening experience. All my life’s observations and experiences jelled to give me a clear and powerful view of the marvelous immune system that nature has built into each one of us in this community of life. I also learned that our immune system works at its peak when we fast.
All animals know it and particularly in the wild they maintain optimal health with minimum of outside assistance. When they are hurt or fall sick they fast and take complete rest in some comfortable place. In this way they send a signal to their own immune system to use its full wisdom and energy to heal and tone up the body. I have seen dogs badly hit by cars heal deep wounds and broken bones in this way all by themselves. They eat nothing for days on end and come out fully healed and only slightly limping from their hiding places.
Only city dwelling human beings have deviated from nature’s simple and effective rules. They overeat and do no physical work. When they fall ill they run to the doctors who normally prescribe antibiotics and other factory made medicines. In the process our own wondrous immune system becomes weak for it feels spurned and unwanted.
In the last twenty years I have cured myself by fasting and have not eaten any pills. Only on four occasions when I had minor operations (hernia, prostate, and cataract) when the doctors made me swallow pills mainly to adhere to required procedures.
I believe we can all benefit by learning more about our immune system and the techniques of fasting and resting. It is very simple and everyone can learn it.
June 7, 2010