Naturopathy is a drugless system of medicine and healing. Grounded on a well-founded philosophy, Naturopathy is a system of man building in harmony with the constructive principle in nature on physical, mental, moral and spiritual planes of being. Presented here is a short account of Naturopathy from ancient times to the modern times and the important personalities who contributed significantly to the system’s development.
Naturopathy has been used in India since time immemorial. Fasting, drinking water early in the morning and taking bath in holy rivers etc., are every-day practices from olden days till now. Scriptures indicate that fasting, sunlight, water, exercise, manipulative therapies etc., were in practice since 3000 years. In 1894 Shri D. Venkatachalapathy Sharma, a close associate of Louis Kuhne propogated Kuhne’s treatment in South India by transalting Kuhnes’s books in Telugu.
Acharya Lakshmana Sharma to Mahatma Gandhi
Around 1913, Acharya Lakshmana Sharma started to follow naturopathy in his life. Deeply knowledgeable in Vedas he laid down the principles of Naturopathy. He also established a firm scientific basis for the principles and practice of Naturopathy. His book on nature cure titled, “Practical Nature Cure” is considered the magnum opus on this subject.
During the year 1920-1921 Dr. Dinshah Mehta developed techniques of Naturopathy based on modern methods. In 1929, he started a nature cure clinic and sanitorium at Pune, India. He also started two nature cure clinics in Mumbai.
Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Nation, influenced by the 1902 book ‘Return to Nature’ written by Adolf just became a follower of Naturopathy. He wrote a book under the heading ‘Guide to Health’. He also did several experiments of Naturopathy on himself. Dr. Dinshah became Gandhiji’s personal nature cure physician. He managed two of the three world renowned 21-day fasts of Gandhiji and many short fasts. In 1946, Nisargopachar ashram was started by Gandhiji, in pursuance of his belief that Naturopathy should also reach poor people. He is known as the Father of Indian Naturopathy. In 1950, Prakritika Cikitsalaya was started in jaipur.
In 1924, basic research and development work on Yoga was started by Swami Kuvalayanandji in Lonavla, which later became a pioneer institute in the field of research of yoga. Other institutes like, Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation-Bangalore, Vemana Yoga Research Institute-Hyderabad etc. have also done a commendable work.
The era of AYUSH
Later the Government of India also recognized the need for the system and formed autonomous bodies of Ministry of Health and Family welfare under the Department of AYUSH. They are National Institute of Naturopathy- Pune which was established in 1986, CCRYN established in 1978, MDNIY(Morarji Desai institute of yoga) which governed the Research activities of Yoga and Naturopathy was established in 1998. It was also considered important to develop the education and gradually there were development of Colleges in India.
Gandhi Nature cure college, Government College which was affiliated to Osmania University earlier and now affiliated to Dr.N.T.R University of Health Sciences is the Asia’s first college to offer a university recognized medical course in Naturopathy and Yoga.