(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada)
Srila Prabhupada gave varied instructions about health according to the time, place and circumstances. Prabhupada wasn't neglectful of his own health or the health of his disciples. In fact, Srila Prabhupada always concluded his letters with: "I hope this meets you in good health." The underlying principle of Prabhupada's instructions regarding health was "do the needful" for keeping body and soul together in order to serve Krishna; and if irreversible conditions arise then one should carry on serving Krishna to the best of one's individual capacity, always depending on His causeless mercy.
"It is important to keep the body fit and healthy so that we will not meet the obstacle of ill health while serving Krishna. Ill health may hinder one's service, so, we want to avoid it as much as possible."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, June 19, 1975)
"Regarding your physical malady, you should do whatever is required to treat it properly. Whatever is most practical."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, May 7, 1975)
"Regarding Bhumata devi dasi's affliction, she should simply take the proper treatment. Make the best out of a bad bargain. This material body is a bad bargain because it is always miserable. So, to make the best out of this bad bargain means to render devotional service in any circumstance."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 8, 1975)
"Doctors are not the Ultimate Healer. This is Krishna's position. In your Western countries, the doctors are very much fond of surgical operations. When there is no other alternative, of course we have to take shelter of such demonic treatment, but as far as possible try to avoid that, and depend on Krishna."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 3, 1969)
"This body belongs to Krishna and therefore we must always keep it in healthy condition to the best of our ability, but if due to some past sinful activities, we are suffering some bodily miseries we should not become discouraged. Devotional service must continue under all circumstances. This material body is actually a bad bargain because it is prone to suffer, but we must make the best use of this bad bargain. That means to always be engaged in the service of Krishna without fail."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 19, 1975)
"So I am sorry to learn that you are not well. Pray to Krishna and chant Hare Krishna. The body is a temple of disease, janma mrtyu jara vyadhi [Bg. 13.9]. Disease is our inevitable companion. We still have to execute our duty of Krishna consciousness as far as possible and Krishna will help us."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1976)
"So far your health is concerned, so far the body is there the question of health and unhealth will always be there. Sometimes there will be complaints, and sometimes not. In the Gita Krishna says these things come and go like the seasonal changes. So we have to tolerate. Caitanya Mahaprabhu advises trnad api sunicena/taror api sahisnuna. We must be tolerant like the tree and humble like the blade of grass. Such persons can chant the Hare Krishna mantra and preach. In Bombay we are undergoing so many tribulations. What can be done?"
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, November 25, 1974)
"As long as the body will be there, there will only be pain. Pleasure is only a misconception. Do not be sorry if you are in an 'unfortunate' situation. It can also be fortunate if you take advantage by becoming serious to become Krsna consciousness."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, October 25, 1976)
"One of the symptoms of a devotee is that he is kind, so if our Godbrother becomes ill it is our duty to help him get the proper medicine and treatment so that he can recover."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, April 5, 1974)
"I thank you for your concern for my well being. Actually I was very ill. I was falling down. But, by your prayers Krishna has kindly made me recover. Because you have prayed to Krishna therefore I have recovered. Just like Srimat Kunti devi when there was difficulty, she prayed to Krishna.
That is Krishna consciousness. Not that when there is difficulty I shall forget Krishna. Whatever the material condition may be we should just cling to Krishna's lotus feet."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, October 7, 1974)
"Regarding your fasting, if you are sick, then fasting is the best medicine. For disease and unwanted guests, if you do not give them food, they will go away."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 16, 1975)
"The loss of eyesight means there is less fiery element. Loss of appetite means there is less of fiery elements. In the Ayurvedic treatment it is called agni-māndyam. So these are transformation of the fire."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, January 19, 1975)
"To be too fat is not very good for spiritually advanced life. Rather, one should reduce because if one becomes fat it is an impediment to progress in spiritual understanding. One should be careful not to eat too much, sleep too much or remain in a comfortable position. Voluntarily accepting some penances and difficulties, one should take less food and less sleep. These are the procedures for practicing any kind of yoga, whether bhakti-yoga, jñāna-yoga or haṭha-yoga."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.33.14, Purport)
"According to the Vaiṣṇava calendar, there are many fasts, such as Ekādaśī and the appearance and disappearance days of God and His devotees. All of these are meant to decrease the fat within the body so that one will not sleep more than desired and will not become inactive and lazy. Overindulgence in food will cause a man to sleep more than required. This human form of life is meant for austerity, and austerity means controlling sex, food intake, etc. In this way time can be saved for spiritual activity, and one can purify himself both externally and internally. Thus both body and mind can be cleansed."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.28.35–36, Purport)
"Blood veins are compared to rivers; when the veins were manifested in the universal form, the rivers in the various planets were also manifested. The controlling deity of the rivers is also the controlling deity of the nervous system. In Āyur-vedic treatment, those who are suffering from the disease of nervous instability are recommended to take a bath by dipping into a flowing river."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.26.59, Purport)
"The ocean is considered to be the presiding deity of the abdomen, where the feelings of hunger and thirst originate. When there is an irregularity in hunger and thirst, one is advised, according to Āyur-vedic treatment, to take a bath in the ocean."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.26.60, Purport)
Guest: Are blood transfusions permissible, Swami?
Devotee: He says, "Are blood transfusions permissible?" When one is in an accident or cut and he loses blood, they take another man's blood and put it it. He says...
Prabhupāda: Well, that is not bad. Because if one life is saved by transfusion admission... He is not dying. He is living. He is contributing his blood. So if he is contributing, you are saving some life, there is no harm.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Perth, May 16, 1975)
"Now, there are so many scientists. They are discovering vitamin value from foodstuff. Now, what is the vitamin value in the dry grass? Can any scientist say that this is the vitamin value in dry grass? If there is no vitamin value in dry grass, how the cow is producing so much milk, who is full of vitamins A and D? How, from dry grass, vitamins coming out? Nowadays the physician prescribes some artificial vitamins for maintaining your body. Now, what is the vitamin there in the dry grass so that the cow is eating dry grass and giving you nice milk full of vitamins A and D, essential for your life? So these are all wrong theories, that 'This contains this vitamin. This contains this.' Let them go on. But natural foodstuff which is meant for human being, they are full of vitamins already there by nature's law, by God's wish. So annād bhavanti bhūtāni (BG 3.14)."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, May 23, 1966)
"Śrīla Parīkṣit Mahārāja said that the constant hearing of the pastimes of the Lord is the panacea for all material diseases. Everyone, therefore, should hear about the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly. By hearing one can always remain in equilibrium, and thus his progress in spiritual life will not be hampered."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.11.31, Purport)
"As long as the body is there it is subjected to the influence of climatic changes, disease and natural disturbances, the threefold miseries of material existence. We cannot avoid them. Sometimes we receive letters from neophyte devotees questioning why they have fallen sick, although pursuing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They should learn from this verse that they have to become tolerant (dvandva-titikṣayā). This is the world of duality. One should not think that because he has fallen sick he has fallen from Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa consciousness can continue without impediment from any material opposition. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa therefore advises in Bhagavad-gītā (2.14), tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata: 'My dear Arjuna, please try to tolerate all these disturbances. Be fixed in your Kṛṣṇa conscious activities.'"
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.22.24, Purport)
"So long we have got this material body, material world, it is duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam (BG 8.15). It is full of miserable condition, and at the same time not permanent. Even if we accept miserable condition... Everyone is trying to live. A old man does not like to die. He goes to the doctor, takes some medicine so that he can continue his life. But he will not be allowed to live. Aśāśvatam. You may be very rich man, you may take many pills, many injection to prolong your life, but that is not possible. That is not possible. But as soon as you see Kṛṣṇa, then you get your eternal life. Eternal life we have got. We are eternal. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). We do not die after the destruction of the body. We get another body. This is the disease. And when you see Kṛṣṇa, when you understand Kṛṣṇa, even without seeing, if you simply understand Kṛṣṇa, then you become eternal."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavan, April 8, 1976)
"Therefore the ultimate cause is Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa does not sanction your so-called first-class medicine, physician, place, and everything will be spoiled. And if he sanctions, even you don't appoint any physician, he will... Rakhe kṛṣṇa mareke mare kṛṣṇa rakheke... If Kṛṣṇa kills nobody can save him, and if Kṛṣṇa saves, nobody can kill. Just like Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu. They made plans that they'll never die, but Kṛṣṇa killed them. That is our philosophy."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, July 9, 1973)
"So long we have got this material body the problems of birth, death, old age, and disease will continue. Therefore, to help the devotees when they're in bodily ailments is also a great great service. If you so desire you can join our Movement. We have got very good centers, especially in Mayapur, Bombay, Sri Vrindaban, Hyderabad, etc. If you decide to join, we can give you all facilities for rendering this service."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Dr. Suresh Candra, December 8, 1976)
"This body is today or tomorrow finished. We should not be very much bothered about the body. Trees also live for thousands of years but that does not mean a successful life. A successful life is one of Krishna consciousness.
About a sadhu it is said, 'jiva va mara va,' a sadhu may live or die, it doesn't matter. While living he is engaged in Krishna Conscious business and when dying he goes back home back to Godhead."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Jayananda, February 26, 1977)