It is easy, in fact, quite normal, for an individual to turn toward medical treatments once an illness presents itself. The mind-set of the entire society is based on the idea that illness must be defeated and that medicine, through its long history, has increasingly gained powers and tools to defeat illnesses. With the advent of antibiotics, anti-viral medicines, vaccines, Western medicine has shown remarkable ability to address scourges that once ravaged humanity such as smallpox, the Bubonic plague, and polio. Vaccination results for what are termed childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella clearly have reduced the severity and incidence of such diseases wherever these vaccines have been deployed. Tetanus and rabies have also been brought under substantial control with prompt vaccine treatment. It is not just Western medicine that has shown a remarkable ability to respond to illness. Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Chinese Traditional Medicine, Shamanic medicines, herbal cures abound and the profession of medicine, in whatever form it is practiced, has gained a great reputation and substantial credibility. Even acute conditions such as simple headache, indigestion, etc. have seen the rise of medicines to take the pain away!

Thus, we are inculcated in the idea that any bodily imbalance or difficulty, any illness, should resort to the use of medicines as a first line of action, to quickly and effectively treat and respond to pain and disease. Of course, medicine has not solved all possible conditions, and has a less than stellar performance on long-term chronic metabolic conditions, but they promise us that these conditions will come under control in the future.

It is difficult therefore to overcome the suggestion that lies deeply embedded in our being that medicine is the first and major curative power and that we should turn to it at need. Sri Aurobindo, in his own experience, relates a change that took place in his own outlook on the matter, and the results he obtained through that change of view. He provides us courage to try a different approach when appropriate for us in dealing with the pains and acute illnesses that arise, without negating the potential need or benefit of medicines under circumstances where the practitioner has not yet achieved full and complete freedom and mastery over the body and its energies and immune powers.

We may look upon the immune system as we do with building muscle: regular practice and effort in reliance upon the innate capacities of the body will eventually build up that strength; and regular practice and effort in reliance upon the Divine Force in the universe to provide a cure and restore and maintain harmony in the body will eventually allow us to experience that Force in our lives, and thereby find the true curative agent behind all the medicines.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “For nearly forty years behind the wholly good I was weakly in constitution; I suffered constantly from the smaller and the greater ailments and mistook this curse for a burden that Nature had laid upon me. When I renounced the aid of medicines, then they began to depart from me like disappointed parasites. Then only I understood what a mighty force was the natural health within me and how much mightier yet the Will and Faith exceeding mind which God meant to be the divine support of our life in this body.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 98-101

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.