More important than health is the wisdom to use health

Acharya Prashant
8 min readOct 18, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

“First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards. Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are my bold words; but I have to say them, for I love you. You’ll understand Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You’ll understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little strong blood in you.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

Question: “I’ve observed that doing physical exercise certainly has an energizing effect on both the body and mind. On the other hand, fitness seems to bring in the danger of becoming even more body-centric. To what extent is physical strength useful on the spiritual path?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It is peripheral. Do you really find Liverpool and Chelsea players really spiritually inclined if football were such a liberating force? Does that happen? Really? Then, let’s have the Messis and Ronaldos and Ronaldinhos as the ideal figures for the next MAG (referring to the Month of Awakening program) session.

Let’s take the case of Swami Vivekananda himself. When he went to Ramakrishna Paramahansa, did he offer him a football? I understand it’s a thing with the Bengalis, football, but I have not heard that Ramakrishna was particularly fond of soccer, or was he?

It is not the central thing. It is one of those things that enable you further, that stoke the fire. But to stoke the fire, first of all, you need a fire. Football cannot bring about that spark. Football cannot raise that fire.

Once the fire is there, once a man’s consciousness says, “I want to be liberated. I want freedom. I want to know. I want to understand. I want to actualize this birth,” then he says, “What is it that I need to reach…