This paper uses empirical material from health activists in Tamil Nadu to show that the health discourses that enjoy the greatest continuity and reach in India are also those that presume a radical connection between the health of the individual body and mobilising for a more just social order. The forging of this tradition is traced back to early anti-colonial forms of mobilisation. The transmission of this tradition is then ethnographically traced through various organisations that relay a characteristic set of orientations of thought and action to new generations and groups. The freshness of the synthesis of the tradition effected by each activist is emphasised. Arguing along phenomenological lines, these capacities to synthesise and renew a tradition are located in the capacities of the body. By attending to the unique place of the body in human experience, we may be in a better position to also understand the way in which health discourses that are embedded within wider experiences of injustice are able to circulate with renewed affective force.