In the previous episode we had witnessed yet another important advice from Vidura with regards to the food that we consume. Based on a segment of Vidura’s explanation, we’ve commenced an important discussion as to why should we avoid food items that are cooked in other places apart from our home. Of course one can argue that it is very difficult to stick to consuming home cooked food all the time, given our busy professional schedules and travel commitments. I’m not trying to force my view upon our readers, however, it is a choice that each of us should make in life.
As we discussed in the previous episode, food items that are available today as “instant mixes”, “ready-to-eat” items, etc. are unfortunately extremely hazardous to our health and can cause severe irreparable damages to our physical body. In the western countries for instance, the “Food security” norms are extremely strict and food-manufacturing companies should strictly adhere to the norms, rules and regulations. Whereas in a country like India, we cannot expect that level of strictness owing to several loopholes in the implementation of the law, coupled with an inefficient & defunct judicial system wherein punishment for criminals are almost nil! Hence it is up to us as common people to take care of our own health and there is no point in putting the onus on the companies because the people who manufacture faulty and adulterated food products are involved in heavy political lobbying, thus would easily get away from the lens of the law. Hence, the least that we can do here is to take care of our food consumption, have a strict control over our diet, try as much as possible to avoid food from outside, and most importantly we should only consume food that is offered to Bhagawan. If we try and follow these four important things, we can lead a relatively healthier lifestyle, free of major diseases.
Now moving on to the next segment of this same segment – Why is Vidura advising us to be careful with the food that we consume? Here’s another explanation from a different perspective. Of course we’ve seen the potential dangers and threats of eating nonsense food items from outside. Now we are going to witness the important fact that our character would be framed based on the food that we consume.
“Yad annam bhakshyate nityam jaayathe taadrusheemathihi!!”
This is a popular saying in Sanskrit, which means to explain that the functioning of our brain is only based on the food that we consume! For instance, if we consume food that satisfies all requirements of a “Balanced diet”, we would be high on “Sathva Guna”, that is, we would be able to balance the functioning of our mind very well. For instance, if we consume too much of food items that are salty and spicy, our “Rajo Guna” would be on the higher end of the spectrum, wherein we always tend to get angry and frustrated even for small things! Our patience goes for a toss and our mind becomes imbalanced. At the same time, if we consume non-vegetarian food items a lot, it would lead to an increase in the “Thamo Guna” or “Thaamasic” characteristic. Here, we start feeling lazy and our brain goes into an inactive mode, thus our efficiency starts reducing. I shall explain the adverse effects that we would encounter if we eat non-vegetarian food items shortly. But before that, let us see what Vidura has got to say in this regard:
“Yadchakyam grasitum grasyam grastham parinamecchayath!”
In the above sloka Vidura clearly explains that we should consume only those food items that are palatable for us to eat. In simpler terms, we should consume only those food items that are easy for our teeth to chew, good in taste and the ones that aren’t rotten or spoilt. Moreover, the food items that we consume should be easy for our stomach to digest. More than even the digestion part, we should consume food items that would be good for maintaining our health properly. For instance, there might be food items that are extremely tasty for the tongue, but brings extremely bad side effects to our body conditions. Whereas there are some food items that might not be very tasty for the tongue, but if we still consume them, they would give some extremely good effects to our body.
In fact, the word “food” in Sanskrit is denoted as “Annam”. This is actually a very interesting term. If we look deeply into the structure of the word “Annam”, it has two components – “Adhyate” and “Atthicha”. “Adhyate” means the one that we swallow through our mouth and tongue. “Atthicha” means the one that swallows us! It seems contrasting isn’t it? Thus the word “Annam” in Sanskrit can be defined as “The one that we swallow through our mouth, if it is done in a controlled manner. At the same time, if it goes beyond control, the same food will swallow us with its side-effects!”
Now the next important question comes – How many times do we consume food per day? Of course if we go to today’s medical practitioners, nowadays they advise us to keep “munching” some small quantities of food once every 2-3 hours, so that it gets digested easily! I’m not going into the debate whether this is right or wrong, because I’m not a qualified doctor to comment on these issues. However as per our “Sanaathana Dharma” we should consume food twice a day – Once during the daytime and the other during the evening/night, accompanied with periodic watery intakes. Our ancestors and forefathers have been practicing this kind of a timetable for food for so many decades. It is only very recently that we’ve started having this concept of eating once every four hours, eating occasionally, eating while standing, swallowing food in a hurry, eating at any time of the day or night, eating without taking bath, eating without offering the food to Bhagawan, etc. The list is too long to comprehend, however, I’ve just mentioned few of the big blunders that we currently do in the modern day with respect to food. There might be various physical diseases that might arise in our body due to all these wrong food practices, but one major thing that we need to keep in mind here is that, if we have disastrous food habits like these, our “Sathva Guna” will never grow. This is what directly results in mental imbalance, thinking in a crooked way, inefficiency in the work that we perform, etc.
Thus the important message from today’s episode is that we should cultivate proper food habits – We should make sure that we eat food that is easily digestible by our system, food that is prepared at home with correct amounts of sugar, salt, oil, etc. in it, food that is not preserved for a long time, food that is healthy for our body to be active and that which would enhance our “Sathva Guna”. For today let us ponder over this very important point with regards to the food that we take everyday. We shall wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂