You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : October 1998

Control of mind- Role of Dietary Regimen- Part 4

Date: Sat Oct 17 1998 - 06:49:07 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Presented below is Part 4 on Control of mind-The Role of Dietary Regimen.
Anbil Ramaswamy
What the modern researchers are stumbling upon by  strenuous efforts over long
periods of research by trial and error methods exposing innumerable `subjects'
of study to be the `guineapigs' in their experiments - had been spelled out in
unambiguous terms millions of years back by our great sages and seers in our
sacred scriptures, "Annam Pranamayam", `Yad Annenaarohati' cooked rice is life
itself; that which is nourished by Rice food' - are sayings pregnant with
significance today as they were in the Vedic, Purusha suktha days. In fact,
`ANNAM'-(cooked rice) is equated with `Sri Lakshmi', the Goddess of wealth,
prosperity and health and therefore worthy of highest regard never to be
maligned (Annadvesha)

This `Annam' has been variously described as sweet, juicy, pleasant, life
saving, life promoting, bestowing equilibrium, strength, health and happiness
both physiologically and psychologically which are the characteristics of
`Satvik' type of food.

For it is said `From the Satva, knowledge is born" (BG 14/17). The food which
is full of the quality of Satva is the cause of growth of knowledge. They
promote energy and health, they also promote pleasure and happiness. They are
enduring in their effects on the tissues of the body and on mental well being.
The foods that promote longevity, mental vigor, energy, health, pleasure and
happiness as they are full of sweet juices and are rich having lasting effects
and agreeable. Such food is dear to those governed by Satvaguna (BG17/8)

The food which is full of the quality of `Rajo' would trigger such undesirable
experiences such as Vaatham (muscular) Pitham (bile) Kapam (bronchial) Vayu
(gastric) etc. Such foods are those that are bitter, sour, too salty, too hot,
too cold, too pungent, astringent, emaciating and inflaming. (BG17/19)

The `Tamo' type of food are those that are not fresh (i.e.) kept over for a
long time, that have lost their taste, that are consumed by reheating and
therefore giving a different taste due to passage of time, those that are left
over, those that are unholy (i.e.) not fit as an offering to God, such food is
called `Amedhya' - that which is not only not conducive to `Medha' or
intellect  but positively destructive of intellect and therefore, diverting
the mind into undesirable channels. (BG17/10)
Again, as to the quantum of consumption, in BG 6 (16 & 17) Lord Krishna
advises moderation in food habits. He says that one who eats too much, one who
does not eat at all, one who walks a lot,  one who does not walk at all,  one
who feels exhausted all the time, the one who never gets exhausted, one who
sleeps all the time (may be by imbibing sedatives) and one who always keeps
awake (by imbibing stimulants) such persons will not be able to attain `Yoga'.

He further avers that Yoga is the destroyer of misery to him who has proper
food, who is properly active and who has proper sleep and wakefulness.
(BG 6 /16 and 6 / 17)

We see this in practical life also that people given to extremes in their
habits would not be able to function normally physically and / or
psychologically because the equilibrium of body and mind is impaired by such
extreme habits

Smriti explains the ideal quantity of food that can be consumed:
"Only half the stomach should be filled with food; one quarter with water; the
remaining quarter should be left empty for air to circulate."

As for the ideal type of food, it should contain all the six tastes viz.
Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.

"Eating moderately, walking 100 feet after taking food, sleeping moderately,
speaking moderately, lying on the left side -- if one follows this regimen he
has no use for a doctor." Does it not remind us of the saying "After supper,
walk a while" 

Also, there is a saying which requires that one should eat that which is
agreeable to the body-system, moderate in quantity, tasteful and VEGETARIAN.

A person who eats only one full meal a day is a `Yogi '( fit to do yoga); one
who eats twice is a `Bhogi' ( fit to enjoy life) and one who eats more than
twice is a `Rogi (fit to suffer disease).' 

It may be mentioned in this connection that while even animals eat only when
they are hungry, man is perhaps the only creature who indulges in
indiscriminate eating whenever and wherever he finds an opportunity (not
necessarily necessity to eat) - drinking, boozing, gobbling up at any time and
every time, anywhere and everywhere under pretext of `socializing' and
otherwise regardless of the quality or quantity of what is consumed resulting
in pernicious syndromes on physical and psychological levels.

Ayurveda also calls attention to six circumstances which contribute to
"Too much drinking (including too much intake of food), too much sexual
intercourse, Day time sleeping, keeping awake at night, suppressing the urge
to expel excreta and urine - these six circumstances lead to disease"	

Incidentally, here is another sloka which describes how one acquires old age
prematurely -
"Man becomes old by too much walking; horses by not walking; a woman by not
having sex; clothes that are left for long to dry in heat"
 (To Continue)