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PART 5- CONTROL OF MIND - ROLE OF DIETARY REGIMEN

Ramanbil_at_aol.com
Date: Sun Oct 18 1998 - 08:46:04 PDT

CONTROL OF MIND - ROLE OF DIETARY REGIMEN-PART 5
WHAT OUR SASTRAS PERMIT/PROHIBIT IN THE MATTER OF FOOD?
SWAMI VEDANTA DESIKA's ADVICE	
Right from Vedic literature down to the Itihasas and Puranas, we find
scattered references to vegetables and other edibles that can be consumed and
those that are better avoided in order to ensure augmentation of Satva and
preclusion of Rajo and Tamo.

It was however, left to Swami Sri VEDANTA DESIKA who did deep research in this
field (as also in all other fields he touched) to incorporate in his work
entitled "Aahaara Niyamam" - a catalog for ready reference on what can be
consumed, what should not be ingested and what can be taken with certain
restrictions and even what go without any restrictions also! 

We attempt below to have a glimpse of the various items as gleaned from
Aahaara Niyamam and Srimad Ramayanam in particular. It should be understood
that the prohibition is meant only to enable us to regulate consumption in a
conscious, cautious way.

Lord Krishna clearly prohibits food that are too sour, hot, salty, too much
bile-producing etc.  (BG 17/9) And again, he advises that they who consume
food that are time expired, those that have lost taste, those that emanate
stale odor, altered taste, mixed with spittle and those not fit to be offered
to the Lord should not be eaten.

BHAGAVAD RAMANUJACHARYA's SRI BASHYAM `Sarvaanna Anumatyati Karanam' Sutras
446 to 448 declare -- that in times of danger to life one can consume any food
and such intake will not go against Pramanas and Smritis. 

But, Sutra 449, however, clearly and categorically forbids consumption of
liquor even in the face of danger to life.

The case of one Sage USHASTI is alluded to. Due to famine he and his wife were
migrating to a far off place. On the way, the Sage was so exhausted due to
starvation that he almost swooned and apprehended his end was near at hand. A
mahout who passed by on an elephant offered him some horsegram which the sage
readily accepted (though ordinarily prohibited). 

But when the mahout offered water to drink, the sage declined saying that he
took the horsegram only for saving himself from starvation-death and taking
water thereafter was not proper since at that point of time, the danger to
life had disappeared and the desire to drink water took the form of 'desire to
satiate a mundane craving.'    

(To Continue)
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