12 Jan Ancient ways of eating and its importance
Shri Krishna says “God exists inside all living beings as vaiśhvānara (fire of digestion)
Bṛihadāraṇyak Upaniṣhad states
“ayam agnir vaiśhvānaro yo ’yam antaḥ puruṣhe
yenedam annaṁ achyate (5.9.1)”
(God is the fire inside the stomach which enables all living being to digest food)
Food does play a central role in being a rich source of energy for our physical body, and it also impacts the mind. The kind of food we eat affects the three qualities, i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. In turn, these qualities influence the digestive system, our balanced state of mind, and holistic health.
- Ancient text Shri Bhagavad Gita lucidly states that freshly cooked meals with sattvic ingredients are easy to digest, aromatic, juicy and sweet to taste. Such meals promote strength, health, longevity, cheerfulness and happiness.
- Foods that are salty, oily, pungent, sour and spicy are rajasic foods. Such foods cause anger, excitement, pain, and grief.
- Foods that are stale, rotten, half-cooked, leftover, and re-heated are tamasic foods. Such foods promote slothfulness, laziness and lethargy.
Our scriptures clearly mention three types of purities we need to understand when it comes to cooking and food.
- Patra Shudhi (pure vessels)– The vessels used for cooking have to be clean and pure.
- Pak Shudhi (the process of cooking)– The individual who cooks the food and serves must be clean in appearance and clean in terms of moral conduct, habits, and character. He/she must prepare food with a sattvic mind.
- Padartha Shudhi (pure food ingredients)– The ingredients used during cooking have to be pure, of good quality and sattvic in nature.
Now due to the fast-paced, busy lifestyles, it is not entirely possible to verify the purity of ingredients or purity of the cooking process. Vegetables, fruits are dipped in pesticides or genetically modified. Cooking the food the cook might have or not have pure thoughts. So what is the answer? We offer the food cook to the higher consciousness and then consume it as prasadum to remove the impurities.
Eating the Indian Way-using all the fingers!
The Indian way of eating by using the hands and fingers is viewed by the modern world as unpleasant and unhygienic. This is a misconception.
According to ayurvedic tradition, eating food by hands helps to involve all the senses. The five fingers represent the five fundamental constituents of food.
- Thumb represents- Fire (Agni)Forefinger represents – Air (Vayu)
- Middle finger represents –Ether (Aakash)
- Ringfinger represents – Earth (Prithvi)
- Littlefinger represents – Water (Jal)
Eating the food using all the fingers forms a mudra, symbolizing the union of all elements essential for the normal functioning of your body.
Sitting on the floor to eat.
Traditional in most Indian household entire family would sit together on the floor to eat meals. This is a very yogic way to eat. Sitting posture with spine erects aids food digestion. Also sitting down during each meal keeps the knees and joints flexible.
In Yoga, Sitting posture involves many muscles. Eating food in a sitting position presses the lower spine, which would relax the body.
Chewing and Eating in silence
One should chew the food well mixed with saliva inside the mouth. This improves your digestion. Eating your food in silence is meditative and helps to calm and nourish the mind and body.
Thus appease the fire God within and don’t just eat your food, try the Indian way to relish the food and make the most of it!