It is said that ‘your diet defines your thoughts and your thoughts define your actions’. Only good actions can lead to spiritual progress.Hence, the root of spiritual sanskars (Subconscious impression) is in sattvik(Sattva-predominant) diet. Along with sattvik diet, bhav (Spiritual emotion) associated while consuming food is also important. Understanding that ‘food is a form of Brahman’, considering it as Prasad (Holy sacrament)and consuming it while praying and chanting God’s Name will make the act of consuming food a sacred Yadnyakarma. This also is a part of spiritual practice. Let us understand achars to be followed while eating food from this article.
1. Maintain the sanctity while eating
Hindus believe in maintaining sanctity while eating food. Similarly, there is a custom of avoiding touching each other while eating. Since digested food gets converted into blood, extra precautions should be taken while eating food. Food affects the mind. Touch can affect the mind adversely.
Food eaten gets divided into 3 parts. Muscles and tissues are created from the food that is digested and absorbed in the blood. Undigested food turns into faeces and subtle-most portion of the food that is created out of Sattva, Raja and Tama components together form the mind.
2. Enjoy the taste of food
A householder should eat each item by enjoying its taste; because, only after knowing the taste he can get the food prepared from his wife or the daughter accordingly. A detached individual can ignore the taste.
3. Chant God’s Name with every morsel of food
A. To avoid incurring demerits due
to the inadvertent killing of germs and insects
It is likely that while ploughing the field or while pounding,grinding or cooking the grains, many living organisms could get killed inadvertently. To avoid incurring demerits, chant God’s Name with every morsel of food and eat it as God’s Prasad.
B. Rings of sanskars also enter the stomach while eating
Raja-Tama-predominant speech while eating food creates similar sanskars on the food being eaten and on the environment. When such food enters our body, these sanskars stick to our body. As a result of the Raja-Tama sanskars on the food, the main objective of eating, that is, having a healthy body and mind does not get fulfilled. Hence, the sanskar of chanting God’s Name should be made on food while it is being prepared. Only then its intake can become truly beneficial. The ring of sanskars on the food also enters the stomach while eating. Hence, the importance of chanting God’s Name while eating food.
C. To prevent interference from negative energies
Eating is a process that stimulates even the dissatisfied souls laden with desires. Therefore, special care has to be taken while eating to avoid interference from such souls and other negative energies in the environment. Hence,Hindu Dharma advocates performing the karma(An act) of eating food with the help of mental contemplation like chanting and partaking it as Prasad after offering it to God.
4. Eat food with a spiritual emotion
that the process of eating is a spiritual practice
Food is considered as ‘Brahman’ in the Hindu Dharma. If the act of eating food is performed while praying and chanting, it is considered an act of spiritual practice. Many seekers indulge in unnecessary talk while eating, such as talking about their illness or surgery, etc. Listening to such talk while eating is not at all pleasant. Some seekers chant or pray mentally while eating. Such unnecessary talk creates hindrance in their spiritual practice too.Unnecessary talking pollutes & reduces sattvikta(Purity) of the environment at the venue.
5. Avoid the following while eating
A. Avoid carrying leather objects while eating food
Tama-predominant waves emitting from the leather objects create a Tama-predominant sheath around the body of the individual. Waves emitting from this Tama-predominant sheath cause obstacles in the flow of sattvik waves entering the prana-deha (Vital body) through the food. This Tama-predominant sheath reduces the individual’s ability to absorb sattvik waves from the environment and consequently, it receives very little benefit of the sattvikta. Thus, whenever possible, it is advisable to remove leather objects that cause obstacles for the sattvik waves while entering a temple or while eating food.
B. Avoid supporting yourself with
your left hand while eating food
If the left hand is used as a support for sitting,the pressure on it increases, thereby increasing its grossness.Consequently, its ability to imbibe distressing vibrations from Patal(Hell region) increases. Thus, interference from negative energies in the conduct of having a meal increases.
C. Avoid making any sound while eating
Making sound while drinking water or while performing achaman or while eating food is indicative of Raja component. In the earlier times, performing Raja-predominant activities meant going away from sattvikta, effectively meaning going away from God, and this in a way was no less a suffering than being in Hell. In the earlier times, each activity was performed with a vast aim.
D. Avoid talking while eating
Be silent while bathing, while eating food, while performing havan (Sacrificial fire), chanting and while defecating. A great deal of energy is wasted in talking while eating. The mind is restless since most of the time the talk is about worldly matters. A covering of distressing energy and illusory happiness too are created around the body. Therefore, the individual does not get protection from God.
E. Avoid speaking on the mobile phone while eating
Speaking on the mobile phone while eating leads to the body getting charged with Raja-Tama vibrations. Hence, this act (of causing harm to the body with the help of impure vibrations)should be avoided.
F. Avoid reading while eating
If reading is done while eating, the mind gets diverted from the food & the attitude becomes extroverted. Therefore, there is a likelihood of attacks of negative energies during this act. Therefore, while eating, we should chant with the mouth and eat using our hands, thereby offering each morsel of food to the body voids only after purifying it with God’s Name.
G. Eating while watching television,
discussing worldly matters and chanting
Eating is not merely an act of satisfying hunger. It is a Yadnyakarma and hence, it should be performed with due reverence. It simply means that eating should be accompanied by chanting. Therefore, if we joke, get angry or read while eating, then attention will get diverted from the food;besides, Raja-Tama-predominant actions like anger have harmful effects.
H. Do not leave the meals midway
Before eating food, we should pray, make a mandal (either ofwater or drawn mentally) around the plate and then eat with a bhav that it is Prasad. Eating should preferably be continuous so that it remains free from Raja-Tama components. Getting up midway means moving out of the protective sheath. Then, the individual’s body can become susceptible to attacks of Raja-Tama waves present outside the protective sheath.
I. Do not touch each other while eating food
While eating food, the individual’s vasanamaya-kosha (Sheath of desire) is awakened. This creates a sheath of subtle desire waves around the individual. The Raja-Tama components in the environment are attracted to the individual. In such a state, the Raja-Tama components in the individual are active to the maximum extent and hence, if such an individual touches another individual, the activated Raja-Tama components get attracted to the other individual and cause distress.
J. Do not offer food from your plate
to another individual while eating
The vasanamaya-kosha of an ordinary individual gets associated with food while eating. As a result, a subtle system of communication is established between the vasanamaya-koshaand the food plate. If an individual offers food from its plate to others, the Raja-Tama components of the first individual gets transferred through the food to the recipient individual, and upon eating that food, the proportion of Raja-Tama components in the other individual’s body increases.If the individual offering food is suffering from distress due to negative energies, the negative energies can trouble the recipient individual through the medium of food.
K. Two individuals should not eat from the same plate
When two individuals eat together from the same plate, the desire waves emitting from their vasanamaya-kosha become active around the same plate. It leads to creation of irregular designs of the desire waves of both the individuals over the food, and subtle vibrations are created in these designs. The negative energies and Raja-Tama components in the environment are attracted to the subtle sound of these vibrations.
L. Do not eat food if a hair is found in it
Hair are Raja-Tama-predominant, which means they have the ability to attract Raja-Tama-predominant waves from the environment. Thus, food in which a hair has fallen becomes vulnerable to distressing waves and hence, is considered impure. Eating such food is harmful for health from the perspective of attack of negative energies.
M. Do not sit or sleep with
unwashed hands after eating food
Negative energies that wander in the environment with their vasanamaya-kosha get attracted to the food particles sticking to the fingers when we sit or sleep without washing the hands after eating. Thus, Raja-Tama-predominant vibrations emitting from the vasanamaya-kosha of the negative energies are likely to enter the body of the individual through its fingers. It is better to clean the hands and only then commence the next task.
N. Do not wash your hands in
the same plate after eating food
In the process of eating food, waves of desire are created in the body cavity.Upon washing the hands in the plate, even the desire-predominant waves get released in the water along with the leftovers (from the hand).In this process, many dissatisfied souls in the environment try to take advantage of the water in the leftovers by attacking the plate.Effect of this attack take places on an individual that has washed its hands too, since it is the individual’s desire-oriented vibrations that are involved in the process of washing the hands in the plate.
O. Do not eat while standing or walking
Eating food while standing increases circulation of downward moving waves in the body, thus reducing the activity of Panchaprana and increasing the activity of upa-prana (Subordinate pranas). This results in improper digestion. Distressing waves emitting from the ground are attracted to the body because of the upa-prana and hence, we should avoid eating food while standing.
6. One should avoid touching the
palm to food while eating, however why
is Tirtha or Prasad received on the palm?
A. While eating, avoid touching the palm to the food
The points on the palm represent centres of inferior Deities and points on the joints of the fingers represent superior Deities. Those who perform Aghori rituals give offerings to Deities from their palm. Vibrations associated with the respective Deities emitting from the elevation of palms are emitted into the environment with the help of inferior Panchatattva (having more of sagun-̣tattva). In Sanatan Dharma, worship of superior Deities (having more of nirgun(Non-materialised)-tattva) is important and hence, contact of food with the palm during meals is considered inferior.
B. We use the palm to receive
Tirtha (Sacred liquid) and Prasad. We also
perform achaman using the palm. Why is it so?
Ingredients of Tirtha, Prasad and achaman are already charged with Chaitanya of the Deities. When these ingredients are taken on the palm, complete cleansing of the points that represent inferior Deities takes places, and under the influence of superior Deities, this cleansing helps the individual’s body receive Chaitanya from inferior Deities in Principle form.
7. When eating food in a group, why should
one not get up till everyone has finished eating ?
A. Reasons associated with the self
- Psychological reason (Incurring demerits on disrespecting others) : Getting up while others are still eating amounts to disrespecting others. Such behaviour results in incurring of inferior level demerits.
- Spiritual reason : Generally, eating is commenced after praying and recitation of various shlokas. This forms a protective sheath of Tejtattva around the group. If someone gets up before others have finished eating, this protective sheath is broken, thus allowing attacks of negative energies on the group.
B. Reasons associated with others
If upon completing their meal people start getting up one by one, the remaining people will come under undue pressure to finish their meal faster. Sometimes they may even get up with a partially filled stomach.