Ancient Indians believed that “Shareeram eva Dharma Sadhanam” – which means the human body is the vehicle of spirituality.
In other words the intrinsic virtues of a person are directly related to the well-being of his physical self. It is said that once a great king cooked and served a humble meal to a Samaritan monk.
The well-fed monk rested for a while and furtively started helping himself to the silver cutlery from the royal kitchen. The king was aghast. He confronted the monk, who blamed it on the food. A little probing revealed that a thief who professed to be a merchant, paid toll tax to the king’s men by way of some food grains. It had been duly cooked by the king for the monk.
Since the monk had led a clean life, the morally soiled food had its effect on him on ingestion.
The food we consume not only lends us physical sustenance but also lends us our character. This is probably the reason why all religions subscribe to both feasting and fasting.
Fasting helps us to discipline our senses, cleanse our intestines and regulate our digestive system.
Ayurveda classifies food into three categories Satvic, Rajas and Tamas in the decreasing order of health quotient.
Satvic food consists of a healthy vegetarian diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and bland food without many spices which keep the body in a good condition and help the mind to inch forth towards noble and spiritual thoughts.
Rajas food includes fried and spicy food sometimes including a non vegetarian diet which undermines and clogs the digestive system paving way to a lethargic way of living. Leftovers, stale or unpalatable food constitute Tamas food which degenerates the consumer physically, mentally and spiritually.
It is frightening to note that modern living which has bestowed us with refrigerators and microwave ovens are actually encouraging even the well to do and educated into consuming Tamas food, without giving it a second thought about its ill effects on the health.
The hazards of modern living are translating into unflattering medical reports. True, we cannot set the clock back or undo the damage. Unhealthy bodies have a tendency to breed weak psyches which in turn can prove to be detrimental to the society we live in.
Yet we can endeavour to “be the change we want to see” by incorporating some simple lifestyle changes in our lives and those of our children, so that we can alter things for the better in future.