Food is the most elaborate topic in almost all classical text of Ayurveda.
According to sage Atreya beneficial food is the only factor in the reinforcement of health and harmful food reinforces only diseases. Unfortunately today people eat whatever they want and whenever they want to. No wonder that they fall sick and have to undergo a recurrent treatment. Even a machine crashes if exposed to frequent repairs; our body is much more delicate than that. Therefore prevention is the only way towards a long and healthy life.
Food is classified in many ways in Ayurveda. According to Charaka Samhita food is mainly of two types of Sthavara and Jangam. The word Sthavara means stable. Sthavara food is detonated to plants and other immobile things. The word Jangam refers to highly mobile animals. Ayurveda classifies food into four types according to its usage –
- Paan (drinkable)
- Aashan (soft,edible food like rice)
- Bhakshya (hard and chewy food like meat)
- Lehya (semi-solid like chutney)
Ayurveda classifies all the edible food material primary into two parts: medicinal Herbs and edible stuff. Charak Samhita further divides food into following classifications.
- Suka Dhanya (wheat, rice, etc.)
- Shami Dhanya (pulses)
- Mans Varg (meat)
- Shaak Varg (vegetables)
- Phala Varg (fruits)
- Harit Varg (herbs)
- Madya Varg (alcohol)
- Jal Varg (water)
- Goras Varg (milk)
- Ikshu Varg (sweeteners)
- Krittaan Varg (prepared/cooked with a combination of different ingredients, example porridge, bread, soup, etc.)
- Aahar Upyogi Varg (useful for food preparations)
Thanks to nature, we have a massive variety of food items to choose from.
Ideally, the food should change according to the Prakriti, time of the day health status of the individual. However, some food items can be consumed every day by the people of all Prakriti without any harmful effect. These food products are beneficial even for disease people. However, it is essential to always go by the advice of your physician.
Food that should be used every day
- Moong Dal (Green gram)
- Crystalized rock salt (Saindhava lavana)
- Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
- Jowar (Sorghum or white millet)
- Evaporated and condensed water(pure water)
- Meat of land animals found in plains or forests
All these food items are easily digested with minimum production of toxins and contribute to the fueling of digestive fire. Like the way oiled, dry wood that catches fire instantaneously and burns without smoke, giving the vital heat and light to the surrounding; similarly these foods provide adequate ABSORBABLE nutrition to the body, without creating any friction in the normal metabolism. This means that the body doesn’t have to fight with them for nutrition. They are like willing friends, ready to share the good things. Also check Concept of Nutrition In Ayurveda
However, it is important to know the right way of cooking, proper combinations and appropriate amount of eating the best of the foods. If the above factors are not proper, even the best food will ruin the health. In the coming blogs, we will also discuss the proper method of cooking and consumption of above edibles.
Apart from the above list, there are some food items which are the best in their categories.
- Rakta Shali is the finest in rice.
- Among pulses, Mung Dal causes the least dryness.
- Distilled water is most potable in drinkables.
- Saindhava Lavana is most fitting among salts.
- Jivanti is best in leafy vegetables.
- Deer meat is the finest in meats
- Lava is the most preferred among birds.
- Goha (a kind of lizard) is the most consumable among all animals who live in holes/underground.
- Rohu is the most nutritious among fishes.
- Cow ghee is matchless in Ghee category.
- Cow milk is the healthiest of all kinds of milk.
- Sesame oil is the most preferred among oils.
- Pork is the best in animals found in cold regions.
- Chulluki fat is the best among fish fat.
- Swan fat is a best among aquatic bird fat.
- Chicken is the finest among these bird fat.
- Mutton is finest among meats of plant-eating animals
- Ginger is the best among roots.
- Black currant is the best among fruits
- Natural brown sugar candy is the best among sugarcane/sweet products.
Another important factor is the quality of food. Now if the above food items are genetically modified(GMO) and strewn with pesticides and insecticides, they will not be healthy at all. In that case, it is far healthier to eat organic oats than inorganic rice. For more information, please check Toxic Food According to Ayurveda
Food affects not only the body but also the mind. Food procured with hard earned money, through fair means is satvic or pious. It bring nutrition to the body and peace to the mind.
Ayurveda says that food also has a soul and corruption in food production, hoarding or profiteering taints the soul of the food. Such food can bring no peace or health! The one who consumes it contributes to the evil. Such activity is called Pragya Aparadha (crime against wisdom) in Ayurveda. It is crucial to be aware that Ayurveda considers Pragya Aparadh, or crime against wisdom to be the first cause of any disorder. So, let’s ensure whatever food we eat is grown organically and procured at a fair price.
Another factor to Pragya Aparadha is righteous consumption of meat. Having described the best of the non-vegetarian food, I would like to stress that what is beneficial for all is profitable for all. Today we have more population of human beings than any of the animals mentioned in the list. If we all start eating according to be take list, all these animals will become completely extinct in no time. Therefore today this information should be used only for the treatment of the sick.
Most of us are aware of the terrible conditions meat producing animals are reared and treated with antibiotics and hormones to increase the amount of meat in their body. Anyone who eats meat procured from such animals, consciously or unconsciously, is committing Pragya Aparadha. He/she is liable to fall sick in the long run.
Therefore it is very very important that even if you choose to consume any of the about meat, you must ensure that it is free of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals. You must also ensure that these animals have a free-range, natural life and are not caged in terrible conditions, like prisoners. If you do, you will be a contributor to their unfortunate fate.
Emotions like anger, fear, sorrow play a decisive role in the health of the body, even in an animal. If an animal is kept in unhealthy conditions, it will have a high level of stress-inducing hormones in its metabolic system. Its digestion, tissue fluid, blood, muscles, and the hormonal system will be severely affected. If you are going to consume meat from such animals, all these toxins will be transferred your body as well. Therefore, Ayurveda believes that what is good for all is good for one. If you as a consumer choose meat which is free from animal maltreatment and use of unnatural chemicals, you embrace their good as well as yours.
According to Ayurveda, the way an animal is killed for meat makes a huge difference. There is a fascinating concept of Bali in ancient Vedic culture. Bali means sacrifice. The Vedic culture believes that life is sacred everywhere, even in plants and animals. If I am taking something that belongs to another person, I must have willing permission of the owner. The concept of Bali projects the need to seek permission from the creator before touching any of his creations. Therefore it is said that all food should first be offered to the higher energy. Then, what we eat is a blessed food. I Really appreciate the concept of halal in Islam. If practiced properly, it can rid us from the threat of Pragya Aparadha!
All living things have souls even the cells in our body. And All religions believe that life force or the soul never dies. It gets transformed from one form to the other just like electricity. The concept of Bali signifies a mystical factor of internal evolution. For example, if a person working in a small company get a job in multinational, he gets exposed to finer trade practices and grows as a professional. He might learn by making mistakes. But the organization takes up the responsibility for that. It is believed that when we eat an animal, we internalize its sanskaras(karma backlog) as well. Consciously or unconsciously, we become responsible for the spiritual upliftment of the creature. We must suffer his karma backlog and contribute to the spiritual evolution of that soul. Probably this is the reason that the intellectual class in India preferred vegetarian food, as non-vegetarian food might retard their spiritual growth.
Therefore vegan is the best and the most spiritual diet for the present times.
I hope this information helps you in making the right food choices for physical mental and spiritual growth.
Jeevem sharadh shatam (let’s live a 100 autumn!)