I have been practicing traditional intermittent fasting as was practiced by my ancestors, to understand its effects and I have come to observe incredible results.
It is a saying that Hindu people have thirteen festivals in three days (teen din me terah tehvar). Most of these festivals are associated with some of the other deities. However, one noticeable thing is that all these festivals form a deep mesh of intermittent fasting, based on the position and state (waning/waxing) of the moon. And it is now scientifically proven that the lunar phases have an impact not only on the tides, but also human circulatory system, menstrual cycle, nervous system, and hormones.
I started a study of ritucharya as a systematic preventive regimen against seasonal disorders in 2015. However, now I realize that it is not only a preventive system. It is much more rigorous than that. There is a huge possibility that this system can actually stay the entire aging process.
And ritucharya is more outside the ancient Ayurvedic text. It is mentioned in an indicative fashion in the classical text. However, the real practice of ritucharya is deeply ingrained in Hindu religious practices. I now believe is that a person living in a Vedic manner, should ideally not age at all.
Today, it is Ashtami (the eighth day of lunar waning) and I have been observing dry fasting (zero food and water) on each Ashtami, which is twice a month. Today, it was hotter than the rest of the days and therefore, I thought that I would rather continue with fruit and vegetable-based fast rather than a complete dry fast.
I ate fruits in the morning as I was really hungry then. In the afternoon, I was not hungry at all, but still, I had a good amount of cooked vegetables and watermelon. By 3.00 pm in the afternoon, I felt so abnormally drowsy that I was not able to keep my eyes open. This is a rare incidence for me as I also practice sleep fasting or ratri Jagran multiple times a month (zero sleep for 24 hours).
I drank approx 200 ml of coffee in the afternoon to prevent sleeping during the day. milk-based Coffee is anytime a better option than sleeping during the daytime. Normally, even 50 ml of milk-based mild coffee will keep me up for the entire night. But even after drinking this coffee, I fell asleep.
Sleep is a way of the body to counter excessive heat. Even animals like snakes and other reptiles sleep in order to cool off their bodies. This naturally happens as our metabolism is drastically reduced during sleep and therefore this helps to reduce the heat production ion the body as well.
In normal dry fasting, I would not have anything including water throughout the day. During Ashtami, I would drink water and eat one meal after the sunset. In Ekadashi, it is 24-hour fasting. And the incredible thing is that during all these fasts, I never feel weak, or tired, or sleepy. In fact, I feel lighter, cooler, and more energetic.
However, today I missed the fast. There is a reason to conclude that our body does not only have a bio-clock, it might also have a bio-calender. I believe that my body was expecting no food or water today and had other things planned for the day.
But since I had food, in addition to the increased day heat, the body had no option but to shut off the system and go to sleep.
Normally, I would sleep for 5-6 hours a day without any problems at all. But today even after sleeping for one hour extra during the day, I felt so tired and heavy in my head after waking up.
In Bihar, (a state in India), there is a highly revered festival of chatt (which includes48 hours dry fasting). It is a very tough vrata and the follower is strictly advised to never drop the annual fasting routine. Even if one has to drop the fasting ritual, there is a special procedure for it. Otherwise, the follower may invite the wrath of the presiding deity -the sun. It reinforces my belief in the annual calendar memory of the body.
I assume that body metabolism has as its own inertia of momentum and when this natural rhythm is obstructed in some manner, there is an equal and opposite )and probably not very pleasant) reaction – the wrath of the diety!
It is interesting to note that all human body parts have a presiding deity, for example, the eye is the abode of the sun god, the nose of the abode of vayu (air god), and so on. Similarly, each day of the lunar month has a presiding deity according to Vedic astrology. And today, I can definitely feel the wrath of the presiding deity of Ashtami – shiva 🙂
I will try to document all my personal experiences of Hindu Traditional Fasting and I sincerely hope that it might help to throw new light on the lost science of ritucharya!
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!