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Importance Of Balanced Diet In Hindu Religion

Spiritual aspirants must be careful about their diet and Hindu religion gives prime importance to a balanced diet. We must avoid all extremes as advised by Sri Krishna in the Gita: ‘Yoga is not attained by one who eats too much or who eats nothing at all, nor by him who sleeps too much or who keeps awake [too much], O Arjuna. One who is moderate in food and movements, in engagement in actions, and in sleep and wakefulness, attains to yoga which destroys misery.’ (Bhagavad Gita, 6.16–17.)

  • Aspirants should avoid overeating and opt for light meals at night.
  • Some aspirants eat only one meal a day, gradually reducing evening meals.
  • Initially, weakness may be felt, but the body adjusts to one meal a day.
  • Overeating leads to more physical ailments than eating less.
  • After forty, gradually reduce food intake by half.
  • Food quantity varies per individual and should be consumed accordingly.
  • Quality matters; avoid rich, spicy, fried, and oily food.
  • The Gita categorizes food into sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic; prefer sattvic.
  • Balance health rules without excessive concern; Sri Ramakrishna didn't encourage hatha yoga.
  • Avoid excessive body-consciousness; overlook minor bodily inconveniences.
  • A healthy body isn't constantly noticed; reduce body-consciousness through spiritual practice.
  • Sadly, some spiritual aspirants become more body-conscious over time.
  • Minor aches shouldn't overly preoccupy the mind.
  • Spiritual practice aims to reduce body-consciousness.
  • Excessive concern about minor discomforts hinders spiritual progress. 

Giving undue importance to minor aches and pains, thinking of them all the time, and going on taking medicines throughout the day is a mental disease called hypochondria. This is the reason why Acharya Shankara denounces persons who give excessive importance to the body: ‘Whoever seeks to realize the Self by devoting himself to the nourishment of the body proceeds to cross a river by catching hold of a crocodile, mistaking it for a log of wood.’ (Vivekachudamani, 84). 

When the elephant of spiritual ecstasy enters the thatched hut of the body, it shatters it to pieces, says Sri Ramakrishna. This happened to most of the great saints, even though their physical bodies were strong.