Few months back I was in Rajasthan and I was inspired to write this small article dedicating to all those following simplicity diet. I am sure those who visit villages in Rajasthan get the same feeling. In comparison to villages in other parts of India, Rajasthani villages are special. Rajasthani men and women are semblem of simplicity. And it starts with their diet.
UNDOING THE CONDITIONING: I happenned to understand that unless we simplify our dietary habits, it is not possible to achieve self-sufficiency in our village community projects and it is not possible to become simple. Our conditioning with opulent food that comes from three thousand different destinations is what we look to replicate in our agricultural practices. Even if by some intelligent arrangement if this is possible, we loose the purpose – the simplicity. How much true is Srila Prabhupada’s statement – “Use ONLY what you produce, produce ONLY what you need”!
Our conditioning, thanks to “Green revolution” and other ongoing efforts by corporates and corrupt governments combined, is due to brainwashing about nutrition, diet and supplements. But when we go back to nature, everything makes sense. The first thing to do is willing to simplify our diet.
Simplifying our diet has a rippling effect. It affects all the other aspects of life; not just health, but everything from food preparation, food storage, fuel consumption, kitchen design, the amount of money we may require, the kind of clothes we need, medical bills, transportation expenses, time spent away from home – it’s totally mind boggling when we realize how everything links back to our food choices.
Simplifying food habit means to just make nutritionally enough of food that we consume to keep the body and soul together. What we will need is nutrituous food and very little of it at regulated time.
The problem today is not wholesome food, too much of it and at unregulated time. It is expensive too! It is difficult to grow and process! It’s time to get to simplicity basics.
“In Kali-yuga, the duration of life is shortened not so much because of insufficient food but because of irregular habits. By keeping regular habits and eating simple food, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, over-sense gratification, overdependence on another’s mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the very vitality of human energy. Therefore the duration of life is shortened.” Srila Prabhupada, purport to Srimad Bhagavatam – 1.1.10
Let us make no mistake. Foods that are available today, including milk and its products, are highly and abominably adulterated. They are there to make profits. Apart from the high pesticide content in the food they are not nutritious.
BREAKING THE NUTRITION MYTH: Nutrition value does not lie in the food that we eat. Today, nutritionists increasingly recognize that vitamins, proteins, etc., are just fragmented compounds, not whole foods. The body does not recognize vitamins as food.
According to ayurveda, the natural and wholesome lactovegetarian food offerred to the jatharagni (fire of digestion represeting Supreme lord) consumes the food to provide required nutrition for the body.
“The power of assimilation which is the prerogative of the stomach only is an emblem of divine energy. The divine energy in the stomach has been designated as ‘Vaiswanara’ or an energy of intense heat representing the inconceivable power of Godhead. Incubation of heat generated in the stomach cannot be produced artificially in the physical laboratory of the material scientist. This ‘Vaiswanara’ is the vital power in the body. The vitamin therapy of foodstuff is dependant on the ‘Vaiswanara’ heat. The vitamins are produced by the heat and it is not that there is vitamin in the foodstuff offered to the stomach. This Vaiswanara heat produces different qualities of vitamin at different places. The Vaiswanara heat in the stomach of a cow produces different vitaminous energy from the one which is produced in the stomach of a human being. For example, fragments of straw itself has no vitamin value by chemical analysis but when it is put into the stomach of a cow, straw produces enormous volumes of vitamin ‘D’ and ‘A’ while the same straw put into the stomach of a human being will cause starvation to death. That is the inconceivable power of the Supreme Lord.”
“Foolish people think vitamin value of foodstuff in their own way and push into the stomach all sorts of rubbish thing thinking that ‘Vaiswanara’ heat, representative of the Supreme Lord, will accept any such rubbish thing for assimilation. The case is different. The ‘Vaiswanara’ representative power of Godhead in the stomach of the human being can accept only leaves, flower, fruits of the vegetable group and pure water and milk for vitaminising the human energy. The mouth being the entrance door to the region of the stomach, it must guard the tongue of every human being to acquire the quality of a Brahmana, who can accept only foodstuff of ‘Satwik’ quality.”
Back To Godhead, Volume 3, Part , “Yajna, or sacrifice for the supreme”, May
Nutritious food is that which has not been tampered with in any way. It has not been processed, bottled, boxed, frozen, canned, heat-treated, preserved, electrocuted, injected with hormones or anti-biotics, sprayed, colored, thickened, pasteurized, defoliated, fumigated, radiated, gassed, waxed, stamped, stapled or whatever. So what does that leave? It leaves only basic, whole foods, such as brown rice, whole wheat, millet, oats, buckwheat, organic fruit, organic vegetables, nuts, leafy green vegetables and herbs, milk and its products. That’s about it.
“Now, there are so many scientists. They are discovering vitamin value from foodstuff. Now, what is the vitamin value in the dry grass? Can any scientist say that this is the vitamin value in dry grass? If there is no vitamin value in dry grass, how the cow is producing so much milk, who is full of vitamins A and D? How, from dry grass, vitamins coming out? Nowadays the physician prescribes some artificial vitamins for maintaining your body. Now, what is the vitamin there in the dry grass so that the cow is eating dry grass and giving you nice milk full of vitamins A and D, essential for your life? So these are all wrong theories, that “This contains this vitamin. This contains this.” Let them go on. But natural foodstuff which is meant for human being, they are full of vitamins already there by nature’s law, by God’s wish. So annad bhavanti bhutani [Lecture, Bg. 3.14].”
Raw food is simply that which keeps the nutrition intact. Ayurveda recommends a balanced diet. Diet is balanced if it contains six types of tastes – madhu, katva, amla, lavana, tikta and kasaya. Also, four types of food – carvya, cusya, lehya and peya-prasada that is chewed, prasada that is licked, prasada tasted with the tongue, and prasada that is drunk.
“According to the Vedic system, there are two classes of food. One is called raw food, and the other is called cooked food. “Raw food” does not indicate raw vegetables and raw grains but food boiled in water, whereas cooked food is made in ghee. Capatis, dhal, rice and ordinary vegetables are called raw foods, as are fruits and salads. But puris, kachoris, samosas, sweet balls and so on are called cooked foods.”
(KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chap 82)
The best way to eat is more percentage of whole raw foods than cooked. Raw foods satisfy hunger and so we need less! So simple diet will also help us eat frugally because it is nutritionally fulfilling.
Hari Bhakti Vilasa also gives detailed steps to honour prasada. First one must taste sweet a little bit and then start with other food. The food should end with buttermilk (unlike sweet that we usually do). This method also establishes complete nutrition to the body. One must also sip water little during honouring the prasada. However, one should not drink water just before beginning or at the end of prasada. This will destroy the fire in the stomach. One must say prayers or atleast chant Hare Krsna Maha Mantra before and after the prasada. However at the end one must rub the belly while saying the prayers.
Also, before one honours prasada, one must clean their feet, hands and face. Sitting on the ground or squatting is best to honour prasada and not on the chairs and dining table. This sitting position helps to sense whether our stomach is full or not. Else, we may overeat. Eating just right and frugally is the key for simplicity. With this formula we do not even waste Krsna prasada.
EATING FRUGALLY – MILLETS THE MAGIC FOOD: To practice any kind of yoga, there is no other way than to adopt to simplicity dietary habit. Because practising yoga means to control senses starting with the tongue. Therefore, eating less and fasting are two very important processes.
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe hrdayete radha-krsna sarvada sevibe “Do not eat luxurious dishes or dress in fine garments, but always remain humble and serve Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in your heart of hearts.”
Eating once or twice is best to practice yoga. Also, eating frugally is intimately connected to keeping purity of thought and cleanliness outside.
“Suci, saucam, suci. So the devotee must be clean, inside and outside, both. Outside cleaning by taking bath, washing the body with oil or soap or soda, and inside, inside, materially, there will be no unclean things, stool, unnecessary stool. That means one must evacuate every morning and evening. If we eat more, then we have to evacuate twice. But if we eat less, then once evacuation is sufficient. It is said, yogi, bhogi, and rogi. Yogi means spiritually advanced, and bhogi means materialist, and rogi means diseased. It is a common saying. A yogi evacuates only once. That is yogi. And bhogi, because he eats more, so he evacuates twice. And one who evacuates more than twice, he’s rogi, diseased. Yogi, bhogi, rogi. So everything has got routine work. saucam. So you’ll feel healthy. If you have evacuated nicely, you have washed inside and outside, taken your bath, then you’ll feel always refreshed. And unless you feel refreshed, you cannot very nicely chant Hare Krsna maha-mantra or serve Krsna. Therefore cleanliness is required.”
Srila Prabhupada, Lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.16.26-30, Hawaii, Jan 23,
“Reducing the eating process is very helpful in the matter of sense control. And without sense control there is no possibility of getting out of the material entanglement.” Bhagavad-gita 4.29
Overeating causes problems such as “amla pitta” or acidity. While not eating at all might cause ulcers. Eating light and right is what we can define as frugal diet.
“By overeating, an ordinary human being becomes prone to a disease called amla-pitta, which is a product of indigestion characterized by acidity of the stomach. Damayanti thought that such a condition would afflict Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” Srila Prabhupada, purport, Chaitanya Caritamrta, Antya 10.20
Millets are magic food. There are around 7000 millets reported all over the world. Before green revolution, the staple diet for Indians was millets and less of rice or wheat.
Bajra for example is widely used in Rajasthan even today. Bajra roti and butter twice a day forms their diet. People still work hard in the fields and ksatriyas fight hard on the battlefield.
Ragi for example is a magic wholesome food. In south India, farmers work whole day with one ragi ball and little ghee and rasam.
Growing these millets are very easy too. They are disease resistant unlike cereals like rice and wheat. Hence they do not require any pesticide. For unknown reasons, GMO companies have not bothered to tamper with them as yet. So original seeds are still available. Paleoethnobotanists note that millet based diet was prevalent all over the world some 100 years back.
Our food today is poisonous. Ayurveda recommends to make our food as medicine. Turning to wholesome, natural, organic, lacto vegetarian and home grown food offerred with love to Krsna and consumed frugally at regular time is what I want to do as a noble son of Srila Prabhupada for simple living – high thinking.
21 December, 1967
My Dear Rayarama, please accept my blessings. My first concern is that you are not eating well. It is a case of anxiety. Please don’t eat dal and spices. Simply boiled vegetables, rice and a few capatis. Take butter separately and eat only as much as you may require for taste. Drink milk twice, morning and evening. Don’t eat at night. Eat some fruits in the evening. Use some digestive pill after each principle meal. I think soda-mint tablets will help. Be careful about your health first. This information is not only for you but all my noble sons. I am an old man. I may live or die it does not matter. But you must live for long time to push on this Krishna Consciousness movement.”