Food habit

Anna-dosh – Contamination due to food – We should be very careful about what we eat to protect our bhakti. We simply cannot neglect this point.

“ahar-shuddhou satva-shuddhih satva-shuddhou dhruva-smritih”
Meaning – “When we eat satvic food, our sub-conscious mind becomes pure. When it becomes pure then we can remember God uninterruptedly(continuously).” – (Chandogya Upanishad)
It is difficult to purify the sub-conscious mind if we do not eat food that is in the mode of goodness. ‘Satvic’ or ‘pure’ food does not imply simply vegetarian however being vegetarian is a must.

Food can be contaminated in three ways –

1. Impure by nature (jati-dushta) – For example – meat,egg, alcohol, fish, onion, garlic,mushroom etc that cause passion are prohibited.

2. External contamination (nimitta-dushta) – presence of dust, mosquitoes, flies, saliva, sweat etc. contaminate food.

3. Contaminated by source (ashray-dushta) – If the food is either cooked or served by impure, miserly, lusty, greedy, angry, dull-witted person or one who is afflicted    by sexual diseases then the food is contaminated.
The one who pays for the food, the one who cooks and the one who serves – their qualities are transmitted to the one who eats. Amongst them, the one who pays for    the food – the effect of his mentality is the greatest.
Purer the heart, more that devotee will be able to realize the effect of food. Anyway, all practicing devotes should be extra-careful about partaking of prasadam. Otherwise safe-guarding bhakti will be impossible.

Another way to classify food is as follows.

1. Satvic food – The food that increases life-span, energy, strength, fitness, is pleasing and appetizing is called ‘satvic’. It has good flavor, has essential nutrients and enhances joy.

2. Rajasic food – The food that is too bitter, too sour, high in sodium, is spicy, oily, too hot or too sweet is called ‘rajasic’ or in the mode of passion.

3. Tamasic food – The food that is stale, dry, foul-smelling, contaminated, impure is
called ‘tamasic’ or in the mode of ignorance.

The type of food we eat decides our nature. So if we desire bhakti we should avoid food with the above-mentioned contaminations and also the food in the modes of passion and ignorance. We should accept only food that is satvic and offered to Sri Krishna.

The Vaishnavs in the renounced order should be especially careful about partaking prasadam. If we wish to relish Bhakti-ras, then of course we shall have to reject invitations and feasts. In the feasts, we usually don’t know the host’s mentality or with what intention he is throwing the ‘bhandara’ (prasaddistribution).
Moreover if the cook or the ones who are serving have anger then it will harm the sadhak. Not only this, we see that often in the feasts, the prasadam is rich with oil and spice. This is rajasic and detrimental to bhakti as well as health. Gradually we develop al sorts of diseases. If the host earns money by illegal means then the guests (in this case the devotees) suffer the most. Food has such strong impact that it can make the greatest of sadhaks fall down. We find such instances in ‘Vaishnav-jivan’ (The Biography of Vaishnavs). Those who are unaware of this fact need necessarily read Vaishnav-jivani.

A renounced Vaishnav had accepted hospitality of a brahmin. The host made arrangement for the babaji to sleep in his Deities’ room. After accepting dinner-prasadam, the babaji’s intelligence went astray. He took off all the Deities’ ornaments and went away. After the babaji had walked the entire night he came to his senses. “Oh my Lord! Why did I steal the Lord’s ornaments? I never behaved like this before! It is indeed very strange!” Although he pondered on his erratic behavior, he could not draw any conclusion. Anyway he decided to return to the brahmin’s house and beg forgiveness. In the morning when the people had realized the ornaments were missing they had decided that the babaji had been a thief in the guise of a Vaishnav. When they saw the Babaji return all of a sudden they were astonished. The babaji
placed the bundle of ornaments in the brahmin’s hands, admitted his mistake and begged forgiveness. He asked the brahmin from where he had procured the rice for last night’s prasadam.
The brahmin inquired and learnt that one of his ‘Yajmans’ had procured the rice by theft. It was this very rice that the brahmin had given the babaji. Now we can realize the powerful impact of food.
This is why Sriman-Mahaprabhu said –

“bishoyir anna khaile molin hoy mon, Molin mon hoile nohe krishner smaran.
Bishoyir anna hoy rajas nimantran, Data bhokta dohar molin hoy mon.”

Meaning – “Eating the food offered by a materialistic person contaminates the mind; we cannot remember Sri Krishna with an impure mind. A materialist’s
food fills us with passion and it defiles the minds of both the giver and the acceptor (of such food).”- (C.C.)


Reference : Obstacles in Bhakti by Sri Srimad Binod Bihari Das Babaji.


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