Yogic Diet | Importance of food in sadhana |Part 1
November 22, 2019
Today we will discuss about the importance of yogic diet as food plays an important part of sadhana. This article is a 3 part series article.
In first part we will discuss the general importance of food in sadhana with few examples from the scriptures.
Part 2: What constitutes the yogic diet and what traditional texts speak about diet.
Part 3: What food is harmful for sadhana practice and how to control the temptation of tongue.
Food or anna as it is called in sanskrit is the most important part of any serious yoga sadhana. Adhyatma as we have discussed before that it is the path to self discovery. Sadhana is the technique of moving on to the path of this Adhyatma. Before embarking on any sadhana one has to first purify one’s body. And obviously body is made up of the food. So the starting point has to be our food.
Food and its relationship with Mind and Cognition
The importance of food can be gauged from the fact that in the Indian culture it has been given the status of God. Goddess Annapurna is considered the goddess of food. In all the rituals of the Hinduism we find the use of food grains like wheat, rice, fruits in yagna and havan. It considers the food as not only the sustainer of the life on earth but also god who can give us the blessing of moksha or nirvana.
The Chandyoga Upanishad explains this fact in the following shloka
Purity of food leads to purity of mind and this leads increase in awareness (smriti). One becomes more aware of the body sensation as well as the mind leading to higher clarity. And once our awareness increases whole new dimension of adhyatma or path of self discovery opens up. This leads to dissipation of samskaras and lead to burning of our attachments. Hence we find the great role played by food in our path of sadhana.
Why this topic becomes all the more relevant in the present scenario
Today we find that with the growing consumerism, the food has become yet another product which is being commercialized and treated as the means of earning profit. Food is being processed and all types unhealthy food is being promoted by the media. So the present generation has become addicted to outdoor food. With the growth of Swiggy and Ubereats the eating out phenomenon has reached another level.
So now if we talk of healthy vegetarian meal, it becomes a great project for any person wanting to tread the path of sadhana. But without improving our food, all our sadhana is just waste.
Also the new age meditation experts often consider food as non-important factors in meditation practice. Often such meditation experts mostly working as consultants in corporates don’t have the adequate experience of meditation. They have tried to make meditation into another secular practice and towing the line of western liberalism.
The middle path is key
It is seen that often people make the question of food in extremes specially in the field of sadhana. Some people overstress the role of fasting and some people on the other hand say absolutely no restriction is needed in food. Both this approach is often wrong. The question of diet is very personal issue due to difference in prakriti constitution of the body. Hence the diet will also differ. However general guideline about the food can be given for sadhana.
Importance must be given to food and one must not starve oneself in the name of fasting. We can learn this from the incident of Buddha’s life where he had given up all kinds of food and was practicing extreme penance. But then he realized the mistake and took the porridge(kheer) from Sujata and gave the path of middle way (majjham magga). Fasting is good for yogic practice but it must be taken on speed of sadhana. If our sadhana is progressing on the right path automatically we will become more proficient in taking more fasting.
The Bhagwad Gita also resonates the same thing in the following shlokas.