Section 4(1)

Prevention is better than cure. There will be little room for cardiac ailments if one’s food habits are properly controlled and regulated. You may have some doubt as to why we should give so much importance to a minor matter like the intake of food when there are so many other important things. Food is the chief formative force. Moral conduct, good habits, spiritual effort – all depend upon the quality of the food. Disease, mental weakness, spiritual slackness – all are produced by faulty food. We should not think that the importance that is being given to the aspect of food is unnecessary. For all types of Yoga — Pranayama, Niyama, Pratyahara, Samadhi, etc. — the correct type of food is the most important basis. By eating clean food, we can get a clean mind and through a clean mind, we can get a clear idea of the goal. Through such a clear concept of the Atma, we will be able to get rid of the illusion of maya. Through this method, the knot that is present in our heart will open up, and this is the basis for getting a divine vision. So, we say that limited food and sathwik food which is already offered to God will enable us to have a clean mind. Without having purity of mind, we cannot achieve even a small thing.

Sātvik Āhāra

There are three Gunas: Sātvik (purity), Rājasik (passion) and Tāmasik (indolence). They arise from the Antaḥkaraṇa (Inner instruments of Perception). Their expression is modulated by the intake of food. Those who know that physical health is the greatest treasure take great care to eat only Sātvik food. Sātvik food strengthens the mind as well as the body.
Let us consider some points on which we have to be vigilant, in order to avoid breakdowns on the road:
  • Food should not be too salty, too spicy, too bitter, too sweet or too sour.
  • Food should not be taken while steaming hot.
  • Food that fans the flames of thirst should be avoided.
  • Food cooked in water should not be used the next day. It becomes harmful
  • Do not consume food indiscriminately unmindful of the caloric content of the food taken. For example, people eat papads (thin circular flour preparations) fried in oil which have high calorie content. People also consume ghee which is also a high calorie food. A single papad has 100-150 calories of energy. A single spoon of ghee has 100 calories of energy. Even when the quantity of food intake is reduced, reductions in the calorie content is not ensured.
  • Even fried articles should be consumed before they develop “unpleasant odours.” Uncooked food, nuts and fruits, germinating pulses are the best. Coconut kernel, coconut water, sprouting pulses, uncooked or half cooked vegetables, and greens are good for health. Use these at least at one meal, say, for dinner at night; this will ensure a long life.
  • Fast one day in the week. This is good for the body as well as for the country. Do not eat a dozen plantains, half a dozen puris and drink a quart of milk and call it a fast! Take only water, so that all the dirt is washed away. Do not crave for fruit juice or other liquids. Even physical machinery is given rest; they cannot run forever, continuously. What then shall we say of this delicately organised human body!
  • The older generation in this land used to take some quantity of rice soaked in curds, first meal in the morning or, they drank some ragi gruel, which is equally good. It is good Sathwik food;
  • Drink large quantities of water, boiled and cooled, not during meals, but some time before and after.
  • Eat at regular intervals, according to a well-established timetable.
  • Move about and fill the day with activity, so that food is well digested.
  • Develop biting hunger, before sitting down for a meal. Now, many do not know what it is to be hungry or thirsty. Wait until you get the call, before you load the stomach again.
  • Care should be taken to see that the food consumed does not have much fat content, for the fats consumed in large quantities are detrimental not only to one’s physical health but also to one’s mental health.
  • Meat and alcoholic drinks take a heavy toll on man’s health, causing many a disease in him.
  • Research has revealed that non-vegetarian and alcoholic addicts are more prone to heart ailments than vegetarians. If the vegetarian food that is consumed should be balanced and wholesome, it should contain liberal doses of vitamin C and vitamin E, which are available in vegetables like carrots. The presence of these vitamins prevents heart ailments in a large measure.
  • The intake of food should be gradually reduced after crossing 50 years.

The general principle is that there should be a limit, a restraint. Regular and limited intakes alone can enable a person to discharge one’s duties. If we eat in the right proportions, it may be described as sathwic. The ideal proportion for a meal session is two parts of solid food, one part of liquid and one part air.

Among the myriad of species of living beings, all except humans live on food as provided by Mother Nature. Man alone strives to make such food, more attractive to the senses of sight, touch and smell by boiling, frying, freezing, mixing, grinding and soaking. The consequence of this greed is ill-health and debility. One should realise that food materials, as offered by nature, are really more beneficial. When heat is applied, they lose the vitality yielding components and cannot offer strength and efficiency. The person ages fast and loses the sprightliness of you

Many diseases are caused by drinking water that is polluted. Polluted food also accounts for the spread of these disease carrying germs.

The rural folks live on food that is deficient in vitamins and proteins, though they grow vegetables and food that provide these ingredients in plenty and sell them to city-dwellers. They must be told of the value of fruits and vegetables as a source of nutrients that will promote and preserve their health. Healthy parents mean healthy children, and sick parents pass on their ill-health to the coming generations. Members of the units of the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation should join the Seva Dal in this campaign of educating the villagers. This activity is as meritorious as worship itself.

The relationship between food and habits should be properly understood. We should see that proper balance is maintained between the physical body and inner feelings (Spirit). When we take our food, we are taking it through our tongue; but we have five different sense organs. In spite of this, we think that we are consuming food only through the palate. Many people wonder why they are getting bad thoughts, although they are consuming only pure and sathwik food. When we say that we should accept only sathwik food, it refers to food that we accept through all the organs.

This kind of food will help us a great deal in our sadhana and we will have good health. It is in this context that it has been said that health is our true wealth. A healthy body will have a healthy mind. However, today man is not accepting any of these good principles and he is subjecting himself to a lot of disease and harm.

Why is it that we eat too much and in excessive quantities? If we eat more than what we need, we will have trouble digesting our food. In order that we may digest too much food, we will have to spend two or three hours in a wasteful manner. Further, it would also imply that we are depriving someone else of the food that he might need more than us. In this manner, we will be committing two wrongs. Be that as it may, such eating will promote ill health. Limited consumption of food will promote a clean and pure mind.