After reading my article “How to DETOX the body naturally” published last Sunday, one of my former students requested me to throw some light on how to do fasting, what is ideal dietary intake and what kind of diet should be taken etc. My today’s article is for all those enthusiastic readers who understand the importance of health in life. In order to gain a microscopic depth about fasting and diet, one has to think about many things simultaneously, such as how much food is needed in life? What is the role of SATTVIC diet? Why fasting? How to do fasting? Is fasting only for religious people or can intelligent people also do it?
Food is the basis of life because the life of every living being is attach with food. Diet sustains life, nourishes the body so it cannot be abandoned altogether but conscience about diet can be cultivated. Anyone who is interested in a holistic health or complete fitness must understand how much and what kind of diet is required for a perfectly healthy life. Excess in any case always has serious consequences. That is why there is a proverb in English “Excess in everything is poison”. Excess in any thing is too much harmful that one must understand. That is why perhaps all religions also teach balance approach or equality. Right proportion is very essential in everything. Right proportion in food means to eat a little less than hunger. Eat as much as you can digest. In short, eat according to age and digestibility. According to AYURVEDA, one should divide his appetite into four parts, of which 50% should be food, 25% water and 25% air (oxygen) so that digestion is easy and a person can stay healthy. Thus it is best to keep two portions of total appetite for cereals, one portion for water (which can be buttermilk, juice, coconut water etc.) and one portion for air (oxygen). This is what Louis CARNERO notes in his book “how to live hundred years of life?” GANDHIJI said that snacking that is less eating is the key to health. Diet discretion, less eating or fasting is the brain tonic. Most of the body’s energy is used to digest food that is eaten in excess, so that there is a lack of vitality and there is no saving of energy. In short, less eating or fasting is the key to staying healthy.
In SATYUGA, PRANA was in the bone so that hard fasting becomes natural but in KALIYUGA, PRANA is in food so hard fasting is not possible for us. But discretion in food is very necessary. Have to eat just to live, not to live for eating only. If there is no control over taste or tongue, there is no understanding of diet, there is no way of eating and drinking and there is no necessary conscience, even the best food for the body becomes poison. Discipline is very important in diet. The scriptures say that eating for the pleasure of taste is a sin. Even nectar becomes poison if ingested immeasurably. In addition, SATTVIC diet plays an important role in complete fitness. Raman Maharishi says that a diet that is beneficial to your health should be taken in moderation. No matter how favorite the food, if it is not conducive or appropriate to health, its infatuation should be given up. Food should be taken like medicine for the maintenance of the body and it is understood that no matter how delicious the medicine is, it should not be eaten beyond limit. It is also advisable to follow a very simple diet and SATTVIC diet without spicy, sour, spicy irritants. One who can control the tongue or taste can control all the senses. When the senses come under control, the mind becomes calm and controlled and the journey of the person towards the best, i.e. the journey to become moral and virtuous, becomes natural.
Understanding food as a gift from God and taking it with love, pride, peace of mind and happiness gives excellent results. That is why in Hinduism, food is compared to BRAHAM. It should be embraced with such discipline that it blesses you. The purity and sanctity of food is just as important. The cleanliness of the kitchen, cooking utensils, food maker etc., is essential for perfect health. In addition the housewife should make cooking with very noble thoughts so that the whole family becomes positive. The food consumed only by indulgence increases the toxins and evils like lust, anger in us while the food prepared with remembrance of God and the food taken with gratitude makes the body, mind and soul powerful.
Our body needs food continuously for life. The part of the food that is digested in the stomach that is digested and absorbed in the body becomes a part of our body. This part definitely affects not only the health of our body but also its quality affects the mind. Its subtle agitation shapes our nature and then the mind becomes out of it. Thus food has a profound effect on the body, mind and the soul. Through which the direction of a person’s speech, thought and behavior is determined. Pure or good food as well as fasting plays an important role in making a person moral and valuable. That is why it is said ‘અન્ન એવું મન’. The purification of the soul is based on the purification of the mind as all kinds of impurity enter from the mind itself. Purity of mind is based on purity of body which is made possible by diet and fasting.
Achieving excellent results is not possible through the type of food (Junk food) that is consumed in the modern age because Junk means ‘garbage’. So how can speech, thought and behavior become elite and pure by absorbing waste? It is only through diet discretion or SATTVIC diet that knowledge rises, the mind becomes positive, the desire for good conduct or philanthropy arises, the life turns to religion and thus the whole society can become moral ethical and valuable.
The importance of fasting is acknowledged in almost all religions. In Hinduism fasting of SHRAVAN month, in Muslims there is ROJA, in JAINS, the importance of fasting is praised through PARYUSHANA. The question is why fasting? How does fasting happen? And what is the real way of fasting? Why every religion emphasizes fasting. In Hinduism, fasting (EKADASHI) is advised twice in a month. Science acknowledges that when food is not eaten, the digestive tract cleanses the body of toxins and undigested waste that are the root cause of all diseases. Thus fasting is essential for living a healthy life and getting rid of all diseases. But it is in no way appropriate to eat more than one fruit on that day otherwise the science behind fasting does not work and people begin to consider fasting as useless and inappropriate. The way fasting is done in the modern age, by excessive FARALI items it only aggravates the disease instead of curing it. We have already discussed above that apart from fasting, it is inevitable to take food as a medicine in daily life, so it is understandable that fasting requires even more special discretion and restraint.
According to the theory of karma, the worse the karma, the worse its fruit has to be enjoyed. When you live on fasting, renunciation, determination or strict rules, you suffer your deeds in advance. It is easier to suffer in installment than all at once. If the karma of being hungry is bound up due to some bad deed, then person can bear it by fasting, suffers from getting sick and also suffers from quarreling with wife, which is better? It is up to the individual to decide. Divine place can be attained by being purified in the fire of penance. There should be so much virtue in your account that sinners cannot surpass it i.e. they cannot cause you any trouble.
Fasting can be done in three ways 1) Waterless fasting (NIRJALA)- in which even drinking water is not allowed 2) foodless fasting – in which nothing is allowed except water 3) fasting with FALAHAR In which only milk and fruits are allowed. Fasting cannot be considered as fasting by eating too much for the sake of taste and indulgence. Fasting is not just a religious act that every religious person has to do otherwise he has to go to hell and if an ungodly person does not do it then no problem. Fasting is actually a highly scientific action that the ancient sages suggested in the name of religion. Through which health and longevity are achieved, the need of which is the same for a non-religious man as for a religious man. From a religious point of view, the meaning of fasting that is उपवास is a bit specific, in which the two words “उप” means near & “वास” means to stay. Thus उपवास means staying near or close to God. Usually most of the time of human beings is spent in making and eating food, there is no time for God so that in the name of fasting one gets leisure from cooking work and some time can be spend for devotion.
Fasting is necessary to live a healthy life as well as to get rid of all diseases but fasting must also be done within limits. After every Fifteen days of fasting is advisable and it is also best if it is done between 8th to full moon as these days the position of the sun and moon from the earth is such that it has maximum effect on water and the human body is made up of 70% water so that it has a special effect on and fasting proves useful. On certain dates the brain becomes almost intoxicated due to the special position of the sun-moon so that the food eaten on such days invites disease. Dr. Morris, a scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, writes in his book “Impact of the Moon on Human Being” that full moon increases the physical and mental suffering of human beings. Person’s BP, heart beats remain high during full moon days. It also speeds up metabolism. Brain diseases are on the rise. Swedish scientist SANTY ARHENIS notes that dark day (AMAS) has an increase in fatigue, insanity, mental illness and skin diseases when the sun and moon are at zero degrees during that day, and the same effect occurs when the sun and moon are at 180 degrees. The situation from the eighth to full moon indicates the bad condition of the moon which has a special effect on the human body and mind that is why fasting is suggested to prevent that.
There are many types of fasting that can make a person healthy and disease free such as,
1) Fasting of morning – means not to break-fast, skip breakfast.
2) Evening fast which we call EKTANU. That means eating only one time a day.
3) EKAHAROPAVAS – in which only one thing is to be eaten at a time. If you eat wheat items during the day, take only vegetables or milk at night.
4) RASOPAVAS: means to take only fruit juice or vegetable juice.
5) Fruit fasting: That is to stay only on fruits.
6) DUGDHOPAVAS: means to stay only on milk.
7) TAKOPAVAS: means to stay only on buttermilk.
8) PURNOPAVAS: means foodless fasting only water is allowed.
9) Weekly fasting: means fasting once a week.
10) Short fast: means to eat half of the normal food intake in daily life.
All such fasting can be done in accordance with one’s nature or body tendency that can be beneficial to everyone. Also, never be arrogant to consider yourself religious or excellent by fasting because fasting is a special scientific action than religious which does not understand the difference between religious and non-religious and gives equal benefits to everyone. Even an ungodly man can fast with a deep scientific understanding. I consider a man with true understanding and proper fasting to be very intelligent, religious by heart and scientific by brain. The one who bathes in the Ganges with a religious spirit gets the double benefit of purification of mind and body, while the ungodly man gets the benefit of body purification only. The same is true in fasting. So my humble suggestion to all is to fast at least once in fifteen days from today with deep scientific understanding.
Shilpa shah, director in-charge, HKBBA College