Food is like Oxygen to me.
Presently I have a website www.chefreetuudaykugaji.com & a page on Facebook called Food For Thought by Chef (Mrs.) Reetu Uday Kugaji.
I have chosen to write on “Spirituality and Food”, this article of mine is not to hurt the sentiments of the readers and the views expressed are solely mine and I believe that “Food is God”.
I have strong faith in God and am a very Spiritual person, I believe Food whether vegetarian or Non-vegetarian if cooked with utmost love and positivity touches the heart of person consuming it.
As human beings we are made of three selves: the gross or material self, which is made of the five elements of nature; the subtle self, consisting of our mind, intelligence and false ego (which keeps us attached to our material self through material objects and achievements); and finally the soul, which is not attached to any sex, gender or religion, but is merely connected to the supreme being.
Our goal as spiritual seekers should be to understand our true identity as the soul and please the Supreme Being of which it is a part. Besides what we wear i.e. the clothing and what we do i.e. Karma, food also plays a major role in helping us attain this goal because what we eat is what we are. The food that we eat influences our thought process, actions and therefore our journey of spirituality. Therefore, to help us attain our goal, the Bhagvad Gita and the Vedic Scriptures have categorized food into the following:
Sattvic food provides calmness, purity and promotes longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight.
A mixture of honey, milk, ghee, curd and sugar is called Panchamrut (Five Nectars) for pooja and is a routine offering to God. All the five components have Sattvic properties and their consumption promotes good health.
Sweet, juicy, fatty and palatable foods fall in this type and are said to be in the mode of goodness as they increase the duration of our life, give us strength, purify our existence and lead to happiness and satisfaction.
Sprinkling water around the plate is considered as an act of purification.
The Sattvic personality
People who follow the Sattvic way of eating are known to be clear-minded, balanced and spiritually aware. They usually avoid alcohol, stimulants like tea, coffee, tobacco and non-vegetarian food.
Rajasic food possess attributes of negativity, passion and restlessness.
Foods that are too bitter, sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot come under Rajasic. They are known to induce passion and also cause pain and distress. The mucus they produce in the stomach also leads to various diseases. A common question in this relation is why should you avoid onions and garlic? Because both are proven to be aphrodisiacs, meaning they induce sexual passion. Foods inducing passion and other aforementioned emotions are to be avoided because these emotions distract you from your spiritual goal.
The Rajasic personality
These foods create sensuality, sexuality, greed, jealousy, anger, delusion, fantasies,whims, egotism and irreligious feelings. They are interested in the 4 P’s –Power, Prestige, Position & Prosperity. But they are quite in control of their lives and aren’t obsessed by any of the above. They are go-getters and know how to enjoy life.
The Rajasic man or woman always plans to prepare various kinds of preparations to satisfy his palate. The palate remains unsatisfied until the stomach is completely filled with pungent / spicy foods and till the tongue is burnt fuming with chillies ,which may include green or red chillies or both.
Tamasic food has attributes of inducing sleep, ignorance, dullness and inertia.
Food cooked more than three hours before consumption, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is considered Tamasic for example leftover foods because it has lost its nutrients and to some extent it’s flavours and aroma. This kind of food is in the mode of darkness and ignorance. Meat-eating involves ignorance in the form of lack of sensitivity. One may argue, if we are to be sensitive, then why not to plants? Why are we allowed to eat them? The reason is that plants unlike animals and human beings don’t have a nervous system and hence do not feel pain and do not bleed, even when they are cut from the fields, they can grow back. Finally Alcohol, liquor and other illicit and illegal substances like Narcotic drugs, tobacco also fall in this category because they numb our senses and hence our consciousness, making us do things that we otherwise won’t.
The Tamasic personality
Tamasic brings about stagnation leading to degeneration of people’s health. Such individuals suffer from intense mood swings, insecurity, desires, and cravings and are unable to deal with others in a balanced way. They have little regard for the welfare of others and tend to be very self-centered and selfish. Their nervous system and heart do not function optimally and such individuals age fast. They usually suffer from conditions like cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis, and chronic fatigue.
Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic are more than just qualities in food — they are a way of life.
“Salt is the master of our food. God sent down four blessings from the sky -fire,water,iron and salt”.
Salt is considered to be a very auspicious substance in Hinduism and is used in particular religious ceremonies like house-warming’s and weddings.
I feel that there is nothing like “Maa ke haath ka bana khana”, it’s so full of love.
Remember when food is cooked with a positive and a good heart, it is said to be digested very well, which is a scientifically proven fact.
All the food in its raw form comes to us from the nature or as we believe it is from God Almighty. So we follow a ritual of offering food (Bhog), to the God Almighty before eating as a way of giving thanks as it is the least we can do. God doesn’t take the food, but accepts our pure love. This is the philosophy of offering, and accepting Prasad or Langar.
If we closely examine the relationship between spirituality and food, we easily will notice that food too can be sacred. Once you start treating it that way, there is no doubt that you will notice a major difference in the direction that your general life takes. You might not even realize it when things start to change.
As my profession demands cooking and tasting of Non-Vegetarian products & in spite of me being a pure vegetarian, I perform my duties religiously as I understand the cause behind it is holy and noble.
Through this I wish to pass this message to all the budding Chefs of tomorrow that whatever you prepare whether Vegetarian or Non vegetarian should have a clearly defined purpose of winning hearts through the stomach to the Heart.