Friday, March 27, 2015

Food: Raw or Cooked?

Its a hot topic of discussion amongst yogis and followers of spirituality, whether to eat food raw or cooked? With the rapid spread of yoga and Ayurveda globally and its collusion or assimilation with different cultures, there is lot of curiosity, harsh opinions, blind following on this issue. No doubt there is rise of food consciousness!

I have seen many yogis during my spiritual travel in India who are living only on fruits, roots or milk. Some of them have been drinking only chai as a source of their food. On the other hand I have seen yogis from certain lineages over-eating, eating rich food (cooked) and are obviously overweight & not in good health. 

So there is no thumb rule to prove the fact that yogis eat raw food or cooked food. The traditional yoga lineages (which have gone corrupt by adopting various influences) have varied opinions on whether to eat food raw or cooked.

For me the very question of 'this or that' type is full of injustice to the wholeness of the topic of discussion. We must understand the reasons why we eat food, why we cook, when we cook, when eat raw, which body types need what type of foods, weather conditions one lives in and so on...

Indian Thaali 
Ayurveda would treat food habit differently than the science of yoga. Yogic science expects human being to rise above the annamaya kosha and experience higher beings to experience ultimate 'Kaivalya'. So obviously the food pattern changes from solid cooked food to raw, fruity and juicy food with less spices and 'guna' consideration - Sattvik food. Ayurvedic considerations will be mainly the six rasas, seven dhatus, three doshas, three gunas, etc. 

Cooking of food is greatly dealt in many Indian sciences and the kings, gurus, wives of gurus have attained great expertise of cooking food. Bheem of Mahabharata has played the role of ballavacharya when the pandavas when in exile and he is considered as the inventor of 'fruit salad' (Ref; Durga Bhagvat)

The very reason of cooking food is to make it free of bacterias, decomposing the molecules for ease of digestion, making of rasa by combining various ingredients. There is such great detailing of cooking food in Ayurveda that which wood should be used for fire and how much time the food should be cooked etc is mentioned with clarity. For example chyavanprash is supposed to be cooked on the wood fire of Indian berry (Ber in Hindi)

Movement of raw food is growing big and big. Many yogis in the west proudly convey of their raw food diet. if the digestive ability of a person is good, eating raw food is not bad. secondly source of the raw food, bacteria in it also counts. Pitta dominant persons can go for raw food. But vata dominant people who generally are gifted with weak digestive ability should be careful with raw food. 

Raw Food: Fruits, vegetables & Juices
The kind of life one leads is important factor in deciding the food habit. For the ones leading sedimentary lifestyle, raw food is good. In my opinion, yoga teachers who undergo physical strain must not be totally dependent on raw food. Till their 40s they may not feel any bodily ailment but later on they may face issues with veins and muscles. 

Leading spiritual life means bringing balance to life. Hence real yogis should not go for raw or cooked food debate but should make a right combination based on their conditions. 

For those who wish to undergo cleansing, following raw food diet is advisable for a short period. Since the modern day yogis keep themselves busy in traveling, strains, stressful lifestyle, it is good to go for food that builds body to cope with all these.

We already have brought down health parameters to 'thin body' & 'less calories'. If we shrink the whole lot of considerations of food culture, we will be actually killing the science that has kept human race alive and going ahead with strength.  

In my opinion, the food should be 'light' that leads you to 'light'


Shubham Bhavatu.

Rangi Arwind