YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
When I met a long last friend, I shook hands with him warmly and did some back slapping too to indicate how close we were with each other. His hand grip was rather weak and he did not reciprocate my military style of back slapping. There was a feeble groan in his feeble voice protesting against my zeal which he took as a body blow. On an enquiry by me he revealed that of late he had not been eating well and his system did not digest well whatever he ate. I followed the advice flashed across the screen many times a day by BBC, my favourite news channel, Never stop Asking. I kept on asking what was wrong with his dietary habit until he could not resist anymore and broke down. He confessed that it was the junk food and too much of oil, butter and spices that eroded his physical and mental strength. I had hit the nail on the head and he gave me some food for thought.
WHAT THE SAGES SAID
Hit Bhook; Mit Bhook; Rit Bhook“ that is all that the sagacious advice is for you and me and the posterity. Rendered into Queen’s English, the advice is: Eat only that which is beneficial to your body and mind; eat only that much that is sufficient for you to stay alive and healthy; Eat only the food that has been bought with the money earned by the sweat of the brow. Fair enough as far as the Rishiâ€™s counseling goes but the sixty four dollar question is : Is the advice Pragmatic. In the present era of pragmatism, how can a mortal man follow the sagacious counseling on inculcating the correct food habit.
In the 21st century every thing has gone topsy-turvey as viewed from the morality of age that was more than two or three millennia ago. The joint family system has been replaced by what is known as the Nuclear Family system. In days of yore only the men folk were bread winners, the women folk stayed home and brought up the unlimited number of children in the traditional way. The home food prepared by them was not cholesterol rich, prepared in hygienic conditions with lot of love thrown in. Thus the simple but delicious food posed no health problems, no arteries were blocked and the bypass surgery to keep the heart ticking was just unheard of.
The joint family lived together, prayed together and partook of meals together. The LOVE known of then is now read in pages of history. The modern man thinks that it is either a myth or just pure fiction churned out by pens of Munshi Prem Chand in Bharat and Charles Dickens in England, not forgetting their country cousins in France , Germany and Imperial Russia. So, just forget it. Take care of life as it is today. Be pragmatic old boy.
NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND
Pragmatism is a good philosophy and saves you from flying high in the dream world. It says that one should walk on mother earth and not be oblivious of the present day situation. Is it feasible to follow the million dollar advice of the Rishis when our good old rupee is falling every day, notwithstanding old economists like Manmohan, Montake and Chidambaram being at the helm of affairs. You and I, the common man, has to make both ends meet under own arrangements. The political class is never tired of repeating like the Three Idiots â€œ All Is wellâ€ when the ground situation is diametrically different.
Let us follow the potted plant culture of growing vegetables in the small flats. Since the Rishis said that one must eat on what is beneficial to body and mind, then the seasonal vegetable meets the requirement. Is it possible? Of course, it is. Where there is a will, there is a way. Cut down your sleeping hours, increase the time on workouts, throw in Pranayam and simple physical exercises taken from the Army’s PT table and imbibe fresh air whenever possible. Cut down the time spent indoors in air-conditioned offices and bedrooms. Live in an environment that is as close to the Nature as possible.
Mind is the Man. Let positive signals come from mind to the body and the negativity will be cut out . The good forces will drive away the evil forces like Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram eliminated the Rakshas headed by Ravana. If you thus have a healthy mind in a healthy body, you will be motivated to cut out the junk food. As politically correct a person as Bill Clinton, President of the United States of America, was very fond of eating double burgers that was super rich in cholesterol and harmful fats. One fine morning after his regular jogging exercises, he just passed out. The Security Service rushed him to the hospital where all his arteries were found blocked because of his regular intake of junk food. He was operated upon post-haste and given a heavy dose of medical advice on what to eat and what not to eat. With regular work-out and strict dietary control, he was restored to perfect health. Thereafter, no junk food!
It is seen that all human beings whose purses are full of currency notes, eat more than what the body needs. Consequently, they become obese. Obesity is in itself a disease. Those who are obese continue eating more and more food to cater to the need of flabs around the waist, hips and even cheeks. It is an unhealthy development that children in China and America are more obese than their counterparts in developing countries. Obviously their parents don’t care about the food intake, both quantity and quality, of their children. The National Health Services in both the countries are concerned about this unhealthy practice of eating whatever comes your way.
Please satisfy the needs of the body, NOT the palate. If one eats for the taste buds, one is likely to go wrong. One cannot but see what kind of food is needed to have a healthy mind in a healthy body. Since the individual requirements in this respect are different in different countries, there is no rule of the thumb to prescribe a dietary chart for human beings of the entire world. It may be sufficient to say that the local dieticians may be consulted and their advice should be acted upon. As far as Bharat is concerned, intake of seasonal fruits and vegetables is highly recommended. Vegetarians find it easy to remain physically healthy and mentally alert in tropical countries. The vegetarians last longer in stamina and perseverance than meat eaters. Of course, the red meat must be avoided at all costs.
Now we pass on to intake of food bought with money earned honestly by the sweat of the brow. Indeed it is difficult to know of the sanctity of food in this respect when one in invited to attend large social get-togethers or diplomatic parties. Some purists prefer to eat at home before going out to attend such dinners or luncheons. There is a risk of their being dubbed anti-social or loners. One has to weigh well what is beneficial to him or her in respect of mind, body and soul.
Soul matters most to the spiritualist. We are what we eat and our sanskars from beginning to end leave an impact on our souls. If one cares for the mind and body only, leaving out the soul, one may miss a lot in the long run. The Vedic Dharm lays an emphasis on the goal of a human being and it is Moksha “ that is liberation from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The believers in the theory of Karma and Karmaphal, that is one’s action or inaction and consequential reward or punishment cannot but watch out on every act of theirs.
Coming back to the Basics, it is what we eat that matters most in paving the path of what we will become. Let us give correct signals to ourselves and always endeavour to banish the Evil and imbibe the Noble. It is indeed the Vedic injunction given in the Ved mantra quoted below:
VISHWANI DEV SAVITARDURITANI PARASUV
YAD BHADRAM TANN AASUV.
MAY ISHWAR HELP US TO ACHIEVE OUR AIM AND REACH OUR GOAL TO TEND TO THE NEEDS OF MIND, BODY AND SOUL !
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