[Advaita-l] Advaitic Foods

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 15 12:37:25 CST 2010

The fish-eaters of the Eastern part of India are with you in what you wrote. However the most important aspect is the hygiene in preparing food. Apastambha allows a shudra to prepare food for the brahmin if the cooking is supervised (by a brahmin). This is probably to ensure that strict hygiene is maintained.

There is a custom in the Eastern part of the country  that the cooking pots are not to be cleaned in the evening though the eating utensils are cleaned in the evening itself. This probably arises from the fact that if some extra food is prepared, any unexpexted guests suddenly coming in the evening (for a stay) can be easily given his meal. Thus it is expected that food may remain for the next day and that is too precious to be thrown away. That remaining  hot food is kept covered and not touched by hand at all. However if the cooked foodstuff is touched by hand that food has to be discarded. Such is  the custom followed in many families there.


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Wed, 12/15/10, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Advaitic Foods
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 10:11 AM

> ----------------------------------------
> > Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2010 18:27:11 +0530
> > From: vmurthy36 at gmail.com
> > To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> > Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Advaitic Foods
> >
> > The reference to stale food is directly found in Baudhayana Dharma
> > Sutra 1 1.2 3 about peculiar customs in South India.
> >
> > http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe14/sbe1435.htm
> >
> "... to eat in the company of an uninitiated person, to eat in the
> company of one's wife, to eat stale food, to marry the daughter of
> a maternal uncle or of a paternal aunt."
> These are described as customs unique to the southern part of India.

I have heard an accomplished Vedic Pandit (GhanapAThi) say that in his days
of adhyayanam at the Gurukulam, the norm was the breakfast is 'pazhayadhu'
(previous night's cooked rice combined with buttermilk, with perhaps some
ginger and salt mixed).

There is one occasion that I have observed when on the 'kanu pongal' (said
to be actually kANum pongal)(the day after the main pongal festival) in the
early morning women offer certain food stuff to God.  The items offered
include: rice cooked the previous day, mixed with curds and kept overnight,
left-over sweet pongal, vaDai, sugarcane piece and ground raw turmeric.  All
these will be offered in the open, in a small banana leaf by the women
before they bathe.

Local customs being the topic of derisive comment is a typical subject for
Swami Vidyaranya's categorisation as ' loka vAsanA'.  In the
'वासनाक्षयप्रकरणम्’ of the जीवन्मुक्तिविवेकः’, he says:

Quote // The attachment that the races of mankind develop, each in its own
sphere, towards traditional customs and manners of their respective
countries and communities, as well as towards their mother-tongue,
irrespective of the correct or incorrect form of words used and such other
kind of attachment may be broadly cited as examples of this.

......Similarly there is slandering prevalent on a large scale, with
reference to local peculiarities.  The southern BrahmaNa-s upbraid their
northern fellows, well-versed in Vedic lore, as flesh-eaters; the northern
BrahmaNa-s retaliate by finding fault with the southern custom of marrying
the daughter of a maternal uncle and of carrying earthenware in their

The bahvRcha-s, Rgvedi-s, of the AshvalAyana shAkha look upon the
KANvashAkhaa, yajurvedi-s, as inferior to theirs; while the Vajasaneyin-s,
yajurvedi-s, think otherwise.  Thus, from the learned down to women and
ignorant herdsmen, is found this general tendency to glorify one's own
family, section, relatives, gods and so on, and to belittle those of
others.  It has been said with this in mind:

// 'The pure man is looked upon as a devil, the clever man as presumptuous,
the man of forbearance as weak, the strong man as cruel, the absent-minded
man as a thief, and the handsome man as lewd.  Who can please the world!!'
Also 'there is no expedient within knowledge wherewith one can satisfy all
people.  One's own good should, by all possible means, be looked to.  What
can the myriad-tongued world do?' //
Looking, therefore, upon the vAsanA of public opinion, लोकवासना’ as entirely
impure, books treating of liberation, मोक्षशास्त्रम्, advise the foremost of
yogin-s to treat censure and praise alike.  // Unquote.

The gist of the above is: //One's own good should, by all possible means, be
looked to.  What can the myriad-tongued world do?'//

The observation by Sri Venkatesh Murthy //But my original request was if any
member experience proper concentration on Advaitic thoughts after eating
Sattvika food.// cannot be answered unless one decides what constitutes
saattvika food. The definition of sattvik food can vary from place to place,
customs, etc.  For example, the Bengali-Brahmin custom of eating fish was
prevalent in Sri Ramakrishna's family.  Yet, his attaining nirvikalpa
samadhi and attaining Advaitic sAkShAtkAra through the initiation of
Totapuri is there in recorded history. Here is a couple of sayings of Sri
Ramakrishna (from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) :

//"Hindus, Mussalmans, Christians, Saktas, Saivas, Vaishnavas, the
Brahmajnanis of the time of the rishis, and you, the Brahmajnanis of modern
times, all seek the same object. A mother prepares dishes to suit the
stomachs of her children. Suppose a mother has five children and a *fish* is
bought for the family. She doesn't cook pilau or kalia for all of them. All
have not the same power of digestion; so she prepares a simple stew for
some. But she loves all her children equally.

"Do you know my attitude? I love all the preparations of *fish*. I have a
womanly nature. (*All laugh*.) I feel myself at home with every dish — fried
*fish*, *fish* cooked with turmeric powder, pickled *fish*. And further, I
equally relish rich preparations like *fish*-head, kalia, and pilau. (*All

"Do you know what the truth is? God has made different religions to suit
different aspirants, times, and countries.//

//MASTER (*to Vijay and the others*): "Four desires have come into my mind.
I shall *eat* *fish* curry cooked with egg-plant. I shall visit Shivanath.
The devotees will repeat the name of Hari over their beads, and I shall
watch them. And the Tantrik devotees will drink consecrated wine, eight
annas' worth, on the
and I shall watch them and salute them."//

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