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Apr 28

Written by: Jayanthi
Monday, April 28, 2008

Submitted by: Sudarshan Madabushi

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"Tamasic" Food

Next, says the Bhagavath-Gita, there is Food that generates "tamas" -- energy that is actually all "anti-energy".

"Tamasic" food is fit for the Man who conforms to the mould of the Hedonist. He is the quintessential Degenerate. He is so full of sloth, lust and ignorance. He wallows in the many follies he himself authors in life and of which he ultimately becomes victim. Such a man's dinner plate, says the Gita, is generally heaped with all manner of stale, putrid, fermented, intoxicating and stimulating foods. "Tamas" in food degrades and destroys everything fine and noble within the human body -- virility, good cheer, moral integrity and intellectual vigour. (Chapter XVII.10)

Article Continuation…


  The Three Commandments

  Anna Shuddhi

  Sattvic Food

  Rajasic Food

  Tamasic Food

  Anna Shuddhi and

     Atma Shuddhi


The most common examples of "tamasic" Food is what the Gita calls "yAta-yAmam" i.e. foodstuff that has been unnaturally preserved for unduly long periods of time. Under this category would fall all manner of foods kept "preserved" throughout a period of so-called "shelf-life" through methods of innovative packaging, refrigeration, cold-storage and micro-wave as well as by the use of chemical additives and preservatives.

foodshopping.jpg All "packaged", "ready-to-cook", "ready-to-eat", "frozen-fresh", "instant-food", "ready-to-microwave" foodstuffs that one might see while strolling along the long shelves and aisles of any large super-market or department-store anywhere in the world, might eminently qualify indeed to be called "yAta-yAmam". They are all essentially "tamasic" Food in nature. Consumption of liquor, wines, tobacco, soporifics and many of the carbonated, tinned and canned foods of the world would also, going by the standards of the Gita, be wholly 'tAmAsic' in nature. The advent of the "packaging industry" and the mass-proliferation of its ingenious products -- viz. tetrapacks, aluminium-foil, plastic-cartons etc. -- has done much indeed to promote and purvey "tamasic" foodstuff in the modern consumerist world. Thanks to modern packaging methods, even "sAttvic" foods can now be turned into the "tamasic" kind.

The refrigerator and the microwave are both excellent kitchen conveniences of the modern-day. As long as they are used to keep home-food or foodstuffs fresh and unspoiled over limited periods of time, they have enormous utility. But unfortunately, both appliances in recent times have come to be over-exploited. Like industrial packaging, they too now have become tools of "abuse through preservation".

Prolonged preservation, not temporary refreshment, has become the sole purpose of these two appliances. One merely has to inspect a sample of home refrigerators anywhere in the world today and the inventory will almost certainly reveal half the food-items therein to be a week or more old, if not months. In other words, do not be surprised to find a lot of "yAta-yAmam" inside your refrigerator at home...

The purpose of the household refrigerator lies increasingly today only in "preserving" rotten packaged, ready-to-cook food. And the microwave, that wonder-tool of modern invention, the pride and envy of housewives all over the world, too only serves in turning the condition of stale or rotten food from a state of "tamas" into "piping hot" one of "rajas".

Between the three of them -- modern packaging, the refrigerator and microwave -- they seem to have succeeded very well indeed world-wide in perpetrating precisely that sort of "abuse of Food" which the Upanishad warned against through that famous commandment --"annam na nindhyAth!" --- "Thou shalt not abuse Food".

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