All civilizations and all
religions through all ages have associated food with God or a
supernatural power, Crops and food are adored as reflection of the
divine goodness. Offering of food to God (Naivedya)
partaking it, has been recommended since time immemorial. Food so
partaken becomes Prasad
, a kind of gift from
God. Food blessed by God is cleansed of its (hidden)
Food, the sacred gift of life
Food plays a vital role in the maintenance of good health, and in
the prevention and cure of diseases. Food not only influences the
physical activities, but also psychological activities. As per
Ayurveda, food affects the mind also, by causing an increase or
decrease in the three qualities of mind i.e. Sattvik, Rajasik and
God is the digestive force
Ayurveda says that there is a fire in the stomach, which digests
all food sent there. The digestive fire requires food to maintain
its constant activity. This fire signifies the Supreme Being. Since
God is helping the digestion of all kinds of food stuff, the living
entity is heavily dependent on Him in the eating process. God
produces and digests the foodstuff i.e. sustains the bodies of all
The just-born infants first human experience is a gift
of milk in response to its sucking instinct i.e. gratification of
hunger, which has an impact on the infants psyche on its
deeper level. Lord Krishna declares in Bhagavad Gita (Ch15,
Based in the body of living beings, I manifest as the
digestive Fire, Vaisvanara; in combination with the vital energies
known as Prana and Apana, I digest the four kinds of food consumed
There are four kinds of food stuff
some are swallowed,
some are chewed, some are licked up and some are sucked. God is the
digestive force for all of them.
Vedic mantras from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (5.9.1) also speak
similar thoughts as the above:
This fire that is within a man and digests the food
that is eaten, is Vaisvanara. It emits this sound that one hears by
stopping (closing) the ears. When a man is about to leave the body,
he no more hears this sound.
Brahma Sutra (1.2.24-26)
also says that Vaisvanara is
Brahman. The Lord is situated within sound, within the body, within
the air and within the stomach as the digestive force.
In the beginning of the second chapter Brahmavalli, it says that
from Brahman (Atma)
comes the creation consisting of five
elements, plants, food and human beings in that order. All beings,
which are based on the Earth, are indeed born out of food and they
live by means of food alone. Finally, they merge into this food
alone. Food is indeed the first among the beings. Therefore, it is
said to be the medicine for all.
Rig mantra says that food is eaten by the beings and food eats the
beings. Therefore it is said to be annam.
who meditate on food as Brahman (Annam Brahma Ch
certainly attain all food.
Third Chapter Bhrguvalli provides a few guidelines regarding food:
annam na nindyat
One should not reject or
annam bahu kurvita
One should procure
plenty of food.
na kanchana vasatau pratyaachakshita
should not turn away anyone seeking shelter. If food is prepared and
served in the best manner by one, then food is served back to him in
the best manner. One, who knows this and distributes food in this
manner, attains Punya.
Vedic scriptures refer to the physical body (sthoola sarira) as Annamaya
Kosa or food body, because it is produced and
sustained by food. When a person dies, he leaves this gross body
From Brahman, the heavenly region which is illuminated by the Sun,
Moon, the showers of rain, all vegetation on Earth do proceed. Earth
is the essence of food. Food produces energy, and from energy all
beings are produced. Procreation is done among human beings thus.
Male energy combines with that of the female.
From Brahman are born various gods, celestial beings, human beings,
animals, birds, prana, apana, paddy, barley, austerity, faith,
truthfulness, brahmacharya and duty (Ch.2.1.7) It insists that
the entire universe of things and beings is Brahmans
manifestation only, including food. Verse 2.1.9 indicates that from
Brahman are born all plants as well as their sap, because of which
alone does this subtle body remain with the physical elements.
Plants and the various tastes connected with food all form
the different parts of this Cosmic Body, in which resides the
Universal Self or the Virat-Purusha.
In Chapter 3, 14th verse refers to food as the origin of creature
i.e. reproductive power is sustained by food.
Here, Lord Krishna also gives a few guidelines:
Those persons who eat what is left after sacrifice
(yajna), are released from all sin. But those who cook food for the
self alone, without sharing it with others, such degraded men eat
Vedic texts speaks of three kinds of food in terms of the qualities
(sattvic, rajasic, tamasic)
each promotes. Purity of food
also has been very much insisted upon, as the body and the mind,
being formed out of the food eaten, are very much influenced by it.
The three Gunas namely Sattva (purity),
and Tamas (darkness, inertia)
existence, all actions. In all the people, one of the three Gunas
has superior strength and is reflected in all they do and think.
In the 17th Chapter, verses 8, 9 and 10 speak of persons of
different nature, having liking for specific types of food etc.
Persons, who are Sattvika by nature, like foods that promote
longevity, vitality, energy, health and happiness, as also those
that are juicy, soft, nourishing and agreeable.
Persons, who are Rajasa by nature, like foods that are bitter,
sour, salty, excessively hot, pungent and thirst-producing as also
what bring on uneasiness, depression and disease.
Persons, who are Tamasa by nature, like food that are stale,
tasteless, putrid, decayed and unclean, and constitute the leavings
Vedic practices involving food
Food is offered to the deceased, in the rites done after the death.
During obsequies, food is reverently offered to the Pitrus (ancestors).
In holy waters (Tirtha),
Pinda is offered to the manes.
In temples and households, food is offered to the deities daily.
Free distribution of food to the poor being undertaken in the
temples and many households, as charity. Food is also served to the
animals and birds.
There is always insistence to share the food. Food is the sacred
gift of life from God. We are not able to skip the food for a day or
two. Similarly, we are also not able to consume the food together
for a day or two at a time. Food has to be consumed at regular
intervals for healthy living. Food is the very basis of life.
Annapurne sadaapurne shankara praana vallabhe
Janma Vairaagya siddhyartham bhikshaam dehi cha Paarvati
Oh! Goddess of food, Annapurne! You are a symbol of plentitude, and
the dear consort of Lord Shiva. May you give food for the purposes
of gaining dispassion and knowledge!!