“To dwell on God, one should be vigilant about the food and drink consumed by both – the body and the mind.” (Bhagwan Baba)
On numerous occasions Bhagwan Baba has explained the need of Paaka Shudhi (purity of the food being cooked), Chitta Shudhi (Purity of the mind of the cook) and Bhaanda Shudhi (purity of the vessel used for cooking). Bhagwan tells us of a young Sanyasi at Rishikesh, who had embraced asceticism at a very tender age. The boy was earnest in his devotion and committed to his resolve. One night he had a dream of a sixteen year old girl who cried before him. The dream repeated itself every consecutive night till the young boy was at his wits end for what to do.
He brooked the subject with his Guru, who asked him how long this had been going on and from where the lad had eaten food in these days. After investigating the matter, the Guru came to the conclusion that a sixteen year old girl had been married off by her father, much against her wishes to an old man. In frustration the girl committed suicide. The father performed her last rites as per the Hindu customs. On the thirteenth day of her death, the father had fed some Brahmins. This young Brahmin lad was one of those who had eaten there. The traumatized feelings of the old father and the distraught soul of the girl were imminent in the food served there. The emotions of the girl had crept into the boy and were troubling him. The guru taught the boy prayer and meditation to free him from the disturbed soul of the girl and also prayed for the departed soul to find peace and salvation.
With the grace of the Guru, the dream stopped repeating itself and the lad regained his peace of mind.
Here, Swami tells us that it is important to eat from places where the food is pure in all respects. However, it may not always be under our control to know about the cook and the cleanliness factors etc. for all of us have to eat out at social gatherings etc. So a simple solution to this problem is to offer the food to God, before partaking of it. How does this help? When we offer the food to God and He partakes of it, it becomes a Prasadam. Hence all impurities of all kinds are removed from it!
In this context Swami elaborates by citing an incident from the Mahabharata war. Towards the end of the war, Grandsire Bheeshama Pitamaha was lying wounded on a bed of arrows and blood was streaming out of his body, down the arrows into the ground. The Pandavas were gathered around their beloved Pitamaha and he was teaching them the importance of Dharmic rule. As Bhishama was preaching this, Draupadi who stood a few paces away, laughed. At this Bheeshma asked her the reason for her contemptuous laugh.
Draupadi replied, “Oh! Venerable one! You preach the great principals of Dharma to my husbands who are verily the embodiments of Dharma and Truth. You, despite being the Patriarch of the Kuru clan, chose to remain silent when I was being disrobed by the evil Kauravas. Where was your so called Dharma at that time? How can YOU now preach Dharma?”
It was then that Bheeshma said with tears running down his aged eyes. “Yes Draupadi! You are right. I knew everything and yet did not come to your rescue. I had been eating the food cooked in the kitchen of the Kauravas for many years. That food deluded my intelligence; it even blurred my inner vision by casting a veil on it. But now, Arjuna’s arrows have pierced my body and the dirty, contaminated blood has drained out of me. I repent that incident with all my heart. Now, that my good thoughts have surfaced and I can think with a pure heart, I give this lecture on Raj-Dharma to your husbands!”
These anecdotes stress upon the importance of a healthy mind in a healthy body. And the role of healthy and pure food in it!