Ayuh Satvabalarogya, Sukhapritivivardhanah

Ayuh Satvabalarogya, Sukhapritivivardhanah |
 Rasyah Snigdhah Sthira Hradya, Aharah Satwikapriyah ||
 Katvamlalavanatyushna, Tikshnarukshavidahinah |
Ahara Rajasasyeshta, Dukhashokamayapradah ||
 Yatayamam Gatarasam Puti, Paryushitam Cha Yat |
Uchchhishtamapi Chamedhyam, Bhojanam Tamaspriyam

Meaning: Pure, health -giving, juicy (watery), smooth (e.g. boiled vegetables), fresh and naturally soothing eatables that enhance life , vigor, mental strength and sharpen the intellect are liked and used as food by the people having satvika tendency. Sour, salty, bitter, hot, spicy, fried and dry kinds of food stuffs, which are of highly stimulating taste, but are usually difficult to digest and cause burning sensation in the stomach are mostly liked by the people of rajasika tendency. Those having tamasika tendency generally like half-cooked, raw and pungent, stale, foul-smelling, juice-less foodstuffs; they don't even care for the cleanliness and purity of food. All, who care for physical, mental and spiritual health , should remember the above guidelines of the Gita. We should modify our eating habits accordingly. The Shastric saying "annau vai manah" affirms that what we eat (and drink) also contributes to the making of the tendencies of our mind s. Similar views are expressed in the Scriptures dealing with spiritual sadhana s. That is why Ayurveda lays so much emphasis on purity and subtle properties of foodstuffs and cautions us about what to eat and what not to eat. Our mental and emotional state while eating, the feelings with which we take our food, all have subliminal but intense impact upon our subtle and astral bodies. Our rishis had therefore taught that food should be treated as sacred as the naivaidya (consecrated "food" offered to a deity). They had also founded the tradition of sitting with clean body and calm mind and chanting specific mantras before having meals. These mantras include the great Gayatri Mantra and the prayer-mantras like "sahanavavatu, sahanaubhunaktu saha viryam karavavahai", or, "Brahmarpana Brahmahavirbrahmagnau Brahmana Hutam|", etc. The intrinsic sentiment associated with each of these prayers is that what we are eating should nourish and purify us from inside-out; we should eat with the notion that the food is not being eaten for this visible physical self, rather, we are sacrificing it to the omnipresent Brahm. Such sentiments emanating from within us sanctify our food and make it like a naivaidya, every morsel of which purifies our gross as well the inner body.
As we had discussed earlier, food should be pure and austere and earned and prepared by righteous methods. If we search for pure, austere and nourishing food, which enhances the vitality and physical strength and also sharpens the intellectual potential and mental concentration, the best choice would be that of the vegetarian food recommended as pathya under Ayurveda . Cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables and milk, prepared without destroying their natural qualities (i.e., without putting excessive spices or frying or overcooking the food) are most suitable, as explained in detail in the earlier installments of this series.