Right Foods for Your Body & Most Beneficial Yajna (Worship) (174)


Lesson 174 speaks about food and healthiest kind of attitude incorporated into any kind of worship.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Revision Verse 1-7:

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VERSE 8-10: Three types of food.


  • In Vedic culture, even the most instinctive processes are turned into spiritual practice. One is pranayama (deliberate breathing). Another is eating. No need to learn “special techniques”.
  • Food maintains the sthula-sharira, including the brain. Meaning type of food eaten affects the physical working & long-term arrangement of brain. The brain is an instrument for the mind (sukshma-sharira).  So capacity for mind to function, is entirely dependent on the physical brain; thus the food.  EG: Brain is composed of 80-85% water. If your water is unfiltered, that affects the brain.
      • Foods that encourage inertia and cause intense mood swings. Personalities associated with these foods: less regard for environment, self-centered. They usually suffer from conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and chronic fatigue.
      • FOOD TYPES:
        • Cakes, pastries, alcohol, processed/frozen foods.
        • These foods add “weight/heaviness” to your mental state.
      • Food that gives burst of energy.
      • FOOD TYPES:
        • Non-vegetarian food like meat, fish, eggs, and chicken, all whole pulses/legumes and dals (not sprouted).
        • Caffeine.
        • Garlic (increases sexual appetite)
      • SPICES: Hot spices like chillies, pepper.
      • Foods that have a calming effect. They’re neither too heavy (ie: tamas), nor too stimulating (ie: rajas).
      • FOOD TYPES:
        • It includes foods closest to their natural forms like milk and milk products, fresh and dried fruits, and fresh vegetables (except onion, garlic, and chives). All whole grain cereals, most lentils, sprouts, natural sweeteners like jaggery and honey, and natural oils like homemade ghee, butter.
        • Banana.
      • SPICES: Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, fennel seeds (saunf) and cardamom.
      • Lightly cooked with moderate spices and has less fat.
  • What makes a food Sattvic-Rajasic-Tamasic?
    • Type of food: Some calm like banana. Others increase energy like chili.
    • Intentions/thoughts of one who cooks it.
    • Attitude with which food is eaten: Fill up stomach, or offering to Lord. Eat right away, or acknowledge presence of Lord on the plate. See food as source of nutrients, or looked at as Lord.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 8:

āyuḥ-sattva-bala-ārogya-sukha-prīti-vivardhanāḥ ।
rasyāḥ snigdhāḥ sthirāḥ hṛdyāḥ āhārāḥ sāttvika-priyāḥ ॥ 17-8॥
Those food which increase longevity, mental strength, physical strength, health, comfort and pleasure, which are delicious, not dry, nourishing and pleasing are liked by sattvic (people).

  • Sattvic foods.
  • A sāttvika person eats an appropriate quantity of food at regular times and in an unhurried and neat manner. Aware of effects food has on body/mind.
  • Food is sattvic when eaten with calm mind, and considered an act of offering to the Lord (digestive fire).
  • Food should be easily digestible, pleasing to the eye, agreeable to the body and fragrant.
  • Makes you feel light and bright.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 9:

kaṭvamla-lavaṇa-ati-uṣṇa-tīkṣṇa-rūkṣa-vidāhinaḥ ।
āhārāḥ rājasasya ihṭāḥ duḥkha-śoka-āmaya-pradāḥ ॥ 17-9॥
Those foods which are very bitter, sour, saltish, hot, pungent, dry and burning, which cause pain, sorrow and disease are liked by Rājasic people.

  • Rajasic foods.
  • A rajasika person eats irregularly or hurriedly, standing or walking, sometimes over-eating/under-eating. He eats to please the tongue, uncaring about its effect on his body and mind.
  • Food becomes rajasika when it is cooked by one with a money-motive, served by one who is angry, or is eaten in a bad mood.
  • Rajasika food is too spicy/sour/oily/hot, burnt, undercooked, or overcooked.
  • It produces restlessness/scattered thoughts.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 10:

yātayāmam gata-rasam pūti paryuṣitam ca yat ।
ucchiṣṭam api ca amedhyam bhojanam tāmasa-priyam ॥ 17-10॥
That food which is not properly cooked, which lacks nourishments, which is putrid, stale or leftover, and which is impure is liked by tāmasic (people).

  • Tamasik foods.
  • A tamasika person overeats or eats irregularly, in an untidy manner.
  • Food which is stale, tasteless, without nutrition, foul smelling, not pleasing to look at.
  • Food examples: Onion, garlic, meat, alcohol.
  • Tamasik foods promote laziness, inertia, forgetfulness.

VERSE 11-13: Three types of yajna (worship or devotion).


  • What is yajna? Utilising our body-mind-intellect equipment for noble work.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 11:

aphala-ākāṅkṣibhiḥ yajñaḥ vidhi-dṛṣṭaḥ yaḥ ijyate ।
yaṣṭavyam eva iti manaḥ samādhāya saḥ sāttvikaḥ ॥ 17-11॥
Sāttvic yajña is that which is performed wholeheartedly according to scriptural injunctions by those who are not desirous of the result, (with the resolve) that it should be performed.

  • Sattvic yajña. Other names: nitya naimithika karmas, vihita/niyata/pañca mahā yajña.
  • Follow the procedures strictly (vidhi). Giving the yajna our full attention. Without selfish motives. For the love of God or as one’s duty.
    • EG: When his wife questioned Yudhiṣṭhira about what prompted him to do good, he replied, “O Draupadi! I do not work with a selfish motive. I give and worship because I can and should.”

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 12:

abhisandhāya tu phalam dambhārtham api ca eva yat ।
ijyate bharata-śreṣṭha tam yajñam viddhi rājasam ॥ 17-12॥
Oh Arjuna ! Know that yajña which is performed expecting a result, and also for the sake of ‘show’, to be rajasic.

  • Rajasic yajna. Other names: Sakama/kāmya karmas.
  • Best materials are utilized and procedures followed, but to achieve selfish goals or to show others. Driven by question: What will I get out of this? What’s in it for me?
  • So it’s a business transaction.  EG: All right materials used in wedding + procedures followed, but for most, the show overshadows the principle/meaning.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 13:

vidhi-hīnam asṛṣṭa-annam mantra-hīnam adakṣiṇam ।
śraddhā-virahitam yajñam tāmasam paricakṣate ॥ 17-13॥
They call that yajña to be tamasic which is contrary to the scriptural injunctions, which is without food cooked (for distribution), without proper mantras, without proper dakhshina, without faith.

  • Tamasic yajna.
  • Examples:
    • Using inferior material, not following any procedures, and without faith.
    • Mispronounces mantra chanting and doesn’t bother to improve/correct.
    • They take for free, without compensating in return. Whether other gives free or not, is not the question. Because taking free knowledge, one’s duty is to use or live it, else knowledge turns to poison (abhaso na hi tyaktavyo…).
    • Wearing shoes whilst performing the marriage ceremony before the sacred fire.
    • Not offering proper donation to the priests/teachers who perform the worship for us or give us knowledge.
  • SUMMARY: Healthy society would consider their existence a burden/unnecessary.

Keywords: yagna, yajna, yajña

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 21 June, 2022


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