Dr K K Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
The mental state of a person in Vedic language is described in terms of gunas. The present state of mind of any person is a result of mixing of three gunas of nature called Tamoguna, Rajoguna and Satoguna. In terms of states of mind they are called Tamas, Rajas and Satwa and the nature of a person is called Tamsic, Rajsic and Satvic.
Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Ayurveda all talks about these gunas. The Sankhya philosophy also says that a mixture of the three makes the cosmic mind as well as the human mind. Bhagwad Gita talks in great detail about the Nature, Yagna as well as diet depending upon these gunas.
A Satvic diet is the one, which makes a person full of Satoguna and makes him or her with predominant Satvic nature. The same is true for other two gunas. According to Ayurvedic text and in Atharvaveda any food, which comes from the roots or underground part of the tree, is Tamsic in nature. Tamsic foods should not be eaten raw. They should either be slow cooked or soaked in water for hours before consumption.
Foods which are from the top part of the tree like coconut, fruits, leaves and flowers are Satvic in nature and can be consumed fresh, as they are. Foods which come from the middle part of the tree are often Rajsic in nature.
Fresh, soaked, sprouted, natural foods are often Satvic and old, left over foods are Tamsic in nature. Most Satvic foods are naturally white.
In Ramayana Kumbhakaran represents a person with Tamsic nature, Meghnad & Ravana with Rajsic nature and Vibhishana with Satvic nature. One can see that the diet of Kumbhakaran was left over foods, onions, raddish, carrots and non vegetarian food, all are tamas producing.
Shastras also teaches us about Satvic food. In Vedic knowledge, God is represented by the consciousness and whatever is offered to God is the one, which is offered to consciousness and hence all offerings to God are soul healing and soul nurturing food items. Only Satvic foods are offered to God as one can live on Satvic food forever. Examples are dry fruits, fruits and milk. One cannot live on Rajsic or Tamsic food hence, they have to be taken in moderation only.
The offerings to God include honey, milk, curd, fruits and vegetables, etc. Panchamrit offered in Puja is a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar is a classical example.
Yogashastra also talks about the role of Satvic diet in great detail. It says people who eat less are yogi, people who eat in moderation are bhogi and people who eat a lot are rogi. The synonymous are Tamsic for Rogi, Rajsik for Bhogi and Satvic for Yogi. In terms of proper diet one should eat dinner lighter than lunch, eat only natural food in the night and follow the principles of moderation and variety.