Sai Baba on food intake

I became a vegetarian years ago. This resulted in a barrage of verbal attacks. I was mystified by the amount of people who believe they cannot live without eating animals.

Refreshingly, Sai Baba’s words helped me. He said, “At times, to get more protein and strength you may be recommended to consume animal foods like fish and poultry. Consuming non-vegetarian food is not required and you must avoid it. A healthy balanced diet of greens, milk, curds and grains will provide you with all required nourishment.”

I found this to be the case. In the process of my spiritual practice, I not only gave up meat and eggs, but alcohol and cigarettes as well. It didn’t happen overnight. I attribute my health, happiness, energy, and ability to work long hours to Swami’s guidance, especially about the care of my body, which he says is God’s instrument and must be recognised as such. He didn’t snap his fingers and re-do me. But, step by step, I was willing to change myself. This is the power of the Avatar.

He pointed out, “There is a close relationship between your food, head, and God. Animal foods will let you develop animal traits. Some may ask, do not plants have life and will they not suffer when we cut and cook them? All plants and vegetables have life, but lack the senses, just like a patient who is given anaesthesia during an operation lacks the awareness and pain of the doctor’s cuts and stitches. However, animals have senses and when we cut them, they suffer intensely.”

Sathya Sai urged his devotees, “To avoid bad thoughts: Do not take excessive food, or that which is earned by unrighteous means, or non-vegetarian diet, or food that is not offered to God.” As a youngster, we prayed before meals. But the practice stopped as soon as I began to eat outside with my friends. Nobody at our fast-food hangouts bowed their heads in prayer. We were far too cool for that!

When I came to live at Sathya Sai’s Puttaparthi ashram, he encouraged food prayers. He explained, “Prayer cleanses the food of the three impurities caused by the absence of cleanliness of the vessel, cleanliness of the food stuff, and cleanliness in the process of cooking. It is necessary to get rid of these three impurities to purify the food. For, pure food goes into the making of a pure mind.
It is not possible to ensure the purity of the cooking process, since we do not know what thoughts rage in the mind of the man who prepares the food. Similarly, we cannot ensure cleanliness of the food ingredients as we do not know whether it is was acquired in a righteous way by the seller who had sold it to us. Hence, it is essential on our part to offer food to God in the form of prayer, so that these three impurities do not afflict our mind.”

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