A symposium on Diet, Health & Religion, second in a series was held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 5th September, 2012. The Chief Guest was Shri J Veeraraghavan, Chairman, Bhavan’s KM Munshi Institute of Educational Leadership and Management.

Welcoming the gathering, Shri Ashok Pradhan, Director, BVB said that the purpose of this symposium was to examine the relation between what we eat, how it affects our health and how all religions look at this aspect. Nature is also related to our health. Nature tells us what to eat. For example, summer vegetables have a high content of water. Speaking on fasting, he observed that not eating on certain days cleanses our body.

Samani Charitra Prajna said that the core principle of Jainism is Nonviolence. Food is the main source of energy to survive.

  • Bhagwan Mahavir talked about two types of diet – Hitkari (Beneficial) and Mitkari (Moderate).
  • Jains are vegetarins, lactovegetarian. Many Jains are now vegans. Many avoid root vegetables in their diet.
  • Among the seven prohibited addictions, alcohol is one.
  • Also, beverages and drugs that contaminate our mind are prohibited. Anything which distorts the mind, which produces negative emotions are prohibited by the Jain religion.
  • Jainism believes in fasting as a means to purify the mind and body.
  • Jains observe several days of fasting, where they abstain from food, only water can be taken but not after sunset.
  • There are many ways of fasting like abandon of all kinds of food for a day or more, unodari – that means eat less than hunger, ras parityag – give up food like butter, milk, oil for few days etc.
  • No meals should be taken after sunset. If stomach is heavy at the time of sleep, one cannot sleep soundly.
  • In Jainism, there is a mention of abstinence from night eating. Acharya Hemchandra, in Yoga Shastra, says that the digestive system becomes inactive after sunset.
  • So this time is not suitable to eat.
  • Any food which supports spirituality is recommended.