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Veg or non-veg : to eat or not to eat !

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Food at a subtle level, it too is made up of the sattva, raja and tama components.

The proportions of these subtle components vary depending on the type of food.

Sattva stands for purity and knowledge while tama denotes ignorance and inertia.

Anything that has a higher sattva component assists our spiritual journey and anything that is tama predominant has a tendency to diminish or obstruct our spiritual practice.


Vegetarian food has more sattvic qualities than Non-vegetarian food while Non-vegetarian food has more Tamasic qualities than Vegetarian food.






The reason for the increased tama in non-vegetarian food is because of the extent of suffering of the animal, when it is being killed.

Also the thoughts of anger and revenge and pain in the animal when being killed are far more pronounced as compared to a plant which has a rudimentary mind and intellect.

This is the main reason in the increased tama component.

While due to the higher sattvikta in fruits they are offered to God is ritualistic worship.


When tama predominant food is ingested on a regular basis the body is burdened with an excess of the tama component.

A rise in tama component in a person has many negative side-effects.

This tama component can only disintegrate if one is regularly doing spiritual practice.

However since most people do not do spiritual practice this tama component accumulates in a person’s body, mind and intellect.



Question : Botanical science tells us that plants also-have life. Then where lays the difference between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food?

There are two kinds of life on earth, animate and inanimate. Men, beasts, birds, fish etc. are animate life while trees and other plants are inanimate life. Fruits ripen on the trees and then fall of by themselves, branches and leaves may be chopped off a tree and new one arises in their place. Many plants are propagated by their cuttings. Others can be transplanted. But all this is not possible with birds and animals. No limb of an animal can grow by itself after cutting. Man cannot produce animals like plants from earth.


All the living beings are made up of five elements - the earth, water, fire, air and sky.

All these five are present in man clearly and predominantly.

Only four elements - earth, water, fire and air are predominant in animals.

While in birds only three air, water and fire are predominant.

Two elements - earth and fire - make up the insects.

And only one element of water is predominant in fruits, leaves and vegetables etc. The rest four elements are in sleeping state in vegetables and plants. Therefore, eating vegetable foods consumes the minimum of factors.

Saints and Sages do not pluck fruits from the trees, but they eat only those fruits which have fallen by themselves on ripening.

Minimum damage to life is the basic criterion. There is no harm in obtaining fruits from trees but harm lies in their cutting.



Question : Even when man treads the earth, many ants and insects are trodden under foot. So, what is different if other animals are killed?

A man's character is judged by his intentions and deliberate actions. If a man deliberately and knowingly crushes under his feet any harmless animal, then it is violence. But if involuntarily or in unavoidable circumstances, some insects are killed, then it is an exceptional situation. But to kill others without any specific reason or to abet killing for food is plain murder.



Question : Plants are also having life, so killing plants should also be a sin. Why is veg food better than non-veg in terms of killing or committing "sin"?

It is true that plants also have "life" and killing plants is also sin. So the best way to observe total non-violence is to take only those fruits which have naturally fallen from the trees or plants. In this way we are doing harm to no one. But everyone can not follow that vow. We have to take food in order to survive and sustain this body. It is a necessity of survival. But we need to take that path which is less sinful and does less harm to other jivas (living entities).


Now there are two reasons to say that vegetarian food is having insignificant sin. Many of the plants like rice, wheat, etc., are having life only for one crop time. Once their yield is over, they die naturally, even if we don't cut them. So by cutting those plants (which have already died) we are doing less sin or no sin at all. In many other plants, like mango, coconut, etc., by plucking the fruit, we are not killing the plants, and so we are doing very minimal sin or no sin at all. So vegetarian food is less sinful. More over, it is inevitable for our survival, but non-vegetarian food is a luxury to us and we can survive even if we avoid that.


Next we need to know why certain acts are sinful. Each and every life (whether plant, animal, or human) has come to this world because of their past Karma’s and they have to live to the maximum doing "sadhana" (spiritual practices), so that they can clear their karmic debts & may get a better birth next life or finally get "moksha" (liberation).

By killing them, we are cutting short their opportunities to do "sadhana" towards their liberation (moksha). Thus it is much more sinful.



Question : Don’t plants also experience pain when killed?

Yes, plants too experience pain when killed or parts of it are severed. The comprehension of pain however is less than animals. This is because the mind and intellect of a plant is rudimentary as compared to animals. However if a fruit or vegetable is plucked when it is fully ripe or has fallen from a tree there is relatively no pain to the plant.



Question : Does not eating meat give more strength?

Meat-eating gives the body not strength but a kind of unhealthy stimulation. The body receives an excess of nitrogen which creates uric acid and other harmful compounds in the blood stream. Just to expel these compounds from the body, a lot of energy is needed which the body's defense mechanism pumps up in a hurry to meet the emergency. This is mistaken as an input of energy, although in fact it is a depletion of the body's reservoirs of energy.



Question : In olden days, the sages used to eat meat? There is an incident of Agasthya Muni eating meat in the "Vathapi - Ilvala" story.

Yes, we do see some mention about such things in very old stories. We need to understand clearly why and under what circumstances they used to consume meat.

Firstly, they used to take meat, but not as their regular food.

The animal would be offered to 'yajna', the sacred fire, and then the sages, having very high yogic power, would consume the meat as a prasada of the yajna. Due to this auspicious activity (of yajna), the animal would go to the heavens.

In the story of Agusthya Muni, when he said ' vathapi jirno bhava', he was digested immediately. Such was the power of the sages in those days.

In olden days even if they consumed meat, they used to keep up their spiritual balance due to their yogic power or "tapas" (severe austerity).

But now in the present age of kali-yuga, our mental powers and concentration powers are getting reduced. We are loosing our purity and peace of mind due to various reasons. As such, the sattvic atmosphere and sattvic qualities are reducing because we are not doing enough japa, tapa, etc.

So if we start consuming meat we will loose all our good mental qualities very quickly.



There’s a story of a great Indian Saint Gorakhnath.

One day, Saint Gorakhnath and his followers were walking down in a forest, when they happened to pass a dirty lake. Saint Gorakhnath saw a few small fishes in the lake. So, he stopped and then bending forward towards the lake, he caught a small fish with his hands and then gulped it down his wide open mouth.

His followers, who were watching his actions carefully were really taken aback to see their spiritual master consuming non-vegetarian – Fish !!!

So, they thought that if our master can have fish, so why cant we too?

And in turn they all looked for fishes in the dirty lake and like their master gulped a few down their throats.


Saint Gorakhnath who was silently watching the antics of his followers, then started moving ahead and so did his followers.

On the entire way Saint Gorakhnath was quite.

Finally after walking down quite a distance they reached a fresh water lake.

Seeing the fresh water lake, Saint Gorakhnath walked towards it and on reaching there, he did some kriyas and out came the small fish alive which he had consumed earlier.

He spat out the fish into the fresh water lake and then looked towards his followers and said -


....which of course none of the followers could do !!!


Signification of Saint Gorakhnath`s actions - He just wanted to remove the fish from the dirty water lake and give it a better life in the fresh water lake.

But his followers thought otherwise and had consumed the fish completely.


Moral of the story –









In our Hindu and Jain, Buddha religions especially, there is a belief that unless one gives up eating non-vegetarian food, one cannot attain emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit. Sai Baba Himself was an emancipated soul and had full knowledge of the Supreme Spirit and was capable of giving such experiences to others. However, He not only had no objection to non-veg food; but never insisted that His devotees, used to non-veg food, should give it up.

Actually, in His early days, He used to cook non-veg food Himself in a big pot and after consecrating it through a Moulvi by reciting fatia, used to send as prasad to Mhalsapati and Tatya Kote Patil before distributing to others. (Ch. 38, Shri Sai Satcharita).


In Bhagwat Gita, the Lord has clearly classified the foods into 3 types, Sattwic, Rajasic & Tamasic. The Lord has also clearly mentioned what is the effect of eating all these three types of food.

The Lord says, Sattwa must be cultivated, Rajas must be suppressed & Tamas must be eliminated.

Meat falls under the Rajas & Tamas types & hence one cannot remain untouched by the ill effects after consuming. The only exception is when a person is a Siddha.

For a Siddha like Sai baba, it does not matter at all, as to whether he eats veg or non-veg, since he is beyond the three Gunas.

That is why he is called Trigunaateeth or Trigun-Rahitam..

But for conditioned souls like us, whatever we eat, that is going to get reflected in us.


Consider the teachings of our scriptures, it will be clear that not to eat Non-veg food is only one of the means to attain emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit but not a Goal in itself.

Most of the famous suktas in Vedas have been authored by kshatriya or warrior caste.

Sages such as Vishwamitra, Kings like Janaka, who were famous as Brahma-jnani or knower of the Supreme Spirit, were also of warrior caste and non-veg food was not taboo for them.

Some religious principles do allow for eating of meat, when it is first properly sanctified by religion. That is why the Kshatriya kings would go for hunting & would eat animal food, without any apparent fall in purity.


But, to say that without avoiding non-veg food one cannot achieve emancipation or knowledge of the Supreme Spirit is not correct.

In fact, as a person progresses in his Spiritual sadhana, his attraction for non-veg and rich food automatically gets dwindled and is ultimately lost permanently but on one hand to give up Non-veg food and on the other if you keep craving for it, Isn't such vegetarianism useless?


Sai Baba's ideas must be on the same lines probably. That is why He never advised His devotees to give up non-veg food. Sometimes jokingly as in Ch. 38, He used to ask an orthodox Brahmin, like Dada Kelkar to go and buy mutton from the market or as in Ch. 23, His order to His great Brahmin devotee Kakasaheb Dixit to kill a goat with a knife.

But, this was only to test their readiness to execute, whatever order given by Him, their Guru; and, therefore, before the person started acting, He used to stop them. Similarly, to the devotees, in whose religion or caste only veg-food, was in vogue, He never tempted or encouraged to eat non-veg food. Baba's method of resisting His devotees from eating non-veg food was quite different and unique. He oft and on used to tell His devotees that He was present in every creature, moving about.


In Ch. 9 to Mrs. Tarkhad He said,

"The dog, which you saw before meals and to which you gave the piece of bread, is one with Me; so, also the other creatures (cats, pigs, flies, cows etc.) are one with Me. I am roaming in their forms. He, who sees Me in all these creatures, is my beloved. So, abandon the sense of duality and distinction and serve Me as you did today."

When surrenders completely to the Lord, all his Gunas fall in place, irrespective of the person's evolution.

Sattva becomes dominant & the other 2 gunas take a back seat.

That is why Sai baba never asked anybody to change his food habits. Instead he asked them to practice devotion. This takes care of the food habits.


Question : Did Baba distribute vegetable and animal food as prasad alike to all His devotees?"

The answer is plain and simple. Those who were accustomed to (take) animal food were given food from the Handi as prasad and those who were not so accustomed, were not allowed to touch it. He never created in them any wish or desire to indulge in this food.

There is a principle well established that when a Guru himself gives anything as prasad, the disciple who thinks and doubts whether it is acceptable or otherwise, goes to perdition.




What applies to non-veg food also applies to onion. Sai Baba, Himself, used to eat onion with bread daily and did not like anybody expressing disgust towards it or not eating it; because of its bad smell. His incidents of teasing and ridiculing Dada Kelkar, Das Ganu and Kusha Bhau are well-known. He also once surprised a student of yoga by eating bread and onion in front of him and later gave a proof to him of His Super Yogic Powers. As if Sai Baba wanted to tell people, that because of baseless customs and beliefs, you are depriving yourself of onion and garlic, which are greatly praised by the ayurveda (Indian medical science) and are excellent health-giving foods. Isn't the poor and hard-working farmer able to perform laborious task of ploughing his field by eating bread and onion only?


Short Story -

A yogi named Premanand was dedicated to practicing of yoga. The real meaning of yoga is melting and merging in the Divine.


Premanand practiced yoga for the real purpose and found difficulties for the goal.

Some one advised him to visit Shirdi and meet Sai Baba, who was one with ParaBrahma (Supreme soul) and that He would be the right person to guide him.


Listening to them the practitioner of yoga visited Shirdi. When he came near Dwarkamai, he saw Sai Baba sitting with devotees and eating. He noticed that Sai Baba took bites of onions with the food. Onions were favorite with Sai Baba. The yogi's mind immediately rebelled against this. He knew that the yogis have to stay away from the onions due to its tamasic properties. He was still a little far away from Sai Baba.

Sai Baba did not want him to leave like that, and since he knew everything and every person's thoughts, he spoke out loudly.


'Onions should be eaten by the ones who can digest them, to those the tamasic properties cannot influence.

For those getting influenced by the tamasic properties should not eat them, that is also true.'


This words and the Divine attraction of Sai Baba removed the doubts of the yogi. He remained in Shirdi for a long time and benefited beyond his expectations.

…..From the Gujarati book Sai Sarovar




Non-vegetarian food has Acidic components while most of the vegetarian food has Alkali components.

A healthy body needs adequate alkaline reserves to neutralize the acidic levels in our body which are the main cause of all diseases & when the human body doesn’t get enough alkalinity from our diet it absorbs our alkaline reserves from our bones/skin/hair & other body organs thus weakening them resulting in hair fall/skin problems/joint pains/ from common cough/cold to cancer.


An acidic balance will:

Decrease the body's ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease it's ability to repair damaged cells, decrease it's ability to detoxify heavy metals, make tumor cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness.


Circulatory system:

In excessive acid conditions, bacteria, fungi or viruses can attach themselves to the inner wall of the arteries. This can cause plaque to form, narrowing the artery and restricting blood flow, which in turn restricts the flow of oxygen and nutrients to tissues. Heart attack and even cancer can result.


Nervous system:

When brain cells are too acidic they dysfunction and communication between brain cells and throughout the spinal cord is cut off, which can result in dysfunction in other body systems. In the nervous system insomnia, anxiety, depression, neurosis, psychosis and impaired memory can result from over acidity.




• Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and the reduction of oxygen.

• Weight gain, obesity and diabetes.

• Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones.

• Immune deficiency.

• Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to cancerous mutations.

• Hormone concerns.

• Premature aging.

• Osteoporosis; weak, brittle bones, hip fractures and bone spurs.

• Joint pain, aching muscles and lactic acid buildup.

• Low energy and chronic fatigue.

• Slow digestion and elimination.

• Yeast/fungal overgrowth.



Alkalinity creates. . .

Sense of oneness & harmony

Allows for friendly bacteria

Healthy organs & glands

Decreased body aches

Diminished illness

Relaxed behavior

Mucous less body

Cellular health




Acidity creates. . .



Mucous build-up

Auto intoxication

Anxious behavior

Increased diseases

Cellular degradation

Increases body aches

Allows for bad bacteria

Sense of separation & pain



Alkaline minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium, selenium, and iron.





"If Vegetarians eat Vegetables, what do Humanitarians Eat ?".....anonymous


yOur Ratberry - rOhit beHaL

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