A love of nature and the importance of living a simple, natural life are the basis of Hinduism, a faith that originated in India and is the world’s oldest and third largest religion. Like other religions that advocate a vegetarian lifestyle, the Hindu faith encompasses a number of health beliefs and dietary practices arising from the idea of living in harmony with nature and having mercy and respect for all of god’s creations.
The ideal human lifespan of 100 years is seen as a four stage process of equal length. The first is learning and acquiring vocational skills, the second is marriage and a progressive working life, the third is giving back to society and the fourth is spirituality. Weaved into this is the notion of karmic debt whereby you should do good deeds to offset one’s misdeeds and thus prevent misfortune and ill-health in this life or the next.
In common with many Asian countries, Hindus have immense respect for the elderly and their continued involvement in family life. loneliness in old age, a common feature of Westernized societies, is to them.
Hindus believe self-control and meditation is the path to health, with prayer to god being the last resort. For many Hindus, yoga is a means by which to bring the integration of the body, mind and intellect together in order to achieve perfect harmony or alignment.
Hindus believe that all of god’s creatures are worthy of respect and compassion, regardless of whether they are humans or animals. Thus vegetarianism is encouraged, though it is no considered wrong to eat meat. Thus not all Hindus choose to practice vegetarianism.
Like Buddhists, Hindus believe that food affects both body and mind. Food is considered to be a source of the body’s chemistry, which affects one’s consciousness and emotions. Thus, expression of the soul depends on the body, which depends on the food. A proper diet is considered vital for spiritual development in Hinduism. The Hindu dietary code divides food into three categories, based on the food’s effect on body and temperament:
• Tamasic food is leftover, stale, overripe, spoiled or other impure food, which is believed to produce negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy and greed.
• Rajastic is food that is believed to produce strong emotional qualities, passions and restlessness in the mind. This category includes meat, eggs, fish , spices, onions, garlic, hot peppers, pickles and other pungent or spicy foods.
• Sattvic, the most desirable type of food, is non-irritating to the stomach and purifying to the mind. It includes fruits, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. These foods are believed to produce calmness and nobility, or what is known as an “increase in one’s magnetism”. Other sattvic foods are honey and milk. Often cited in the rig-veda composed around
3,000 B.C., honey represented everything that was sweet and beneficial. It was believed that whoever ate it would become strong, rich, happy and wise and that it would improve not only his own looks but would influence even his offspring. In religious practices, milk is a key ingredient used in pooja, and also used in the form of curds and ghee butter.
Hindus believe that for true service to God...