Food and Breath – 2

“Now is described the discipline for inner purification by which self-knowledge is attained: When the food is pure, the mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure the memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] becomes firm. When the memory is firm all ties are loosened” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).

“On food rests everything—whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.1). “From food has arisen strength [virya], austerity [tapasya], mantra, action, and the world itself” (Prashna Upanishad 6.4).

“By food, indeed, do all the breaths [pranas, life forces] become great” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.5.4). “Man, verily consists of the essence of food” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1). So we are what we eat.

“From food, verily, are produced all creatures–whatsoever dwell on earth. By food alone, furthermore, do they live.…From food all creatures are born: by food, when born, they grow.…Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath [prana]. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.1).

“On food rests everything—whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.1). The spiritual, astral body is drawn exclusively from food, so our food is crucial in our spiritual development.

  • Food, when eaten, becomes threefold (16 parts): the grossest part becomes faeces (10 parts); the middle part flesh (5 parts) and its subtlest part mind (1 part).
  • Water, when drunk, becomes threefold (16 parts): Its grossest part becomes urine (10 parts), its middle part blood (5 parts) and its subtlest part Prana (1 part).
  • Fire (i.e., in oil, butter, etc.) when eaten becomes threefold (16 parts): its grossest part becomes bone (10 parts), its middle part marrow (5 parts) and its subtlest part speech (1 part). When food that is eaten is led away by water, there is hunger. When water that is drunk is led away by fire, there is thirst.

Food Digestion

‘For truly, my child, mind comes of earth, breathe of water, speech of fire.’ ‘That which is the subtle portion of curds, when churned, rises upwards, and becomes butter. ‘In the same manner, my child, the subtle portion of earth (food), when eaten, rises upwards, and becomes the mind. That which is the subtle portion of water, when drunk, rises upwards, and becomes breath. That which is the subtle portion of fire, when consumed, rises upwards, and becomes speech.

For mind, my child, comes of earth, breath of water, speech of fire. His son Svetaketu already realizing his mistake, requests his father to tell him more and his father continues. Man (purusha), my son, consists of sixteen parts. Abstain from food for fifteen days, but drink as much water as you like, for breath comes from water, and you will not be cut off, if you drink water. Svetaketu abstained from food for fifteen days. Then he came to his father and said: ‘What shall I say?’ The father said: ‘Repeat the Rik, Yagus, and Saman verses.’ His son replied: ‘They do not occur to me, Sir.’ His father explains that your mind is weak and the recollection of your knowledge is difficult since you have not had food for 15 days. He asks his son to have food and realize that he can recollect his knowledge. The discussion continues this way in Chandogya Upanishad.

The traditional treatment for infertility in India even today is to give medicated cow ghee for the man of the family to eat it for 48 days. This is because semen is produced from Bone marrow as per Siddha / Ayurveda and quality of semen would improve when the good fat content (this is from Cow’s ghee) is increased in the intake.


Know thy Nature by Raguram Gopalan,

Author: Ganesh

A soul in the search of eternal peace... "Be True, Love All, Help Others Selflessly, Live in Harmony and Rest in Peace"

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