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,

Food and Breath – 1

Why can we live without food for few weeks but we cannot manage without water more than few days?

We might have observed the types of food, taste and its impact on us as an individual and the society. As per ancient saying our mind gets 2 predominant inputs which keep us our mind alive. The 2 inputs for our mind are Food and Breath. In this article we would not focus on the impact on our mind based on the quality of food but we would focus on the interconnection between Food and Breath.

The following is an excerpt from Chandogya Upanishad, a discussion between Svetaketu Aruneya (the grandson of Aruna) and his father (Uddilaka, the son of Aruna). When Svetaketu returned to his father, at the age of twenty-four, having then studied all the Vedas, conceited himself to be well-read and stern. His father being a very wise man wanted to teach his son a lesson in humility and wanted to highlight that his self-conceit does not befit him.

So he starts by asking him, “Have you ever asked for that instruction by which we hear what cannot be heard, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived, by which we know what cannot be known?” When his son acknowledges his ignorance on this he starts explaining things from evolution.

He says that water is produced from fire and explains whenever anybody anywhere is hot and perspires, water is produced on him from fire alone. Water he says produces food (earth). Furthermore he says that Fire, Water and Earth are the basic elements which manifest themselves in all the loving beings.

The red colour of burning fire (Agni) is the colour of fire, the white colour of fire is the colour of water, the black colour of fire the colour of earth. Learned men knew that, Whatever they thought looked red, they knew was the colour of fire. Whatever they thought looked white, they knew was the colour of water. Whatever they thought looked black, they knew was the colour of earth. Whatever they thought was altogether unknown, they knew was some combination of those three beings.

We are not going see the entire conversation which is very interesting and can be read more from Internet or books. Tomorrow we will see the most interesting aspect of food and its manifestation.


Know thy Nature by Raguram Gopalan,

The Three Types Of Eaters?

One day a spiritual Master was playing his flute while his disciples were eating. He was getting joy from watching them eat. After some time, he asked them if they would like to hear a story from him. They said, “Of course, of course.”

The Master said, “I will tell you a very short story. There are three kinds of eaters. One type of eater will eat voraciously no matter how the food tastes. He feels that since God has given him the body, he must eat. The more he eats, the more he thinks that he is pleasing God, since the body is God’s creation. So he eats anything he gets.

The second type will eat whatever he is given, no matter what quantity. If the food is good, he is happy. If the food is bad, he accepts this, knowing that every day one cannot eat most delicious food. He tolerates the fact that, from worldly human beings who cook every day, one cannot always receive a delicious meal. After all, not even one day is the food unbearable; always there is some standard. Therefore, whatever he gets is all right.

The third type of person says to God, ‘O God, today by Your Grace I am eating. Tomorrow I may not get any food, but that also I shall take as Your Grace. Whatever happens to me I feel is an experience that You are giving me. So if You give me food, it is wonderful, and if You do not give me food, it is also wonderful, for I will feel that You want to give me a specific experience. I shall be equally satisfied in Your divine dispensation. If You give, I feel that for my progress You are doing so. If You do not give, it is again for my progress. Your Will is my will. I don’t want to have any will of my own.’

To the first group the Lord says, ‘My Eternity will take care of you.’

To the second group He says, ‘My Divinity is pleased with you.’

To the third group He says, ‘My oneness-life is all pride in you. Your oneness in My Greatness and your oneness with My Goodness will always satisfy Me. Your aspiration is great, your dedication is good. Your realization of My highest Height and deepest Depth is not a far cry, but imminent.'”

– Sri Chinmoy,

Mind – Life History

Finally we are about to complete our learning on “Mind – Its Mysteries and Control” by Sri Swami Sivananda in couple of weeks. Hope you had all a pleasant journey in learning about our Mind and unraveled some mysteries.

All the articles about mind are grouped under “Mind” category. I know it’s huge to go through all of them, so I am planning to sub categorize them later some time. In these final weeks we will go through some of the beautiful poems about mind by Sri Swami Sivananda which will summarize and conclude what we learned in last 11 months.


O Mind; O Maya’s child!
You always want a form
To lean upon;
You have two forms—
Suddha Manas, pure mind,
Asuddha Manas, impure mind.
Time, space and causation
Are thy categories.
You work through
The law of association;
You think, feel and know.
You are Soul-Energy.
You are Mental Sheath.
You are like a mirror;
Brahman is reflected on you.
You are compared to a tree:
Ego is the seed of this tree,
Thoughts are the branches,
Intellect is the first sprout.
You have another three forms
The conscious mind,
The subconscious mind,
And the superconscious mind.
You are made up of
The subtlest form of food.
You are a bundle of habits,
Impressions and Subtle desires.
You are fourfold:
Mind does Sankalpa-Vikalpa,
Intellect determines,
Subconscious mind executes,
Egoism self-arrogates.
Subconscious comes under conscious mind,
Intellect comes under Ego.
It’s all different thought waves.

For those who haven’t read the detailed articles, here it is… 


Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda

Comparison of Mind – Part 2


When you play tennis, the ball goes very high in the sky and the next second, it comes down to the ground. Even so, the mind jumps high to the divine glory, dwells on Sattvic divine virtues for a very short time in the beginning of meditation in neophytes and, at once falls down into its old rotten grooves, nasty ruts, foul avenues, and stinking channels and dwells on useless, abominable thoughts. The developing soul, the new flame shudders and quivers at the sight of these shocking thoughts. It does not matter; you need not worry. Just as you raise the ball again to the sky by a good, fresh-cut or twist or gentle beating, so also, you will have to raise the mind again with effort to the heights of divine glory and divine consciousness.


In a clock, the pendulum moves to the right and thence to the left. When the children play on a swing, the swing moves high to one side and at once rises high to the other side. Even so, in the case of aspirants who are not established or well settled in deep meditation, their minds also resemble the pendulum or the swing. They sometimes think of Karma Yoga, enter the world and do actions; while, at other times, they run to the Himalayas for leading a contemplative life. There is struggle inside whether to take up Karma Yoga or Dhyana (meditation) Yoga. You must decide it once for all and be firm in practicing Karma Yoga or in shutting yourself up in a room or cave for some years in the practice of meditation. To run for work into the world for six months and then again into the forest for six months for meditation is no good. Decide one way or the other. Cut asunder the Gordian knot. Work till you get purity of mind. Then meditate till you realize. This is the wisest course.


If you allow a tennis ball to drop from the highest stair-case, it will not stop at any of the middle steps in the stair-case. It will come down to the ground floor at once. Even so, if you do not take the proper precautions, if you mix with the worldly-minded persons, you will get a quick downfall like the tennis-ball. The mind that you elevated by spiritual practices in six or eight years will become tainted with various sorts of impurities. Beware, therefore, O aspirants!


Mind is compared to a SMALL VESSEL which contains small articles, because mind also contains subtle desire, cravings, impressions, thought waves, ideas, characteristics, etc. Mind is compared to a public resting place, because the thoughts such as lust, greed, anger, pride, hypocrisy, egoism, etc., take their rest in the mind. Mind is resting place for those thought waves. Mind is compared to a PUBLIC ROAD. In a public road, anybody can walk. All sorts of people are moving in a public road. Similarly, all sorts of thoughts are moving in this mind.

Mind is compared to a DEER, because it is unsteady. It is compared to a MONKEY, because it jumps from one object to another. It is compared to a BIRD, because it flies like a bird. It is compared to the WIND, because it is impetuous, like the wind. Mind is compared to a Ghost, because it behaves like a devil. Mind is compared to a CHILD, because it needs caning.

Mind is compared to an ENGINE, because it works when the food-fuel is supplied. Mind is compared to a GARDEN. There are beautiful flowers in a garden. You can cultivate several kinds of flowers in a garden. Even so, you can cultivate the flowers of peace, equal vision, contentment, etc., in the garden of mind.

Mind is compared to a TEMPLE. When the mind is purified, when the evil thoughts such as lust, greed, etc., are destroyed, the Lord takes His seat in the mind and so it becomes the temple of the Lord. Mind is also compared to a FLOWER, because it is offered to the Lord by the devotee. Mind is compared to REINS according to Upanishads. He who holds the mind-reins tight can reach the abode of Bliss.


Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda

Annihilation of Mind – Part 2

What it really means?

Destruction of the mind does not mean annihilation of the Self. The Vedantins divide the mind into the higher and the lower, of which the lower one leading to desires is asked to be destroyed.

Destruction of desires, annihilation of Ego, destruction of thoughts, all mean control of mind or annihilation of mind. Destruction of egoism, Like-Dislike (attraction and repulsion for objects) and all subtle desires alone is annihilation of mind. Annihilation of mind comes through the destruction of the subtle desires. It does not mean that you should take a sword and cut the mind to pieces.

Annihilation of mind means the death of the present form of the mind (i.e., the instinctive mind of emotions and passions), the form which perceives differences where none exists, which identifies the Self with the body. Its death really means its transformation into and, therefore, the birth of cosmic consciousness.

Vast majority of persons live in Annamaya Kosha (sheath of food or physical body) only. Their thoughts are directed towards eating, cleansing the body and putting on neat dress. That is all. Even the so-called educated persons live in Annamaya Kosha only. Sometimes, they live in Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath). A spiritual aspirant with Viveka lives in Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellectual sheath). The Vijnanamaya Kosha is developed by abstract thinking and reasoning, by systematic meditation, study of the scriptures. You must all develop the Vijnanamaya Kosha by the study of spiritual books and pure thinking. Then you are safe. Mind will stop to deceive and torment you.

Laya yoga

Mind is absorbed in Intellect. Individual Intellect is absorbed in the Cosmic Intellect; Cosmic Intellect in Avyakta; Avyakta in Supreme Soul. This is the Laya-Chintana (Involution or Absorption) of Mind. Sambhavi Mudra, looking at the spot midway between the two eyebrows, looking steadily at the tip of the nose, hearing the sounds of the ear —all belong to Laya-Yoga. By these practices the mind gets Laya soon. In Sambhavi Mudra, the eyes are open but the mind is fixed on the Target. The eyes do not see the external objects. When the mind and senses are thinned out and eventually controlled, the various activities of mind and senses ceases. Personality-notion and sensation vanishes. Existence remains.

The two kinds…

Annihilation of mind is of two kinds, viz., (i) Destruction of the nature of mind, as in the case of the liberation and (ii) Destruction of the very form of the mind, as in the case of where they leave off their physical bodies. The first is termed “destruction of the mind with form.” The second is termed “destruction of the mind without form.”


Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda