Ramana Maharshi on Sattvic Diet, Vegetarianism
Question : What about diet?
Ramana Maharshi : Food affects the mind. For the practice of any kind of
yoga, vegetarianism is absolutely necessary since it makes the mind more
sattvic [pure and harmonious].
Question : Could one receive spiritual illumination while eating flesh
Ramana Maharshi : Yes, but abandon them gradually and accustom yourself
to sattvic foods. However, once you have attained illumination it will
make less difference what you eat, as, on a great fire, it is immaterial
what fuel is added.
Question : We Europeans are accustomed to a particular diet and a change
of diet affects the health and weakens the mind. Is it not necessary to
keep up one's physical health?
Ramana Maharshi : Quite necessary. The weaker the body the stronger the
Question : In the absence of our usual diet our health suffers and the
mind loses strength.
Ramana Maharshi : What do you mean by strength of mind?
Question : The power to eliminate worldly attachment.
Ramana Maharshi : The quality of food influences the mind. The mind
feeds on the food consumed.
Question : Really! Then how can Europeans adjust themselves to sattvic
Ramana Maharshi : Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the
mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think
certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in
vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires
such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.
Question : Are there restrictions for the realized man with regard to
Ramana Maharshi : No. He is steady and not influenced by the food he
Question: Is it not killing life to prepare meat diet?
Ramana Maharshi : Ahimsa [non-violence] stands foremost in the code of
discipline for the yogis.
Question : Even plants have life.
Ramana Maharshi : So too the slabs you sit on!
Question : May we gradually get ourselves accustomed to vegetarian food?
Ramana Maharshi : Yes. That is the way.
Question : Is it harmless to continue smoking?
Ramana Maharshi : No, for tobacco is a poison. It is better to do
without it. It is good that you have given up smoking. Men are enslaved
by tobacco and cannot give it up. But tobacco only gives a temporary
stimulation to which there must be a reaction with craving for more. It
is also not good for meditation practice.
Question : Do you recommend that meat and alcoholic drinks be given up?
Ramana Maharshi : It is advisable to give them up because this
abstention is a useful aid for beginners. The difficulty in surrendering
them does not arise because they are really necessary, but merely
because we have become inured by custom and habit to them.
Question : Generally speaking, what are the rules of conduct which an
aspirant should follow?
Ramana Maharshi : Moderation in food, moderation in sleep and moderation
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