All yogis are careful about what they eat…or at least they should be. Food is not only connected to our physical well being but also our karmic footprint. In general, we tend to be rather neglectful of karma, nature’s law of action and reaction. As humans, we imagine ourselves above the law, different from nature, and somehow immune to its rules.
But indeed, every single thing we do, every move we make, is not without its impact on our lives – now and in the future. Eating is an obvious and easy way to track this. We eat irresponsibly, we get sick. We eat well, we are well.
The Gita uses three broad categories of called goodness, passion, and ignorance to describe the foods we are inclined to eat:
Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.
Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.
Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness. Gita 17. 8-10
While carefully selecting food in the mode of goodness, we bhakti yogis do one more important thing – we offer the food to Krishna before we eat it. This not only fills the food with love but it frees the food from all the bad karma that happened in the gathering and the making of the meal. It’s an offering of gratitude to the source of our food, and also a request for forgiveness for harm cause along the way.
If we can practice the habit of doing that, pausing for some moments to make the offering before we eat, we shift the way food affects us. If we work with the mode of goodness to make ourselves better, and work with Krishna to transcend, we can be well on all levels – body, mind, and soul.