This chapter is the English translation of Gujarati Book
Title - Sadhak and Sathi
Author - Shri Atmanandji (Dr. Soneji)
CHAPTER - 8
CONTROL OF TASTE
Out of our five sense organs, only the tongue is entrusted with
two functions: speech and tasting of different flavors (Rasas).
Just as there is a peculiarity of the dual sphere of potentially
dangerous activities of this organ of sense, so also is there a
unique peculiarity in achieving control over it. It is said that
if only the tongue is brought under control, then the control
over all other sense organs becomes easy.
The voluptuousness of the worldly person with regard to this
organ of taste appears to be almost universal. This organ, only
three inches in length, has brought the majority of the living
beings in the worlds under its rule. Human beings, animals,
even insects, are all under its spell.
In modern times the voluptuousness of this organ of taste has
crossed all limits. Numerous and varied items are served in the
dishes in the non-vegetarian meals which are prepared from
fishes, frogs, rats, cockroaches and countless carnivorous
animals and insects. No big animal has been spared. Innocent
animals, such as sheep, goats, ducks, hens, hares, pigs, deer,
cows and bulls, buffaloes and horses, are slaughtered by the
thousands. The root cause of all this cruel killing is only to
cherish man's voluptuousness regarding the taste of his tongue.
Vegetarians also do not lag behind in the voluptuousness of the
tongue. Thousands of new items are being processed and
invented. These are such as those with pepper and spices,
varied fried items, pickles, sauces, and sweets.
For an aspirant simple and health-nourishing food serves the
purpose. In its preparation, no long time is required and there
is no elaborate processing. It is possible to observe the vow
of limited eating (Unodari) and such a diet is conducive to
peace of mind. An aspirant will not be tempted to eat like a
pig, and it will be possible for him to resort to various
spiritual practices with ease and peace.
EXPERIMENT IN CONTROL OF TASTE:
In the initial stages, an aspirant (Sadhak) should restrict the
number of items of food. This will save him from the hankering
love of unnecessary items like sauces, papad, pickles, fried
grams and so on. In the next stage, let him resolve to give up
for six or twelve months or some other time-limit, salty, sour
or sweet items. This will slowly lead to the success of penance
(Tapa) named abandonment of taste (Rasaparityaga). The tongue
should not become licentious and physical health should not get
spoiled for these purposes, discriminative abandonment of tastes
becomes very useful to the aspirant.
Very tasty and spicy foods are usually consumed excessively.
This will often produce several diseases of the stomach,
intestines; liver and the tongue. In addition, sleep and
laziness get enhanced, wrathful activities increase and the
means of God-realization like self-study, chanting prayers,
meditation, devotional singing and the like, cannot be practiced
with due earnestness or concentration. Even the practice of
non-violence and celibacy face several difficulties. The mind
remains predominantly occupied with the ideas and analysis of
what is to be prepared, how, where, at what time and under what
circumstances the food will be consumed and so on. Under these
conditions, how will the mind remain applied or get fixed in
remembrance and devotion to God and self-study?
It is obvious therefore, that persons endowed with
discrimination can have no voluptuousness of food. We waste a
lot of time, huge energy and incur great expense in the
preparation of certain tasty dishes and the taste lasts only
while the item is in the mouth. Once the item goes beyond the
palate, it has only one final shape - it turns to stool or other
waste of the body.
Discriminating persons should therefore be cautious about all
matters regarding preparation and consumption of food and must
apply a sense of propriety and due discrimination in the
Elephants, fish, bees, butterflies, and deer lose their lives by
submitting to one of their senses. If an intelligent human
being also behaves this way then what is so uniquely superior
about him? Would that person not be enduring results of the
voluptuousness? Considering this again and again, Sadhaka
accepts balanced amount of simple and nutritious meal on a
GLORY OF CONTROL OF TASTE:
1. When a person with proper food-habits resorts to spiritual
activity (Yoga-Sadhana), all his sufferings end.
2. Food is for life and not life for food.
3. Well planned and regular food habits are conducive to rapid
4. The purpose of human life is neither to inflate one's
possessions nor to fulfil sensual pleasures, but to achieve
higher values in life.
LIVING EXAMPLES OF CONTROL OF TASTE:
Two persons named Tribhovanbhai and Maneklalbhai were close and
devoted disciples of Shrimad Rajchandra, a great spiritual prophet.
One day Tribhuvanbhai, Maneklalbhai and other aspirants were having
dinner with Shrimad Rajchandraji. When different vegetables were
being served, Maneklalhbai refused because he had his vow (Vrata).
Then sauce followed and he rejected that also. Then several other
items were being served but he accepted some and rejected others. At
last came rice-milk (Dudhapaka). As it was about to be served to
Maneklalbhai, Shrimad Rajchandraji interrupted and said, "Do not
serve rice-milk to him. He wants to inflate his self-esteem by
abandoning small items. Actually, he does not want to discard items
that nourish the taste."
Real abandonment of tastes of the tongue is to discard permanently
and fully the item that is very much to one's liking. Only such
persons are heroes (Tyagavira).
A Jain monk Acharya Shantisagarji was the pioneer of the ascetic
order among Digamber Jains. He did great penance and had thousands
of disciples among Digamber Jains in India. He ended his life by
voluntary renunciation of food in 1955. This procedure is known as
In 1930, he stayed four months during rainy season at Lalitpur
village in Madhya Pradesh, India. There were also some ten
or twelve other Jain monks stayed at the village. Several
householders were preparing food for them.
In Lalitpur, fruits like oranges and grapes were costly
because these were imported from Delhi. When Acharya learnt of
this, he put this idea very humbly before the other monks;
"I will not beg for or eat from today to the end of the four
months of the rainy season, all fruits, green vegetables and all
tasty food. Also it is proper to discard fruits and green
vegetables during the rainy season."
All other monks took the same vow to abandon fruits and green
vegetables following him.
Thus two things were accomplished together by Acharya-shree.
The spirit of abandonment (Tyaga) on the part of monks went up,
and ordinary householders also could supply the food to monks
because there was no need now of bringing costly fruits. An
atmosphere of the proper spirit of religion and peace spread on
all sides by this abandonment of taste of the tongue and
discrimination in food.
Maharaj Nrusinhdas was a great austere saint of the state of
Gujurat, India. He lived in the early part of the present
century in the city Ahmedabad. He ate only bread and
vegetables and did not use anything else in his food.
There is a temple dedicated to a God named Shri Jagannathji in
Ahmedabad. Traditionally many Tyagi Sadhus (monks) lived at the
temple. Shri Nrusinhadasaji, the predecessor of the present
Shri Ramaharshadasaji, spread the fame of the temple for more
than thirty years by unity, peace and service to others. Many
cows are looked after in the temple, and guests are regularly
served milk-rice and other sweet items.
Shri Nrusinhadasaji Maharaj, by his vow, ate only after guests
and residents of the temple were fed. He daily and regularly
took only millet-cake and vegetable Bhaji. In spite of all
requests of the worshipers inconveniences due to old age, he
took this simple, tasteless, uniform food until he died. This
gives to us much food for thought with regard to the abandonment
of taste of the tongue for the whole life by great souls.
Back to Chapter List.
Back to the Home Page.