The ancient Laws Of Manu describes the diet of the brahmanas or priestly order of society as a diet that would exclude the eating of meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic.  Indian Natural Medicine is called Ayurveda – Ayu means ‘life’ and Veda means ‘science’ ie. ‘Science of Life’.  The Ayurveda explains how onions and garlic arouse passion within the heart.  Such foods are rajasic (ie. in the mode of passion) and should, therefore, be avoided by aspiring spiritualists or yogis.  These prescriptions are corroborated by a story from the Puranas which describes how a pregnant brahmana’s wife, overcome by hunger at a fire sacrifice, ate cow’s flesh.  She shamefully buried the bones in the ground and the bones sprouted as onion and garlic.  Food without garlic, onions or eggs is called “pure vegetarian” in India.

The preparation of foodstuffs and worship was part of daily life in the ancient Vedic or Aryan culture.  The fact that many Indians frequent temples to take darshan (ie. have audience) of the Deity, associate with sadhus (saintly people) and honour foodstuffs offered to the Deity is an indication of the impact of Aryan culture on India today.   Temple offerings of food or bhoga – meant for the pleasure of Lord Vishnu (the Supreme Personality of Godhead) – exclude breads, pizza, soya products, mushrooms, certain cakes and intoxicants like alcohol and coffee.  Offerings to Lord Vishnu or Krishna are made by pure-hearted brahmanas. When bhoga is prepared and offered to the Lord with devotion, such offerings are accepted by the Lord.  These sanctified offerings are called prashadam or the ‘mercy’ of the Lord. Prashadam is considered to be pure and is beyond even the goodness of sattvic foodstuffs.

Traditional Indian Vegetarian Cuisine and Ayurveda are interchangeable.  The Charak Samhita, one of the definitive Ayurvedic texts, explains that food can be both the source of health and disease – depending on what and how we eat.  Sattvic foods, therefore, are good for the health.  Prashadam is not only sattvic; it is good for the soul.  Devotees believe that prashadam is food that has come in direct contact with Krishna or God.  Prashadam cannot be contaminated.  The faithful believe that prashadam can be eaten even if it has fallen on the ground or come in contact with something dirty.  Prashadam, therefore, is pure vegetarian cuisine in the strictest sense.

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