Monthly Archives: September 2013

Gandhi’s experiments with Diet | Raw food diet – Part 2 of 3

Gandhi Proverb: An eye for an eye

Gandhi Proverb: An eye for an eye

(Go back to Part 1)

Gandhiji read extensively about diet, health, and nutrition in the literature of the times and also corresponded and met with a number of prominent writers on these subjects. He also wrote numerous articles and books on the subjects usually using his own experiments as examples. Examples are the Key to Health, Guide to Health, Diet and Diet Reform, which consists of many articles he had written in the Harijan and other publications. He also freely and openly discussed the failings and shortcomings of these experiments and changes he implemented. He was keenly aware of the economic realities of his time. He was very vocal in his condemnation of the use of polished rice, white flour, and white sugar pointing out the loss of vitamins and minerals in the processing of the whole grains and sugar cane. His approach to diet was very balanced and rational. He sagely noted the unhealthy departure from older methods of processing foods and the ill health of many urban peoples. Probably today he would again be taken aback by the relentless use of white flour, white sugar and white rice. Again he would also be happy to see that the whole grain alternatives are readily available. He was also opposed to the use of condiments as salt, chilies, pepper, turmeric, coriander, mustard seeds, cumin, and so on. This of course, could never become popular with the majority of people. Salt as Gandhi pointed out occurs naturally in all foods, but cooking methods often take out the natural salt and we put it back in. one could also argue that many spices and seeds have beneficial qualities as methi, and haldi—or turmeric. Chilies, of course, have the interesting history of coming from the America and traveling where they sautéed themselves into Indian cuisine; black pepper, native to India, traveled to the western world and beyond and stuck there. Condiments Gandhi observed destroyed the natural flavor of foods. Tea, coffee, and cocoa were also on Gandhi’s taboo list. And we need not mention intoxicants as liquors, drugs, tobacco, where he observed the ill effects of time and again in England, India and South Africa.

When I decided to become a vegetarian some 45 years back I also had to experiment in a land where it was considered a little mad. Gandhi, however, was my guiding force and strength as I read and reflected on his life. At the time I did think he was a little extreme but such a revered worldwide figure could not be rejected for any reason. Again, Gandhiji has come to my aid in my own extreme as I also go on another experiment to improve my health and find the correct diet for losing and maintaining proper weight and giving up salt and sugar, which I have seen for a long time as unnecessary evils. When I see the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other related ills I again see the wisdom of Gandhiji. But the Truth has to slap you in the face and cause sufferings and pain before we can recognize it as the Truth, for most of us. My body has said once again, “stop,” and this time I think my mind is listening.

An example of what Gandhiji ate in his unfired or uncooked food experiment is this:  Sprouted wheat, pounded almonds, whole almonds, green vegetables, raisins or fresh fruit, lemons and honey, sometimes he took sprouted grams and grated coconut. He strove to find the right combinations of food. He also stressed proper mastication for unfired food and so on.

While reading again Gandhi’s writings which I always find to be clear, concise, and touching many sides of the topic, I became fascinated once again with his diet of unfired food, I took a vow to myself also to eat unfired or uncooked food until Gandhi Peace Prayer Day, today, and I am considering going until after Navaratri which ends on October 13th. Since Gandhi realized that most people need to take some milk product he introduced nonfat cheese in a small amount.  I am going towards my weight loss goal I feel very fit and full of energy and I feel full most of the time.

(Go to Part 3)

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Gandhi’s experiments with Diet | Raw food diet – Part 1 of 3

Gandhi peace day: focus on peace

Gandhi peace day: focus on peace

On September 29th, 2013, Badarikashram celebrated Gandhi Peace Day.  As part of the festivities, Mangala ji gave a talk on Gandhi’s raw food diet, and her experiences while trying to follow it.  I found it fascinating and thought you might also.  So, here is a copy of the speech she gave.

Gandhi wrote:  “I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search for the Truth, I have disguarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that I have ceased to draw inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of the Truth, my God, from moment to moment, and therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he still has faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the latter of the two on the same subject,” April 29, 1933, in the Harijan

Keep this in mind as we further look at Gandhiji’s experiments and beliefs about health, diet, and nutrition. Gandhi also said “I have found after prolonged experiment and observation that there is no fixed dietetic rule for all constitutions…laymen out to acquire a workable knowledge of the body which plays such an important part of the evolution of the soul within. And yet about nothing are we so woefully negligent or ignorant as in regard to our bodies. Instead of using the body as a temple of God we use it as a vehicle for indulgences and are not ashamed to run to medical men for any variety of ailments.”

Gandhiji conducted many experiments in dietetics which began in earnest in England while he was studying law. There he explored many facets of vegetarianism trying different combinations. Here the seed was sown for his lifelong commitment to vegetarianism in spite of experimenting with meat eating. He even started a branch of the Vegetarian Society during his stay abroad.

Later he felt that control of the palate was essential in observing the vow of brahmacharya. He pursued his experiments with brahmacharya in mind. He felt that a bramacharya’s food should be limited, simple, spiceless and if possible, uncooked. The ideal diet he concluded was fruits and nuts. Brahamacharya means control of the senses in thought, word, and deed.

In spite of his personal strictness he studied the nutritional requirements of people and advocated a number of changes in the national diet of India. He was very advanced for his time. He realized the dangers of overconsumption of sugar and salt. He gave up sugar entirely and salt for ten years straight although after some time he reintroduced a small amount of salt due to the advice of medical friends. Through he lent towards being a vegan he eventually included goat’s milk in his diet due to some health issues. He of course always advocated non meat eating under any circumstances. Vegetarianism he felt was one of the priceless gifts of Hinduism. He would now, however, be disturbed by the number of meat eating Hindus both here and in India and I am sure would have a lot to say to them. Conversely he probably would be encouraged by the growing number of vegans and vegetarians throughout the world, especially pleased to see so many dietary options.

(Go to part 2, part 3)

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Dharma definition | What does Dharma mean?


The meaning of Dharma

The meaning of Dharma

The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit word dhri, which means to uphold or to sustain.  From this perspective, dharma can be defined as that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the family, the community, the nation, and ultimately the universe. For the sake of this discussion, the concept of DHARMA can be broken down into two parts: the whole (Dharma) and its individual parts (dharma).

Dharma (the whole) refers to the set of actions that must be taken to sustain the overall order of a society or the cosmic order of the universe. For example, the Dharma of a policeman is to serve the people of the community and protect them from harm. The Dharma of a government is to rule its country with judiciousness. The Dharma of a religion is to provide people with a moral foundation on which to stand.

dharma (the individual parts) refers to the set of actions that must be taken to uphold or sustain the individual or the family. For example, the dharma of the householder is to earn enough money to sustain his or her family. The dharma of a student is to attend classes regularly and do the work required to pass them.

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Indian teaching proverb | You can give a man a fish, but… – Part 2


teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime

Teach a man to fish

(Go back to Part 1)

The Muslim minorities feared that they would be marginalized by the Hindu majority. A dispute broke out, and the leaders realized that it could not be resolved by reassurances and compromise. In the end, British India was divided into two separate nations: India, with a Hindu majority, and Pakistan, for those who believed in Islam.

Partitioned India: India and Pakistan

Partitioned India: India and Pakistan

The partition of British India into two sovereign countries was meant to pacify Muslims and strengthen relations between the two nations. Instead, both sides dredged up their rage towards being oppressed for so long and took it out on each other. Millions of people were murdered.  Towns and villages were ravaged, and the rivers ran red with the blood of India’s countrymen. Those who had escaped, had done so with barely the shirts on their backs. When I asked my father HOW they survived and thrived after such tragedy, he smiled sadly. He said that their persecutors could take their homes, their livelihoods, and even their very lives! But they couldn’t take their hearts and minds. Whatever lessons they had learnt while growing up, whatever education they had received, had proven useful in rebuilding their lives elsewhere. And in so doing, they were able to redirect their rage and anguish towards their persecutors and work towards a better future. And that is exactly what my father and his family had done…

- Written by Neelam Wadhwani

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Indian teaching proverb | You can give a man a fish, but… – Part 1


Written by Neelam Wadhwani


You can give a man a fish, and feed him for a day.

Or you can teach the man how to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.

-  Old Indian Proverb


When I was growing up, my father told me many stories of his childhood in British India. He also told me about when India gained its independence, and the years that immediately followed. It is during the latter that I wish to share my thoughts on…

The year leading up to the end of British rule in India was a restless time. People could taste Freedom, and they were chomping at the bit… The Brits had grown anxious and many of them were leaving. The riots that had broken out across the country in favor of Indian sovereignty had escalated to a point of no return. The Brits had lost control over the country, and they were preparing to relinquish their power.

Indian leaders knew Independence was close at hand, so they started tossing around ideas for the governance of their new nation. In so doing, they opened “Pandora’s Box”.

Go to Part 2

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A Prince in Our Midst

I once heard an Indian folk tale about a wise king who found that his kingdom was descending invariably into darkness. To halt this descent, and hopefully change the course of the future, he devised an ingenious plan.

He announced to all that one of his queens was soon expecting a baby.  To ensure that his people believed him, the king waited four months before announcing the baby’s arrival. The people reacted joyously, and asked to see the newborn. Instead of complying, the king said this to his beloved countrymen:

My dear countrymen, the Queen and I made a decision shortly before our baby arrived, that we would place the care and upbringing of him in YOUR hands. So just as I stand before you here today, my precious son is in your midst!

The countrymen were astonished. Bravely, one spoke up. But Your Majesty! Where is He? Who have you placed him with?

The king smiled reassuringly, and responded. Ah, but that is the question of the hour, isn’t it? My son is in your midst, and until I decide to share his identity with you, you must all treat your infants as if they are the One.

And so it was decreed that all the citizens of the kingdom would treat their infants with utmost love and care. As the years progressed, righteousness returned and the king, now older, realized that his goal of long ago had been accomplished!

- Written by Neelam Wadhwani

Avatara – What does Avatara mean?

Hindu Avatars of Vishnu

Hindu Avatars of Vishnu

Avatara is a descent of God for the ascent of man.

- Stephen Knapp

 An AVATARA (or Avatar) is an incarnate of God, who has taken form on Earth to vanquish evil that has engulfed the world in darkness. This incarnate will take the form of something that is familiar to mankind so as not to insight suspicion or distract from the MESSAGE he wishes to convey. For example, Hindu scriptures proclaim that God, in this case, Lord Vishnu, will descend on Earth ten times in order to rid the world of the evils that have befallen it. As such, we have already witnessed nine of them: Matsya (the fish), Kurma (the tortoise), Varaha (the boar), Narasimha (half-man/half-lion), Vamana (the dwarf), Parasurama (Rama with an ax; the first warrior-saint), Rama (prince of Ayodhya), Buddha (aka Balarama; elder brother of Krishna; known as the Sankarashana form), and Krishna (essential character in the Mahabharata; marked the beginning of the Kali Yuga (the Iron Age).     The tenth, who will be known as Kalki (the Destroyer of Filth) will emerge at the end of the Kali Yuga, mounted on a white horse and wielding a blazing sword.  (written by Neelam Wadhwani)

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Focus on peace, joy, spiritual strength, and creativity, the only true paths to happiness.

“Superficiality characterizes everything we do. We judge people by the clothes they wear and the cars they drive. We occupy our minds with what we would like to eat, what we would like to buy and what we could do to impress friends and neighbors. We have no time to think of the world within.
In the world within you will not find material treasures; not the wealth of this world – but untapped, undreamt resourced of wisdom, peace, joy, spiritual strength, creativity and healing power.

We emphasize speech, action and outward show; we forget that there is a far more valuable aspect to life called reflection, contemplation and introspection.”

-Dada J P Vaswani

Isn’t this so true?  We spend so much of our time “keeping up with the Joneses,” we forget that there are more important pursuits that could make us so much happier.  If we focus more on our internal lives, the things that make us feel true joy and peace, we are focusing on the things that no one can take away from us.  If we lose all our material goods, we still have our internal strength and joy.  If we meet someone who has more than ourselves, then we don’t fee sad or frustrated because of our jealousy.
In my opinion we do live in a material world.  It’s okay to enjoy that aspect of ourselves.  But we must not forget to focus on our internal world also.  That’s the big mistake we make.  We forget to ALSO focus on our internal world; on attaining the internal peace and joy that will sustain us through anything.  it’s the true path to lasting happiness.
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Slow and Steady – Part 2

Story of Stone Soup retold

Stone Soup

(go back to part 1)

When he asked for something to eat, the woman who answered refused, stating that times were hard and she couldn’t afford to share her stock of food. Contemplating this, the bedraggled man picked up a smooth stone from the garden and enquired again, “Then could you lend me a pot of water so that I can make some soup?” The woman was skeptical, but finally agreed. Then the poor fellow borrowed some wood and a match to start a fire so that he could heat the soup. In this way, he coaxed a carrot, some lettuce, a half of a tomato, a turnip, and even a couple of ham hocks, out of the woman. In the end, he had himself a fine supper.

The point of this story is that it all started out as a clever idea (on the part of the hungry wanderer) and the first step (the stone). Such is the case with the project Monica and I have undertaken by creating this website: to raise funds to complete a humanitarian project that is very near and dear to our hearts. And yes, Virginia, the bridge between Ancient India and Lanka was built by tribesmen, one stone at a time…

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Scorpions found in children’s lunch in Chhattisgarh, India.

Thank you, Monica for letting me a guest here at your blog – Project Teach a Child.

I am so very fortunate to have a mommy and daddy who take much time to teach me. And who have worked very hard to find a school where I can learn and grow up and in the end make the world a better place because I was here … I hope.

Daddy showed me a news story about some children in Chhattisgarh, India.

They got sick because someone let a scorpion get into their lunch. Either the bug died when he got cooked or someone tossed the dead critter in there after he was dead. Eeewww!!!

Scorpion for Lunch

Scorpion for Lunch

I am too little to know too much but here are a couple of things I do know.

I feel safe when I am at home. That’s because Mommy and Daddy are there.

And I feel safe when I am at school. It’s because Mommy and Daddy picked the place out for me and drop me off there. They would NEVER EVER take me some place and leave me there if it were dangerous. I trust my Mommy and Daddy completely.

It is too too sad that little girls and little boys all over the world cannot feel this way.

Gosh, according to Monica’s site, some little girls and boys in India can’t even go to school?! They can’t even get an education.

That’s ridiculous. I learned that word somewhere. School maybe? I don’t know. But I get to learn things when I go to school. I get to learn words. And when I learn words I can express myself better.

According to this story about the scorpion, it seems to me that it’s not only kids who need some educating … cooks need it, too!

How did the dead bug get into the food?

Daddy said he had some deep fried scorpions when he was in China once. But they were tiny and very dead before being cooked and crispy when they were served.

None of those things matter to me – tiny, very dead or crispy.

I want to eat stuff that won’t hurt me.

And little as I am the best way for me to know what will or will not hurt me is to ask my daddy. He has experience in those things. And he tells me when to be safe. And he takes me places (school) and lets me meet people (my teachers) that I can trust.

I want to give little boys and girls everywhere a mommy and daddy that they can trust and a school where they can be safe and learn.

Mia Mei is a 5-year old blogger who writes about growing up bi-culturally as a Chinese-American in Silicon Valley.