Ghee’s role in the Ayurvedic Diet

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Introduction

Beyond being ideal for the yogi (see previous article in this series), ghee is considered nectar-like for all wishing to live according to Ayurvedic principals and maintain positive health. The final article in this series will look at contemporary scientific evidence in support of ghee in promoting health and healing. In this age of ‘fatism’, Ayurveda’s views on the wondrous benefits of ghee may appear contradictory. We must assess ghee through the Ayurvedic lens to provide rationale for it being recommended for all from cradle to grave. For example, just after birth the new baby is given both honey and ghee impregnated with mantras prescribed for this purpose in the Vedas (Ch Sa: 8/46). Charaka, an Ayurvedic master physician in ancient India, summarises:

“Cow ghee promotes memory, intellect, power of digestion, semen, ojas, kapha and fat. It alleviates vata, pitta, toxic conditions, insanity, consumption and fever. It is the best of all the unctuous substances” (Ch Su: 27/232). read more

Who is Hanuman?

As the eternal servant of Lord Ramacandra, Hanuman has been respectfully worshiped since time immemorial. His glories are described throughout the pages of the famous Ramayana of Valmiki Muni, as well as in other Vedic texts, such as the Mahabharata, various Puranas, and the writings of previous acaryas. Once Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati were enjoying conjugal pastimes in the forest, disguised as monkeys so as not to disturb the meditating sages. But when the time for conception was impending, Parvati Devi refused to consummate the act, for she did not want to bear a monkey-child. Thus Siva gave his semen to Vayu, who delivered it to the womb of a female monkey named Anjana, the wife of the monkey Kesari. The monkey-child born from Anjana was known as Anjaneya, “son of Anjana,” and also as Vayu-putra, “son of Lord Vayu.” It so happens that Anjana was not an ordinary monkey. Formerly she had been the maidservant of the great sage Brhaspati. During that time, one day while going to gather flowers in the forest for worship, nearby she heard the sounds of conjugal activity, and consequently, overcome with passion, she immediately returned to the ashram of Brhaspati and shamelessly approached him for union. To teach her a valuable lesson, that self-controlled sage cursed her to be reincarnated as a female monkey. But he simultaneously blessed her to bear a child that had been conceived by Lord Siva himself, and that after the child’s birth she would be freed from the curse. Later, immediately upon giving birth to her monkey-son, Anjana wanted to return to the heavenly planets. So, for the infant’s sustenance, she simply instructed him to eat ripened fruits of red color, and then abandoned him. Shortly thereafter, Anjaneya mistook the red-colored rising sun to be one such edible fruit and jumped high into the sky to devour it. Then Lord Indra, thinking that the sun planet was being attacked, launched his vajra (thunderbolt), which struck and broke Anjaneya’s jaw. Consequently, Anjaneya then became known as Hanuman, “one with a broken jaw.” Greatly disturbed by Indra’s action against Anjaneya, Lord Vayu withdrew the air from the universe, thus putting all living entities into an extremely distressful condition and compelling all the demigods to apologize to and bestow their blessings upon the child. The demigods then assured Lord Vayu that his son, Hanuman, would be invincible, intelligent, capable of changing bodily form at will, resistant to any weapons, and so forth, and would ultimately use all of those blessings in service to Lord Rama, by assisting Him to rescue His beloved Sita from the hands of Ravana. Hanuman indeed performed extraordinary feats in service to his Lord Rama. He jumped eight hundred miles to the city of Lanka, found the captured Sita, and exhibited his wrath by setting ablaze that golden city Lanka. Subsequently, as the leader of Rama’s monkey-army, Hanuman assumed the foremost role in an epic battle against Ravana. He also soared all the way to the Himalayas, tore off a mountain peak full of essential medicinal herbs, and carried it all the way back to the wounded Laksmana (brother of Lord Rama), who lay unconscious on the battlefield. Because Hanuman used all of his qualities and abilities in service to Lord Rama, he became universally famous as the greatest devotee of Lord Rama. Among all of the Supreme Lord’s personal attendants, Hanuman is the most glorious, greater even than Garuda. The exalted Vaisnava Yamunacarya Alabandaru wrote:

dasah sakha vahanam asanam dhvajo   yas te vitananam vyajanam trayi-mayah

upasthitam te purato garutmata   tvad-anghri-sammarda-kinanka-sobhina read more

Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy: enjoy with Krsna

Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that if you want to cry for Krsna, then no more crying for this material world. Hare Krsna. If you can once learn how to cry for Krsna, then you will no more cry for this material world. That is Vedanta. Try to feel separation for Krsna, then you won’t feel separation from this nonsense material world. Everyone is suffering or hankering. Either hankering… One who hasn’t got, he is hankering, and one who has but lost it, he is lamenting. This is the activity. But Krsna consciousness means once you hanker after Krsna, there will be no more lamentation. Here the lamentation is, “I could not find Krsna,” not that “I have lost Krsna.” First of all get Krsna; then there is question of loss. But once you get, there is no more loss. That is Krsna consciousness. Once you get Krsna, there is no more loss; you get it forever, and you enjoy with Krsna in perfection. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy.

From Srila Prabhupada’s lecture, Panca-tattva Deity Installation – Hawaii, Unknown date 

What is Good About Ghee: Science Shows Benefits of Our Ancient Wisdom

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In my last article, I explained why many of us felt ghee was bad and why we were probably wrong. For decades we were told to avoid foods full of saturated fats including ghee because they would cause heart attacks. But the evidence from several studies says otherwise.

As a 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition meta-analysis that look at many studies and was done by researchers at Harvard concludes, the evidence linking saturated fats to a higher risk of heart attacks is not convincing. What I concluded from the science available today is that ghee is not bad per se. Let me now explain why ghee is good.

In general, a natural food that offers nutrition – in contrast to processed food fortified with vitamins but with plenty of added sugars and fats – is good. I believe that natural foods are optimal for good health because our bodies evolved over thousands of years to extract nutrition out of natural foods. In other words, our bodies developed hormones, carriers, bacterial flora and other things to get the most out of food found in nature. Most of these natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, are grown from the earth. But some natural foods are cultivated by people. read more

What should a devotee-manager consider?

Unfortunately instruction manuals on this issue written in the past are presently not available to me, but they surely contained a lot of good advice regarding the daily realities a devotee who accepts managerial responsibility has to face.

Sometimes devotees tend to reach out into the material world for help on how to successfully manage large groups of people. Such books are of little use for a manager in Krsna consciousness as Srila Prabhupada’s movement is conducted under very different conditions compared to movements in the “ordinary” karmi world.

Srila Prabhupada would warn his disciples in managerial positions in letters to them that his movement is a movement based on preaching and on VOLUNTARY contribution of those who responded to the call of the sastras and surrendered their lives to the Supreme Lord. No karmi has to face such a responsibility as in the material world a material reward for ones contributions is always expected, either in form of money or in form of name fame and glory. read more

Why We Were Wrong About Ghee

Growing up, I thought that ghee was dangerous. Uncles and aunties would say, “We’re cutting back on ghee,” or, “We don’t use that stuff anymore, it’s so bad for you.” I wondered why ghee got such a bad rap, and soon I learned everyone’s doctors had been urging them to drop ghee because something called saturated fats – which ghee has in abundance – causes heart attacks.

‘Desis,’ it turned out, were susceptible to heart attacks. Someone from our community had a heart attack almost every month, or so it seemed then, and sometimes an uncle we knew would die from it. So finding what caused heart attacks was a really big deal. Now fast forward to today, and here’s a new thought. What if we were wrong about ghee? What if eating ghee, or using ghee to cook food, never caused heart attacks?

Research in the past decade strongly suggests that ghee was not the problem. If we were wrong about ghee, we were not alone. At the same time Indian-Americans were dropping ghee, Americans were dropping butter (from which ghee is made) for margarine, a processed oil-and-milk product. The replacement of butter, which had been eaten traditionally throughout America’s history, was part of the bigger phenomenon of Americans adopting a low-fat diet. read more

Freedom

A person is an eternal being with limited freedom of choice. His awareness of what choices lie before him is shaped by time-bound material phenomena, which include experiences that are physical, emotional and mental. The phenomena a person now experiences are in reaction to his past actions. These reactions are plotted by the demigods in accordance with three modes of work. Due to his past work within these modes, a person presently has good, mediocre and bad physical, emotional and mental experiences. All such experiences are temporary.

In the midst of the matrix of my experience, what do I, a person, ultimately seek? The answer is freedom. “What light is to the eyes,” said a wise man, “what air is to the lungs, what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man.” Everybody wants liberation, Srila Prabhupada explains, because that is the constitution position of the soul. Constitutionally, we are eternal, complete in knowledge, and full of happiness. But the experience of matter suppresses the experience of our original nature. Now we find ourselves subject to time, ignorance and misery. Innately, we all yearn for freedom from that suppression.

Three false conceptions of freedom read more

That is the best book!

I was on sankirtan with Mangal-Aarti on a bitterly cold winter afternoon at Eaton Centre and had spoken to a few people and was just recuperating from the snow and rain a little, standing in the shade.

A man walked by and I asked him,”Have you tried yoga or meditation, sir?” He stopped for a while, as I showed him some pictures, but I could tell he wasn’t going to buy a book. He walked away, but from the corner of my eye I spotted a thin, tiny man with an old, torn jacket and a little hat and a cigarette in his hand.

He pointed to the Bhagavad Gita with the finger that was looped around the cigarette and said, “That is the best book!” He had a thick, raspy accent I was unfamiliar with — maybe from Australia or Africa — so at first I didn’t know if I’d heard him correctly. But when he came a little closer and repeated himself, now touching the pictures, I understood. I immediately broke out laughing and said, “Yes! Have you read it?” read more

The way to death


– Lecture by H.H. Jayadvaita Swami on Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.40 given in Mayapur on 7.1.2010

yopayati sanair maya
yosid deva-vinirmita
tam iksetatmano mrtyum
trnaih kupam ivavrtam read more