The Importance of Right Diet

From The Art and Science of Raja Yoga

Go into any supermarket and examine the labels on the countless attractive packages. Look to see what the ingredients are, and note the various chemicals that are added to preserve the food, to make it tastier, to add color, etc. Still the whole story has not been told. What about all the wholesome ingredients that they took out of the food? If you leave the wheat germ in the wheat when you grind it to flour, the wheat will in time turn rancid. For the preservation of the flour the wheat germ is usually removed.

White flour, similarly, is not only less coarse to chew upon; it also keeps longer. In fact, if you place a barrel of white flour next to a barrel of whole wheat flour, and allow the bugs to get at both of the barrels, you will notice that they are not even interested in the white so long as they can get to the brown. The white is lifeless; it doesn’t tempt them. In this sense, modern man shows less discrimination than a beetle!

Missionary ladies in the Philippines in 1898 took pity on the natives for their wretched diet. These "unhappy" people ate nothing but brown rice. Lovingly, the missionary ladies introduced the natives to a diet of white rice. Beriberi, an illness which soon assumed epidemic proportions, was finally traced to this change of diet. White flour, white rice, white sugar, and other similarly refined products may taste better, look more "refined" (this they certainly are!), or pamper teeth that won’t chew anything coarser than Cream of Wheat, but they are exceedingly harmful to the human body and nervous system. Many diseases have been traced to them. Indeed, one might almost say that there is a direct correlation between the devitalization of food and the devitalization of the human being who eats it.

To repeat what I have said before, try to eat only natural foods, as close to their natural condition as possible. It would be good to eat fruits in season. There is a natural rhythm in nature as it passes through the four seasons. Man’s body, being a part of nature, enters into this rhythm. Man would do well to harmonize himself with the seasonal products. An added advantage in doing so would be, of course, that foods in season tend to be less expensive! Because wheat germ has a tendency to turn rancid, it is generally removed even from whole wheat flour, if the flour is sold in a store. The best plan then, if one wants flour that is truly made from the whole kernel, is to grind one’s own wheat as he needs it.


An excellent form of bread is the Indian chappati:


2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
about 1 cup water
1 tablespoon ghee (see below) or other oil
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

The Indian recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, but yogis have always said that mineral salt is not good for the human system. Salt is obtained in a natural form from the vegetables one eats.

Put 2 cups of flour through a sieve into a mixing bowl; add the salt, if desired, and gradually stir in the water. Pound and knead the mixture with the hands for several minutes. For best results, let the dough stand for at least an hour, then knead once again, if necessary sprinkling a little more water onto it. Shape each chappati by breaking off a small portion of the dough, molding it into a ball, and, with the help of a little dry flour, rolling the ball out very thin and round like a pancake.

Fry it on a lightly greased iron frying pan, first on one side, quickly, then on the other, then back again. The chappati has to be cooked quickly, otherwise it will become hard. It should rise like a balloon; it can be encouraged to do so by pressing the sides while on the frying pan, or by placing the already-fried chappati over direct heat for a few moments, turning it quickly. Oil or ghee may be spread lightly on one side of the chappati after it has been fried.

Whole Wheat Bread

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons liquid honey
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cake fresh yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons granular yeast (1 package)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup warm water
4-5 cups (approx.) whole wheat flour

Scald milk.

Add honey, salt, and oil.

Stir until dissolved.

Add 1/2 cup cold water (should make mixture lukewarm).

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water; add to first mixture. Gradually add 4 cups flour.

Mix to smooth, stiff dough. Knead on lightly floured board until smooth and satiny, adding more flour if the dough is too moist. Put dough in mixing bowl, turning the dough over to oil the top. Keep in a warm place covered for about an hour, or until double in size. Knead again. Shape into a loaf, and place in a greased 9" x 5" bread pan. Let rise about 45 minutes to an hour, and bake in a moderate oven (350 deg.) for about 40 minutes, or until a rich brown color and hollow sounding when the loaf is tapped on the bottom.

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

In the last lesson I mentioned the "cooling" properties of certain foods. In this connection yogis often stress the benefits of ghee, or clarified butter. It may be used in cooking, or in place of butter. It has a very different taste from butter; it is quite sweet. Some people like it instantly; others must acquire a taste for it. It is good for you, and it will keep indefinitely. (There is a recipe for a certain religious ceremony in India that calls for the use of ghee a thousand years old!)

Place as much butter as you want to clarify in a saucepan, and simmer very slowly for one to one-and-a-half hours. You may also place the pan in the oven at a low temperature for the same length of time. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the melted butter through a fine cloth.

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