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Shelby Morris

History 134

Hinduism is one of the top religions in India. Hinduism has been called the "oldest
religion" in the world. With this religion there come religious practices. Part of these practices is
limitation of food or dietary restrictions. What is Hinduism and what are the restrictions? Where
are they founded from and how will this bring you closer to god?
Hinduism is the dominant religion, or way of life, of the Indian subcontinent, and
consists of many diverse traditions. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among
numerous others based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorization of
distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs.
Between 500BCE and 300 CE developed the "Hindu synthesis "which incorporated Sramanic
and Buddhist influences. This synthesis emerged under the pressure of the success of Buddhism
and Jainism. The Brahmanists themselves seem to have encouraged this development to some
extent as a means of meeting the challenge of the more heterodox movements. At the same time,
among the indigenous religions, a common allegiance to the authority of the Veda provided a
thin, but nonetheless significant, thread of unity amid their variety of gods and religious
practices (Wikipedia)
Hinduism has many food restrictions that vary by the person. According to Vedic (Hindu
scripture) texts, one should offer all food as a sacrifice to God: All that you do, all that you eat,
all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done
as an offering unto Me. (Faithandfood). Some of the foods that are forbidden are Fish, meat,
poultry and eggs. Almost all Hindus avoid beef out of respect for the cow. Some Hindu people
refrain from eating garlic, onions mushrooms alcohol and tea/coffee.

Shelby Morris
History 134

Many people may ask why? Why these particular foods? Hindus believe that for true
service to God, purity of food is necessary to maintain the desirable state of mind that leads to
enlightenment. Food is consumed not only to survive but also to stay healthy and maintain
mind/body equilibrium. By eating a purer quality of food, and regulating food consumption, one
can ensure a pure heart, long life, cheerful spirit, strength, health, happiness and delight. Good
and pure food promotes a peaceful mind, which is needed to see the Truth. A true devotee will
refuse to accept any food that is not offered first to God. Gaining Gods blessing before
consuming the food is essential. Hindus may do this is by placing their daily food before the
particular deities they worship and by reciting shlokas (prayers). Once the food is offered to God,
it is eaten as prasador blessed food (minoritynurse)
There are three main types of foods for Hinduism. Tamasic food which is leftover,
spoiled or impure food. This is believed to produce negative emotions, such as anger, jealousy
and greed. Rajasic food that is believed to produce strong emotional qualities, passions and
restlessness. This includes meat, eggs, fish, spices, onions, garlic. Sattvic which is food that is
non-irritating to the stomach and purifying to the mind; it includes fruits, nuts, whole grains and
vegetables. These foods are believed to produce calmness and nobility.
When it comes to Hinduism food plays an important role in worship, and the food offered
to God. Hindus may do this is by placing their daily food before the particular deities they
worship. Once the food is offered to God, it is eaten as prasador blessed foods. Five morsels of
food are placed on the side of the table to acknowledge the debt owed to the divine forces for
their benign grace and protection.

Shelby Morris
History 134

In the religion Hinduism people can either be vegetarian Hindus or Non-vegetarian

Hindus. Paths of Hinduism hold vegetarianism as an ideal. There are three main ideas: the
conviction that non-vegetarian food is detrimental for the mind and for spiritual development.
The principle of nonviolence applied to animals and to offer only vegetarian food to a deity and
then to receive it. Vegetarian diet reflects the way of the traditional living ways of Indian people.
Non- vegetarian Hindus eat meat, but abstain from beef and/or pork. Hindus engage in jhatka
methods as part of religious dietary laws.
Along with the way Hinduism has dietary restrictions. They also have eating restrictions
such as fasting. Fasting is believed to help reinforce control over ones senses, squelch earthly
desires and guide the mind to be poised and at peace. (Minoritynurse) Hindus also believe that
when there is a spiritual goal behind fasting. The time spent fasting is considered to be very good
for the digestive system and the entire body. Common fast days include Sundays, the day of the
new moon, the full moon, the 10th and 11th day of each month. Hindus fast as a way to enhance
concentration during meditation or worship or as purification for the system. Fasting is
sometimes considered a sacrifice. (Faithandfood)
Hinduism is a very traditional religion in India that has many dietary restrictions;
Restrictions such as not eating certain foods such as Fish, meat, poultry and eggs. Not eating
these foods is thought to make your body pure. There are also restrictions in not eating or fasting
to guide the mind to be poised and at peace. Hindus can either be vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Shelby Morris
History 134

Work sited/ Bibliography

1. "Diet in Hinduism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 24
Nov. 2014.
2. ElGindy, Gihan. "Hindu Dietary Practices: Feeding the Body, Mind and Soul."
Minority Nurse. N.P., 2005. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
3. "Hinduism." Faith in Food. The Twenty Ten Theme. Blog at WordPress.com. N.d.
Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
4. Rama Das, Sita. "Faith and Food - the Way to Your Heart." Faith and Food - the
Way to Your Heart. Global Tolerance Portfolio, 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.