International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


A passage from "TALKS WITH SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI, VOL. I ". (p. p. 23) published by the ashram.

"Mrs. Piggot returned from Madras for a further visit. She asked questions, relating to diet regulation.

Devotee: What diet is prescribed for a Sadhak (one who is engaged in spiritual

Maharshi: sattvic food in limited quantities.

D : What is Sattvic food?

M: Bread, fruits. vegetables, milk etc.

D : Some people take fish in North India. May it be done?

No answer was made by the Maharshi.

D : We Europeans are accustomed to particular diet: change of diet affects health and weakens the mind. Is it not necessary to keep up physical health ?

M : Quite necessary. The weaker the body the stronger the mind grows.

D : In the absence of our usual diet our health suffers and the mind loses strength.

M : What do you mean by strength of mind?

D: The power to eliminate worldly attachment.

M : The quality of food influences the mind. The mind feeds on the food consumed

D: Really! How can the Europeans adjust themselves to sattvic food only ?

M : (Pointing to Mr. Evans-Wentz, U. S. A.) You have been taking our food. Do you feel uncomfortable on that account?

Mr. Evans-Wentz : No, because I am accustomed to it.

D: What about those not so accustomed

M: Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.

D : Are there restrictions for the realized man in a similar manner?

M: He is steady and not influenced by the food he takes.

D : Is it not killing life to prepare a meat diet ?

M : Ahimsa stands foremost in the code of discipline for the yogis.

D : Even plants have life.

M : So too the slabs you sit on !

D : May we gradually get ourselves accustomed to vegetarian food ?

M : Yes, that is the way.

The following Extracts from "WHO AM I?" were written by Sri Ramana Maharshi himself:

"Regulation of diet,- restricting it to sattvic food* taken in moderate quantity, is of all the rules of conduct the best; and it is most conducive to the development of the sattvic qualities ** of the mind. These, in their turn, assist one in practice of Atmavichara or enquiry in quest of the Self."

Besides these, a devotee, Sri A. Devaraja Mudaliar, who is a permanent resident of our Ashram is able to report the following:-

About 1940, when he wanted to become a vegetarian and was worried whether his taking to strict vegetarianism which prescribed as a preliminary step for all spiritual progress might lead to any deterioration of his physical fitness, he placed his problem before Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and got the following reply :

"Vegetable food contains all that is necessary for maintaining the body."

* simple and nutritious food which sustains but does not stimulate the physical body,
** Purity of heart. self-restraint, evenness of temper, tenderness towards all beings, fortitude, freedom from desire, hatred, and arrogance are the outstanding virtues of the sattvic mind.