Leela of Vedanta & Tantra
Herbal diet for grasping profound truths
While My family and relatives all had their own ideas about life, I continued to give My attention to the people who had given their life for Me – My Gurus.
Whenever My Gurus wanted to teach Me subtle concepts, they would put Me on a herbal diet. They would give me the arugampul (Bermuda grass) or sometimes bael juice.
One day I asked them about this. The great Isakki Swamigal was sitting, and Mātā Vibhutānanda Puri was sitting with the book, and Yogananda Puri was just sitting there and cleaning his teeth. He would always have a small stick with him, and he would be constantly cleaning his teeth and listening, and chewing that stick also once in a while! And one or two old Sādhus were also sitting with us.
I asked them, “Whoever studies Upanishads and Vedānta, and all these concepts, do they all go through this kind of herbal diet?” I asked, “Why, they all don’t follow that – आहार शुध्दौ सत्त्व शुध्दिः, सत्त्व शुध्दौ ध्रुवा स्मॄतिः (aharashuddhau satvashuddhih, satvashuddhau dhruva smrthih)?”
Means, “When the food is pure, the satva becomes pure; when the satva is pure, the Smṛti becomes integrated. Understand: the definition of ‘Smṛti’ is – the ability to recollect the essence (of a concept) and connect it with the present, and grasp it, and assimilate it.
I asked, ‘I don’t see them having any herbal diet and all these preparation!
So, I asked Mātāji Vibhutānanda Puri when she was talking about this food and all that. She just smiled at me, didn’t answer. She was looking at Isakki Swamigal. Then Isakki Swamigal opened his mouth and spoke in Tamil. I will repeat the exact words: “அவனுக்கு புரிஞ்சாலும் அவிஞ்சாலும் அவனோட அழிஞ்சு போகுமட. நீ சொல்லி உலகம் கேக்க போகுது. உனக்கு புரிஞ்சே ஆகணும்!” (“Avanukku purinjaalum avinjaalum, avanoda azhinju pogumada. Nee solli ulagam kekka pogudhu. Unakku purinje aaganum!”)
He said, ‘Whether they understand or not, whether they grasp or grab, finally, the result and responsibility goes just with them. They get destroyed with what they understood, misunderstood. Whether they understand or misunderstand, it gets destroyed along with them. But, in your case, we cannot take the risk, because, whatever you are going to say, the world is going to listen! So, you HAVE to understand properly! You HAVE to understand properly!’
I used to wonder, “Why should the learning of Vedas go with this kind of herbal diet?” One day, I asked them. They said, “Alright, eat whatever you want and come back.” In those days, Vada (a fried snack) and pāyasam (a semi-liquid sweet dish) was the traditional feast. I went and had all that and came back. Then they tried to explain some of the truths of Vedānta. I tell you honestly – I was not able to grasp them!
Then they gave Me gingelly oil (sesame oil) and cleaned My stomach, and also gave haritaki powder for two days. After two or three days, they again started teaching Me the concepts. I was able to grasp them just like that! Then I understood the power of that food, and the sūtra which says, ‘aahaara shuddhau satva shuddhih’ (‘Based on the purity of food, your intellect gets purified, your memory gets purified, your ability to grasp increases.’) (Chandoghya Upanishad, 7.26.2)