Wednesday, July 11, 2007
the monk and his fondness for fish
i read an interesting article this morning about a monk who according to the writer would not give up his 'weakness' for fish. the monk is a bengali. he has been eating fish almost from the time he was put in the cradle.the writer was shocked and confused that having reached a high level of spirituality why was it that the monk still persisted in eating a living being.one who could sacrifice everything and lead a life of a monk,could he be a slave to his palate? she then sought the bhagavad gita for an answer.
i was immediately reminded about an oscar nominated animation movie produced by michael didok de wit.i think it was in 2004 that this 6 minute film was produced.the story is amusing and profound too.a clever way of conveying a message. a monk sees a fish in the tank of the monastery.he decides to catch it.the fish doesn't give up easily.there is a long chase.the more the fish eludes the monk,the more exasperated and agitated does he become.he is determined to catch it.he jumps into the pond,requests likeminded monks to join him in this big chase.the fish finds it way into a canal and then moves out of the premises of the monastery. they follow the fish.finally they start moving in sync and drift off into the sky together.one could interpret this story in many different ways.
do you have to be a vegetarian to realise your self? as per our shastras,the food consumed by human beings can be divided into three categories.saatvik,raajasic and taamasic. tamaasic is the worst of the lot.old,cold and decayed food. the body of one who eats such food gets polluted with toxins .the person becomes lazy and an unfit member of society. raajasic food is rich food-spicy,.bitter,sour,saltish,hot,pungent and dry. saatvik food is whole,nutritious,soothing and consists of minimal cooking of vegetables and has plenty of natural products-dry fruits,milk,curd etc. the shastras say you are what you eat. food works on the mind. mind works on the body.so if you eat saatvik food you rise yourself to a higher plane.there is minimum toxicity in your body,you are more active and agile,your brain functions at a super-efficient level and you tend to become spiritual and generally you are in peace with yourself.it augments life. raajasic food unleashes tremendous energy and generally the type of food preferred by fighters(modern day managers).taamasic food is a no no for anyone if he wants to lead a happy life. and fasting once or twice a month helps you to cleanse your intestines besides helping you to becoming more spiritual.
eating vegetarian food is certainly not a sine qua non for attaining self-realisation .at that stage you eat minimal food, just to keep your body and soul together.as you ascend in the plane of human existence,you are expected to shed off your worldly attachments,material and otherwise and lead a life more attuned to spiritual quests.as man is continuously evolving, he reaches higher planes in different points of time. just because you are a monk does not mean you must become a celibate or give up alcohol or nonvegetarian food or stop smoking. though it is desirable to wean away from these habits there is no perfect state or time for such withdrawal.when you have attained selfrealisation you are likely to be living on a very saatvik diet.
the monk who stiill enjoys his fish has yet to evolve to that stage which will help him to give up fish eating.he may do so in this birth or maybe in the next birth. therefore,there is no need to be alarmed or shocked when a monk expresses his love for eating fish. a monk or an ascetic is expected ultimately to sacrifice everything which according to our shastras is the surest way towards liberation. that would need time and concentration. whether the bengali monk whom our journalist friend met will give up his love for his favourite 'maach' time alone will tell.