Many Europeans come to me and try to go in for the so-called “Ayurvedic” or “sattvic” diet as people have been indoctrinated in – a diet that even in the Ayurvedic classics, suited only certain people.
People are also dumbfounded when they learn Ayurveda possessed advanced surgical techniques, gave us plastic surgery and used exotic formulas involving meats in their remedies and formulas! I’m not sure where on earth the modern white Ayurvedic is educated and where their mentality sits, but it must be somewhere between plain stupidity and psychosis; the American Ayurveda system itself reminds one of medieval Europe under Christendom that replaced plebeian village-superstitions over science, logic and debate. The American system rejects chemical agents, surgery and meats, which traditional Ayurveda harnessed (see my article HERE).
It’s interesting the evolution of the so-called “yogic diet” panacea. Originally for pitta-types, but the sattvic diet evolved from the south Indian staple diet, which became the norm throughout Brahmins in India, due to all the reformers coming from the south. Sadly, however, there is no such thing as an “Ayurvedic” or “sattvic” diet per se, which has come from America alone. The classics even state that people in other regions of India shouldn’t eat a south Indian diet, let alone Greeks, Persians etc. or Chinese, or it will cause long-term damage – as per Charaka. Yet, out of (a) ignorance and (v) lack of education, Swamis and Gurus, as students forget these.
One is actually violating ahimsa, the first tenet of yoga in doing so, whereby one should eat and do no harm to their own minds or bodies via proper ahara (food intake) as per their constitution, disease, location, climate or season, digestive capacity etc., not a one-size fits all “sattvic” diet alone, that once worked for a handful of warriors in Northern India and Brahmins in southern India. The same Brahmins however, also banned anyone not born a Hindu from entering their temples! Yet, we do not continue these rules today!
People also wish to rush in and study the shastras after first consolidating the foundations of their diets and lifestyles under dehika ahimsa (non-injury to the body) and proper sadhana that follows, best for them. Instead, they wish to try and jumble their poor minds with bad mental metabolism up with all kinds of wisdom meant only for the highest of sadhakas, not the European narcissist, so he can repeat such over a cup of coffee with his peers to prove his superiority! It is all done for the wrong reasons, as also, swadhyaya ir self-study and study of the shastras comes only after one has perfected all other preliminary yamas and niyamas preceding it – only then would the Guru grant access to the shastras – a reason they are dangerous when available to one and all and heir own western interpretations today! Especially when their so-called “sattvic” diets and lifestyles have been a few years or even a decade at most and possess no genetic lineage relative to the Hindu-Vedic.
Thus, today, people ignore all of these rules. The diet is simply “sattvic” for strong kshatriya pitta-types alone with strong digestions and doing much physical exertion, quite different to today’s people! They call themselves “Vedic“, but actually are going against the true Vedic injunctions and are embracing a kind of medieval new-Age Indian system. What is “sattvic” for lighter vata-types often includes heavier and spiced foods as meats that can outweigh their light properties – raw foods become too un-grounding for them and tend to be “rajasic“. We also see in Bengal, people often eat fish and eggs, while Kashmiri Brahmins eat goat!
With the Eurocentric mind, why do they wish to adopt a “Vedic” title and so-called “sattvic” diet? The real reason, deep-down is that their sense of Christocentrism lingers at a subconscious level – but adopting such, they feel they can “atone” and “fast-track” things, just as they did with their Christianity. Yet, no such thing occurs in real Hinduism. A sense of a few changes to be seen, or hypnotising one’s self that one is “good” is simply the Christian samaritan zeal. And this started long back and was what was adopted by Indian Gurus to control the west! It is not substantiated by the shastras at all and certainly not by Ayurveda, which takes a very rational approach relative to dietary customs and genetic / digestive suitability for individuals. As south Indians were used to vegetarian diets and their acharyas came and dominated the north via their sampradayas in latter times, as noted, such diets were adopted gradually, while others didn’t. As for the European, even native Mediterranean diets of southern Europe wouldn’t agree completely with the Teutonic or Keltic type, any more than the other way around, due to suitability.
There is also the issue that while we strive towards sattvas, it is a system of gradients that must go as per one’s personal karmic reflections like a dietary regime – not one for all. Bhakti must lead to jnana, but going straight to jnana without bhakti, ir remaining entrapped in bhakti, are equal flaws. Similarly, for rajasic and tamasic classes of people, depsite the philosophical nuances of transcendence, the viryamarga and vamamarga were also for stages of people in the kshatriya and vaishya, shudra classes of people respectively.
Hence, the entire zeal and emphasis on “sattvas” and “sattvic-living” is a Christian notion of puritianism, almost like being “bathed in Jesus’ blood” by which they seek to be absolved from anything and think of themselves, like the bourgeoisie, somewhat better than other humans for adopting such (as an egotistical trend). It is simply about moralistic grandstanding or standing on a moral high-ground, than anything else. Egotism and spirituality are almost synonymous in the European mind, as they have been so aloof from the real spirituality of the world for the past two millennia! Yet, they think they can now be “true Hindus”, when ignoring the real tenets of Ayurveda, they seek to re-write! No proper diets, no surgery – simply their own Christianised Hinduism (what I call ‘Hindu samaritanism’) that defies science and logic as it always did, in the face of naive superstition that reigns supreme!
And where has it got them? Aurobindo drank, smoked and ate meat, while Vivekanda ate beef and smoked. Yet, their works, insights are far beyond even the ordinary “sattvic” Hindu, as samskaras go beyond all of the so-called formalities or social injunctions of “sattvas“.
And what is “sattvas“? It is a farce. A pure farce. One wishes to adopt it to be seen as a south-Indian Brahmin equal, when one is clearly not, as was not one’s swadharma or self-dharma duty at birth – one is forcing it due to either social peer pressure, a zeal for escapism or egotism when one is born outside, unless by the age of twelve, one is already speaking Sanskrit and fluent in Vedic traditions, as occult experiences etc. and starts doing sadhana intensely by their mid-teens! If no inner zeal exists, then the outer is the issue -of this, emulating Brahmins is as good as insulting them as Rishis – pretending our dharma is something other than our (birth) samskaras have given us!
You just cannot fake your samskaras and say “I take refuge in Jesus” and you’re transformed or “saved”! No, Hinduism is quite different, people.
Here, Here Sri Ramana Maharishi outlines the inferiority complex.
“You can individually arrive at the state where such distinctions are not perceived and be happy. How can you hope to reform the world? Even if you try you cannot succeed. Kavyakantha Ganapati Sastri offered to initiate Harijans with mantras and make Brahmins of them. But the Harijans did not come forward to accept the offer. That shows they are themselves afflicted by an inferiority complex.
Remove that complex first before you try to reform others.
Moreover, why do you go to places where such distinctions are observed and cause pain to yourself? Why should you not seek places where they are not observed and be happy there?
Gandhiji also tries to bring about equality. He is also up against the barrier of inferiority complex afflicting the lower orders. He cannot enforce his views on others. He observes non-violence. So matters stand as they are.” 
Here the lesson is to follow our own inner dharma, not that of others. This is stated by the great Philosopher-King and Statesman, Sri Krishna around 3200BCE (Bhagavad Gita, III.35), who stated that it was better to perform one’s actual or natural dharma (swadharma) or prescribed duty than to perform another’s, which is dangerous. This relates to the system of karma we are born with as per the actions and karmic impressions (samskaras) of our past-lives, known as prarabdha-karma.
Krishna also stresses it is better to perform one’s own duty (i.e. naturally allow one’s karma to unfold and act accordingly) imperfectly, rather than to perfectly perform the duties of another with perfection (which interferes with our karma and adds to our kriyamana–karma or future karma of the next birth). This is due to rajas (passion and motion) or lust (kama), which blinds us to act against our natural state – also known as our varna (karmic colouring, attributes or guna – mode of nature or state) which we must work with. This is why traditional systems require generally a pure blood-line or a deeper examination of the karma of individuals before allowing ‘outsiders’ into certain groups – despite how great their delusions (of karma and the mind) may be! One simply cannot ‘fake’ ones samskaras or varna one is born with – i.e. innate karmic traits! Again, Krishna warns that rajas here, as stated, is the reason most lust after others’ actions and professions or activities – a delusion (mudha) of the mind, rather than a natural state (swabhava).
This here relates to the niyama of santosha or contentment and hence being content with one’s own state according to their soul’s evolution and not wishing to become more, such as mentioned beforehand, even striving for moksha in one lifetime, which reveals an anxious and rajasic soul that has not yet perfectly evolved or understood the all-pervading nature of the Self he wishes to attain, which is localised, not apart from himself!
Want to learn more about Traditional Yoga? Note my books below:
- Traditional Yoga: Book 1: Insights into the Traditional Yoga System
- Agni Rahasya: The Secret of the Celestial Fire in Yoga and Ayurveda
Article Citations / Footnotes: