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Home » editorials

Why No Onions and Garlic

Submitted by on July 5, 2009 – 12:43 am43 Comments

onionsBy Kurma dasa

You may know that onions and garlic are botanical members of the alliaceous family (alliums) – along with leeks, chives and shallots.

According to Ayurveda, India’s classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories – sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic—foods in the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other alliaceous plants are classified as rajasic and tamasic, which means that they increase passion and ignorance.

Those that subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking of India, including myself, and Vaishnavas—followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna—like to only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on. Specifically, Vaishnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotion. “Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body”, says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr.Robert E.Svoboda.

Some branches of western medicine say that the Alliums have specific health benefits; garlic is respected, at least in allopathic medical circles, as a natural antibiotic. In recent years, while the apparent cardiovascular implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, the clinical implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are still not well understood.

Nevertheless, there are still many adverse things to say about garlic and onions. Not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria. Perhaps it is with an awareness of this that the Roman poet Horace wrote of garlic that it is “more harmful than hemlock”.

It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension and diminishing sexual power.

The Taoists realized thousands of years ago that plants of the alliaceous family were detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the “five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables”—that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs—liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically, onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys.

Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause “reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odor from perspiration, and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties, and aggressiveness,” especially when eaten raw.

Similar things are described in Ayurveda. ‘As well as producing offensive breath and body odor, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation, anxiety, and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally and, spiritually’.

Back in the 1980′s, in his research on human brain function, Dr Robert [Bob] C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulphone hydroxyl ions penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.

Dr. Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain waves. “The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of us: “Don’t you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our airplanes, because it’ll double or triple your reaction time. You’re three times slower than you would be if you’d [not] had a few drops of garlic.”

For precisely the same reason the garlic family of plants has been widely recognized as being harmful to dogs.

Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy when consumed in immoderate amounts.

Nor is garlic always seen as having entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.

Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health reasons.

Homeopathic medicine comes to the same conclusion when it recognizes that red onion produces a dry cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and other familiar cold-related symptoms when consumed.

These are just some of the reasons I avoid leeks, chives, shallots, garlic, and onions.

Kurma dasa is a world-renowned vegetarian chef and has authored of numerous cookbooks, starred in his own cooking show, and taught cooking courses for years. This article originally appeared on his official website.

43 Comments »

  • Brajasundari

    And this strong smell pervading whole body for hours!
    That is probably the main reason why Krsna doesn`t like them…

    I have doubt about these “rajasic, tamasic and aphrodisiac” arguments… Carrots are “rajasic” and potatoes perhaps “tamasic”… what to speak of many spices that are well knows aphrodisiacs (like cardamon for instance).

    • Kandakumar Rattanam

      Hare Krishna, ntya dham vrndavan Maharani ki,
      although onion & garlics was detailed poisonous but yet we as a Marginal soul(part & parcel of Krishna) and Marginal energy
      is it still will be conquered by this type of food,even lazzines,dizziness,passion,ignorance,goodness,beauty, non-beauty,sleepy,palatable dishes,nice juice,fruits,
      handsome,non hansome,ugly,sweet,sour and etc22222 all this are the entities of Sri Krsna,and as Sri krsna is all pervading it’s emanates from this all type of entities, yes Krsna is sources of all being, because entites mind are so wicked, thus i belief that such food shall put down us to the mode of Ignorance & passion but another thing we as a part & parcel of Sri Krsna as marginal potency it’s possible that this entities bearing rajasic & tamasic shall conqured us,provided the mind control is OK,but what to do as bodily concept of live,this body was build from the five elements & etc, thus the consumption might put down the spiritual progress,but that individual soul it’s pure as Sri Krsna but due to the comsumption it’s will miss use of senses and uncontrolable.

      This bodily concept of live is like a prison & punishment as regard to the entities karma. I’m very scared also even i’m pure vege yet i’m in the battle field fighting for for unwanted desires and struggled to control the senses.Only krsna shall help us.Will Sri krisna forgives all of souls ,untill when the four cycles of Yuga shall goes on, so tiring staying inside the wheel of Samsara Chakra, Hare Krsna

    • Dhanistha Devi Dasi

      As a homeopath the reference to the symptoms produced are from “provings” of the substance. That is, what happens when a large amount is consumed. As with many substances, their greater value is at a more subtler level. However, as a practitioner of Yoga and Ayurveda for many years, garlic and onion pervade, the subtle bodies as well as the physical body and have an effect at that level. In other words, you smell bad there too. We note today that many foods and additives cause reactions. Consider many children and adults today as food as become more impure and more toxic. The cleaner the food, the more satvic the food, the greater the change at ever level. I notice this dramatically in my patients when they change diet.

      • Ronald Collay

        Fasting also produces an unpleasant odor, especially from the breath of an individual. The profound physical and spiritual benefits of fasting is well proven. The Holy Quran says that there is no smell sweeter to Allah’s nose than that of one who is fasting. From these comments too much emphasis is being placed on what is “called a foul odor”, then attaching negativity to onions and garlic based on smell. If we lived like that we would be in bad shape.

  • Gaura-Vijaya

    tomatoes are also rajasic.

  • Radhakunda das

    I never understood why no onion and garlic, apart from the strong smell. The main answer I always heard from devotees is because Krsna doesn’t like them. Acceptable enough to not use onion and garlic, if God doesn’t like it. But I also heard from a person, honestly I had difficulty to understand, that people who practice tai chi don’t use onion, garlic and “salt” because of the invisibility of the soul. Actually they don’t use any of the mentioned items to keep the soul invisible to faight against demons, or to don’t let demons see their souls in case of fight. Sorry to not be very clear, but I have difficulty to understand russian language. By the way does it have anything to do with GV? Do there is any truth in it? Or much better does anyone know the real reason to why no onion and garlic?

  • Amara dasa

    Nice article! I originally refrained from eating onions and garlic simply because Srila Prabhupada told me to, but now it is mostly out of an acquired repugnance for them. There are many vegetarian restaurants I cannot eat at just because I know their dishes are spoiled with these foul-smelling seasonings. Manusmriti (5.4-5) also mentions, “Garlic, leeks and onions, mushrooms and all plants springing from impure substances, are unfit to be eaten by twice-born men” and adds that “through faults committed by eating forbidden food, death becomes eager to shorten the lives of brahmanas.” I suppose they’re fine for ordinary people, non-brahmanas and non-spiritualists, however.

    • Topogigio

      “Ordinary people?” This whole thing is just religious dogma which helps create an us-them mentality. Oh, *they* eat onions, they are not on the right path. It is just an arbitrary set of rules based on thousands-year-old practices that have nothing to do with anything today. Most religions have dietary restrictions of some kind, all the religions claim their way is right, and all of them say it’s because of God. Please, God could not care less whether I put onions in my stir-fry.

      • I think your comment misses the point that religious dogma itself is based on a particular logic and that logic appeals to certain people. In other words it’s not just “God said don’t do this.” Perhaps “Don’t do this because I don’t like it, and I don’t like it becasue . . .” Take cow killing and eating for example.

  • Brajasundari

    Personally I have noticed that after I stopped eating them (I was vegetarian before joining the devotees) my digestion improved a lot. So there must be some truth about this killing of good bacteria.
    But I still use garlic sometimes as medicine and it works! Many substances that are just medicines are used as food or intoxicants.

  • evZENy

    On the Tsang-Tsze part above:
    1) there is no concept of enzymes in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)
    2) onions actually HELP asthma problems, hence are good for lungs, not bad

    Many of the rules existing on a faith base have to be looked in their historic perspective.
    My Yogi teacher also includes Hing in this class, yet I know people who use Hing as a substitute of garlic/onion for religious reasons.

    And the smell part – no offense, but many people become racist towards Asians because of the smell coming from their cuisine and consequently – their bodies. And it is not due to the garlic or onion, but many of the other spices and the way they are used!

  • Joe

    You people are morons. Onions and garlic are the foundation of a vast amount of delicious food. All these source you quote are nonsense.

    • Citta Hari dasa

      Delicious to you, maybe. But then maybe I don’t like them because I’m a moron.

    • Pablo

      I agree. Although I understand that it is better to avoid rajasic food for people seriously attempting to develop sattva guna, I am totally surprised how far did Kurma dasa go! Come on, Kurma dasa elaborating on ‘potentially fatal’ results of consuming garlic sounds similar to a Jain convincing people to starve themselves on the basis that one could choke on food… Way too far, but pretty funny though, I must admit I had a blast reading it :)

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      The article on this link gives a relatively balanced viewpoint compared to Kurmaji.

      Garlic is a very powerful herb that is generally lauded as a beneficial and health giving. However – partly because it is so powerful – there are risks associated with it. remember that what helps one person may harm another.

      Frankly, I don’t eat onions and garlic except in exceptional circumstances( when forced to eat out), but I feel more guilty for using milk products(cruelty to cows) than using onion and garlic. I feel the article by Kurma tries to make a mountain out of a mole. Is the food that devotees eat in the name of mahaprasad really healthy? Deep fried food, ghee, gulabjamun don’t tell me that they are health. Why does not Kurma write a article about the dangers of deep fried food that is a staple food for devotees. No wonder the health of devotees is not that great. When you eat 10 gulab jamuns in the name of mahaprasad and preach to other people about health dangers of onion and garlic, the words will be hard to digest for a reasonable man.
      The only reason I know of not using garlic and onion is that they are know to increase sexual drive. That is a good enough reason. Or else like Braja said garlic has medicinal properties and many medicines have it.
      Even Ayurveda acknowledges the benefits not just allopathy. “Garlic is a wonderful herb used widely as a medicine in Ayurveda, has got basically action on all Vata disorders, is a potent medicine for digestive disorders.”

    • Pablo

      Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

      http://www.garlic-central.com/dangers.html

      First of all the site you refer to is not a medical site. If we were, however, to accept it as authoritative we would learn that ‘the worst danger from botulism comes if raw garlic is stored in oil at room temperature – or even for too long in the refrigerator. Never store raw garlic in oil at room temperature’. Surprisingly we find Kurma dasa writing ‘not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria’. Raw means uncooked. So the message delivered is ‘uncooked garlic can be lethal’. That is a lie, or extreme exaggeration at best. Similar are his other arguments. Let us not be surprised then, that Joe used the word ‘moron’. Unfortunately, it is suitable here.

      Why? To cut the long story short, any type of food (with certain exceptions), be it non-veg like meat, fish, eggs or veg like milk, butter, lettuce, if stored for too long in a room temperature – may be lethal. That is a fact. I am convinced that if some vegan site posted an article encouraging people not to drink milk and its products on the grounds that milk was lethal if stored for too long in a room temperature, many devotees would write ‘you people are morons, you should know how to store and use milk, that is all’. Exactly, that is all.

      Finally, it is such mentality like this exhibited by Kurma dasa that makes people think ‘what is wrong with those Krishna people?’. One of devotees’ problems is they want to apply all the rules of high-class bhakti yoga to everyone and if it doesn’t work they come up with ridiculous arguments to support their claims. Just like the ones Kurma dasa proposed. Not to mentioned that many of them are either lies or extreme exaggerations at best. This makes devotess look fanatical, stupid (since they believe in their crazy arguments) and, most importantly, dangerous (since they will not give up until you shave your head and begin convincing all your friends that garlic is lethal). This is not the message we would like to deliver, is it?

      The truth is garlic, onion and other rajasic food is in a mode of passion. You eat this, you develop a mode of passion. Simple. If you want to be a celibate monk then it is better for you to avoid it. This simple truth is understood throughout the world in hundreds of buddhist monasteries (my personal experience). However, buddhist monks do not preach ‘do not eat garlic’. In fact, many buddhist’s comunities in Asia are non-veg or semi-veg, however they know ‘once you become a monk you need to go veg and quit even garlic and onions’ (again, my personal experience). Therefore, this kind of preaching like the one Kurma dasa examplifies not only makes devotees look bad, but also triggers a question: if they can go to this extent to make me not eat stupid garlic, how far would they go to make me worship Krishna?

      To conclude, do not eat garlic if you want to remain celibate and spend your time on meditation. Do not eat garlic if you wish to develop better sattva guna. Otherwise, it is your personal choice.

      • One might also say “Do not offer onions and garlic to Krsna and don’t eat food not offered to Krsna.” This seems to be the Vaisnava position across the board, Gaudiya or otherwise. But Krsna is not interested in celibacy or meditation.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          What works well is to say that sattva is more conducive to bhakti and therefore it is good to avoid onion and garlic. Otherwise it will be fair to say that Krsna is not obsessed about celibacy or even onion garlic etc. Bhima, a great devotee of Krsna ate meat but Krsna still loved him! Bhakti proper has no connection with diet, but for sadhakas it is important.

        • Pablo

          Sure. There is a rationale for every rule in the process. The simple explanation for simple people is ‘Krishna does\doesn’t like it’. Thorough explanations take into consideration laws of the material and spiritual worlds, as well as Krishna’s viewpoint – that never being ignored. Kurma dasa’s elaboration, full of references to reiki, tao, chinese culture, claiming that garlic is lethal and so on, seems to be neither of the two explanations and pretty exaggerated. What’s worse – it is actually funny.

          • Kurma dasa has tried to give an explanation in consideration of material laws. You and Joe feel that he fails miserably and in some respects I agree. However, your explanation that is thought to take material laws into consideration may not pass Joe’s moron mark either. You state,

            The truth is garlic, onion and other rajasic food is in a mode of passion. You eat this, you develop a mode of passion. Simple. If you want to be a celibate monk then it is better for you to avoid it. This simple truth is understood throughout the world in hundreds of buddhist monasteries (my personal experience).

            Joe?

            Is there any objective evidence to support the claim that garlic impedes one from following a commitment to celibacy or that it promotes sexual desire? Such statements run the risk of ridicule perhaps as much as any Kurma has made. Indeed, Kurma himself says the same thing (in an embellished form) and Joe has not exhonorated him on this one point from being moronic:

            It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension and diminishing sexual power.

            If this were true, we would have a natural viagra and perhaps a multimillion dollar business opportunity. It maybe true, but I did not get the impression that Joe felt that way. And Pablo you have merely echoed Kurma on this point while criticizing him on others. The testimony of Buddhists monks could just as well be considered no more than religious superstition, and Buddhism has taken a fair amount of Hindu superstition with it. Furthermore it is not the mode of passion that fosters unbridled sexual desire, but rather the mode of ignorance. Raja guna fosters sexual desire more in relation to the desire for progeny and material progress, wherein the desire for sex is tied to more noble pursuits. Whereas tama guna fosters sexual desire for sense pleasure alone.

  • Pablo

    Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

    Kurma dasa has tried to give an explanation in consideration of material laws. You and Joe feel that he fails miserably and in some respects I agree.

    Seriously, I am glad to hear that. Kurma did fail in some respects.

    Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

    However, your explanation that is thought to take material laws into consideration may not pass Joe’s moron mark either.

    Of course.

    Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

    Is there any objective evidence to support the claim that garlic impedes one from following a commitment to celibacy or that it promotes sexual desire?

    Brilliant point. I was seriously surprised when I found out you knew it. According to modern science there is no real aphrodisiac. Majority are either placebos or, like Viagra, act in multiple ways thereby affecting sexual ability. Yes, from scientific point of view we may sometimes look funny with our claims and beliefs.

    Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

    Is there any objective evidence to support the claim that garlic impedes one from following a commitment to celibacy or that it promotes sexual desire? Such statements run the risk of ridicule perhaps as much as any Kurma has made.

    I do not agree. Some Vedic statements can be scientifically proved. Some not. As Vaishnavas we have faith in scriptures, so we depend on them independently of whether certain points are confirmed by science or not. This is faith and reason. You wrote about it and also Prabhupad did say that religion requires both faith and philosophy. So, if Joe were an atheist (I do not know that) and if he ridiculed the article on the basis of Kurma’s belief in shastra – that would have been a different thing. After all, bhakti is a spiritual path and spirituality is not available to everyone. If that was the case I would have never supported Joe. However,…

    However, Kurma dasa first of all lied, or extremely exaggerated at best. For example, he said that garlic is lethal. Is it? The conditions given for the garlic to become lethal (in the website you referred to; btw Kurma dasa did not mention them…) would have made plenty of other types of food lethal as well. So this is a false statement. What was his motivation when he wrote that? See, this statement does not come from science and does not come from the Vedas. This is one of those things devotees come up with to aid the development of Krishna Consciousness movement. Unfortunately such things aid to the ridicule of Krishna Consciousness. That is why your statement [ Such statements run the risk of ridicule perhaps as much as any Kurma has made] is wrong. Although Joe may be critical towards faith – I am not. This statement [Is there any objective evidence to support the claim that garlic impedes one from following a commitment to celibacy or that it promotes sexual desire?] comes from ayurvedic shastras and I accept it. Joe may not. But,…

    But when Kurma dasa’s literally makes up arguments supporting abstinence from garlic, ridiculous arguments coming neither from the Vedas nor from science, then I join in and support Joe. Kurma dasa not only insults the intelligence of sane people, but also, due to such statements, makes KC look bad.

    Swami BV Tripurari wrote:

    Furthermore it is not the mode of passion that fosters unbridled sexual desire, but rather the mode of ignorance. Raja guna fosters sexual desire more in relation to the desire for progeny and material progress, wherein the desire for sex is tied to more noble pursuits. Whereas tama guna fosters sexual desire for sense pleasure alone.

    Yes… and no. This is not that black and white, although in a certain way you are right. However, sex is not the topic of this discussion so – I will not spam :)

    • Kurma’s article is primarily devoted to the opinion of Ayurveda. He dedicates five paragraphs to it’s opinion. Then he tries to demonstrate that its opinion is supported by other spiritual paths (Taosim), cultures (Chinese), and alternative disciplines (reiki, and homeopathy). It is primarily a faith based argument.
      He does seem to have made a mistake about the position of garlic in relation to harmful bacteria. I have not found the time to evaluate the research of Dr. Beck that Kurma cites.

      Given your stated position, I believe you judge Kurma harshly. Your opinions are not very different. Joe is attacking Kurma’s faith in Ayurveda. He writes “All these sources you quote are nonsense.” What is his stated reasoning for such a claim? “Onions and garlic are the foundation of a vast amount of delicious food.” If this is all he has to say, he is a moron.

      Joe?

      • Pablo

        First of all, I do not judge Kurma dasa. I judge his article and his way of writing. Secondly, in the beginning I did not and now I would not like to either defend or attack Joe. I supported him in his disagreement for my own reasons, let’s leave this person alone and stick to my reasons. When I wrote ‘I agree’ I obviously agreed with his dissatisfaction and followed it by my own reasons. Therefore let’s not discuss this person and do not try to implicate I share his opinion fully. I obviously do not. Thirdly, I do not like the fact that you constantly try to change the focus of our discussion into me judging Kurma harshly, into me sharing same view with some Joe and even you did not answer my clear argument in my first/second post. Instead, you wrote something about meditation not being exactly what Sri Krishna wants, despite the fact that entire paragraph was bright and clear, lucidly pointing out to one principal mistake Kurma dasa made and how it acts against, in my opinion, Krishna Consciousness. What is even more interesting, you did, at least twice, agree with the fact that Kurma dasa made a mistake. So why trying to get me involved in discussing Joe and all this comparing our opinions? Why changing the topic?

        Let’s make it clear. First. Joe may be a moron or may be not. I do not care. In a similar way Kurma dasa could be a moron or could be a wonderful devotee – I do not know and if I get to know him ever, I will find out on my own. Second. I do not agree with manipulative and pseudo scientific way of writing of Kurma dasa, particularly with his argument about garlic being lethal. He is not as objective and analytical in his articles as you are, in my opinion he is biased and collects any possible facts, blends them together and makes them look scientific. I do not like it. Third. Why? Because in my opinion it makes people view Krishna Consciousness negatively and, what is more important, can easily be proved to be wrong. This is my opinion.

  • Gaura-Vijaya

    There is enough evidence to show that excess garlic can be bad. I have read some scientific articles about it. If wanted I can post those articles. Excess of anything is certainly bad. I think that in my life I have felt that garlic and onion did reduce sex drive to some extent. Maybe I was hallucinating.

    • Kula-pavana

      I’m quite sure that eating onions and garlic can reduce our attractiveness to the opposite sex, and that such rejection is likely to reduce our sex drive… ;)
      Another explanation would involve mild poisoning from the sulphurous active substances present in these plants. They certainly kill many types of bacteria, maybe they also kill sex drive? Tamas can replace rajas, but is that a good thing?

  • Anthony

    While reading this article, and the subsequent comments, I am reminded of the saying, “the devil is in the details.” Meaning that when you start to sink into the quicksand of legalism, you’re only concern becomes the survival of your argument, and you lose sight of the grace and love that we should be fixed upon. I am fascinated by articles that attempt to explain the “quirks” of this tradition, such as no onions or garlic or no chocolate. It is fascinating from a spiritual perspective as well as from a historical/cultural perspective. Is this particular tenent the foundation of one’s faith, upon which all others are built? Of course not, no more than fasting during Lent or abstaining from profanity are the foundation of Christian belief, but they are part of the cultural fabric that surrounds the tradition. Unfortunately for us all, the most outspoken people in a tradition seem to be these one issue, one trick ponies, and that paints over the delicate spiritual beauty of the tradition with roofing tar. The most sincere of believers, in my experience live among the beauty of the tradition so that you don’t see it (the tradition) but you see them, and you want the change you see in that person, in that soul to be reflected in your own. I am reminded of the story of Mother Teresa being approached by anti-war demonstrators to march in a demonstration protesting the Vietnam War (I’m not sure if it was exactly that, I’m sure others have changed the story to fit their situation, but in any case), and she said she would not be a part of an “anti-” anything, but if it was pro-Peace, she would be the first one holding up a banner. So it is with spirituality, encourage others toward positive change and the negatives will work themselves out on their own. If we can encourage compassion, devotion and understanding then there would be no need for prohibitions.

    • madan gopal das

      Very nice points Anthony. We definitely need more people representing the tradition from a “pro-bhakti” angle to diminish the influence of the anti (insert your enemy here; e.g. karmis, gays, fringies, restaurant/garlic/onion/chocolate eaters, non-mangala-arati attendees…) people.
      Pro-bhakti!

      • gabriele woodall

        Seriously, I don’t think that labeling segments of society who may (or may not) disagree with you “enemies” helps anybody or anything…it just makes you look like a fanatic.

        • Syamasundara Dasa

          Gabriele, I think you misunderstood the way he used the word enemy here, or rather, the mood behind it.

  • Gopa Kumara Das

    I have to agree with Joe in content (not in tone), the restrictions on garlic, onion, & mushrooms seem like the silliest residue of a proto-scientific world in which loose correlations between ailments and food were elevated to the level of truth. It is also clear that the benefits of many of these foods outweigh the detriments.Like Swami Tripurari says, Gaudiyas are not known for healthy eating and they do not eat fish despite the desperate need for B-12. This is not the reason Gaudiyas avoid these foods. They avoid these foods for the same reason many Jews do not eat dairy with meat ( the biblical injunction stating, “don’t boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk”). Fiddler on the roof tells us why we do it, “tradition!” A culture has been built on these proto-scientific myths and there would be something lost if it was given up. One of the main reasons the Jews have survived over centuries of persecution and diaspora is that they have always maintained a cohesive culture and identity.

    I eat onions, garlic, mushrooms and other tamasic foods. However, I think the biggest loss is in terms of identification with the group that is partially defined along these silly values. The silly values are the most binding because we cohere around them despite the fact that very few others in the world will agree. This is what causes Gaudiyas to stand apart from other sects more than vegetarianism. Many sects agree with this value.

    When I want Indian food I go to an Indian restaurant. When I want Gaudiya food I go to a Gaudiya temple, and when I want Pure Land Buddhist food I go to a Pure Land temple. This is important to me. If they all started to blur I would experience a loss. So when I cook a meal for Mahaprabhu I make it according to the cultural values, not because he doesn’t like other foods, but because I know what he and other Gaudiyas are expecting to taste (hing really)! This expectation and it’s fullfillment is comforting and grounding. This is why even hippies will get some french fries at McDonalds when they have been too long in a foreign country.

    • Damodara dasa

      Gaudiyas are not known for healthy eating and they do not eat fish despite the desperate need for B-12.

      I don’t believe there is a desperate need for vitamin b-12 in a sattvik diet. I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, garlic, carrots or red lentils, but that leaves a wide variety of lacto-vegetarian foods that should meet most people’s nutritional requirements. Milk is a good source of b-12 and beets, spinach and many other strict vegetarian foods are rich in iron, as well as the other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients required. Everything should of course be offered to Krishna and His devotees with love before a meal or snack is served.

      • I think I have been misquoted in the statement you refer to. A vegetarian can be low in B-12. I was at one time. But there is no reason they have to be. Tthere isnothing inherent in such a diet that would result in such a shortage. Thank you Damodara for your references.

        • Damodara dasa

          Thanks Maharaj,

          I probably should have added a few points to my comment. I hear a lot of criticism when I go out to yoga centers about dairy products, and sometimes no matter how hard I try I can’t convince people that gaudiya vaishnavas love cows and are not intentionally implicated in the abusive treatment of animals.

          But vegans tend to be very committed so I don’t see any point in challenging them about their food choices, although I rely on sattvik lacto-vegetarian foods that are both offerable and healthy.

          Also I believe there is some scientific evidence that following ekadasi makes practical sense, although I don’t have any quotes.

          There’s also quite a hoopla about genetically modified foods, but what can we do? We can only express our views about preserving heritage crops and nutrient dense arable soil. So in today’s world supplements, nutrient-rich organic foods and medicine should be considered acceptable when required and in many cases as a preventative measure. Hare Krishna and happy Srivas Pandit’s appearance day.

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      When I want gaudiya food… gaudiya means “related to gauda-desa”, the land of guda (jaggery), or in modern terms, Bengal.
      When you have such cravings, I think you should go to an Indian restaurant and ask for Bengali dishes.

      However, should you realize that the maha-prasada of the Lord or his devotees is capable of changing your consciousness radically and purifying you of all the layers that make you think, speak and act in a certain way (anything other than pure devotion), and that it is an immense privilege to receive any, then you could go to a gaudiya vaishnava temple and beg for (not want) some of it, and hope that the Supreme Sweet will give you anything that has been in contact with him/her; even a drop of water.
      Prasada is nothing but condensed love: love offered, love returned, love shared and love awakened.
      I may agree on the strong love of tradition of many jews, but a real Gaudiya is ready to forgo any tradition in the name of preserving that love that can indeed have many expressions.
      Unless and until the regulations about onion and garlic get in the way of that torrent of love, the gaudiyas will keep abstaining from offering certain foods (and therefore eating them), just because their beloved doesn’t like them. What does science (or proto-science) have to do with love exchanges?

  • Syamasundara Dasa

    Without going into transcendental disquisitions, sattvik food usually attracts sattvik people, and sattvik people know how to moderate themselves. One of the best (and yes, very sattvik-feeling) offerings I made for our Dauji-Gopala consisted in mango slices, curd with sugar, and almonds. Sattva entails simplicity and fosters happiness. Many temples in India make elaborate and rich offerings to their deities, but then the larger congregation will just eat rice and dal (cooked in larger quantities).

    Having said that… I’m off to making banana coconut samosas for Dauji-Gopala :)

  • Karuna-sindhu

    The only “scientific proof” that we need to care about garlic and onions is one showing that someone eating garlic and onions ABSOLUTELY CANNOT develop love of Godhead. Everything else is a distraction.

    In our great enthusiasm to market and make the superficialities of Krishna consciousness acceptable to everyone, we get further and further away from where we are strong: the core of Krishna consciousness.

    It is in the best interest for devotees to make arguments from where they are strong, even though it may not be acceptable to everyone. As Jayadvaita Maharaj says, “We need to serve beer if we want to make Krishna consciousness acceptable to everyone.”

    In the story of Gajendra, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada makes the point that Gajendra the elephant was strong on land. The crocodile was strong in water. When Gajendra went where he was weak, in the water, his safety was compromised.

    I feel that devotees would do best in sticking with what they know best: spirituality, than to make a psuedo attempt into trying to defend their lifestyle and beliefs where they are weak. They quote science to defend their religious stance, but have no intention of changing their stance if the arguments from science are NOT in favour of their religion. As some of the above posted links go, there are as many posies for garlic and onion as there are neggies.

    It is always interesting to read these articles coming from ‘devotee-ville.’ Though this article reads like the findings of ‘scientific research,’ it is far from that. The fact is that the author has taken a religious stance against garlic and onion. It is not as if discovering scientific harms of onion and garlic would not deter people of the author’s faith to stop eating garlic and onions because of their religious convictions. Their decision to not eat garlic and onions have practically nothing to do with science.

    Why do we write articles such as tehse?
    Well, since the religious argument of ‘do not eat garlic and onions because they are rajasic and tamasic and cannot be offered to Krishna’ do not work on people who do not cater to the faith, we find more ‘acceptable’ ways to strengthen our arguments…which seems to be the attempt of this article. I suppose it is an attempt, by hook or by crook, to promote our devotee lifestyle.

    The author seems determined to defend his choice of diet on ‘socially acceptable’ (scientific) terms.

    I understand that there are millions of people trying to discover the absolute truth. I’m sure the author was one of those people.
    These people try to ‘objectively’ discover the absolute truth untill they accept a Vaishnava or Christian identity. Once they accept the identity, then they decide to defend the Vaishnava truth or the Christian truth as the absolute truth, using any and every argument they can find. This article seems to come from there.

  • Dr V.Chandrika

    Without faecal matter of warm – blooded animals which is very rich in nitrogenic energy Onion & Garlic will not grow. Sages doing only prayers does’nt require much energy from notrogenous wastes If Onion & Garlic is consumed They cannot sit comfortably & do the Prayers with concentration Because they are full of energy. We are what we eat!
    CHANDRIKA

  • Anton

    what a load of bollocks!

  • krsna das

    Great discusion.Thank you.

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