Fasting in Hinduism

Posted By on September 14, 2019


Namaste everyone! Fasting is a spiritual practice that is seen
in many faiths. By definition, fasting means to willingly
restrict food or water intake for a certain amount of time. Some people consider fasting to also include
abstaining from certain activities. There are so many different types of fasts
and different reasons why people fast whether it be for health, spirituality, or discipline. But today I want to briefly review fasting
in Hinduism and dispel common misconceptions about it. The Sanskrit word for fasting is “Upvaas”. Literally translated, up means “near” and
vaas mean “to stay.” So upvas means to stay near the lord There are so many ways to spiritually enlighten
yourself and become closer with God, so one might wonder: what does fasting have to do
with it? Well, in Hinduism, food is divided into three
categories: Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. Sattvic foods are pure and nurturing to the
body and mind, and include fruits, veggies, dairy, and grain. Rajasic foods create unrest in your mind,
and include spicy foods, garlic, and onion. Tamasic foods are said to cause negative thoughts
and decrease spiritual advancement, and the foods include meat, fish, eggs, and stale
food. The ideal diet in Hinduism is a sattvic diet. And this is why food at Hindu temples or festivals
or ceremonies are lacto-vegetarian and have no onion or garlic. While people may not always observe a sattvic
diet, they try to do so on holy days in order to meditate better and become closer with
the divine. In addition to being sattvic, food on fasting
days is meant to be quick and easy to prepare so people can spend less time cooking and
more time meditating. And these foods include milk, fruits, and
nuts. Some people may fast on certain religious
or auspicious days when they want conserve their physical and mental energy for prayer
and meditation. In this way, fasting allows us to have more
control over our senses and balance our minds. So, fasting in Hinduism is meant to be like
a detox for your body and mind. There are many different ways that Hindus
may modify their diet on a day that they’re fasting. Some may just simply fruits, nuts, and milk. Some may just one meal a day. And some of those who can may go a whole entire
day without entire. Here’s something interesting that some of
you may not know. In Hinduism, one day is counted from one sunrise
to the next. Also, traditionally Hindus do not eat during
the night. This is because in ancient times there was
no electricity or light during the night, so people didn’t want to unnecessarily or
unknowingly kill insects in the process of preparing food. Also, the sun serves as a witness for God. Therefore, a traditional fast is from one
sunrise to the next. So let’s say if someone were to fast on
a Thursday, their last meal would be dinner Wednesday night, and they would end the fast
on breakfast Friday morning. Since fasting in Hinduism is a self-imposed
practice, it’s usually done with joy and great satisfaction. That being said, fasting is not meant to make
you unbearably hungry, weak, or irritated. If a certain type of fast will negatively
impact your physical or mental health, including if you have a physically or mentally demanding
job, then don’t do it, it’s ok! If you do, it will contradict the purpose
of fasting in the first place. Because of the principle of ahimsa or non-violence,
Hinduism is strongly against any harmful practices as it relates to yourself or others. Also remember, in Hinduism, God resides within
us. So we should not torture God by subjecting
our bodies to harmful practices. God does not demand fasting. God doesn’t gain anything from us starving
ourselves. Fasting is something we do for our own benefit–and
only if we are able to. Hopefully this video provides some clarity
about fasting in Hinduism. Have a great day and Namaste!

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 17 comments

  1. What if your following a specific fast which has to be continued week after week and you cannot get that day off from work??

    Reply
  2. Beautifully explained, Aumkar 🙏🏽 well illustrated – both principles and practices 👌🏽 luvvit
    A quick note, for those interested:
    Ahimsa does not mean non-violence. “Himsa” = kill/slaughter, “Ahimsa” = non killing/slaughter. Ahimsa is a Hindu principle applied to food – wherein one does not kill or slaughter another being for sustenance. In extreme Hinduism, onions, garlic or other food that requires the plant to be killed is a no-no – such food is Thamasic or Rajasic …the jury is out on carrots etc which are out of the equation in orthodox circles. In general, food that can be harvested without killing the plant e.g. grain, rice, gourds, okra, fruits, nuts, leaves, legumes that are harvested after the plants naturally die such as lentils etc. are allowed. Milk is allowed only if the cow lets you have it – talk about animal rights 😄 …and of course, when a cow gives you the milk meant for its child i.e. its calf, the cow is treating you as it would its own child – and hence it is wrong to kill your cow-mom …although in a traditional vegetarian Hindu society, it is unlikely that any animal would be killed for food.

    Reply
  3. I am non hindu but great to know that hinduism is not just about rituals and superstition as media and some follower of book says but it is also about building better human within

    Reply
  4. Can smoking broke your fast in technically cigarette doesn't involve any certain things which broke your fast what is your thinking

    Reply

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