If you want to do Yoga, you must take more and more in all
matters, small or great, the Yogic attitude. In our path
that attitude is not one of forceful suppression, but of
detachment and equality with regard to the objects of desire.
Forceful suppression (fasting comes under the head) stands
on the same level as free indulgence; in both cases, the
desire remains: in the one it is fed by indulgence, in the
other it lies latent and exasperated by suppression. It
is only when one stands back, separates oneself from the
lower vital, refusing to regard its desires and clamours
as one's own, and cultivates an entire equality and equanimity
in the consciousness with respect to them that the lower
vital itself becomes gradually purified and itself also
calm and equal. Each wave of desire as it comes must be
observed, as quietly and with as much unmoved detachment
as you would observe something going on outside you, and
must be allowed to pass, rejected from the consciousness,
and the true movement, the true consciousness steadily put
in its place.
is attachment to food, the greed and eagerness for it, making
it an unduly important thing in the life, that is contrary
to the spirit of Yoga. To be aware that something is pleasant
to the palate is not wrong; only one must have no desire
nor hankering for it, no exultation in getting it, no displeasure
or regret at not getting it. One must be calm and equal,
not getting upset or dissatisfied when the food is not tasty
or not in abundanceeating the fixed amount that is
necessary, not less or more. There should be neither eagerness
be always thinking about food and troubling the mind is
quite the wrong way of getting rid of the food-desire. Put
the food element in the right place in the life, in a small
corner, and don't' concentrate on it but on other things.
not trouble your mind about food. Take it in the right quantity
(neither too much nor too little), without greed or repulsion,
as the means given you by the Mother for the maintenance
of the body, in the right spirit, offering it to the Divine
in you; then it need not create tamas.
It is not part of this Yoga to suppress taste, rasa,
altogether. What is to be got rid of is vital desire and
attachment, the greed of food, being overjoyed at getting
the food you like, sorry and discontented when you do not
have it, giving an undue importance to it. Equality is here
the test as in so many other matters.
idea of giving up food is a wrong inspiration. You can go
on with a small quantity of food, but not without food altogether,
except for a comparatively short time. Remember what the
Gita says, "Yoga is not for one who eats in excess
nor for one who abstains from eating altogether." Vital
energy is one thingof that one can draw a great amount
without food and often it increases with fasting; but physical
substance, without which life loses its support, is of a
neglect this turn of the nature (food-desire) nor make too
much of it; it has to be dealt with, purified and mastered
but without giving it too much importance. There are two
ways of conquering itone of detachment, learning to
regard food as only a physical necessity and the vital satisfaction
of the stomach and the palate as a thing of no importance;
the other is to be able to take without insistence or seeking
any food given and to find in it (whether pronounced good
or bad by others) the equal rasa, not of the food
for its own sake, but of the universal Ananda.
is a mistake to neglect the body and let it waste away;
the body is the means of the sadhana and should be maintained
in good order. There should be no attachment to it, but
no contempt or neglect either of the material part of our
this Yoga the aim is not only the union with the higher
consciousness but the transformation (by its power) of the
lower including the physical nature.
is not necessary to have desire or greed of food in order
to eat. The Yogi eats not out of desire, but to maintain
is a fact that by fasting, if the mind and the nerves are
solid or the will-force dynamic, one can get for a time
into a state of inner energy and receptivity which is alluring
to the mind and the usual reactions of hunger, weakness,
intestinal disturbance, etc., can be wholly avoided. But
the body suffers by diminution and there can easily develop
in the vital a morbid overstrained condition due to the
inrush of more vital energy than the nervous system can
assimilate or co-ordinate. Nervous people should avoid the
temptation to fast, it is often accompanied or followed
by delusions and a loss of balance. Especially if there
is a motive of hunger-strike or that element comes in, fasting
becomes perilous, for it is then an indulgence of a vital
movement which may easily become a habit injurious and pernicious
to the sadhana. Even if all these reactions are avoided,
still there is no sufficient utility in fasting, since the
higher energy and receptivity ought to come not by artificial
or physical means but by intensity of the consciousness
and strong will for the sadnana.
transformation to which we aspire is too vast and complex
to come at one stroke; it must be allowed to come by stages.
The physical change is the last of these stages and is itself
a progressive process.
inner transformation cannot be brought about by physical
means either of a positive or a negative nature. On the
contrary, the physical change itself can only be brought
about by a descent of the greater supramental consciousness
into the cells of the body. Till then at least the body
and its supporting energies have to be maintained in part
by the ordinary means, food, sleep, etc. Food has to be
taken in the right spirit, with the right consciousness;
sleep has to be gradually transformed into the Yogic repose.
A premature and excessive physical austerity, Tapasya, may
endanger the process of the sadhana by establishing a disturbance
and abnormality of the forces in the different parts of
the system. A great energy may pour into the mental and
vital parts, but the nerves and the body may be overstrained
and lose the strength to support the play of these higher
energies. This is the reason why an extreme physical austerity
is not included here as a substantive part of the sadhana.
is no harm in fasting from time to time for a day or two
or in reducing the food taken to a small but sufficient
modicum; but entire abstinence for a long period is not
sadhak has to turn away entirely from the invasion of the
vital and the physical by the sex-impulsefor, if he
does not conquer the sex-impulse there can be no settling
in the body of the divine consciousness and the divine Ananda.
is true that the mere suppression or holding down of desire
is not enough, not by itself truly effective, but that does
not mean that desires are to be indulged; it means that
desires have not merely to suppressed, but to be rejected
from the nature. In place of desire there must be a single-minded
aspiration towards the Divine.
for love, the love must be turned singly toward the Divine.
What men call by that name is a vital interchange for mutual
satisfaction of desire, vital impulse or physical pleasure.
There must be nothing of this interchange between sadhaks;
for to seek for it or indulge this kind of impulse only
leads away from the sadhana.