Gandhi loved nonviolence more than anything else, including food. That’s right, foodies, we do not have any photos taken by him of, say, his neem chutney or simple rice and dhal. His experiments with his diet were on-going throughout his entire life, and often came to his advantage when, for example, he would be in prison for civil disobedience. No salt today? No problem. No tea for prisoners? No sweat.
So, what would you do if Gandhi were at your house for dinner? Wouldn’t you want to be hospitable, serve him something wholesome, tasty and delicious? Of course. It’s natural. Here’s a story to consider, though:
One time, he was visiting a home in Bengal, and was experimenting in an effort to better understand the body, with a fruit-only diet. The hosts, with the best of intentions, found fruits of all varieties, dried and fresh, and also took the time to cook a variety of fruit dishes for him to relish. They spread the banquet before Gandhiji, who became very embarrassed. According to Kaka Kalelkar, who was with him, he stated that he was in search of simplicity, and that the spread was more than unnecessary for him. At that moment, he decided that he would limit his diet to only five natural ingredients a day, and on top of this, to eat before sunset! Kalelkar recalls that this was a great difficulty for those around the Mahatma, as they would have to debate with him regularly about whether he saw differences between lemons and oranges or if adding some sweetener to his food would count as a one of the foods for the day, and they had to remember what he ate at the previous meal to ensure that he would get a balanced diet. Sounds extravagant, in some ways, and in others, it makes perfect sense. All of life was an experiment, for him, and this one was about giving the body just what it needed — not what it craved!
So, remember when Barack Obama told school children that if he could dine with anyone, it would be Mahatma Gandhi? You might want to think twice before agreeing–unless you were willing to go against the cravings of the palate–no savoring–and spend the rest of the time discussing nonviolent strategy. Talk about soul-food!
Is there something that you eat that you know is bad for you? Try to replace it with something more wholesome the next time you have a craving.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org