01 December 2013

Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On Food

In this page we'll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda's quotes, comments and opinions on Food.

Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on food

Certain regulations as to food are necessary;
we must use that food which brings us the purest mind.
—Swami Vivekananda
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • According to Ramanuja, there are three things in food we must avoid. First, there is Jâti, the nature, or species of the food, that must be considered. All exciting food should be avoided, as meat, for instance; this should not be taken because it is by its very nature impure. We can get it only by taking the life of another. We get pleasure for a moment, and another creature has to give up its life to give us that pleasure. Not only so, but we demoralise other human beings. It would be rather better if every man who eats meat killed the animal himself; but, instead of doing so, society gets a class of persons to do that business for them, for doing which, it hates them. In England no butcher can serve on a jury, the idea being that he is cruel by nature. Who makes him cruel? Society. If we did not eat beef and mutton, there would be no butchers. Eating meat is only allowable for people who do very hard work, and who are not going to be Bhaktas; but if you are going to be Bhaktas, you should avoid meat. Also, all exciting foods, such as onions, garlic, and all evil-smelling food, as "sauerkraut". Any food that has been standing for days, till its condition is changed, any food whose natural juices have been almost dried ups any food that is malodorous, should be avoided.[Source]
  • All the forces that are working in this body have been produced out of food; we see that every day. If you begin to fast, first your body will get weak, the physical forces will suffer; then after a few days, the mental forces will suffer also. First, memory will fail. Then comes a point, when you are not able to think, much less to pursue any course of reasoning.[Source]
  • Certain regulations as to food are necessary; we must use that food which brings us the purest mind.[Source]
  • Shankarâchârya has said that the word Âhâra there means "objects of the senses", whereas Shri Râmânuja has taken the meaning of Ahara to be "food". In my opinion we should take that meaning of the word which reconciles both these points of view. Are we to pass our lives discussing all the time about the purity and impurity of food only, or are we to practice the restraining of our senses? Surely, the restraining of the senses is the main object; and the discrimination of good and bad, pure and impure foods, only helps one, to a certain extent, in gaining that end. There are, according to our scriptures, three things which make food impure: (1) Jâti-dosha or natural defects of a certain class of food, like onions, garlic, etc.; (2) Nimitta-dosha or defects arising from the presence of external impurities in it, such as dead insects, dust, etc. that attach to sweetmeats bought from shops; (3) Âshraya-dosha or defects that arise by the food coming from evil sources, as when it has been touched and handled by wicked persons. Special care should be taken to avoid the first and second classes of defects. But in this country men pay no regard just to these two, and go on fighting for the third alone, the very one that none but a Yogi could really discriminate! The country from end to end is being bored to extinction by the cry, "Don't touch", "Don't touch", of the non-touchism party. In that exclusive circle of theirs, too, there is no discrimination of good and bad men, for their food may be taken from the hands of anyone who wears a thread round his neck and calls himself a Brâhmin! Shri Ramakrishna was quite unable to take food in this indiscriminate way from the hands of any and all. It happened many a time that he would not accept food touched by a certain person or persons, and on rigorous investigation it would turn out that these had some particular stain to hide. Your religion seems nowadays to be confined to the cooking-pot alone. You put on one side the sublime truths of religion and fight, as they say, for the skin of the fruit and not for the fruit itself![Source]
  • The manipulating and controlling of what may be called the finer body, viz the mood, are no doubt higher functions than the controlling of the grosser body of flesh. But the control of the grosser is absolutely necessary to enable one to arrive at the control of the finer. The beginner, therefore, must pay particular attention to all such dietetic rules as have come down from the line of his accredited teachers; but the extravagant, meaningless fanaticism, which has driven religion entirely to the kitchen, as may be noticed in the case of many of our sects, without any hope of the noble truth of that religion ever coming out to the sunlight of spirituality, is a peculiar sort of pure and simple materialism.[Source]
  • There are certain kinds of food that produce a certain change in the mind; we see it every day. There are other sorts which produce a change in the body, and in the long run have a tremendous effect on the mind. It is a great thing to learn; a good deal of the misery we suffer is occasioned by the food we take. You find that after a heavy and indigestible meal it is very hard to control the mind; it is running, running all the time. There are certain foods which are exciting; if you eat such food, you find that you cannot control the mind. It is obvious that after drinking a large quantity of wine, or other alcoholic beverage, a man finds that his mind would not be controlled; it runs away from his control.[Source]
  • We have, therefore, to take care what sort of food we eat at the beginning, and when we have got strength enough, when our practice is well advanced, we need not be so careful in this respect. While the plant is growing it must be hedged round, lest it be injured; but when it becomes a tree, the hedges are taken away. It is strong enough to withstand all assaults.[Source]

Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on meat-eating

  • About vegetarian diet I have to say this — first, my Master was a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess, he used to hold it up to his head. The taking of life is undoubtedly sinful; but so long as vegetable food is not made suitable to the human system through progress in chemistry, there is no other alternative but meat-eating. So long as man shall have to live a Râjasika (active) life under circumstances like the present, there is no other way except through meat-eating. It is true that the Emperor Asoka saved the lives of millions of animals by the threat of the sword; but is not the slavery of a thousand years more dreadful than that? Taking the life of a few goats as against the inability to protect the honour of one's own wife and daughter, and to save the morsels for one's children from robbing hands — which of these is more sinful? Rather let those belonging to the upper ten, who do not earn their livelihood by manual labour, not take meat; but the forcing of vegetarianism upon those who have to earn their bread by labouring day and night is one of the causes of the loss of our national freedom. Japan is an example of what good and nourishing food can do.[Source]
  • We leave everybody free to know, select, and follow whatever suits and helps him. Thus, for example, eating meat may help one, eating fruit another. Each is welcome to his own peculiarity, but he has no right to criticise the conduct of others, because that would, if followed by him, injure him, much less to insist that others should follow his way. A wife may help some people in this progress, to others she may be a positive injury. But the unmarried man has no right to say that the married disciple is wrong, much less to force his own ideal of morality upon his brother.[Source]
  • You speak of the meat-eating Kshatriya. Meat or no meat, it is they who are the fathers of all that is noble and beautiful in Hinduism. Who wrote the Upanishads? Who was Rama? Who was Krishna? Who was Buddha? Who were the Tirthankaras of the Jains? Whenever the Kshatriyas have preached religion, they have given it to everybody; and whenever the Brahmins wrote anything, they would deny all right to others. Read the Gitâ and the Sutras of Vyâsa, or get someone to read them to you. In the Gita the way is laid open to all men and women, to all caste and colour, but Vyasa tries to put meanings upon the Vedas to cheat the poor Shudras. Is God a nervous fool like you that the flow of His river of mercy would be dammed up by a piece of meat? If such be He, His value is not a pie![Source]

This page was last updated on: 11 March 2014, 3:55 IST (UTC+5:30 hours)
Number of revisions in this page: 2


  1. Even meat eating is definitely a wrong thing to do in Hinduism, especially persons born as Brahmins, one of the basic tenets of Hinduism being ahimsa. Bereft of sattva guna such a person can never have realisation. Vivekanada might have been accepted as an intellectual with a speech rendering abilities, admired by most westerners but his preaching's recommending people to eat beef is thoroughly wrong and requires condemnation irrespective of his stature. Born hindus cannot eat beef which is a heinous crime as per the shastras since cow is held sacred.Persons indulging in such forbidden acts cannot get self realisation but end up in hells obviously. For that matter is there anybody who can prove that vivekanada attained moksha with such a bad habit

  2. @ KR Dasharathi where did u find that Swami Vivekananda is evoking people to eat beef. Plz be well informed with facts and then comment.

  3. @ KR Dasharathi where did u find that Swami Vivekananda is evoking people to eat beef. Plz be well informed with facts and then comment.

  4. I agree. The people who eat beef are not Hindus.

  5. "According to ancient Hindu rites and rituals, a man cannot be a good Hindu who does not eat beef”.

    (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol.3, p. 536).

  6. @ Dasaharathi, It is not like that what you meant in your comment. Please try to understand swamiji's point of view.

  7. There is much literature quite authoritative giving details of vivekanadas food habits. If you want to know more you can go through them. Otherwise, I cant help persons with fixed ideas unwilling to find facts. You can remain in your shell.

  8. @kr dasharathu sir i have read books and but it looks like you you have not. Before commenting on these spiritual giants please read his whole literature, your all doubts will be solved. That time just imagine that how much western people used to hate indians and they were astonished and charmed to hear the thoughts of swami ji. Now this is ridiculous that their own countrymen like you are criticising him just for proving their ignorances. Half knowledge is like a double edged sword.in his book it is clear written that people should not eat meat who wants to be a bhakta and also on karma yoga it is written that that every living being is god and we should serve them. He spread vedanta philosophy in west and even in india throughly. It is the custom which forces people to do different things. You must be universal to understand true religion because advaita also has the same philosophy. For humanity you also must be universal to serve people and to get rid of hatred and save your basic principle of religion not to hate anyone and more. Get updated and then talk publically.

  9. There is no need for you or anyone to educate and advice me regarding his teachings or works since I feel that have enough knowledge of the same. Your advice is irrelevant to my point. I only said that beaf eating is against the tenets of Hinduism which adheres to Ahimsa and preaches ahimsa as parama Dharma and cow is held sacred. Beaf eating involves killing of cows which is very unkind inhuman to such a useful animal. You are free to do it if you like it as no one can stop anyone to do what they wish ultimately!


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