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Fasting, the logic and science behind it

Sanātana Dharma, the world’s oldest living faith, practices fasting (also known as Vratam or Upavasam). In our religion, based on various schools of thought, practices, traditions, customs, and region the practice of fasting evolved and morphed into various styles over the course of time.

In Sanātana Dharma, fasting is not an obligation, but a prudent, moral, and spiritual act. People often confuse fasting and starvation. Starvation is voluntarily or involuntarily refraining from eating or drinking, whereas fasting is a deliberate and intentional way of control, by which we restrain our pancha-jnanendriyas (5 sensory organs) and pancha-karmendriyas (5 motor senses) to try to bring our Body, Mind and Intellect under control and channelize it towards our true Satvik nature. This is very essential in the path of Sadhana. To aid the Sadhak with this process, satsang, dhyanam, daanam, bhagavat-chintanam, kirtanam, mananam, etc. are all recommended during fasting period.

We fast during religious occasions and for prayashchittam. All religious observances in our religion relate to the periods of transition in nature (weather) and affects us all – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Prayashchittam is penance or atonement, to lessen the burden of Vasana resulting from any lapses in the observance of our personal vows obstructing our path towards Sadhana.

There are multiple benefits to prudent fasting – such as improved health, reduced cholesterol, toxin removal, reduced stress upon the digestive system, boost in hormones, improved blood circulation, autophagy, better functioning of the heart/ brain etc., and so on. Some studies have shown that fasting controls passion and the senses and checks our emotions which leads to improved mental health; making us feel good about ourselves with increased self-esteem, self-confidence, willpower, and discipline.

People with existing medical history/problems, eating disorder, anyone who is underweight or malnourished, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, children etc., are strongly advised not to undertake fasting.

Posted in News, Temple News
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