Question: What is the rational, logical reason behind not eating Garlic, Onions, (Carrots, etc)? It seems there is not logical reason, only a reference to a myth with several versions claiming that certain vegetables sprouted for the first time in connection with the slaughter of a cow. Can you give any logical reason for this dietary stipulation? Can you say what it’s history is (I know Buddhists and Jains also observe it)?
In itself, this is not the most important question, but it becomes important by the curious fact that no one I’ve asked so far can answer it nicely or even wants to make the effort. Giving the question one last chance, I’m putting it to you. If you can’t answer this, I’ll probably just stop asking it.
Answer: There are different reasons.
1. Garlic, onion and carrot increase rajas, especially sexual desire. Not good for spiritual life.
If you are trying to concentrate your mind on a mantra, it will be harder if you ingest these items. A common person may not feel the difference, because a common person’s mind is disturbed any way. But just as a single spot is visible on a clean white sheet, a little disturbance of mind can be detected by advances sadhakas. So our Rishis felt the effect of these items and forbade them. You can also feel the difference if you have a very stable mind. It is an experimentable (falsifiable in Karl Popper’s language) principle.
2. The first two items have a bad smell. If you eat them your mouth has a foul smell, and this is also felt in the sweat.
Of all sensual impressions, the devas are very sensitive to smell. That is why in puja always fragrant items are offered, e.g. incense, flowers, scents etc. So for Vaisnavas onions and garlic are forbidden because our God is a living person and has His fancy.
3. If you have to sit in the assembly of sadhus then you do not want to disturb them with your offensive smell. Especially in India, being a hot country, sweating is common. Belching also produces an offensive smell.
4. Jains do not eat anything grown underground because it involves violence to many worms when these pants are uprooted. That is their theory. Buddhists probably have the same reason. These two groups consider non-violence as their supreme principle.
5. There are other reasons which you know – Garlic was born from Rahu’s blood, etc. These stories are for the general masses.
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Becoming a devotee is a change of the heart. It doesn’t mean that you have to move to Vrindavan. It is an internal change, a change of consciousness.