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Fasting or Upvas A Way In Hinduism To Attain Self Discipline

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fasting in Hinduism indicates the denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. As per the Holy Scriptures through fasting one can establish a relationship or a strong bond with body and soul. Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. In Hindi language fasting is known as Upvas or Vrat.Hindus fast on certain days of the month, week or depending on individual choices of one’s favorite god or goddess. For example some Hindus fast on Tuesday to please Lord Hanuman and some fast on Monday in the honor of Lord Shiva. Hindus also fast on various festivals which are celebrated all the year round. Though fasting has been associated with God but it has many other benefits, the reasons why Hindu religion advocates fasting.

• Fasting helps in achieving self discipline. Hinduism is the belief that by learning to fast, you also learn how to face other obstacles in your life. Fasting teaches us how to face hardships of life with self control.
• To train our minds to reach high levels of concentration and enlightenment, we must deny our body's worldly gratifications.
• The pangs of hunger that one experience during fasting make one think and extend one's sympathy towards the destitute who often go without food.
• Fasting is also a non – violent protest. A hunger strike draws captures people’s attention. Mahatma Gandhi has set a wonderful example of non-violent protest of fasting.
• Fasting relives stress.
• Fasting has been effective in metabolism management and has the ability to cleanse your body.
• Fasting also controls emotional imbalances of the body and prevents acidity and flatulence.
• The fasting ritual in Hinduism contributes to clean living and moral thinking.
• Fasting is well explained in Ayurveda medicinal system. The human body is composed of 80% liquid and 20% solid, like the earth, the gravitational force of the moon affects the fluid contents of the body. It causes emotional imbalances in the body, making some people tense, irritable and violent. Fasting acts as antidote, for it lowers the acid content in the body which helps people to retain their sanity.

Fasting rituals is of many type:

• A common fasting ritual may mean avoidance of foods like fish and meat for a couple of days (for non-vegetarians). Most Hindus abstain from eating such foods for one or more days.
Moderate fasting involves avoiding solids and following a liquid diet consisting of vegetable or fruit juices. This fasting ritual is generally followed during festivals.
• Some follow a strict fasting ritual by taking only water or avoiding any liquids for a set number of days. The Karva Chauth ritual among women is the best example of such kind of fasting.


Ravi Matah said...

A very well written article, informative and thought provoking. As has already been brought out above that some people keep a fast on Monday to appease Lord Shive, some do it on Tuesday to appease Lord Hanuman, On Thursday for Shri Sathya Sai Babaji, Friday for Goddess Durga and Saturday for Lord Shani Devji. A fast has a three dimensional effect - firstly, empty stomach frees the lower abdomen of the bacteria accumulated there from the clutter which has been dumped there for the last one week which will help in improving the digestive system. Secondly, it gives the fasting person a degree of satisfaction that he or she has paid adequate respects to their diety for fulfilment of their desired objectives and thirdly, it cleans the stomach system and thereby keeps a person fit and fine.
Keep up the good work, Meghna.

Meghana said...

Thanks sir for your valuable inputs!