Friday, April 24, 2009

Bhagavan would never eat during an eclipse of the sun or moon

Bhagavan would never eat during an eclipse of the sun or moon, a custom that still continues in the Ashram, where food may only be cooked after the eclipse is finished. He told me that the stomach did not digest while the eclipse was proceeding and so it was bad for the health to eat at that time. However, he did not take the ritual bath at the beginning and end of an eclipse as is usual with orthodox Brahmins.

He was most dainty in his movements and to watch him eat was a pleasure. He always left his leaf so clean that it appeared as if it had not been used. Eating neatly in Indian fashion is an art in itself and at this Bhagavan was past master.

He was always scrupulously clean and his body gave off a faint perfume, though he never used any scented soap. At one time he had used snuff but had given it up before I joined the Ashram. He used to chew betel regularly just after meals and before he went for his stroll on the
Hill; he would thoroughly wash out his mouth immediately afterwards. There was never any stain on his lips, and he chewed only for a few minutes, and then purely as a digestive.

One morning Bhagavan was about to go out and was only waiting for the attendant to give him the betel, which was always placed by his side when it was time for his walk. For some reason the attendant did not do it, everybody in the Hall was waiting expectantly but could do nothing about it as the management did not allow anybody to attend on Bhagavan except those who had
been specially detailed.
Eventually Bhagavan got up and left the Hall without it. From that day on he never chewed
again. He would not cause inconvenience to anybody, even the attendant whose duty it was to look after such things, nor would he be bound by any habit. We were all sad at this mishap, as everybody felt that the betel did help the body to bear its pain. But what did the health of
the body matter, he would say. “The body itself is the worst sickness.”

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