to Prithwi Singh
2 January 1937
Prithwi Singh — Sri Aurobindo
...By your Grace I feel definitely relieved to-day as there is no longer any necessity for me to go [to Calcutta]....
With deep devotion
1That is all right then. It is good that any necessity of your going now has been obviated.
As to the subject matter of the other letter. For the last year or about no onions are being used in the Asram food. What you take for onions is a vegetable called the leek, not much known here, which when put in raw or in quantities has a smell and may be mistaken for onions. In this dish they were put in raw, that is why you felt it like that. Mother had asked that they should not be put in without cooking them, for many people do not like the taste or smell of raw leeks.
I think the importance of sattwic food from the spiritual point of view has been exaggerated. Food is rather a question of hygiene and many of the sanctions and prohibitions laid down in ancient religions had more a hygienic that a spiritual motive. The Gita's definitions seem to point in the same direction — tamasic food, it seems to say, is what is stale or rotten with the virtue gone out of it, rajasic food is that what is too acrid, pungent etc., heats the blood and spoils the health, sattwic food is what is pleasing, healthy etc. It may well be that different kinds of food nourish the action of the different gunas and so indirectly are helpful or harmful apart from their physical action. But that is as far as we can confidently go. What particular eatables are or are not sattwic is another question and more difficult to determine. Spiritually, I should say that the effect of food depends more on the occult atmosphere and influences that come with it than on anything in the food itself. Vegetarianism is another question altogether; it stands, as you say, in a will not to do harm to the more conscious forms of life for the satisfaction of the belly.
As to the question of practising to take all kinds of food with equal rása, it is not necessary to practise nor does it really come by practice. One has to acquire equality within in the consciousness and as this equality grows one can extend it or apply it to the various fields of the activity of the consciousness.
2 January 1937
1 This letter was published partly at Vol.24 (No 3376) of SABCL