Anekanta: The Third Eye: [03.11] Relativity - Why Is Dinner Prohibited After Sunset?

Published: 29.03.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Once a question was posed to me as to why dinner after sunset is prohibited amongst the Jains? Honestly, can there be a time specified even for hunger? It is practical to eat when hungry. This is the only valid rule. For hunger there can be no day or night. How does light or darkness matter?

At a seminar in Bangalore where many scientists took part, the subject came up that in the Jain tradition, dinner after sunset is prohibited. One should look for reasons for the same. A gentleman came to me with the question. At that time I was in Delhi. He posed the question. I replied, “Yes indeed dinner after sunset is connected to religious beliefs because it is not sanctioned by religion. But along with this there is a scientific reason for it also." The heat produced in our bodies digests whatever we eat. Our digestive strength is the heat. For it to work efficiently the heat from the sun is essential. When sun rays are not available, digestion suffers. Digestion becomes weak. Therefore the one who eats at night suffers from indigestion. This is the scientific reason.

The second reason is that when the sun is transmitting heat small micro-organisms are passive. No sooner does the sun set, they all become active. They give rise to many types of diseases. The way illness makes you suffer at night, it does not during the day. Disorders of wind too trouble more at night. All these problems Occur at night because the heat of the sun is not there at that time. When there is heat, diseases are not aggravated. As the sun's heat wanes, diseases gain in strength. All the trouble-making elements become more potent.

Not only thieves even germs trouble only at night. It is not only insomnia that chooses nights to torment, even illness troubles at night.

An Acharya of long ago once gave a reason for prohibiting meals after dinner. It mayor may not have scientific value, but it is definitely interesting. Emperor Akbar had great respect for Acharya Hiravijayji. A few people resented it. One man went to the king and said, "Sire! you give a lot of importance to the words of the Jain Acharya but many of his ideas are wrong and his beliefs are baseless. We think of the Ganges as holy, but he does not. We think of sun as God, but he does not." The king heard him and somewhere in his mind got a little perturbed. He asked Hiravijayji, "Do you not think of the Ganges as holy? Do you not think of sun as God?"
Replied the Acharya, "Now, who told you that? We have great respect for the Ganges and the sun. We are devoted to the Ganges. People go there, bathe in it and all the dirt of their body is washed into it. We stand afar and do not even touch the water, forget soiling it with our body dirt. As for the sun, nobody respects it as much as we do. Just as being separated from a loved one, man stops eating, we too stop eating once the sun sets. Can you not see how loved the sun is to us?” The king agreed.

  • Anekanta: The Third Eye by Acharya Mahaprajna, © 2002
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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