Why Dinner After Sunset Prohibited?

Published: 31.07.2008
Updated: 13.11.2008

Deccan Herald

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.

A gentleman asked me the question when I was in Delhi. I said, "Dinner after sunset is connected to religious beliefs. But there is a scientific reason also." The heat produced in the body digests whatever we eat. Our digestive strength is the heat. For it to work efficiently the heat from the sun is essential. When sunrays are not available, digestion suffers. Digestion becomes weak.

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 giving rise to many types of diseases. Not only thieves even germs trouble only at night.

An Acharya once gave a reason for prohibiting meals after dinner. It may or 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, "Sir! 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 got a little perturbed. He asked Hiravijayji, "Don't you think the Ganges is holy? Don't you consider sun as God?"

The Acharya replied, "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. Nobody respects sun as much as we do. Just as being separated from a loved one, man stops eating, we too stop eating once the sun sets."

Every statement is with reference to something. Absolute statements cannot exist.

The use of the word syaad is the royal pathway, which evens out the ups and downs along its way making travel easy. May we evaluate this great principle of relativity with the required importance and use it exhaustively in our great quest for the truth.

Deccan Herarld - by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg

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