Many people across the world use garlic and onion regularly in their cuisine to enhance taste and flavor. These edible plant offerings along with others like shallots, chives, scallions and leeks belong to a genus known as alliums.
Most plants of this group are ornamental though some of them are edible. Several schools of philosophy attach negative qualities to such vegetables. Alliaceous plants are said to create ignorance and diminish intellect. They are also believed to breed sinful attributes such as anger, lust and passion.
Many Hindu and oriental religious sects grounded in Vedic and Buddhist principles practice staunch vegetarianism. These groups completely discard onion and garlic from their cooking. Let us understand why onions and garlic are said to hinder spiritual growth. In Ayurveda, the holistic medical science of ancient India there is a comprehensive explaination as to why these vegetables get in the way of spiritual stability.
Ayurveda classifies three food categories, namely sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Each has its own properties. Sattvic foods have positive effects on the body, mind and spirit. They are pure, light, and fresh while promoting body equilibrium, awareness and serenity.
This group includes grains, cereals, legumes, beans, herbs, dairy products like milk, ghee and most fruits and vegetables. Pure Ayurveda diet is popular in the brahmana style of cooking and Vaishanavas, namely followers of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna only cook Sattvic food.
Rajasic foods are okay for the body but should not be consumed in great quantity but in moderation. Moreover the consumption of rajasic food depends on the time of day. These include coffee, tea, chocolate, hot spices, alcohol, nicotine and others. They create mental disturbance, depression, turbulence and anxiety.
Then there are the dull or tamasik foods which are not good for the body or mind. They create weariness and heaviness. Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs etc. are tamasik. Rajasic and tamasic foods have detrimental effects on spiritual practices like meditation and devotional penance. This is why yogis are forbidden from eating onion and garlic which have both rajasic and tasmic qualities.
They root the consciousness more firmly in the mind and don’t let one enter higher planes of thought. A spiritual kitchen will allow rajasmic or tamasic foods as they are unable to offer the same to the deities.
Ancient Ayurveda texts also stated that alliaceous plants produce offensive breath as well as create foul smelling precipitation and body odor. They induce aggravation, apprehension, anxiety and bellicosity, thereby affecting one’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional equilibrium.
The five major alliums are each said to have a detrimental impact on five of the major organs. Onions are said to cause trouble to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys. They should not be consumed in the raw form at all. Red onion is said to induce fever, dry cough, moist eyes, runny nose and such maladies. Recent studies also suggest that allium vegetables especially the onion bulb has cardiovascular and cancerous implications.
It is said to aid the lowering of organic bile and lipids in the body which is important for body functions.
Garlic also has a very negative effect on the body. It not just destroys all the harmful bacteria but also goes on to kill the beneficial bacteria. As these are important for the proper functioning of the digestive system and bowel movements, it leads to complications. So, garlic is not scary only for vampires but for human too.
Jokes apart, one should understand the intrinsic qualities of these vegetables in order to plan a better diet.
At the very basic level the three major pillars of the human life force are nutrition or ahara, sleep or nidra and celibacy or brahmacharya. Alliaceous plants are a component of ahara which is introduced in the body as food. When this enters the body it begins to tamper with the dhatus and ojas at the very fundamental level of the body.
This is due to the stress that they pose in the central nervous system. This in turn plays a role in igniting the stimulation. It creates lust due to the aphrodisiac properties that affect the aspect of celibacy and leads man to temptation. On the contrary Ayurveda in fact recommends onion and garlic as a tonic for men who are losing their sexual potency or have high nervous tension during sex.
In ancient scriptures there is a little legend about the origin of garlic and onion. Lord Vishnu as Mohini was serving ambrosia, the nectar of eternal life to the Devas (gods) and the asuras (demons). It was then that he decided to play a trick to deny the demons the sacred nectar.
He handed out the demons ordinary water in place of the elixir. This was detected by the demon called Rahu. He decided to hide between Lord Surya, the solar deity and Lord Chandra, the lunar deity to get his share of the nectar. The two gods realized that it was Rahu sitting between them and at once informed Mohini.
At that very instant the nectar had reached Rahu’s mouth and not his stomach. Upon realizing this, the Lord used his sudarshan chakra and decapitated the demon. Rahu asura’s neck fell on the earth with a thunderous sound. From the demon’s flesh emerged blooms of onions, garlic and other alliaceous plants. Hence, eating onion and garlic is similar to eating flesh.
This is the reason as to why vegetarians are advised not to consume the same. A combination of nectar and demonic flesh is the reason for its manifestation into an aphrodisiac.
Whether you consider the myths of yore or the scientific truths of Ayurveda, both throw light on the fact that onions and garlic do nothing special for the body. Instead they cause much harm. So make sure to use other great spices in your cooking like ginger, fennel, cumin, turmeric, coriander and more, than opting for these two dangerous ones.