Hinduism is Greater Science, in every aspect of life.
It does not serve food, just to fill the void in our stomachs; but to fill the subtler, deeper void of our lives.
Supreme Pontiff of Hinduism (SPH) Jagatguru Mahasannidhanam His Divine Holiness Bhagavan Nithyananda Paramashivam reveals the greater science of how not just food, but life itself is digested in the intestine(Stomach). It now explains why almost all spiritual hindu practices are coupled with fasting or other dietary alterations, to reduce the load on our intestines, and digest life at a deeper level.
Hindus achieved great breakthroughs in various fields due to our increased ability to cognise and digest life and its happenings, and this was because of our unique style of eating.
SPH enlightens the masses on the uniqueness of Agamic Food/ Food as per Hinduism,
“A PERSON WHO ENJOYS ONLY THROUGH THE TONGUE IS ROGI (SICK). YOU WILL EAT, GRAB, SWALLOW EVERYTHING WHICH MAKES YOU SICK JUST BECAUSE IT TASTES VERY GOOD HERE (TONGUE).
PERSON WHO ENJOYS USING THE WHOLE INTESTINE IS YOGI. ANYTHING WHICH DOES GOOD TO YOUR INTESTINE AND WHOLE SYSTEM, IF YOU START ENJOYING IT, YOU ARE YOGI.
YOGIS HAVE DEVELOPED A UNIQUE EATING STYLE WHICH IS TASTY AND HEALTHY – THAT IS WHAT IS THE AGAMIC FOOD”
It is this Unique style of eating that is revealed by Paramashiva himself in the Bhagashastra, the Hindu cookbook.
Bhagashastra takes an all-rounded approach and addresses every aspect of cooking- properties of ingredients, their impact on our health, size and shape of utensils, mind-set of cooks and also 400+ recipes of traditional Hindu delicacies.
Much to our ignorance, food that we eat today is more ‘food-like’. A large percentage of toxic chemicals are added into our food right from crop cultivation/animal rearing, to preservation and elongation of shelf life, and the use of modern cookware. These have all indeed reduced the cooking hours in our day, but we pay off with a lifetime of battling toxins in the guise of deadly diseases.
Kailasa’s Nithyananda Annalaya feels responsible to educate the world on the importance of right practice of cooking and eating and to support them with the sacred science preserved in Bhaga Shastra. Towards this goal, we document and present various segments of the Bhagashastra scripture in an understandable user-friendly way for viewers to read and apply in their homes.
Bhaga Shastra is in every way a book on the science of cooking. And, kitchen management too! No aspect of food is ignored in this great text, revealed to the world by Paramasiva Himself. From safe food storage till they reach the kitchen, to how each item is to be cooked and consumed, the hands which cook the food and the doshas that are associated with contaminated food, and so on, are all addressed in the Bhaga Shastra.
Annapoorna! Amritsar Golden Temple Langar. Below-Jagannath Puri dry MahaPrasad in a bamboo basket!
The authenticity of the Bhaga Shastra lies in the fact that most of its recommendations and all its recipes are practiced to this day in traditional kitchens, especially in rural India. Temple mega kitchens which serve food or prasada to 1000s of pilgrims everyday still cook food by traditional methods – these include the world famous temple kitchens of Lord Jagannatha at Puri, Odisha, Sri Krishna temple and Sri Manjunatheshwara temple in Coastal Karnataka, Meenakshi temple at Madurai and Ranganathar temple in Srirangam, both in Tamil Nadu, Sharada Devi temple at Sringeri, Karnataka, to name a few.
In this section we will examine traditional methods of food storage, that is practiced to this day in many rural communities across India as also in temple mega kitchens.
A relic from the past – remains of one of the earliest granaries in India
For many millennia the large land mass called Bharata was the richest civilization in the world and was referred to, in historical and travel records, as the land of mystics and of “milk and honey”. The economy was agrarian sustaining large temple based societies and communities. Despite successive waves of invaders who looted, plundered and destroyed temples and laid waste the land, Indian civilization thrived and continued to contribute as high as 25% of the world’s GDP. This was right up until the British occupied India in about the 1700s CE after which the economy nosedived and India has never been the same again.
Like every other knowledge system in the world, which have their roots in India’s civilizational past, the British learnt the nuances of agriculture from India and then surreptitiously transferred the knowledge to their own shores and thereon to the rest of the West (and, like everything else, a truth they do not acknowledge to this day!). In other words, India taught agriculture to the world, as it did science, maths, astronomy, astrology, philosophy, mind sciences such as yoga, pranayama, meditation, medicine, surgery … this list can go on.
For now, let us get to agrarian product storage as this was essential for the large kitchens that fed the joint families of the time.
Cereals and legumes, together referred to as grains, are the most important elements in the dietary needs of most of the world. Food grains are the most common durable food commodities usually stored to provide food and feed reserves as well as seed for planting. The major grain crops cultivated in India include rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, various kinds of beans, kidney bean, mung bean, and different kinds of lentils or dals such as urad, mung, masur, tur, soya, etc.
Storage practices differ and there are small or big storehouses, indoor or outdoor, temporary or permanent and individual or community storage design. They are traditional methods of storage which have been used since time immemorial, as they have been found to be scientific and have been handed down from generation to generation, through direct knowledge transfer.
Certain traditional methods of grains storage practices are unique to the villages down to the communities’ level. These indigenous practices originate from the cultural connection with specific environmental conditions and are based on these societies having intimate consciousness of their environment. It is estimated that 60–70% of food grains produced in India are stored at home level in traditional structures either in threshed or unthreshed forms.
Scientific storage meant making storage containers that are a repellant for all kinds of pests, termites, rodents as also to outlast the vagaries of nature and climatic changes.
Methods of Food Storage
The process of heating grain in the sun to kill insects is called solarization. The solarisation time is varied based on the products, the dried grains are chewed to determine whether the grains are dried to satisfactory level. Solarized grains are for food consumption, as the sun drying process does not make the grains viable for seeding. The grains are sun-dried on the bare ground or in bamboo mats, on rooftops, etc. to reduce the moisture content and kill the most infective agents.
- Straw Bins:
Paddy straw is used for building this type of storage structure. It is dried properly, specially prepared, kept straight and the dried straw is woven to form rope concentrically arranged over a large area with the bark of Erythrina indica and Erythrina variegata placed along with the straw. To place grains inside this structure, they are mixed with sifted ash before being placed in the straw bin, thereafter the straw ropes are folded over the grains. Seed viability of grains stored in the straw bin can last for upto two years.
- Earthen or Mud Pots
This is the most common mode of short term storage and also the most cost effective, viz. found in farming communities across India which follow traditional methods of agriculture. These pots vary in size and shape, have a small base, a narrow mouth and a wide middle. These earthen pots are used to store threshed food grains ranging from 5 kgs to as high as 1500 kgs!
Grains stored in these pots are first sun-dried on a platform, mat or directly on a cleared ground, so that the stored grains do not absorb moisture in the pot. The mouth is covered by an earthen plate that fits into the opening and the lid is sealed with mud. It is common practice to top these pots with straw to airtight the grains, before they are sealed with a lid. These pots are easy to construct with locally available material which keep the grains cool, are easy to fill and discharge the grain and are made airtight to prevent moisture and pests as well.
Bamboo bins were the common mode of storage in Southern India. They are made from bamboo splits, straw, palm/palm fronds closely intertwined or wooden planks to form a narrow opening at the top in the conical shape like a pyramid. The base on which the structure is erected is made up of bricks or stones 2–3 ft above the ground level. Straw and thatch are fixed on the wooden skeleton using ropes. The top of the structure is covered with ginger grass straw mat and thatch to prevent rainwater from damaging the structure and stored grains. The structure is plastered with mud or clay to make it somewhat air tight and provide an impervious coating that will deny even small insect pests access to the stored grains; the exterior can also be fortified with cow dung. The ginger grass acts as a deterrent to insects and this kind of storage enables sterilizing from the UV rays in solar radiation.
- Earthen Pot Pile
Is similar to earthen pot storage, except that these are for smaller quantities of grain and usually kept in a corner of the kitchen for immediate use. The pots fit exactly one over another in such a way there is no gap left, which prevents insects from entering into the stored grains. The smallest pot on the top is covered by an earthen lid sealed with a thick cloth, mud or clay and cow dung to ensure proper alignment into the opening. Grains stored in this method have to be removed and sun dried once again about every 6 months.
These pots are placed over woven rings made of dried banana leaf or woven bamboo to prevent moisture from entering the pots from the floor.
- Raised Platform Storage
Example of an open raised platform storage, called Padi, from Dakshina Kannada District
This traditional method is used to store grains on a raised platform to reduce moisture, prevent rodents, kill larvae, insects and pests. It is built in the open space with strong or hard-forked sticks about 1 m high, crossed with split bamboo and other hard sticks. Straw mats, bamboo mats etc. are spread on the platform. The legs of the raised platform are shielded with rodent proof. Unthreshed food grains are sometimes spread evenly or heaped on the platform and this also allows air to pass over the grain and helps it dry better.
The high temperature due to direct solar radiation continually heats up the grains which reduce the moisture content which may also kill the developing larvae in the seeds thus preventing insect infestation. In some places, where conditions are humid, fires could be lit under upright platforms, to reduce the moisture content of the produce and discourage insects or other pests. At sunset, farmers cover grains stored thus with mats to prevent moisture from sudden rains, morning dew, etc. Under this storage method, shading, ventilation, and regular inspection are essential. Such open platform storage is not used during the monsoons or rainy season.
Inside a traditional kitchen, similar effect is achieved when grains for immediate use are stored in pots and hung over the fireplace and which is sustained for a long time due to the warmth of the hearth.
- Underground Pit Storage
Underground grain storage is done by farmers in an agro-ecological zone with low water table for long duration storage of large quantities of threshed grains such as cowpea, millets, sorghum ranging from 1000 kg to 200 tons. The underground pit is dug between 1–3 m deep and 1–3 m diameter in a round or square form and insulated or lined with straw mat or corn husk. Such types of pits can be traced back to the beginning of farming in the area.
The sides and bottom of this pit are packed with straw and husk; threshed grains are filled with bags and loaded into the pit and after loading, wooden planks are placed to cover the pit and thereafter covered by an iron sheet (now polythene too). Then a layer of husk and heap of sand are used to conceal the pit or by a stone sealed with mud or by placing thorns around the pit as a protection from animals. Grains stored in this structure are protected against insect infestation due to reduced oxygen level; because of the pit depth it keeps the grain cool and storage duration could be between 1 and 5 years without opening. Once opened, all the stored grains must be emptied. The advantage of pit storage is its low cost and maintenance and is effective against agrarian pests of all kinds.
- Basket Storage
Traditional basket storage like the below two figures are found in the North Eastern state of Nagaland.
Obeh (below) is a traditional storage structure used primarily by farmers in the Senapati district of Manipur, for the storage of unthreshed rice. These storage structures are made from bamboo sticks interwoven tightly to create an airtight compartment. The structure in appearance looks like an oval shaped storage platform in which the lower portion is in the form of square and tapers on the top. The unthreshed rice is offloaded through the removable roof.
Traditional Pest Control
The practice of mixing natural products as pest control for long term storage of food grains dates back to antiquity. Being cheap and readily available, farmers perceive that natural products possess repellence, anti-feeding and ovipositional deterrence, fumigant or contact activity, growth inhibition etc., and use them against storage of agri-pests. In this practice farmers mix pulverized plant parts with the grains in the storage container(s), the irritating odor emanating from these products repel insects from infesting the produce. Using the natural products/botanicals grains could be stored up to a year.
“There are empirical reports or findings on the utilization of Acorus calamus, A. indica, Pongamia glabra, Artemisia species, Citrus aurantium, Curcuma longa, Khya senegalensis, Caspicum species, etc., for the management of stored grains insect pest.”
Seeds meant for next season sowing are stored with cow dung after the seeds have been properly dried. Rural farmers believe that cow dung possesses pesticidal properties to protect such seeds from insect infestation. They also believe that cow dung immunostimulant properties increased seed viability. For seeds to be stored in cow dung, farmers collect fresh cow dung, flatten it into a pancake and embed the seeds into the cow dung. These cow dung cakes and then sun dried for 2–3 days depending on the intensity of the sunlight. In the process of sun drying, the seeds get stuck onto the cow dung and they are then stored in the open or inside a wooden box. Seeds treated this way can be stored for up to a year.
In conclusion, all food grains storage practices and methods above are cheap, eco-friendly, with a considerable high shelf life to store food grains, effectively reduce or suppress insect infestation. These methods have come down from times immemorial, passed down from generation to generation, and have stood the test of time. They defy large warehouse based modern methods of chemical pesticide mode of grain storage, so much so that Western societies are experimenting and exploring these methods to adopt in their own countries!