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The Jain Food Philosophy and its influence on India

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Jainisim is governed with the idea of non-violence or ahimsa.  This high ideal has had a tremendous influence on India's cuisine resulting in India's glorious vegetarian culture

Jainism is a very evolved philosophy and a very gentle religion.  Many Jains have very soft and peaceful souls and very simple lives and they command respect wherever they go.  This philosophy was also seen as having many good ideals by ancient India and many of its principles have been naturally incorporated into Hinduism and India's culinary culture.

Jainism takes non violence to a very strict level and respect life at any level including plant life.   They make sure that there lifestyle does not cause injury to anyone.  Gandhiji has been influenced greatly by this philosophy and in turn influencing Martin Luther King to resort to non violence.

As a result of this the Jain diet consists of grains like wheat, rice, lentils or pulses and beans, oil-seeds are recommended as they fall under the category of non-injurious food. They are yielded only when their plants get dried of their own after their age ends.  Fruits and vegetables that become ripe on the plants or branches of trees or those that fall on their own after becoming ripe, are used for food.

Jains are strict vegetarians and many also avoid root vegetables as it is violent to plants. They also avoid any liquor so they can live a mindful life. Other aspects of their food philosophy is that they regularly offer food to poor people, fast on certain days, do not waste any food, drink filtered water and eat after sunrise and before sunset.

In Jain conduct, uneatables are stated to be of five kinds:
Articles involving injury or death of mobile-beings e.g. Meat.
Articles involving injury or death to many creatures
E.g. Root vegetables as they involve destruction of countless one-sensed beings.
Intoxicants e.g. Wine etc.
Articles not worthy of use e.g. Saliva, Stool, and Urine.
Deprecables Articles causing harm to the health are uneatables of the fifth category.

Jain ideas can be traced back to the seventh century B>C> in India, though it was Mahavir Jain who formalized the philosophy of what was to be known as Jainism in the sixth century. Mahavira, most likely born around 540 BC, was a Kshatriya of high Licchavi tribal birth. At the age of 30, he renounced family life and proceed to live, for the next 12 years, as an ascetic

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The Consecration of Mahavira. Gujarat, 1404. Miniature from Jaina manuscript, the Kalpasutra. 7x10 cms. Collection: British Museum, London.

Jain Recipes

Mix vegetable dal Serves 4 to 5 persons
50 grms each moongdal, tuvar dal, urad dal, chana dal, chori, 4 pieces cloves, cimmamon, bay leaf, one small piece nutmeg, 3 cardamom small and 3 cardamom large, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander seed powder to taste four tomatoes cut into pieces.

cook all mix dals in pressure cooker with 1 liter of water. Heat oil in a pan add 4 pieces cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, one small piece nutmeg, 3 cardamom small and 3 cardamom large, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander seed powder to taste four tomatoes cut into pieces. Stir for 5 minutes and add boiled dal heat it for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Fresh Coconut curry Serves 4 to 5 Persons
2 fresh coconuts, l spoon gram flour, 1 boiled banana skinned and cut into pieces, 100 grms boiled green peas, 100 grms boiled French beans cut into small pieces, one green, red or yellow capsicum cut into pieces, oil, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, chili powder and salt to taste.

Grind coconut with two cup of water to very thin paste. Heat oil add mustard and cumin seeds. When done add coconut milk and gram flour to it. Stir for 5 to 10 minutes on low flame, add 3 glasses of water and boil for 5 minutes then add banana boiled, capsicum, French beans, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt to taste.

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