I was having lunch with a colleague, and as I waited for him to join me at the table with the food ordered from the café, I was surprised to find that he was having only fruit slices for lunch. Being a good eater myself, I asked him what the matter was, and he said, between mouthfuls, that he was fasting today since it was Shivaraathri. He went on to add disapprovingly, still between mouthfuls, that they – the caterers – did not offer any upvaas food on this occasion. (Did you notice the oxymoron in “upvaas food”?)
It’s sometimes really funny what we do in the name of God. We observe fasts in deference to Him; we also feast, delighting in His victory over evil (ignore, for a moment, that God has no good or evil, since He is above all attributes). Is it normal that human beings can starve themselves as well as gorge themselves in the name of one Divine entity? Does it even make sense?
My take on fasts is that they are useful for us, humans, in two ways:
- they help us keep our taste buds in check
- they give our digestive system a break from their daily, almost non-stop routine
- they’re useful in developing some sort of self-control
What do you think? Is there any hope for human beings at all in the light of such oddball behaviour?