They Never Told Me ...

As I get older I think vastly differently on all aspects of living than my views when I was young. As a young man, my thoughts were restricted, rather cramped, by a monolith work environment of this the Industrial age. Thinking differently makes me observe very interesting facts. 

Like one day I was thinking about various foods. First one that came to mind was “Spinach”. Everyone knows the wonderful properties and benefits of “Spinach". Spinach protects one from all kind of diseases. One can learn about these by a click on Google searching for benefits of Spinach. It has calcium, the basis of our growth and protection. It has vitamins A, K, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamins B1, B6, B3, Zinc, Omega 3 fatty acid and anti oxidants and every leaf of spinach is packed with these and many other nutrients. In the West kids are encouraged to eat spinach with the help of the cartoon character Popeye who is shown to be a super being that thrives on Spinach. Surely one must find out from ones doctor whether any food is good for one or not, before one believes what I wrote. But, I am sure a vast majority of doctors will say that “Spinach” is a wonder food that nourishes, protects and enables one to grow and remain healthy—the best food.

I learned all this from navigating the internet. No one told me – not my father nor my mother – no one. I wondered why they had not told me about the wonderful nature and packed nutrients and benefits of Spinach. I felt sad and really thought that I was deprived about the knowledge of all these benefits for the lack of modern technology and analysis of Spinach, now available just by clicking “benefits of Spinach” on Google. Wow! I thought how lucky I am to have a Lap Top and to live in the modern society where just by a click one can find benefits of each food. 

Same thing applies to Garlic. Garlic is a wonder semi herb and semi vegetable with benefits that range from reducing cholesterol to curing acne. More than 250 publications have shown that garlic supports the cardiovascular system. It may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, inhibit platelet stickiness and slow blood coagulation. Garlic too is loaded with vitamins A, B, C, calcium, potassium, iron, the antioxidants, carotenes, germanium, and selenium plus the countless biologically active compound agents that it contains. 

I could not fathom the reason for the apparent inability of India’s ancient Vaidyas to tell the population about all these wonderful benefits and ingredients of foods such as Spinach, Garlic, Cinnamon and many others. I thought how nice it is that now with the Internet and Google we in India also can find about benefits of various foods. Although, still being sad why such an advanced and thoughtful Ayuerveda based society could not impart that knowledge to all the citizens in some easy way, so that every Indian could readily know the health benefits of various foods.

I felt sort of sorry for those who have preceded me. Yet, when I started to think about them I realized, almost all my ancestors never saw a doctor and had productive and healthy lives till the day they died. I wondered as to what was the source of their perfect knowledge about the foods they ate. They had no computer or database or dietician, no access to Twitter of Facebook or e-mail. How did they know? Well I thought they lucked out and that is that.

This story would have ended here if I had not retired and started to accompany my spouse for grocery shopping.

One day we went to an Indian farmers market, as I was watching she asked the vendor – how much for the “Paalak”? I did not pay attention to anything else that was said, because the word “Paalak” – did a magical thing. I was amazed that our Ayuervedic Vaidyas left nothing for Imagination – they did not call it “Spinach” but named it “Paalak”. That is why my father and mother and grandparents never had to tell me anything at all about “Spinach” – they knew it was called “Paalak”.

I guess they thought even a fool will be able to figure out that “Paalak” means that which protects, nourishes, makes one healthy and grow. 

Likewise they did not have to tell me the benefits of Garlic –that it may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, inhibit platelet stickiness and slow blood coagulation. They called it “Lahu-san” – that which cleans the blood.  And they did not have to tell me that a major benefit of Cinnamon is that it helps lower blood sugar – they called it “Dhaal Chini”—that which lowers sugar. Neither did they have to tell me that for those times when I suffer from flatulence or gas I can take mint. They called “Poo Dina” – you get the drift.

Garlic, Cinnamon Sticks, Mint and Egg Plant
Lahu-san, Dhaal Chini, Poodina,Baigun

I can list many foods whose names say it all. You can guess by now that I am a great believer in India’s ancient sciences, especially that of Ayurveda. As such during my search for India’s ancient ways, I found out about one of the great Indians of all times who is inspiring billions - Baba Ramdev ji. I am an ardent follower of his teachings. I always wondered why he says that Egg Plant is not a good food for one’s health. Do I have to say any more than Egg Plant is called “Baigun”—that which provides no benefit!

Well so much for Google and my lap top. But then If you and I had no lap top how would I let you know about what they never told me.   

Images (c)


More by :  Kamal (Kam) Joshi

Top | Health

Views: 3468      Comments: 4

Comment I really liked all of the comments and want to make a few points.

1 . It is not a coincidence that these names of foods are so effectively selected. Also in the past , and Ayerveda is very very old, only very few foods were eaten. My grand father and his ancestors very deligently and only ate --Palak ki sabji, Arhar ki Dal, Bhat every day of the 100 yeras plus they lived and all Brahmins of his times did the same in a totally deciplined way.

"Arhar" means -- that which takes away all obstacles. Arhar is also a name of Shiv ji. All of India eats Arhar. They obviously did not have to name too many foods. It is only in the last fifty years or so that Indiands have started to eat like animals -- just about any thing anywhere any time.

By the way most other foods were brought to India by invaders who enslaved us --like Potato, Matar, Tamatar , Masoor Dal and many more.

People of old times ate in silence , always at the same place at the same time, alone, after prayers and the same food every day-- they died in peace and happily. They ate only to live and did not eat to live. Their colons were sqeaky clean.

Today the ingredients of every food are listed -- like beef has so many wonderful ingredients -- but I woould not touch it with a thousand foot pole. The down side of eating beef is also a hundred mile long list. Same it appears is true of eggplant or Brinjal.

As far as the root language is concerned -- " Arhar" is the name of Shiv ji, "Palak" the name of Lord Krishna so the foods were named after these rather than the names originated after foods.

09-Aug-2010 01:15 AM

Comment I suppose this can open up a debate if the author can also touch on the words like "gaajar", "mooli", kathal, lauki, bhindi, dhania, adrak, khajoor and what have you, unless the few examples of Hindi words used in the article coincidently relate to the "healthy" meaning so given.

06-Aug-2010 18:36 PM

Comment Although the article deals with Health, I think it has more of a flavor of the languages, specifically Hindi where the words like "Paalak" or "Lahu-San" or "Dhaal Chini" or "Poo Dina" [I think I just farted! ] and "Baigun"inspite of beings names of vegetaable /spice explain how the root and the derivative is formed in the language. Also exemplifies the concent of "Naam - Rupa". Nice article though. Keep it up.

Roy D'Costa
06-Aug-2010 14:11 PM

Comment Dear Joshi Ji,

Thanks for this informative article. I would like to tell you that even though Brinjal is known as 'Baigun' - it has many nutritional benefits.

Please peruse these sites to know more.

Kind Regards,
A. Chatterjee

~ Always Aparna ~
06-Aug-2010 09:58 AM

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