• By Swami Sivananda
  • March 2002

Fast Cure 

Fast & its Importance

Fast & its Importance
Fast and eliminate (all filth).
Fast and cleanse.
Fast and vitalize
Fast and conserve (energy).
Fast and cure (all diseases).
Fast and pray.
Fast and meditate.

Man’s foremost duty is to do Sadhana for the realization of god. For Sadhana, a sound body and a sound mind are most essential. Fasts help a great deal in keeping the body in the best state of health. With all the best possible precautions, it is very difficult to avoid committing mistakes in regard to the food that we take. A man with a great self-control may be moderate in food; but there are various other causes, which he cannot avoid and thus his health gets impaired.

If there is the least symptom of disease in the body, it is a signal to fast for a day or two. Animals which depend only upon nature, fast naturally if there is any disease, and cure themselves by natural means, e.g., sunlight and fresh air, fast and rest.

Cold, headache, slight feverishness, a little cough, loaded colon are some of the signs of diseases, which, if neglected in the beginning, may take a serious form. To avert this impending danger, our Sastras have enjoined fasts on Ekadasi, Pradosha, Sivaratri, Poornima, Amavasya, on particular days in the week for the propitiation of particular deities. One should observe fast on any one of these days. But, as few persons are now in the habit of keeping the Indian almanac, they may observe fasts on any weekday as it suits their work and convenience.

In the present circumstances, it is very, very difficult to fast without taking anything except water, without some practice. So we must follow the golden mean of taking juice of two or three fruits mixed with a considerable quantity of water. No solid food or fleshy fruits should be taken on that day. This kind of fast is good for preservation of health.

Really fast is a fast curing agent for many of the ailments. It gives some rest to the stomach and eliminates toxins from the body. It cleanses the body and thus makes it more energetic. It can cure many diseases. Much care is required in observing long fasts. They should be observed under the guidance of an expert; otherwise if there is any mistake in their observance, there is every possibility of more harm than good being done to the system. Two or three days’ fast can be observed without the guidance of an expert; but the daily use of enema, during the fasts and for a day or two afterwards is necessary.

Short Fast Regimen: First day: Juice of an orange or Mosambi or lemon, mixed with a glass of water 2 or 3 times. Second day: the same procedure may be followed, 3 or 4 times. Third day: You may take juice as stated above, plus a cup of milk in the noon and at bedtime. Fifth day: You may take your usual meal of bread, dhal and vegetables.
In this age, when there is a great lack of self-control, a weekly fast on any day, living on fruit juice is much better and convenient; and this should be necessarily observed. Even this will be found difficult for many persons, so a half-day fast should invariably be observed by all persons. They should take fruit juice in the morning and in the noon, and have their usual meal before sunset; or they should have their usual meal in the morning and take no cooked food in the evening, and take juice of fruits mixed with water, only. By gradual practice, they should learn to fast one day in the week without taking any solid food.

Fast for over a week not only cleanses the body, but gives us more energy and power and also spiritual strength. Therefore, Sastras have praised the merits of observing Navaratri of Sri Rama, Krishna, Durga, Siva, etc.

If middle class people observe these partial or half-fasts on fruit juices only, they will save much of their troubles and doctor’s bills. Tea and coffee should be avoided not only on fasting days, but also even after the fast, if possible.

The Ekadasi, the Sabbath Day, or Saturday, whichever suits you best, can be observed as a fasting day. Keep it at definite and regular intervals as it suits you. It gives the worldly-minded man more and more happiness just as the sage, who has nothing to ask for. It gives him altogether a different kind of health. It is absurd to imagine that you are growing weak for want of food. Indirectly you grow stronger day by day both physically and mentally through fasting.

Physically your system has had an overhaul more than what an intelligent doctor can do for you. Mentally you have more concentration, and more resisting capacity. You improve in firmness; there is more capacity to withstand the physical disturbances of any kind, illness, fatigue and any disease.

Fasting gives clearness of insight into subjects, a mirror for the vision; it bestows in the human machine an activity all anew. You must hear a course of discourses by a man who has practiced fast. You somehow develop awe, you have an inexplicable liking for him for no reason and you are proud of having him in your presence all for the Divinity that has unconsciously crept into him without his knowledge. All of a sudden, you are forced to think for a while as to why you should not practice such a practice in the immediate future. A man with a genuine practice of fast at regular intervals has clear-cut thoughts, an expression all his own, an imagination which others cannot excel. His ideal can only be Divinity. His aim in life can only be Immortality. The ego stands nowhere before him. His thoughts are sublime and firm. His actions are diligent. There is a transcendental glow in him. He has the kingdom of god on earth in his own personality. He never wounds the feelings of others. His ideas are rays of light in the darkness of human life in everyday world.

Fast Cure

Fasting is Nature’s curative agent. It can restore health where everything else has failed. It gives Nature a chance to clean the system.  

Fasting means total abstinence from all food, both liquid and solid. Therefore taking of fruit juice and coffee goes against fasting.

Water is not food. Therefore it does not stimulate the appetite. During fasting drink plenty of water. This will drive away weakness.

If you overwork, you need perfect rest. If you continue to overwork without rest, the whole system will break down. Even so, the stomach and other digestive organs need rest. If they are overworked on account of overfeeding, various diseases of the digestive apparatus will develop.

If the sewer system of a city gets clogged up they flush it with water. If your system gets clogged up, do the same thing. Stop eating. Drink plenty of water often. Flush the intestines.

When your motorcar goes out of order very frequently, you send it to the workshop and have it completely overhauled. When you take it out, it runs like a new car. Even so is fasting. Fasting thoroughly overhauls the system and gives new vigor and strength. This body-motor-car will runs smoothly without disease.

There in lies the difference between fasting and starvation. Fasting is a religious abstinence from food. It is giving up of food when there is no real hunger, to eliminate poison and accumulated filth from the system and to allow Nature to do its work of healing vigorously and satisfactorily. Through fasting you remove diseases and regain perfect health, vigor and vitality. Prana is vivified by fasting. Life-spark is rekindled by fasting. In starvation there is hunger. It is affliction with hunger.

If you stuff your stomach with food when there is no hunger, it is a physiological sin. You go against Nature. Nature will punish you seriously. Therefore fast and pray. Do not overload. Observe moderation in diet always (Mitahara). You will he happy and healthy.

Fasting is a vitalizing agent. It fills the system with new vigor and vitality. It purifies and galvanizes the Prana or the Pranamaya Kosa (vital sheath) and makes the mind serene and tranquil. It fills the mind with Sattva or purity. The prayer-mood comes easily during fasting. Fasting starves the diseases.

He who observes fast will not feel hunger after the third day.

Fasting gives perfect rest for the overworked digestive organs. The undigested food gets digested. The digestive juices which were poor qualitatively and quantitatively regain their normal condition.

Persons become stronger day by day while fasting, because energy is conserved. The utilization of considerable amount of energy for digestion, assimilation and elimination is saved. The conserved energy builds better health.

Statistics show that people who fast most live the longest.

I can assure you, friends, that most of the ailments may be prevented or cured by moderation in diet, partial or complete fast. Dyspepsia and other digestive diseases like anorexia or loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dysentery, colic, gastritis, colitis, inflammation of the bowels and all kinds of fevers may be cured without any medicine if you observe the rules of health and hygiene, careful and judicious dieting and if you observe fasting.

Never eat unless you are really hungry, unless you can enjoy every mouthful. Beware of false appetite. The stomach will cheat you through pseudo-appetite. Never force yourself to eat. If you have no appetite it clearly indicates that the body does not require any food at that moment. To force yourself to eat simply because it happens to be mealtime is exceedingly unwise.

You must be able to differentiate habit-hunger for real hunger. Remove habit-huger by drinking water. You must know the act of cheating the stomach when it exhibits false hunger.

Complete or partial loss of appetite gives you a note of warning to stop eating and to fast. If you have a bad tongue it indicates that there is much undigested food in the digestive canal. You will have bad appetite. A good tongue denotes that your digestion is good. You will have a good appetite. The necessity of fasting is indicated by an infallible sign, lack of appetite.

Nausea or tendency to vomit, general indisposition, loose stools, anorexia, retching sensation, biliousness, feverishness these are some of the important signs of impaired or disturbed digestion. When you notice these symptoms, fast at once. This is the time for fasting. Fasting will do immense good in the early stage. Many of the serious ailments can be averted if you start fasting in the early stage. If you allow any disease to strike deep root then it will be difficult to cure it. You will have to take recourse to long fasts. The effect will be very slow.

Fast until hunger returns. The tongue usually clears along with the breath, the complexion and taste in the mouth.

Fast occasionally even though you are in good health. You will derive immense benefit. You will enjoy better health afterwards. Fasting must become habitual. Fast daily a little bit in some way or other. This will keep you in perfect health.

Give up morning breakfast. Adopt the ‘no-breakfast plan method. Stop your night meals. Continue this kind of fasting in the morning alone or in the night for some days till the digestion becomes all right.

On Ekadasi day, every fortnight, have a complete fast. Do not take even a drop of water. This will do you immense good. If it is impossible for you to remain without water drink a little water. Break the fast with coconut water or fruit juice in small quantity. Later on you can take buttermilk and vegetable soup. How you break the fast is most important. You should never, never break the fast with solid foods like parota, iddli, uppma or bread , even though you have a very good hunger. When you fast for a long time you have the stomach of a newborn baby. Remember this point well. If you thrust into the stomach heavy foods, you simply ruin the digestive apparatus or alimentary canal.

You can have a complete fast or partial fast according to the state of your health, severity of digestive disturbance and condition of disturbance of appetite, etc.

Have complete fast for two or three days or seven days. You can take a little water with lemon juice. Then live on diluted fruit juice, vegetable soup, buttermilk, coconut water, conjee-water for a week or fortnight. You will be cured of dyspepsia and other digestive troubles. Take an enema before you start the fast, and also daily during the fast. A small, simple enema of one pint of warm water will serve the purpose well.

If you have no leisure or holidays have only short fast. During vacation or privilege leave you can take long fast. You can do light work during the fast. There are some people who work hard during the forty-day fast and show no ill effects.

Even old persons can fast. They should fast. No one ever becomes too old to fast. They can observe short fasts. They will be free from diseases.

The fast should not be continued when the heart’s action becomes very slow, and you feel very, very weak.

During fasting do not entertain thoughts of food. You will not get the benefits of fasting if your mind ever dwells on food. Turn your mind towards God. Entertain sublime, divine thoughts.

During fasting the tongue will be thickly coated. This indicates that the process of recovery is being hastened to a very great degree. The breath is foul. This is a sign that the impurities are being eliminated through the lungs.

During the fasting days and when you break the fast do not take pulses, ghee, nuts and other foodstuffs, which are difficult to digest. Take only light, non-stimulant, bland diet.

If you have a tendency to vomit while fasting, drink plenty of water. The water can be flavored with a little lemon juice. Take enema. If vomiting persists break the fast slowly and properly.

A fast can be broken at any time. But if you break the fast before hunger appears naturally, you will not realize the maximum benefits of a fast.

When you break a fast take fresh grape or orange juice or pomegranate juice, just a teaspoonful to begin with. Increase the dose gradually each hour up to a glassful.
After the fast is properly broken and also during the breaking period, you may have a tendency towards constipation, but later on this will completely vanish. That is the reason why a fruit diet should be strictly adhered to for the first few days after breaking fast.

If the fast is broken improperly and the stomach is overloaded by eating too much and too heavy a type of food stuff you become bloated and swollen after breaking a long fast. To get rid of this, fast again. Take one or more enemas daily and hot baths. When swelling vanishes break the fast; this time slowly and properly.

Give up the erroneous notion that fasting weakens your body or thereby you lose your strength. On the contrary, it is the most effective and drugless method of revitalizing your system and rebuilding health. Therefore, take recourse to fast-cure and be healthy forever.

Diet After Fasting

After a short fast, 3 to 6 days.

1st Day: Three or four meals of choice fresh citrus fruit.
2nd Day: Light soups or a milk diet in moderation (half pint of warm milk 3 or 4 times daily).
Following days: Gradually work on into the regular diet, so that in a number of days equal to the length of your fast you will be ready for regular eating.
After a fast from 6 to 10 days.

1st Day: Three or four meals of fresh fruit only, or juice of tomatoes, berries or melons in moderate quantity.

2nd Day: same.
Following Days: Light soups or a milk diet in moderation (half a pint of warm milk 3 or 4 times daily).
After a fast of 7 to 14 days.

First Two Days: Break the fast on any fresh fruit juice. At the next meal eat choice fresh fruits such as orange, apple, pomegranate, grapes, etc., moderately. Take 3 or 4 meals, each four or five hours apart. Take 8 ounces quantity each time.

Third Day: Light soups, some fruits, and half a pint of warm milk or buttermilk at each mealtime.

Fourth Day: Three Green salads, cooked light vegetables, sweet fruit, half a pint of milk twice or thrice daily, a little soup.

Fifth Day: Three meals of fresh fruit and milk. Buttermilk can be taken. It is easier to digest than milk.

At any time after this:
The usual diet may be returned to gradually increasing the quantity.
After a fast of two weeks to twenty-one days.

First Day: Three meals of fruit juice, 4 to 6 ounces.

Second Day: Three or four meals of same, 6 to 8 ounces.

Third Day: Fresh fruits for each meal.

Fourth Day: Fresh fruits for each meal or half a pint of milk or buttermilk 3 or 4 times a day or eat light soups at meal times.

Fifth Day: Three light meals, either fresh fruit or soup.

Sixth or Seventh Day: Vegetables and whole-wheat cereal, noon and evening.

Following Days: Gradually work up from fruit, milk and vegetables to normal meals.
After a fast of 21 to 40 days or longer.

Follow the same program as for 14 to 21 days’ fast.

But take smaller amounts of food for the first two or three days. Take fruit juices on the third and fourth day. Take smaller amounts of food at each feeding for the first 3 or 4 days.

Barley water, barley gruel, rice water, vegetable soup or broth may be taken in 4 to 6 ounces. Later on cereal preparations made with milk may be taken.

The overuse of milk or the taking of too much food too soon may cause the body to bloat. To remove this condition reduces the quantity. Wait a few days before going on the milk diet. Fast again and go without water. Take enemas. Then break the fast properly.

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