Consuming food, water etc. at night is strictly prohibited in the Jain Dharma. There are many reasons for this prohibition. The germs and microbes that disappear when there is sunlight do not really get destroyed; they take shelter in shadowy places and after the sunset, they enter and pervade the atmosphere. These microbes are invisible to the naked eye, get into our food. Consuming this kind of food will lead to killing of these germs and bacterias which in turn will lead to our ill health.
Our biological clock is set according to the sunrise-sunset. When the sun is right above us, our digestive fire performs at its peak. The food eaten at night time does not get properly digested since the digestive system becomes inactive during the night owing to the absence of sunlight and we face the problem of indigestion. The metabolism rate slows down during these hours as we do not indulge in any physical activity which helps in digestion. Hence, due to these reasons the food taken during night times does not get digested; and its putrefaction in the body is harmful to health. This leads to increase in weight as the undigested food gets stored in the form of fats. It also leads to foul smell in the breath, putrefaction of teeth, constipation, pain in knee joints and several diseases of the throat.
Indian Science of health has formulated a rule that after having taken food, one should drink little-little water many times. Eating food before sunset allows this practice naturally. Some scientists also say that you should avoid food atleast 3-4 hours before sleeping, so that the food gets digested properly before sleeping. A recent research in Hong Kong proves that people eating food by early evening are less prone to heart diseases.
Other scientific reasons to avoid food at night:
1. Fluctuations in Sleep Cycle:
Another important reason why you may want to avoid eating late is due to the effect it can have on your sleep cycle. Research has found that the digestive process can have serious implications on your sleep cycle, causing you to wake up more often, and have a harder time falling asleep in the first place.
2. Increased Urination and Excretion Needs:
Drinking water and eating food late night would lead to an increase in the number of times that you may need to get up to use the restroom during the night. Also, it will result in food being digested during your sleeping hours—and because of this, you may need to wake up to eliminate the waste products.
Specific food and their consequences if eaten at night:
1. High Fat food: Oily, cheese, french fries, pizzas with extra cheese, greasy food, etc. all fall into the category of high fat food which on consuming late in the night gets stored in the digestive tract.
2. Spicy snacks: Not only does eating spicy food is the worst to eat at night, but also spicy food can disrupt your sleep patterns. In addition, makes it more difficult to sleep because of the invasion of endorphins, spicy foods can also make you feel physically uncomfortable. Spicy foods can cause heartburn, stomach problems and exacerbate existing ones.
3. Caffeine: Many people already understand this to avoid caffeine at night, unless you really intend to stay awake until late at night. Most of you probably know better to avoid caffeinated coffee or tea at night, but the thing is, many foods also contain caffeine.
4. Red Meat: Red meat is one type of food that takes a very long time to digest, because a number of protein and fat found in most types of red meat. As a result, consuming red meat at night will produce endorphins which makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
5. Nuts: You must be thinking, aren’t nuts a very healthy food? Of course it’s true – beans have lots of fiber, which is undoubtedly very good for your body. Unfortunately, the fibers made of beans as the worst food to eat at night. Nuts can make digestion become uncomfortable, and again can cause stomach problems at night.
Different religious views:
1. The person who drinks alcohol, meat, eats after sunset and consumes vegetables grown under the ground; any kind of pilgrimage, prayers and any kind of rites performed by such kind of a person bears no fruit.
- Mahabharat (Rishishvarbharat)
2. The soul which eats after sunset even in the monsoons, the sins committed by him cannot be purified even if he does thousands of the “Chandrayantap”.
- Rishishvarbharat (Vaidikdarshan)
3. The soul which eats before sunset and especially in the monsoon abdicates eating after sunset; that person gets whatever he desires in this life as well as the next life.
- Yogvashisht Purvaghshlo 108
4. In the Markandpuran, it is said that after sunset drinking water is equivalent to drinking blood & eating food to eating meat.
5. The optimum daily routine for a man is to avoid eating at night since the fire required to digest the food is very weak during that period.
– Charaksanhita & Ashtanga Sangraha
6. In the ancient scriptures of the Hindus, it is said that, “चत्वारि नरक्द्वाराणि प्रथमं रात्रिभोजनम्” which means eating at night is the first doorway to hell.
Even, bees, sparrows, parrots, crows, pigeons and many other kinds of birds don’t eat after sunset.
Of all the religions in the world, the Jain Dharma is unique in examining with great care and thoughtfulness even such comparatively small matters as food and drink. The Jain dharma concentrates equally on the development of the mind, body & soul. Certain effects of food, both good and bad, fall not only on the body, but also on the mind. After all, what you eat is what you think.
Sins committed (paap) if you eat after sunset:
The amount of bad karma (paap) a person accumulates in committing a sin of killing living beings for 96 births is equal to committing a sin of drying one lake. Similarly, the amount of bad karma a person collects in drying lakes for 108 births is equal to the sin committed in burning one forest. The amount of karma which you accumulate in committing a sin of burning forests for 101 births is equal to committing a sin of doing 1 “Kuvanijya” (a business which is considered wrong morally) . The amount of karma collected in commiting a sin of doing “Kuvanijya” for 144 births is equal to falsely accusing someone for once. Similarly, the amount of karmas, one accumulates in committing the sins of falsely accusing someone for 151 births, more than that is the sin committed in having a relationship with another woman. The amount of bad karma, collected in committing a sin of having a relationship with another woman for 199 births, more than that is the sin committed in having food at night for once.
Such high is the amount of karmas which a person builds in eating after sunset for 1 day. This if you calculate with the days you have eaten after sunset in your entire life till date, the amount of karma accumulated is innumerable.
If you eat food before sunset for your entire life, you receive the fruits of fasting for half of your life. To give up eating after sunset paves the way to the doorway of heaven.
Benefits in daily life:
1. No waiting in the restaurants:
All of us have experienced that going out for dinner on a saturday / sunday evening, one has to wait outside the restaurant from 10 minutes to 1-2 hours. You keep on waiting, get tired and bored after which you don’t feel like eating. And if you have kids the situation becomes worse. People who eat before sunset don’t need to wait for a second as there are very few people who eat before sunset. Also, the service provided regarding the food quality, cleanliness and hygiene is better than the one provided after sunset in all the hassle.
2. Time for family:
If everyone in the family eats before sunset, all the household chores get completed and the women of the house have ample of time to carry out other activities and give time to their children and other family members.
There are many other benefits and advantages for eating before sunset. And thus, few people have already taken a step in this front.
Even if you are one of those who don’t believe in religion, there are some great scientific reasons to avoid food at night to stay fit & in shape!
For further reference:
1. Yogshastra by Acharya Shri Hemchandra Suriji
2. Shradha Vidhi by Acharya Shri Ratnashekar Suriji
3. Dharma Sangraha by Upadhyaya Shri Maan Vijayji
4. Secrets of Jainism