What Food Does a Jain Eat

Find details on Jain diet, Jain foods and the dietary restrictions in Jainism. Know Jain mantra, (Navkar) Namokar Mantra and its meaning in English and Hindi.
A Jain diet is a strict vegetarian diet. Jains believe in giving minimum amount of harm to plants and animals. A Jain diet is based on the fact that a simple natural diet will help keep their mind pure and peaceful.

Types of Food

The type of food we eat influence our mind and body. Three types of foods can be mentioned.

Mahavir Bhagwan
  1. Sattvic Food
    Sattvic foods keeps the body in a peaceful state, calms mind, enable our mind to function at full potential. Fresh fruit, fruit juices, vegetables, cereals, whole-grains, legumes, lentils, milk,,nuts and seeds are sattvic foods.
  2. Tamasic Food
  3. Rajasic Food
    Rajas foods are very hot, bitter, sour, dry or salty. These foods are stimulating and destructive to mind-body equilibrium, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Very hot spices, herbs, coffee, tea, fish, eggs, salt and chocolate falls under this category.
    Tamasic foods are destructive to the mind and body, making a person angry and greed. They destroy the body's resistance to disease. Meat, alcohol, tobacco, fermented foods, overripe foods are tamasic foods.

Namokar Mantra in Hindi

ॐ नमो अरिहंताणं ।
ॐ नमो सिद्धाणं ।
ॐ नमो अायरियाणं ।
ॐ नमो उवज्झायाणं ।
ॐ नमो लोए सव्वसाहूणं ।
ऐसो पंच नमोक्कारो
सव्व पावप्पणासणो ।
मंगलाणं च सव्वेसिं,
पढमं हवई मंगलं ।

Namokar Mantra

Mantra LineMeaning
Namo Arihantanam
ॐ नमो अरिहंताणं
I bow down to Arihanta, (Arihanta means a destroyer of the enemies.)
Namo Siddhanam
ॐ नमो सिद्धाणं
I bow down to Siddha (Siddhas are the liberated souls. They have reached the ultimate highest state, salvation)
Namo Ayariyanam
ॐ नमो अायरियाणं
I bow down to Acharya, (Spiritual leaders.)
Namo Uvajjhayanam
ॐ नमो उवज्झायाणं
I bow down to Upadhyaya, (This title is given to those Sadhus who have acquired a special knowledge and teach Jain scriptures to sadhus and sadhvis.)
Namo Loe Savva-sahunam
ॐ नमो लोए सव्वसाहूणं
I bow down to Sadhu and Sadhvi
Eso Panch Namokaro
ऐसो पंच नमोक्कारो
These five bowings down
सव्व पावप्पणासणो
Destroy all the sins
Manglananch Savvesim
मंगलाणं च सव्वेसिं
Amongst all that is auspicious
Padhamam Havei Mangalam
पढमं हवई मंगलं
This Navkar Mantra is the foremost.

Lifestyle of Jains

  1. The Jains aim to cause least harm to other creatures and also to the environment. This is due to their faith in ahimsa (non- violence). Jain believe in "ahimsa", not only in policy but follow in day to day living. Hence the practice of strict vegetarianism, walking shoulder to should with all castes and creeds of the world, and following it in entire everyday life.
  2. Jains believe in "Live and Let Live".
  3. Jains believe in "forgiveness". They have kept one day specifically to preach/pray forgiveness, known as kshama-yachana day. This day is the last day of the 10 days of "Samvatsri" (or also known as Duslakshni, pajushan/parvushan). On the previous day of kshama-yachana day, Jains keep fast (nothing to eat for 24 hours) and some even keeps maun vrat (complete silence, not to utter a single word for 24 hours).
    On kshama-yachana day, a Jain will seek forgiveness for everybody -youngers, elders, parents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, all relatives, friends and neighbours. They would fold their hands and say something like this:

    "Please forgive me if I have hurt your heart or feelings by my man (mind, thoughts), vachan (speech) and kaya (physical body), knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly. I am praying this forgiveness from all the lives (not only humans, but also animals, all creatures, plants) on this universe!"

    Kshama-yachana and the policy of "live and let live" is very significant in today's world.
  4. True Jains try to eat only Sattvic foods so that they always remain calm and peaceful. This food help them to follow Ahimsa.
  5. The Jains are not supposed to eat after sunset because it is believed that it would cause the death of minute microorganisms that emerge in the dark.
  6. Forbidden Foods for Jains: The forbidden foods for Jains are eggs, fish, honey, figs and meat. Many strict Jains do not eat foods like onions, potatoes, garlic throughout their lives, while others abstain from these foods during Chaturmash. The onions and garlic increase sexual desires, while root vegetables like potatoes may have millions of bacterias and also smaller insects are killed during their harvest.
  7. All hot drinks like wine, beer, etc.

Above are rules for true Jains. However, the degree to which it is followed depends on individuals, and their eating habits.

Chaturmash in Jainism

The four monsoon months are known as Chaturmash in Jainism. Chaturmash is considered to be months of abstinence, fasting and "purification". During these months proliferation of life is very rampant in plants, insects, microscopic bacteria and organisms. Hence, the Jains abstain from consumption of foods derived from these.

During these months Jains abstain from onions, garlic, leafy vegetables (known as lilothri, potatoes , yam (ratalu) and any other root vegetables. They mostly eat vegetable curries made from dried ingredients like pulses, dehydrated vegetables; and the foods are cooked in a sattvic way wisth very less spices and ghee or oil.

Substitutes of Foods and Foods to eat during Chaturmash

  1. Substitute of potato: raw banana - boil, chop, smash, grate. Dried potato chips or fingers can be used to cook vegetables.
  2. Onions: chopped stir-fried cabbage in place of stir-fried onions.
  3. Ginger root: dry ginger powder.
  4. Garlic: ajwain, cinnamon.
  5. Green leafy vegetables: dried green vegetables like dry leaves of methi.
  6. Vegetables: dried vegetables like dried chopped lauki, tori, beans, bhindi, etc.
  7. Foods Suggestion: vegetables like rajma, lobia, moong, ker, saangri, kumtia, gunda, ghaat, karba, ghatte ki sabzi, badi (badiya), pithod ki sabzi, papad ki sabzi, chana dal, dal-dhokli, da-bati, dal-chawal, khichidi, imli ka raita, chile ka raita, roti, khich/dalia, etc. Most of these foods are popular in Rajasthan and Gujrat.

While eating in Restaurants or takeaway foods, jains should know what they should look for. You may find non-vegetarian foods in vegetarian meals.

Also look for Vegetarian Food Pyramid.

Jain Recipes for Chaturmash

All the recipes on this web site are vegetarian low calorie recipes. Some of the recipes are given below that Jains can use during Chaturmash. The following recipes are general vegetarian recipes so during Chaturmash, you should avoid any of the forbidden ingredients used in them.

  1. Dalia (Daliya) recipe
  2. Khichari (Khichadi) recipe
  3. Patolia recipe
  4. Chana rice pulao
  5. Rice pulav or biryani
  6. Ghat recipe
  7. Chana Besan Curry recipe
  8. Chole recipe
  9. Moong dal Khakhara recipe
  10. Rajmah recipe
  11. Methi - Chana vegetable recipe
  12. Maa ki dal recipe
  13. Indian quick and simple desserts, Almost all the Indian desserts/sweets.

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