Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Puffed Rice And Not Rice Are Offered To Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha is shown with big tummy and craving for eating sweets (ladoo or modakas) and puffed rice.

Both sweets and rice are addicting in nature and consuming them regularly can lead to metabolic syndrome which presents with diabetes and high blood pressure. In Hindu mythology for this reason it is said to avoid eating carbohydrates atleast once in a week.

Ganesha is in each one of us depicting our inherent weakness for eating carbohydrates.  To prevent metabolic syndrome Ganesha is shown to consume Bilva leaves, Durva grass juice, fruits of elephant apple and Jamun, all having anti diabetic and insulin sensitizing properties.

Ganesha is also shown to be eating puffed rice and not plain rice. Puffed rice is a safer carbohydrate than plain rice.

The importance of puffed rice is mentioned in many places in mythology. The main mention comes in Kubera Ganesha interaction in one of the Purana (Vedic message in the form of stories) story.

Kubera (the god of wealth) became proud of his wealth and invited child Ganesha for a meal. Ganesha increased his appetite so much that there was nothing else to eat. When Kubera made Shiva to intervene, Shiva gave Ganesha a handful of puffed rice, which he ate, and immediately his hunger was suppressed.

This teaches us two Vedic lessons. Firstly that handful of puffed rice given with love and eaten with devotion is more important and filling than all the wealth of Kubera flaunted to impress others.

Secondly that a man of perfection (Ganesha) has an endless appetite for experiences. Lord Shiva, the perfect Guru, alone can satisfy the hunger of such devotee by giving them a handful of “puffed rice”, representing the “baked vasanas”, burnt in the fire of knowledge’. Only when the lust is burnt up the enthusiasm for experiencing life is quietened.

The spiritual message is that one should learn to control the lust and burn it in the fire of knowledge.

In mythology the symbolic representation of rice is for lust (attachments, desires and greed) and puffed rice for baked lust.   Rice is equated to lust being a carbohydrate with high glycemic index and proneness to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Apart from carbohydrates lust can also be for sex, cigarettes, alcohol and narcotics. The answer for any lust is either to discard the lust or to think before getting indulging in it.

Medically also puffed rice is better than plain rice. Puffed rice or murmura is to rice what popcorn is to maze. Puffed rice however lacks the essential amino acid lysine and therefore is not a complete meal by itself. It is about 10 times the volume of regular rice. A cup of plain puffed rice contains only 20-25 calories. Puffed rice is recommended healthy snack and healthy fast food for preventing diabetes. It is light, dry and gives a feeling of fullness. It is also gluten-free.

In mythology puffed rice has been mentioned at many other places also.

1.When Sudama went to meet Krishna he carried puffed rice as a gift which Krishna relished. Puffed rice indicates a healthy gift and that only a person who has controlled his lust can meet Krishna the consciousness.

2.Ramakrishna has been mentioned having his first spiritual ecstasy at the age of six or seven while eating puffed rice. Spiritually again it means that only those can achieve spiritual ecstasy who have mastered lust.

3.In marriage rituals also both bride and groom are required to offer puffed rice into the fire. The spiritual message is again that both groom and bride need to leave their lust before they enter into a new relationship. This is again shown in another marriage ritual Laaja Homam where the bride with the assistance of her brothers makes offerings of puffed rice into the sacred fire.

4.In Buddhist mythology puffed rice also depicts the end “one who cannot be reborn” and puffed rice is used at funerals. Puffed rice represents rice that cannot be grown again.

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