Jai: Grandma, how
do I know what foods to eat?
There are three types of foods,
Jai. (Gita 17.07-10) The foods that
bring long life, virtue, strength, health,
happiness, and joy are juicy, smooth,
substantial, and nutritious. Such health
foods are the best. They are called
Sattvik or healthy food.
Foods that are very bitter, sour,
salty, hot, oily, and acidic are called
Rajasika or undesirable foods. Such
junk foods are unhealthy, cause diseases,
and should be avoided.
Foods that are not well cooked, spoiled,
tasteless, rotten, burned, left-over,
and impure (such as meat and alcohol)
are called Tamasik or bad foods. One
should not eat such foods.
Jai: How should I
speak to others?
You should never tell a lie. Your words
should not be harsh, bitter, nasty,
or insulting. They should be sweet,
useful, and truthful. (Gita 17.15) One
who speaks politely wins the heart of
all and is liked by everybody. A wise
person should speak the truth if it
is helpful and keep quiet if it is harsh.
To help those in need is the universal
Jai: How should I
It is our duty to help those who are
less fortunate and can’t help
themselves. Help anyone who needs help,
but never expect anything in return.
Charity is not only the best, but also
the only use of wealth. We all should
help a good cause. Give back what belongs
to the world. But there are responsibilities.
Money given in charity should be earned
by lawful means. And we must make sure
that the receiver is not a person likely
to use the gift for evil purposes. (Gita
Jai: Will God give
us what we want if we sincerely pray
Full faith in God makes things happen.
There is nothing impossible for faith.
Faith works miracles. One must have
faith before starting any work. It is
said in the Gita that we can become
whatever we want to be if we always
think about it and pray to God with
faith. (Gita 17.03) Always think about
what you want to be, and your dream
can come true.
Here is a story about a crow
that had faith.
23. The Thirsty Crow
It was a hot summer day. A crow was
very thirsty. He flew from place to
place looking for water. He could not
find water anywhere. Ponds, rivers,
and lakes were all dry. The water in
the well was too deep. Crow was very
thirsty for water. He flew and flew.
He was getting both tired and thirsty,
but he did not give up the search.
At last he thought death was near and
remembered God and started to pray for
water. He saw a pitcher of water near
a house. This made him very happy as
he thought there must be water in the
pitcher. He sat on the top of the pitcher
and looked into it. To his great frustration
he found that the water was at the bottom
of the pitcher. He could see the water,
but his beak could not reach the water.
He became very sad and started to think
how he could reach the water. Suddenly
an idea came into his mind. There were
stones near the pitcher. He picked up
stones from the ground, one by one,
and started dropping them into the pitcher.
The water began coming up. Soon the
crow could reach it easily. He drank
the water, thanked God, and happily
Thus it is said, “Where
there is a will, there is a way.”
The crow did what we all should do.
He did not give up. He had faith that
his prayer would be answered.
Here is another good
24. The Rabbit and
A turtle always moves very slowly.
His friend, the rabbit, often laughed
at the slow turtle. One day, the turtle
could not bear the insults and challenged
the rabbit to run a race with him. All
the animals in the jungle laughed at
the idea because a race is usually between
equals. A deer volunteered to be the
The race started. The rabbit ran fast,
and soon he was ahead of the turtle.
As the rabbit came closer and closer
to the winning post, he felt sure of
winning. He looked back at the slow
moving turtle, who was far behind.
The rabbit was so sure of winning that
he thought, “I will sit under
the tree and wait for the turtle. When
he comes here, I shall run fast and
cross the finish line before he does.
This will make turtle angry, and it
will be fun to see the turtle insulted.”
The rabbit then sat under a tree. The
turtle was still far behind. A cool
wind was blowing gently. After some
time passed, the rabbit fell asleep.
When he woke up, he saw the turtle crossing
the finish line. The rabbit had lost
the race! All the animals in the jungle
were laughing at the rabbit, and he
learned a valuable lesson:
steady wins the race.”
You can succeed
in any work if you work hard with strong
faith. Be enthusiastic about what you
want, and you will get it. We are the
creation of our own thoughts and desires.
Thoughts create our future. We become
what we always think of. So never think
a negative thought or allow doubt to
enter your mind. Keep going toward your
goal. You cannot get anything through
laziness, negligence, and delay. Keep
your dream alive in your heart, and
it will come true. All difficulties
can be removed by faith in God and a
firm determination to succeed. But the
fruits of success must be shared with
others. If you want your dream to be
fulfilled, help fulfill someone else’s
Here is a story of a man who learned
that God helps those who help themselves.
25. A Man Who Never
Yava was the son of a sage who practiced
hard penance to get the blessings of
Indra, the King of Devas. He tortured
his body with austerities and thus awakened
the sympathy of Indra. Indra came before
him and asked why he was hurting his
Yava answered: “I wish to be
a great scholar of the Vedas. It takes
a long time to learn the Vedas from
a teacher. I am practicing austerities
to get that knowledge directly. Bless
Indra smiled and said: “Son,
you are on the wrong path. Return home,
find a good teacher, and learn the Vedas
from him. Austerity is not the way to
learn; the path is study and study alone.”
With these words, Indra went away.
But Yava would not give up. He did
his course of spiritual practice (austerities,
penance) with even greater effort. Indra
again came before Yava and warned him
again. Yava announced that if his prayer
was not answered, he would cut off his
arms and legs one by one and offer them
to the fire. No, he would never give
up. He continued his penance. One morning,
during his austerities, when he went
to bathe in the holy Ganga River, he
saw an old man on the bank throwing
handfuls of sand into the river.
“Old man, what are you doing?”
The old man replied: “I am going
to build a dam across the river so people
can cross the river easily. See how
difficult it is now to cross it. Useful
work, isn’t it? ”
Yava laughed and said: “What
a fool you must be to think you can
build a dam across this mighty river
with your handfuls of sand! Go home
and do some other useful work.”
The old man said: “Is my work
more foolish than yours of learning
the Vedas, not by study, but by austerities?”
Yava now knew that the old man was
Indra. Yava earnestly begged Indra to
grant him learning as a personal wish.
Indra blessed him and comforted Yava
with the following words: “I grant
you the wish you want. Go and read the
Vedas; you will become learned.”
Yava studied the Vedas and became a
great scholar of the Vedas.
The secret of success is to
keep thinking about what you want all
the time and never give up until you
get what you want. Do not let negative
thoughts, such as delaying to start
work, laziness, and carelessness stand
in your way.
Before starting or ending any work
or study, repeat OM TAT SAT, the threefold
names of Brahma.
Jai: What does OM
TAT SAT mean, Grandma?
It means Krishna, the Almighty God,
only exists. OM is used before starting
any work or study. OM TAT SAT or OM
Shantih, Shantih, Shantih, is also used
at the end of any act.
Chapter 17 summary:
There are three types of food --- Sattavik,
Rajasik and Tamasik --- and they affect
our well-being. Tell the truth in a
pleasant way. Give charity to a deserving
candidate, and give it wisely to avoid
its misuse. You can become whatever
you want to be if you work hard towards