We often wonder why we eat with our hands. Why not chopsticks, or forks? But there is a Vedic science behind it. According to Ayurveda, we use our hands because of the five elements within the fingers. Eating with hands transforms food and makes it digestible even before it reaches the mouth. Eating with hands feeds both body and mind. According to the Taittiriya Upanishad, food represents the last of the five vestures in which the soul passes from body to body.
Vedic science states that we eat food to assimilate the universe’s elements and not just to sustain the body. We utilize energies within our body and nourish the greater, spiritual self-using food. The Taittiriya Upanishad states: “The essence of all things here is the Earth. The essence of the Earth is water. Of water is the plant. And of the plant is a person.”
In Vedic science, our hands are said to be the source of the five elements. These are space, air, fire, water, and Earth. Furthermore, in Ayurveda one of the five elements courses through each finger. The thumb (Angushtha) represents space. The forefinger (Tarjani) represents air. The mid finger (Madhyama) represents fire. The ring finger (Anamika) represents water and the little finger (Kanishtha) represents the Earth. Here are the six major mudras that we engage in while eating with our hands.
Ghronikah Mudra: According to Ayurveda, the five fingertips form a petal, around a lump of food of the size of an apricot. Moreover, in Vedic science, it is one of the two main Mudras used for eating solid food like grains and vegetables with Chapati or bread.
Annabhakshana Mudra: According to Vedic science, in this mudra, we use the fingertips to pick up a small amount of food. The amount is sufficient to fit on the base of the four fingers. And then the thumb is used to advance the food forward and into the mouth. In Ayurveda, this is the second of the two main Mudras for eating any solid food. Furthermore, in Vedic tradition, we use only the right hand for eating. While eating with hands, Annabhakshana Mudra practice cultivates all five elements into a digestible form.
Kangulah Mudra: According to Ayurveda, this Mudra involves taking food with the thumb, forefinger, and mid-finger. We use this while eating food with hands. When we have to consume long pieces of food i.e. asparagus, carrots, celery, sugar cane and “drumsticks”. As we bring food to our mouth, the palm of the hand faces upward. Moreover, in Vedic science, this evokes the spirit of consciousness as we touch upon Nature. This Mudra cultivates a gentle reverence for Nature’s precious gifts. The Earth, according to Vedic tradition, controls our sense of smell and makes us keenly aware of our connection to Mother Nature.
Khatakamukhah Mudra: Ayurveda uses this Mudra to measure out spices and condiments in cooking. We may also use it as a pinch-measure for medicines. It is the tasting or sampling food with the forefinger, mid-finger, and thumb. This Mudra measures the equivalent of a half-teaspoon. Furthermore, Food is the most powerful form of medicine. We need to exercise caution. This Mudra helps us to exercise firm discretion around food.
Kadambah Mudra: In Vedic Science, this Mudra is named after the Kadamba tree. Kadamba puts forth buds at the roaring of thunder-clouds. It produces hard, inedible fruits. However, when Mother Nature is mistreated and taken for granted, she roars her thunder. In Ayurveda, the practice of this Mudra helps us to remember to be grateful for each particle of Nature’s food.
Mukulah Mudra: Ayurveda is a reminder that we are forever in the bud of life. There is a continuous regeneration of the flow of awareness. It is eating with all five fingers tightly knitted together. Furthermore, in this Mudra, a minimal quantity of food is used at a time.
Eating with hands while practicing all these Mudras, reduces anger. Moreover, these Mudras in Ayurveda, are a solution to most of the digestive problems. Eating with hands gives the energy of the subtle fire of creation. Eating with your hands has more health benefits than eating with spoons as it helps increase in blood circulation, stimulates digestion, help lose weight and prevent type-2 diabetes