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The Elephant, The Tiger, and the Jackal

In the west, we understand the concept of “You are what you eat.” Ancient Indian texts explain Aahara, or diet, by using the example of the elephant, the tiger, and the jackal.  The elephant is a vegetarian.  This animal represents the sattvic mind.  With Sattva, we can think clearly, and act appropriately, according to the laws of nature.  The elephant is strong, gentle and intelligent.  The tiger is carnivorous.  He represents the rajassic mind, which is action-oriented.  He kills and eats animals, which makes him fierce and aggressive.  The tiger is restless, always on the prowl.  The jackal represents the tamassic mind.  Tamas is destructive, but this is not necessarily negative.  We need to finish something, complete it, before we can move on to the next.  The jackal survives by eating food left uneaten by other animals.  He is fearful, cunning, and lazy.  Our goal is to acquire the saatvic qualities of the elephant.  One way we can do that is to favor a vegetarian diet, and eating fresh foods, beans, and almonds to to increase calmness, clarity and creativity.


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