For over 40 years, legendary and humble yoga Master Sri Dharma Mittra has been promoting a live food diet to students around the world.
A Disciple of Sri Swami Kailashananda, Dharma Mittra has spent his life in service to humanity, and has been personally responsible for the advancement of healthy living through a live diet as taught to him by his own Guru, Yogi Gupta.
From his days in the Ashram, preparing live food and juices for the Guru and Ashram residents, to his earliest days in the 1970’s as a celebrated teacher in NYC, sprouting almonds and juicing vegetables and fruits for his students, this saintly Yogi has been living and spreading the knowledge of a live diet long before it gained the popularity of today.
Born in 1939 in a small remote village in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Sri Dharma Mittra is probably best known around the world as the creator, author and model for the 908 Master Yoga Chart, which hangs in the most respected ashrams and Yoga centers around the globe. How did this man, born into a family of little means and far from India and the United States evolve to become one of the world’s foremost Yoga Masters, inspiring a generation of teachers and devotees?
To understand fully, we should begin with another Yoga Master, Dharma’s Guru, Swami Kailashananda, also known as, Yogi Gupta. Yogi Gupta, who received his law degree early in life and thereafter decided to abandon worldly life for spiritual life, became a wandering mendicant in India. He was ordained by Sri Swami Sivananda Maharaj, as the Doctor in charge at his Forest Health Clinic at the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh. He attended to the sick patients with natural healing techniques involving color, sun, water and many dietary programs. Yogi Gupta arrived in the United States from India in 1954, after being invited to speak at a health convention in Chicago and Washington DC. In the United States he felt it best to make it easier for Americans to use his family name of Gupta. Encouraged by his Guru, Yogi Gupta arrived to a warm reception of eager students and ultimately settled in New York, where he founded the Yogi Gupta Ashram. Upon his arrival, he not only brought the Holy science of Yoga from India, but the ancient knowledge of a live diet as prescribed through Ayurveda. Sri Swami Kailashananda quietly and tirelessly promoted the benefits of a live diet long before most of us reading this today were even born, producing in 1969 a beautiful recording called “Yogic Food Concepts”, outlining the benefits and practical application of a live diet. To this day, Yogi Gupta, now 94, is a strong, healthy and clear minded Guru, crediting his longevity not only to the grace of God, but to a live diet he has preserved for years.
It was during this time of Yogi Gupta’s arrival and early years in America that Dharma Mittra, then in his early teens and living in Pira Pora, became involved in esoteric teachings and Yoga. Dharma left the Air Force in Brazil after hearing about Yogi Gupta’s presence in New York City. Dharma says, “My first day upon arrival in New York I went to Yogi Gupta and I began attending every class he had,” says Dharma. “He immediately encouraged adopting a live diet, and by doing this, all of my studies with him accelerated.”
For me, the day I met the revered and quiet Master Sri Dharma Mittra, I became a vegetarian and within 6 months had moved to a live diet under the constant guidance, love and watchful eye of the Guru. Dharma guided me specifically and precisely into the understanding of the purpose and benefits for a Yogi of adopting a live diet. My health and Yoga practice, in particular meditation and ahimsa, non-violence in thought, word and deed, has soared. Over the years, I have seen Dharma in countless classes and environments where in a mere 20 minutes, he has converted hundreds of people from a meat eating diet to becoming vegetarian and live food enthusiasts—all through the love, humor, and gentle countenance of his very being. Long before the modern world knew of the benefits of live food, Dharma would sprout almonds and juice vegetables and fruit for the Guru, friends, brother and sister disciples and his beloved students.
Sri Dharma Mittra is a pioneer in the popularity of both Yoga and live food diet today. Years ago, he was the only teacher aside from his own Guru promoting a live food diet. Since the earliest days of his teaching, Dharma has been a tireless proponent of Vegetarianism and taught love for our inferior brothers and sisters—the animal kingdom. How we are here to help and protect them, not to eat them. “Animals are made to be loved, not eaten.” Dharma has been responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent animals. In any class Dharma teaches, he espouses the first law of Yoga, Yama—“without which, there will be no success.”
Make all food an
Sri Dharma imparts, “When practicing Yoga, vegetarianism is primary. We all must get away from eating flesh and harming animals. There are many factors involved in disease and illness; consumption of corpses, toxicity in our environment and food, but the one that leads to all the rest is lack of Self-knowledge. Yoga practices are meant to be a road toward Self-knowledge which ultimately directs us toward the main goal, Self-Realization. Identification with the unreal or the corporal world promotes negative feelings, leading to depression and sadness which makes the mind restless. This causes lack of rhythm in the breath, or a discordance in the physical body, all leading to lack of self control, bad choices, and ultimately illness, disease and early death.”
As we progress on our practice of vegetarianism, we can further move forward to include plenty of uncooked food in our diets. Cooking does not improve the nutritional value of food. Instead it destroys and makes unavailable 85% of the original nutrients. Cooked food is totally lacking in enzymes: most of the protein has been destroyed or converted to new forms which is either not digestible by body enzymes or digested with difficulty. Many of the vitamins have lost their vitality. To purchase organic food and then to waste precious hours in destroying most of the nutrients is poor economy and unsound ecology.
Under a microscope the etheric body of a living cell scintillates with sunlight. Dead cells do not polarize light and the color display is distinguished. The minerals of live food act as magnets, holding the sun’s energy, filling our bodies with sunlight. Technically, the electron orbit of a mineral takes a quantum orbit jump because of the absorption of sun energy. An inorganic mineral becomes an organic mineral through the action of sunlight on a plant. Live food elements make it possible to charge the body with an enormous amount of energy from natural breathing which provides optimal power for the mental and spiritual facilities.
Eating hot food deteriorates the taste buds, mucus membrane of the mouth and stomach, destroys on contact many of the enzymes and vitamins that are present in the digestive juices. The devastating effect of cooked food is seen in an experiment in which cancer cells taken from a human body thrived on cooked food, but were unable to survive on the same food when it was uncooked.
Factors that are needed for building quality blood are lost from food in cooking. A Japanese researcher once observed that as long as he ate uncooked whole rice and raw radishes, spinach, kale and grated raw potatoes, he found he had excellent quality blood, even though his diet was poor in protein and calories. However, as soon as he ate the same quality of vegetarian food in a cooked form, he began to notice symptoms of edema and anemia. Also people who eat uncooked vegetables appear to have less stomach cancer. Some researchers believe that raw food enzymes continue to work in conjunction with digestive enzymes in the stomach. In the intestine, the vegetable enzymes help to detoxify the intestinal flora as well as to normalize bacteria population in the colon. This reduces the number of decay-causing bacteria and it stimulates the increase of the desirable lactic acid forming bacteria.
A heated or cooked seed does not germinate. Life has been destroyed. Ancient masters instruct us to soak the seed overnight and expose it to the sun before eating. Sri Dharma Mittra always tells us to offer our food to the Lord first, never start eating without doing this. The Bhagavad Gita, which is the common denominator for major Eastern philosophies, specifically says: “Pious men eat what God leaves over after the offering. But those un-Godly, cooking good food for the greed of their stomachs sin as they eat it.”
Energize the mind and body with yoga! Practice asanas, deep breathing, meditation and constant devotion to the Lord. Universal Divine life says that the animal kingdom are considered our inferior brothers. Develop more and more awareness of the spiritual nature of the human being through the study of the scriptures and works of the ancient wise ones. Stay in the company of the wise, and those persons that have already achieved wisdom.
Kill neither men, nor beast, nor yet the food which goes into your mouth. For life comes only from life!
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih.
This article was written by Chandra Om and published in the April 2008 issue of New York Yoga Magazine