अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रित: |
प्राणापानसमायुक्त: पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् || 14||
ahaṁ vaiśhvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṁ deham āśhritaḥ
prāṇāpāna-samāyuktaḥ pachāmy annaṁ chatur-vidham
aham—I; vaiśhvānaraḥ—fire of digestion; bhūtvā—becoming; prāṇinām—of all living beings; deham—the body; āśhritaḥ—situated; prāṇa-apāna—outgoing and incoming breath; samāyuktaḥ—keeping in balance; pachāmi—I digest; annam—foods; chatuḥ-vidham—the four kinds
As the fire Vaishvānara I enter into the bodies of all living creatures, and mingling with the upward and downward breaths, I digest the four kinds of food.
In the previous verse, the Lord said that He produces the food by his energy (sakti) and that He is the supporter and nourisher of all beings. Not only does the Lord produce food, He is also the digestive energy in all living beings. The body is built by food, and the food eaten should be properly digested before it turns into blood and vital energy. The digestive Fire (Jatharagni) is the Lord Himself in the form of vaisvanara. So the Lord is the Creator as well as the nourisher of the body. In this way, man is wholly the product of the Lord and all the energy which he possesses comes to him from the Lord. He who eats the food without offering to the Lord is a thief, misappropriating to himself what is not really his (yo bhunkte stena eva saha 3.12). That is why there is the sadachara in the world of offering food to God as naivedyam before eating. What is eaten without such an offering is impure food. So everyone should offer his food first to God, and then a part of it to other hungry beings, and eat only the rest of it with Godly feelings. Then the very act of eating would become a yajna, and the food taken becomes nectar (Amritam).
Praninam deham asritah: The Lord is in the body, very near, nay, nearest to him. Realising His presence with him one should live a pure, blissful and blessed life.
Pachamyannam chaturvidham: The four-fold food (1) Bhakshyam-Food which has been eaten by mastication, (2) Bhojyam -Soft food which has to be sucked in, (3) Lehyam -that which has to be licked. (4) Choshyam -that which has to be swallowed.
One can imagine how cautious he should be when he knows that the Lord is Himself the eater and the digester of food. Regulation of food habits is a necessary prerequisite of spiritual life. The body is the instrument of yoga sadhana, and food builds the body and sustains it. So everyone should practice restraint and moderation in this matter. The following principles should be observed (1) He should not eat too much (2) Sattivic food alone should be taken, Rajasic and Tamasic food should be avoided (vide 17-8, 9, 10 verses for a definition of the Sattvic, rajasic and tamasic, types of food). (3) The food taken should first be offered to the Lord. (4) The food should be earned by righteous means.
It is certainly better to live on roots and leaves obtained by righteous means than on luxurious dishes got by cheating, stealth and other unrighteous (adharmic) ways. The Lord is observing from within every morsel that one eats. The law of moderation has already been enunciated by the Lord (Yuktaharaviharasya 6.17).
As the Chapter deals with food it has become sadachara to recite it collectively or separately at the time of eating. In Asramas, Matts and houses, this practice is followed by most people. Food eaten in this spirit is a real offering to the Lord. He accepts it. Besides, such food permeates every particle of the body with divine purity and energy. Generally after reciting this Discourse, the wise take water in their palm, repeat the 24th verse in the IV Chapter (Brahmarpanam brahmahavir) sprinkle the water on the food, and then start eating. This is Brahma Karma Samadhi.
Question: How does the Lord dwell in the body?
Answer: In the form of Vaisvarana (Jatharagni).
Question: What does He do in that form?
Answer: He digests the food, associated with the vital forces of Prana and Apana.
Question: What then should men do?
Answer: They should think of the Lord, offer the food to Him, and afterward eat with pure and holy thoughts.