The Ayurvedic principle is a concept in India used structure individuals into three different classifications based on their character and demeanor. It is a recurring theme that can be seen across the tapestry of Hinduism and is used for the terms Guna and Dosha. Gunas reflect one's mental and spiritual state. Doshas represent a persons physical disposition. However, this is a very simplified version of the concept and in many cases both overlap or can be considered one and the same. The three Gunas and Doshas are:-
Sattva Guna, Vata Dosha (calm/good) representing creation. In regards to food it produces a cooling effect. It is associated with the Hindu God Brahma.
Rajas Guna, Pitta Dosha (passionate/active) representing preservation. In regards to food it creates heat in the body. It is associated with the Hindu God Vishnu.
Tamas Guna, Kapha Dosha (dull/lethargic) representing destruction or transformation. Tamas food drains energy and makes one listless. It is associated with the Hindu God Shiva.
Food can also be put into these classifications this can allow a person to change their Guna and Dosha through manipulation of their diet. A persons whole attitude and composure may be affected thus special attention is paid by what the individual consumes to maintain their ideal Guna/Dosha.
Wrestlers and Pahlwani strive to maintain a Sattva disposition. A calm demeanor is imperative during hard exertion, with the emphasis is placed on cooling foods that can nullify the heating effects of a wrestlers training.
A wrestler or Pahlawani's diet will compose mostly of Sattva foods, chief amongst which are Ghi, Milk and almonds. All are very Sattva and form the basis of the diet. The general quantities of which are huge by western standards. An average wrestler will try to consume a half liter of Ghi, a half kilo of almonds and several litres of milk during the course of a day. Chana is also given a high status. Fruits are regarded as very important as well. Other foods are consumed to make a well rounded diet but the emphasis is generally on the big three with other foods being regarded as more mundane though necessary.
The following is a list of food favoured by wrestlers and Pahalwani.
Fruits: Oranges, Lemons, Bananas, Indian gooseberries (Amla), Mangoes, figs, apples and watermelon. Fruit juice, especially orange juice is commonly drunk.
Vegetables:Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach etc.), cucumber, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower), squash, turnips, okra, beets, ginger root,carrot and potatoes.
Lentils and beans of various types including split peas. Breads made of wholewheat, barley or millet flour are regularly consumed. Rice may be eaten though it is not considered of great nutritional value. Chapati or Roti (breads) and Dal (lentil stew) are commonly eaten and is a household staple throughout India.
Ghi and milk may be combined with cooking to create extra energy and increase its Sattva nature.
Special tonics are also made using fresh vegetables, fruits, roots like ginger and healthy herbs. These are great for detoxification and provide a huge amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients which is massively beneficial to those in hard training.
Rajas foods can are stimulating and heating. Meat is regarded as Rajas and to be eaten sparingly if at all. The most popular meat being chicken. Hindu wrestlers do not eat beef due to the Cow being regarded as a sacred animal. Eggs are considered Rajas but also Tamas dependant upon who you ask.
Tamas foods produce feelings of heaviness and lethargy and are generally avoided. That said they can have building benefits such as in the case of eggs, dal and chapati. The best time to consume Tamas foods is in the evening once the working day is done and training is completed.
There are general guidelines on which food produces what disposition but no hard and fast rules. Certain items may be regarded as Sattva, Rajas or Tamas by different people.
With regards to the Kushti wrestlers/Pahlawan diet the focus is on the big 3 Ghi, mIlk and almonds all in large amounts. Next comes chana which is a staple. This is followed by fruits and vegetables. Then lastly heavy foods like the breads and dal. By using these foods the Kushti wrestlers and Pahlawani have built mighty bodies, strength and power through the centuries.