Do Not Touch: Forbidden Foods
Buddhism forbids monks and nuns from eating garlic and sometimes other members of the Allium genus (onion, chives, shallot, and leek). Pungency seems to be the problem, for cut or pressed garlic releases smelly sulfur which is not digested in the stomach. It heads straight for the bloodstream and lungs, then exits the body through breath and perspiration. Thus the Chinese Brahma Net Sutra cautions: “The breath of the eater, if reading the sutras, will drive away the good spirits.”
Mohammed warned Muslims who ate garlic to stay away from the mosque. Ancient signs still visible at the entry to Zen Buddhist monasteries in Japan warn: “No fish or garlic is allowed within.” The Indian Mahaparinirvana Sutra says: “People who dislike the smell of garlic turn away from those who eat it. What need is there to mention the disadvantages of such food?”
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