Beans, Bullets, and Bhagavad-gitas
Please read text 13 of chapter three along with the purport, and then read the following commentary. Afterwards, each participant should offer a thought or comment on this passage. As you do so, please consider these study questions:
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat
This passage uses the term santo (santas) to describe those in a state of Krsna Consciousness who are in love with and completely devoted to the service of the Lord. Such a person has destroyed the false ego which seeks its own sense gratification and instead only acts for the gratification of the Lord.
While inhabiting a physical body in this material world, it is necessary for it to do certain things for the purposes of survival. One of the most crucial is to eat. However, we know that all food is sinful since it means the destruction of life. Certainly we do not want to kill the cow or any other animals for food. It is easy to see why such activity would be considered sinful, but even plants have life. The spark of the divine which animates humans and animals also is found within plants, so to take the life of plants is also sinful.
However, Sri Krsna, in His mercy, grants us the means to eliminate this sin, by offering food to Krsna as yajna. Later in the Bhagavad-Gita, at 9: 26 it states:
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
In that passage we find that Lord Krsna will accept from us a leaf, flower, fruit, or water. So, if we prepare food that Krsna likes and will accept, and offer that food to Krsna as yajna, then we may partake of the remainder without incurring sin.
Most people in the material world are only concerned with their own sense gratification, and so they prepare all sorts of savory foods only for their own enjoyment. When a person does this, they are incurring sin through the consumption of life, but also, they are stealing. As we have previously seen, everything is part and parcel of the Lord, and all things belong only to the Lord, so if we simply take and use plants and animals for our own sense gratification then we are stealing what does not belong to us. Through this we may feel guilt or anxiety, and at the very least we become unfeeling towards other forms of life and become unhealthy through our gluttony. By attempting to find happiness through such sense gratification, we are preparing ourselves for failure. If, on the other hand, one were to offer up the food to Krsna, food that has been specifically prepared for Krsna, then we can find true enjoyment through this service. The food will become sin-free prasadam which we may enjoy.
For those who may not know, I will offer one simple technique for offering food to Krsna.
In order to prepare and offer food as Prasadam, one must remember that the food is being prepared especially for Sri Krsna, so it is important that one does not taste the food beforehand. Simply prepare the recipe. When it is ready, dish out a portion of each item onto special plates that are reserved for Krsna, and offer the food. If you have an altar or picture of the Lord in your home, then it should be offered there. If not just lay a place at the table. You can then light incense and ring a bell while chanting the following mantras three times:
Namo maha vadanyaya Krishna-prema pradayate krishnaya-krishna-chaitanya namna gaure-tvishe namaha
Namo brahmanya devaya go brahmanya hitayacha jagat hitaya krishnaya govindaya namo namaha
Jaya sri Krishna chaitanya prabhu nityananda sri adwaita gadadhara srivas-adi gaura bhakti vrinda
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Leave the food for a few minutes so that the Lord may enjoy it. Then place the food back into the pots. It may now be consumed as prasadam and enjoyed sin-free.
Those who have taken initiation from a bonafide spiritual master may recite the pranama prayers to their Guru first, or even exclusively. The above is then recited as described. A brahmana may also chant on his sacred thread the prescribed guru mantras; consult standard pujaris in this regard. Offerings in the Temple may be more elaborate and with specific procedures according to the Temple.
One question: Do KRISHNA accept the food offered without devotion...without respect?...Krishna inThe Form as a Deity
is not a toy to play with,as we all have seen many times in the Temples...I am convinced that PRASADAM is much more serious than that...Thank you...
Jaya, Varna das! Yes, prasadam is a great blessing and not to be taken as a superficial ritual. Offering and receiving gifts of food is a most important devotional activity.
If your spiritual master initiated you and told you to do certain things, such as offer food stuffs to the Lord, then He accepts. Therefore, one must try to maintain a high and proper standard. There is a general instruction; " just offer Me a leaf, flower, water..." with devotion.
If the kitchen or the offerer or the offering are unclean, Krsna is not obliged to accept. Of course, He does not need our food, but He gives us this opportunity to rise above sin and karma.
As devotee in the clearing stages of chanting, our force of purity comes from association with the sri pure devotee, and it is by dispensation of his grace that we are given orders and duty to offer food and take prasadam.
I had this conversation with a devotee last week. If food is offered with love and devotion, then Krsna will accept it. We may then consume the remnants sin free. Eating food, even vegetarian food, is still sinful if it is not offered first to Krsna. No benefit will come from it. The food must be offered... and it must be offered with love and devotion. It should not be done in a mindless/thoughtless way or in an automatic way. Krsna may still accept it, but it will do you little good since it is the act of devotion that is the elevating process.
On a side note, another interesting thing that came up during that conversation was a question about tasting the food during preparation. Since the food is prepared for Krsna's enjoyment rather than sense gratification, we are not supposed to taste the food while it is cooking. The devotees question was this: Great chefs taste the food they cook for others to ensure that it is just right, so why do we not taste to ensure that it is perfect for Krsna? While the question makes sense logicially, I think that it could lead to a slippery slope. It might be interesting to see what others think.
The above 2 questions on the verse can be answered in two ways.
As the Jivatma, the soul, infinitesimal spiritual eternal part of Krishna, is present in all beings, it is said that it is also present in the plant, vegetables, grains, etc. It is present in even subtler form than in animals and birds. Hence when a plant is cut for food (because Jivasya Jivano Jivanam - Life subsists on Life), we don't realize it that we are taking a life or rather we are changing its present form of life (because life is eternal). Hence there is a certain amount of Karma involved, from cutting, to cooking to consuming a plant based food too.
Before partaking of the food, when we offer this food cooked with love and devotion to Krishna, Krishna sanctifies the food by taking away the sin involved in cutting the plant and thus makes it 'Akarmic' food and makes it Prasad (His Mercy) for us to consume.
The second way to look at offering food to Krishna before partaking of it is by understanding the example that if we consume food from the same plate of a patient who is suffering from an infectious or contagious disease like Tuberculosis, etc; then the sputum left on the food or on the plate the patient has consumed from, and which if we eat the same, there are very high chances that we may get infected too.
Similarly, when we offer food to Krishna with love and devotion, Krishna consumes it and still leaves it whole with His transcendental saliva left on the food for us to consume, so we can develop more and more of His love and imbibe His Divine qualities within us when we partake of the Prasad (His Mercy).
We may chant whatever prayers, but Krishna sees the our unconditional love behind our offering and brings us closer to Him.
Similarly, He sees our intention behind our interaction with His whole Creation, with other human beings. Are we acting out of an unconditional love or do we have an agenda behind our show of love. He knows, He is watching. If our love is as unconditional for others as is our offering of food to Him, then He showers more Mercy on us, because we now see Him in the hearts of all beings.
And thus by serving His Creation with love and devotion, we serve Him with love and devotion and He takes away our past karma and purifies us and sanctifies us as He does with the food we offer Him.
So, offering food is the first step which will take us to next step of giving unconditional love to all.
"One who sees Me in all things and all things in Me, I am never lost to Him nor is he ever lost to Me." BG 6.30
By the way, the images of the Prasad for Krishna are so real that it activates the juices in the stomach and saliva in the mouth.
All I can say is 'Hari Bol'
Yes, they do look wonderful, Prabhuji, and prasad is an excellent way of bringing people into Krsna Consciousness. I recently took another group of students to New Vrindaban and had some of the devotees speak to them. When the question was asked, what first brought you into this movement, the response of several devotees was the food. They were attracted by the prasad and later began to read, listen, chant, etc. In fact, when I asked my son if he wanted to go hear Sally Agarwal speak this weekend and I began to tell him about the event, his response was "you had me at Prasad".
16 June, 1968
My Dear Aniruddha,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter of June 5th, 1968, and I thank you very much for it. Yes, I have noted your questions about the serving of prasadam. The main thing is that whenever prasadam is offered to the Lord, everything should be very respectfully and cleanly presented and prepared.
In Jagannatha Puri, the Lord eats 56 times. So the Lord can eat as many times as you can offer. But only thing is whatever is offered must be with respect and devotion. (He is neither hungry nor poor, nor unable to eat, but He accepts everything, when such eatable is within the groups of vegetables, fruits, flours, milk, water, etc. is offered to Him with love and devotion, and faith.
He wants our love only, and that makes Him hungry for eating as many times as you may offer. He is absolute, therefore, all contradictory points coincide in Him. He is hungry and satisfied simultaneously. So the purport is that everything should be offered very cleanly and pure things should be given.)
If a preparation is cooked all together, then offer all together. But if it is prepared separately, then the milk, the sugar and the cereal should be offered separately. But if the milk, sugar and grains are all cooked together, that can be done. (Everything should be prepared very carefully and cleanly within the groups of foods listed. And nothing should ever be eaten before offering to the Lord.
Best thing is to prepare separately each preparation. No, food which has been offered should never be put back into the refrigerator with the unoffered foods, or brought back into the kitchen. You should prepare as much as can be consumed, and after offering, nothing should be put back in the refrigerator, or kitchen.
Refrigerator should always be very cleansed and pure. Everyone should be careful to make only as much as they can eat; they cannot keep any leftovers in refrigerator. I know this is a practice in your country, but in the temples or at homes of any Krishna Consciousness persons, a person should not indulge in such unclean habits.
If there is any food extra, that should be kept separately; and if there is a separate refrigerator, not within the kitchen and not having in it any unoffered foods, then you may have such special refrigerator for leftover prasadam. But it cannot be kept within the same refrigerator as the unoffered, unprepared foods.
That cannot be. One should never eat within the kitchen, there is ample place to eat so why should one eat in the kitchen? Kitchen should be considered as good as the Lord’s room, and nobody should wear shoes in the kitchen, smelling and tasting of foods being prepared for the Lord should never be done, talking within the kitchen should be only what is necessary for preparing the prasadam, or about the Lord, and dirty dishes (those taken from kitchen and eaten from) should not be brought back into the kitchen (but if there is no other place to wash them, then they should be put into sink and washed immediately.), hands should always be washed when preparing prasadam, and in this way, everything shall be prepared very cleanly and pure.)
What is the difficulty of enforcing these rules? They are rules, and they are simple rules, and must be followed. One must be prepared to follow the rules for Krishna. Otherwise where is the proof that he loves Krishna. And they are not very difficult to follow.
I am very happy to hear that your center there is progressing nicely, and please continue doing like that. Hoping you are well.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
There is a trendency for neophytes to enjoy tasting and smelling, therefore, only an actually advanced devotee could taste in an emergency to ensure an error such as putting salt instead of sugar in halavah, was not made. Otherwise, no, we are not allowed to be like the chef tasting to reach perfection, difficult as this may seem at first. Saving or remembering recipes is therefore an important function.
"Prasada is as good as Krishna"
Prabhupada, Denver, July 1, 1975: [...] And another complaint I was hearing that we are not taking prasadam, especially the grhasthas. No. That is not good. You should take prasadam. Krishna baro doyamoy, koribare jihwa jay, swa-prasad-anna dilo bhai, sei annamrta pao, radha-Krishna-guna gao, preme dako caitanya-nitai. Krishna baro doya…
Our tongue is the greatest enemy. Ta ’ra madhye jihwa ati, lobhamoy sudurmati.
The tongue is the greatest enemy, and if you can control the tongue, then you can control all the senses. Otherwise tongue will dictate, “Give me this kind of food, give me this kind of food.” And if you don’t take prasadam in the temple, then our tongue will dictate, “Now you can prepare some nice food. Let us take it.” That will not help us in our Krishna consciousness. Whatever Krishna…, Krishna baro doyamoy, koribare jihwa jay. Krishna-prasada means to control the tongue. Our main enemy is the tongue.
In another place it is said, sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah: “God realization becomes by keeping the tongue engaged in the service of the Lord.” Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. The tongue has to be first of all engaged, not the hands and legs. “I have to serve Krishna. So yes, I am ready. I am expanding my hands. I am going there.”
But sastra says, “No, no, no. Not your hands and legs but your tongue. This is the one. First of all engage your tongue.” This is astonish: “How can I serve with tongue? If I have to serve, I have got my hands and legs, my eyes and I…” No. Sastra says tongue. This is very peculiar. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah.
If you engage your tongue… So how to engage my tongue? What is the business of my tongue? Two business only: to taste, or eat, and chant. Chant Hare Krishna with tongue and take Krishna-prasadam—you will conquer Krishna.
This is the program. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. So if you do not control your tongue, if you feel inconvenient in taking prasadam, that means you are not making progress. This is the… This is the formula. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah.
So in our other branches, all the devotees, they take together prasadam. That is nice. Why one should be not liking to take prasadam in the temple? What is the fault? No, this is not good. We should… Everyone should take prasadam. You see still if you go to Jagannatha Puri.
Even outsiders who go there, they do not cook. Strictly, they do not cook. They purchase prasadam. And if you go there, one thousand men—because there are pilgrims, they are coming, there is no—you will get immediately ready prasadam, purchased from the the market, the Jagannatha Puri, still.
And there is no such thing as infection. I am taking your prasadam remnants. Whatever you left, I am… He is taking. Even if you are outcaste, if you are not brahmana, still there is. Because prasada is transcendental. It is not material thing. So one must have faith that it is not material. It cannot be infected by any material things. In this way prasada should be taken.
It is called prasada-seva, not “prasada enjoyment.” Seva means giving service. Prasada is as good as Krishna; therefore prasada should be respected as good as Krishna. As soon as one gets prasadam, immediately he touches on the head because it is Krishna, absolute. In this way we have to be trained up as it is prescribed in the sastras.
So those who are attached to Krishna consciousness movement and those who are attached to the service, they should take prasadam, first-class prasadam. Everyone likes the taste of the prasadam. I used to go in my household life to take prasadam in the temples and pay them. I used to do that.
And I used to go… Especially in Sri Ramapur, there are two temples, one of Jagannatha and one of Radha-Vallabhaji. So it was very nice. On Sunday I used to go to take prasadam.
So you should be habituated to prasadam as far as possible unless you are very sick, you cannot take. That is different. Otherwise you should take it. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. Then we will remember Krishna, and that will keep us fit and immune from all infection of material miserable condition.