Brief Qn.: How to have only Prasadam during sensitive jobs?
Hare Krishna ! Prabhu I am a marine engineer serving on merchant ships and I have to be on ships all the time , mostly 7 months in a year. I m sailing with Philippines crew. I am the only indian and vegetarian. On ship all crew eat beef , pork , chicken all the three times, I am facing difficulty as I m just surviving on rice with pickle, sometimes boiled vegetables. Also the food that is being cooked for me, the cook I think uses the same utensils for cooking my food. I think eating such food is making me break the regulative principle. On ship this type of food is very common. N this is my profession with handsome salary. Prabhuji may you please help me regarding this doubt. Also I am asking this question on behalf of all my other devotee friends who are serving onboard a ship.
I appreciate your good intentions of following rules even in difficult situations.
The people like you can use some relaxations.
Because, some situations will be inevitable in life. If we confuse with the strict rules, we will end up in GUILT that will prevent all our other followings of devotional practices and overall improvement.
We should not allow that to happen.
Guilt is the major killer of further advancement in devotion.
Of course the rules are there. But, in certain situations, we have to accept the ground reality and impossibility.
Let me give some examples including your case:
(1) Take a defense personnel. He has separate rules in his career. He can follow devotion that is allowed. But, he can not fast for ekadasi and other festivals. Because, he has to perform difficult exercises every day throughout his career. He has to perform long jumps, high jumps, running, etc. And, he has to perform many trial performances every day though there is no war happening.
And the case of the soldiers who are on borders or in any other field will be very worse. He will be standing all the time on borders vigilantly taking whatever food available for them from their local canteens.
He will not be allowed to take food cooked from home because their schedule is like that. The govt itself gives nutritious food for them.
What to do in such cases? Read the last part of this article.
(2) Take a Train Loco driver. Once he starts from home, he will have to work for 3-4 days. How can he take food from home? He needs energy also.
(3) Take an air hostess or Pilot. He is not allowed to take anything to the plane while going to operate the flight. This is the rule. He has to take the food offered by the air hostesses.
(4) Take a ship captain or Marine engineers or any crew who works on board the ships. The ship travel is hectic one. He has to travel for even a month in a single travel. He has to unboard in many ports for loading and unloading the parcels and containers. Thus, the travel may take about a fortnight or month.
What can he do? He can’t take food from home for one month. He has to accept the food offered by the canteen of the ship.
(5) Take the traffic police. He has to stand under the hot sun for 8-10 hours every day. He too needs some relaxations.
I can give many examples like this.
When Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON travelled by ship to America, he got special permission to cook food on board the cargo ship. This can’t be done by all the employees.
We should think anything in practical aspects and possibility.
Ok, now you will agree that following the rules strictly is not possible for some people who have job requirements like mentioned above.
What should they do?
Let me suggest some tips from my heart keeping the ‘book rules’ away:
(1) He should first be strict in taking only vegetarian foods. This is possible in any profession mentioned above. Even in military services, non veg is not compulsory. Vegetarian food can also be chosen. Since I have a guy from our family in defense, I know that.
In defence, though they can not allow taking food as parcel from home, they do not make taking non veg or liquor compulsory.
In ships and air service also, vegetarian food choice is allowed. Same in all other careers.
Therefore, they should take only vegetarian foods. No relaxation needed from this aspect.
(2) However, the way the food is cooked is not in our hands. They may use even onion, garlic, etc. Or, they may even use the same utensils used for cooking non veg.
This aspect can’t be avoided by any employee. We are advised to avoid meat just because it is highly karmic and enhances rajo and thamo gunas. Therefore, just because they use the same utensils after cleaning, you are not going to eat meat. Therefore, you need not worry for this aspect. Just tell the cook in charge of canteen to be careful in not allowing mixing of any non veg foodstuff in the vegetarian food. That is enough.
(3) If possible, manage with curd rice, roti with sugar or plain dhal, Puri, etc. Or, take all vegetarian foods. Try your best to skip the item that seems to contain onion and/ or garlic.
(4) While starting to eat that food every time, do not forget to pray to Krishna like this within heart:
“My gurudeva (if you have guru) and Krishna, since I can’t take food from my home as per the job rules, I am taking this karmic food. I do not want to offer this food to you since this has not been prepared as per rules of cooking for you. However, I am taking this food now to manage my health to perform my job perfectly. I beg you to take away the karmic aspects involved in this food and make it pure with your merciful sight. Please protect me from adding new karma through this food. I am offering you good food prepared within my heart and offered through my heart and please accept that. Please forgive me for any offences if any.”
(5) After praying like this from your heart, then, chant Hare Krishna Maha Manthra for atleast three times either within hear or in a mild voice looking at the food.
Then, start to take that food. This is what you can do.
(6) However, anyone in any profession can chant. They should never stop chanting their daily rounds. Even a defense personnel can chant even from the borders. Nothing can prevent them.
(7) Keep a small photo of Krishna in your cabin or bag and pray Him twice or thrice during work.
(8) Keep your mind filled with the thoughts of Krishna as much as possible while working, WITHOUT AFFECTING THE EFFICIENCY OF WORK.
REMEMBER! These small relaxations are only for those who are working in such sensitive jobs in which preparing or taking the food is impossible. Others should not use this relaxations if they can follow the recommendations.
I hope, this reply would have relieved you from your guilt. Be happy. Krishna sees your heart more than the rules. Try to follow as much rules possible to follow. Do not feel guilty for any REAL INABILITY.
All the best.