HOW TO OFFER FOOD IN ALL PLACES LIKE HOSTELS, HOTELS, RELATIVE HOUSES, TRAVEL, ETC?
I have received such questions from many devotees in the past.
So, I decided to write a comprehensive article about offering food in all places of stay and travel.
Before writing how to offer food to Krishna in these places, as a reforming preacher, I like to write the logic and purpose behind offering food to Krishna.
WHY SHOULD WE OFFER FOOD TO KRISHNA?
There are three reasons to offer food to Krishna:
(1) To show our gratitude, recognition, love and thanks to Krishna for having given this food to you. We give back that food to Him and honour that He gives back to us as prasadam. So, we are not eating the ordinary food, but, the one touched by Krishna.
(2) To give food to Krishna considering Him as the Prime member of our family.
(3) To clear the karma and negative vibrations involved in the food since it has come to us crossing so many hands and thoughts.
Read these three points again. Now, you will understand the next title.
OFFERING FOOD TO KRISHNA IS NOT JUST A RITUAL
Most of us have made offering food to Krishna as an another daily ritual. Because, the acharyas have given some manthras for it. So, we mechanically recite such manthras and honour that prasadam.
The important point is: The manthras are not primary, but, the bhawa and intention behind it.
You call your father to come for dinner since the dinner is ready. How will you call?
“Hey Dad, please come and have, the dinner is ready. “
Do you recite any manthras to call your father to take dinner?
Similarly, when we offer food to Krishna, we should speak to the acharyas to take the food to Krishna because we consider that we are insignificant and we offer the food through Guru Parampara that originates from Krishna Himself:
“Hare Krishna acharyas, my humble obeysances to you all. I got this food with your mercy from Krishna. It is Krishna’s food. So, I first offer it to Krishna. Please hand over this food to Krishna. Let Krishna accepts this though it is not that much tasty. I will honour the prasadam after Krishna has this food. Thanks for this precious gift pf prasadam”
This is just an example. This way, you are showing your intention and love to Krishna.
We have to just convey Krishna to take the food we have offered Him. You can tell even in your own words.
However, acharyas have given some manthras. Why?
To have a specific pattern of offering food. If they give total freedom, the devotees may say anything while offering food to Krishna.
Since we should offer anything to Krishna only through the guru parampara or through great vaishnavas, we need their names also.
So, there are a few simple manthras to offer food to Krishna.
The problem is, we do not recite the manthras with love and with the mood of requesting. We recite them mechanically without any bhawa or taste.
Thus, we have made the manthras just the rituals. Actually, the manthras are the messages we convey to the Lord.
Why these details about the manthras?
Read the next title.
NO FORMALITIES TO OFFER FOOD TO KRISHNA
Manthras are just the messages we convey to the Lord. So, there need not be any formalities. You can use these manthras in any place and condition.
You need not think that you should offer food only in the Puja room or altar.
It is not possible all the time. Because, we are always moving, travelling, staying in hostels and hotels and attending functions.
So, we can make even Krishna moving when we move away.
HOW TO TAKE KRISHNA WHEREVER YOU GO?
Don’t think that you should offer food only to the same picture all the time. You can keep a mobile Krishna for using in a place wherever you go.
Keep a close up Picture of Krishna in your mobile phone. When you are in out station, say, in a hotel room where you will stay just one or two days, keep the setting of the screen light on for 30 minutes and keep the mobile phone in a shelf or on the wall in a sliding position.
Now, Krishna is ready to have your food in a hotel room.
If it is the hostel, you can keep a permanent picture of Krishna because you will be staying for years in that room.
So, now, you have known that you can keep two pictures of Krishna – one permanent picture for home and one in mobile phone for outstations.
A problem solved.
WHAT TO OFFER TO KRISHNA IN OUT STATIONS?
It is the general advice that we should eat anything only after offering to Krishna. However, practically thinking, this can not be followed all the time. So, I suggest some alternate way of management.
If you visit out station for a single day, you can take the food prepared at home after offering to Krishna. If you stay more than a day, you have to arrange food from outside.
If there is an ISKCON temple nearby, you can book a meal there for a price in advance. They will arrange delicious prasadam for you.
If no temple nearby, you can’t offer to Krishna all the dishes you eat.
In such a situation, you will have to eat in a hotel.
So, on those days, offer any of the following to Krishna buying from hotel or shop:
(1) A cup of milk and curd.
(2) 250 grams of RAW carrots or tomato or coconut after washing them in water.
(3) Fruits like banana, apple, orange, grapes, dates, cherry, pinapple, etc about 100 grams each time of offering.
(And / or)
(4) Take a bottle of butter (100 or more grams) and offer 20 grams of butter each time on a small cup.
These are enough.
WHAT AND HOW TO EAT IN OUT STATIONS?
You can eat the following things in your out station stay or travel:
(1) Curd rice bought from a good hotel (preferably a Brahmin hotel if possible).
(2) Roti or Puri with jaggery or sugar. No masala/ dhaal from hotel since they may add onion and garlic. Buy only the roti or puri and sugar/ jaggery.
(3) You can take some pickles from home in a small bottle and use the same for puri and roti bought outside.
(4) Banana will fill the place of food. You can manage with it. But, too much of bananas in out stations will cause loose motion of stool. So, take just one or two pieces.
(5) Vegetarian breads that have guaranteed in the cover as free from alcohol, yeast, egg, etc.
(6) The best food outside is dates. Sweet, delicious and healthy. It is my choice also. I prefer dates in the out stations. Diabetic patients may take curd/ roti or fruits like orange, sweetless grapes, etc.
(7) Milk with jaggery or sugar.
Don’t take any other dishes in the hotels because they would have added masalas, onion, garlic, etc. Only curd rice is atleast 75% safe in hotels. Some hotels add onion in curd rice. Check it and then eat.
You need not offer to the Lord the above things bought from outside (good restaurents, if possible brahmins hotels)
You need not worry that you offer something to Krishna, but, eat some extra things also. Krishna will recognize that you have been remembering Him even in out station. So, He will clear the karma of the food you eat in out station if you pray like this before eating the food bought outside:
“My dear acharyas and Krishna. I am unable to arrange proper food for you since I am staying in this out station. So, I have offered ……..to you this time. Please accept it. Please take away the karma in the food that I am eating now in a hotel and make that food pure. I will resume my regular offering to you when I go back to our home”
After praying like this CHANT HARE KRISHNA MAHA MANTHRA THREE TIMES AND THEN START EATING.
That’s all. Finished.
HOW CAN THE HOSTEL RESIDENTS MANAGE THE OFFERING OF FOOD?
They can not follow the rules strictly. So, I like to exclude them from strict rules. They can try to stay as a group of 3-4 like minded students renting a house and cook simple foods and offer.
However, your parents may not allow that. So, in such cases, you can take whatever food the hostel cooks, but, filtering out the items that contain onion, garlic, yeast, etc. You too can take fruits more.
However, whenever you take the food, pray as said in the above title similar to the prayer when you eat in the hotels like this:
“My dear acharyas and Krishna. I am unable to arrange proper food for you since I am staying in this out station. So, I have offered ……..to you today. Please accept it. Please take away the karma in the food that I am eating now in my hostel and make that food pure. I will resume my regular offering to you when I go back to our home during holidays and after finishing my studies. Please forgive my inability”
After praying like this CHANT HARE KRISHNA MAHA MANTHRA THREE TIMES AND THEN START EATING.
Offer to Krishna in your hostel room keeping a small picture in a rack. You can offer different fruits every day. Any fruit can be offered. There are varieties. Offer one fruit a day in two three pieces.
Keep a bottle of Pickle prepared at home. Take it in a bag to the hostel canteen and add it in the place of the masala items containing onion or garlic.
In case on any day, you happen to eat with onion or garlic (while wearing or not wearing kanthi mala), no issues. It is not a crime but only guna will be affected a little. Be careful next time. Don’t cry. Unavoidable mistakes are always forgivable. Just do not make it a habit to eat onion and garlic.
The hostel residents may postpone wearing kanthi mala and diksha till you settle in a permanent home or after marriage.
HOW TO GET TULASI LEAVES IN OUT STATIONS?
Yes. Krishna will accept our offering only when we place atleast a single tulasi leaf on the plate. But, the tulasi need not be fresh. It can even be dried and months old. So, if you travel, take some dried tulasi leaves and use that. If you are staying in the hostel, keep 100+ tulasi leaves in a small container (plastic box) and use one leaf every day while offering fruits, vegetables, etc in the hostel room. Dried tulasi leaf is equal to the fresh one. I collect all the leaves falling on ground and keep them in a container. I use those dry leaves only. Because I don’t pluck the leaves from the plant.
Remember, just one leaf is enough and you need not place a leaf in every dish in the plate. Just place a single dry leaf in the middle of plate. It is enough.
Those who attend the functions of the relatives also may pray as said above to Krishna and skip the items with onion and garlic.
Hope this long reply helps.