COMPLETE PROCEDURE OF OFFERING FOOD TO KRISHNA!
(This article is based on the recommendations of HDG A.C. Bakthi Vedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Founder of ISKCON movement)
OFFERING FOOD TO KRISHNA IS TO SHOW OUR LOVE!
Offering food to Krishna should involve only the vegetarian items like purely cooked food, fruits, Tulasi leaves, water, milk, etc! No non-vegetarian foods!
Some devotees may ask: “When all are available in this world belong to Krishna, why do you tell me to offer Him only the selected things?”
The reply is: “Because, Krishna wants those items only, as He said in Bhagavad Gita Ch-9, Text-26.”
They may again ask: “Won’t he accept if I offer Him whatever I want from His creations?
This can be replied with a story:
Once Rajaram, related as uncle, along with his wife, planned to visit the houses of two brothers, Ram & Lakshman!
First they went to Ram’s rich house! Ram offered rich foods of so many varieties that he and his wife like the most!
Then they went to Lakshman’s poor hut! Lakshman’s wife asked them which food items they like most!
After getting their preferred menu, she cooked a simple food & offered them! She had the feeling that she could not prepare so many items to make a rich offering.
After finishing the feast in both the brothers’ houses, they returned their home!
Read this also: Can non vegetarian devotee boys marry vegetarian devotee girls?
Wife asked Rajaram: “Tell me whose feast was the best today, Ram’s or Lakshman’s?”
He replied: “That of Lakshman!”.
She asked: “I found Ram’s food was very rich! Isn’t it? Why do you prefer Lakshman’s offering?”
“Yes, it was rich, but he offered food to us as he wanted, to show his richness! But, Lakshman’s wife asked what we prefer & prepared accordingly with care & with the items that they had with them! Though it was not rich in quantity, it was very delicious as they were the items I like the most!”
What this shows?
We should offer Krishna what He wants, not what we want! This is the respect that we have to give to the guests! Krishna is a permanent guest in your family!
What happens after you offer food to Krishna?
Answer is, you will get everything! Krishna will give everything till Lakshmi stops Him!
Let us see a story known to all:
Krishna & Sudhama are childhood friends! Sudhama is very poor! Krishna became a king & hence he had to live in the palace! Sudhama lived in a hut! One day, Sudhama became bankrupt!
He had no money to manage the days! His wife advised him to meet his childhood friend Krishna & seek help! Sudhama hesitated as Krishna had become a king! He never expected anything from Krishna! He had nothing to take for offering to Krishna! His wife offered some pressed rice for Krishna! He kept it inside a knot on his dhoti & went to meet Krishna!
On seeing him, Krishna felt happy, walked forward & embraced him! Both of them discussed all their childhood pastimes!
Krishna asked him: “What did you bring for me?”.
Sudhama shied to show the pressed rice! But, Krishna himself took the pressed rice from the knot of dhoti & ate it!
When he took the first dose, the hut of Sudhama became a palace! When Krishna took the second dose, Sudhama’s house were filled with jewels & wealth!
When Krishna tried to take third dose, Lakshmi came forward & prevented Krishna from taking it!
She told Krishna: “Krishna, by taking two doses, you gave wealth to Sudhama! If you take the third dose, you will give yourself to Sudhama! After that, what I will do without you?”
This is the Grace shown by Krishna to anyone who offers even a simple offering! So, don’t think ‘Offering’ as unnecessary!
We saw that KRISHNA GIVES HIMSELF to us if we offer even a small offering with love & dedication! If it is so, should we expect returns from Krishna?
Answer is “No”. Of course, initial stage devotees pray for something from Krishna! Many girls & boys pray for groom/ bride! Many pray for money! Many pray for the cure of diseases! Many pray for success & fame!
But, advanced/matured devotees will not expect anything from Krishna in return for the devotional services they perform, because when we start offering to Krishna, He starts specially watching us! He knows all our past Karma! He finds out why we get these difficulties, or why our success delayed! He fastens our karma clearing & wipes them off at the earliest! Then He starts offering what ever we need for a peaceful & spiritual life!
All this will happen though we don’t ask Krishna! All you have to do is starting to Love Krishna & dedicate everything to Him! To do so, you should forget “I”, “Me”, “Mine”. Instead, you should consider “Of Krishna”, “For Krishna”, “With Krishna” & “From Krishna”. Then Krishna will start watching you specially!
How does Krishna eat whatever we offer to Him?
We should prepare the food carefully & dedicatedly for Krishna! When we offer food to Krishna, many think that there is no changes in it even after some time! They argue, Krishna never came & took the food & the quantity of food has not changed and hence there is no chance Krishna would have taken them! What happens when you offer food?
Actually Krishna is waiting for your food if the regular offering time has come! He likes to eat from His devotees! If you delay, He feels: “why my devotee is late today?”.
Anyway, when you offer food to Krishna, He eats it eagerly & blesses you! How? Krishna can eat through all his organs! He eats your food through His eyes, without coming in person but just by seeing it!
When He sees it, he feels as if he has eaten your food! That is why, there is no change in the quantity! Krishna allows the remnants of the offered food for you to eat! As Krishna eats your food through His eyes, there will be no physical presence & no change in the quantity, but He feels satisfied! This is the secret behind how Krishna eats! So, hereafter offer food to Krishna happily!
Offering food to Krishna is not just a ritual! There are so many divine facts behind it! It is a personal way of expressing our Love on Krishna!
Food prepared for & offered to Krishna WITH LOVE & DEVOTION becomes completely spiritualized! Such food is called PRASADAM, which means “The Mercy Of Lord Krishna”.
Sri Chaitanya Maha Prabhu says: “Everyone has tasted these foods before. However, now, that they have been prepared for Krishna. They have been offered to Krishna with devotion! These foods have acquired extraordinary tastes & fragrances! Just taste them & see the difference in the experience! Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind & makes one forget any other fragrance!
Therefore, it should be understood that the spiritual nectar of KRISHNA’s LIPS MUST HAVE TOUCHED THIS ORDINARY FOOD & IMPARTED IN THEM ALL HIS TRANSCENDENTAL QUALITIES!”
How nice to hear? “Krishna’s lips touched these ordinary foods!” Therefore, we eat the food that was touched by Krishna’s lips, of course, by just seeing through eyes & making His eyes as lips!
OFFERING FOOD TO KRISHNA
Unless one eats the food offered to Krishna, he will suffer the reactions of karma! Krishna says that if one offers him with love & devotion even a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, he will accept it!
What it shows?
We can offer to Krishna only foods that are prepared from milk products, vegetables, fruits, nuts & grains! Meat, fish & egg are not offerable! And a few vegetarian items are also forbidden! Eg: garlic, onion, as they are in the modes of passion and ignorance! For the same reason and being additives, Coffee & tea should not be offered to Krishna!
In preparing food, cleanliness is the most important! Keep your kitchen clean! Wash hands thoroughly before entering kitchen! Don’t taste the food while preparing, as it is for the pleasure of Krishna, not yours! Buy a set of 4-5 small cups kept on a plate exclusively for Krishna’s use (You should never use them for your own use!). Keep a small part of all items you prepared, in each vessel! Place the set before Krishna’s alter or picture!
After placing the plate with vessels with the food inside before Krishna, everyone should first chant the Pranam Manthra for Srila Prabhupada:
Nama Om Vishnu Padaya Krishna Presthaya Bhuthale
Srimate Bhakthivedantha Swamin Ithi Namine
Namaste Saraswati Deve Gauravani Pradhayine
Nirvisesha Sunyavathi Paschathya Desa Tharine
If you had taken initiation (Diksha) from a guru, you must chant his pranam manthra that was taught for you, before chanting the above manthra!
Next, offer prayers to Sri Chaitanya Maha Prabhu who simplified & established Nama Sankirthan movement more than 500 years ago!
Namo maha vadhanyaya Krishna Prema Prathaya the
Krishnaya Krishna Chaitanya Namne Gaura thwise Namah
Finally, offer prayers to Krishna by reciting:
Namo Brahmanya Devaya Go-Brahmana Hithaya cha
Jagad Hidhaya Krishnaya Govindhaya Namo Namah.
You must chant all the above slokas in sequence THREE TIMES standing before the food! Then, Pray to Krishna: “My Dear Lord Krishna, Please accept this food and forgive me for any offences while preparing and offering!“.
Keep the food before Krishna’s picture/ alter for about 10 minutes! Then, take the PRASADAM (Food became Prasadam after Krishna touched it!) & mix every item with their respective preparations that we have kept in kitchen. Mix them & serve to all the family members! Wash Krishna’s utensils & keep them in a neat and protected place!
While reciting the manthras at the time of offering food, you may use an incense stick, or, a dhoop, or a ghee lamp to show the Arathi! When you distribute the prasadam to your family members, place the dishes mixed with the offered food on their plate or leaf!
Then all of you MUST thank Krishna through guru for offering prasadam to you! Tell this Prasada Seva Manthra first and then start honouring (eating)!
Maha Prashade Govinde Nama Brahmanya Vaishnave
Svalpa Punya Vadham rajan Visvasa naiva Jayathe
Sarira Abithya Jal, Jodentriya Tahe kal
Jive Phele Vishaya Sagore Tara madhye Jihwa Ati, Lobhomoy Sudurmathi
Ta ke Jetha katina Samsare
Krishna baro Dhoyamoy, Koribare jihwajay,
Swaprashad anna dilo bhai,
Sei Anna Amirtha pao
Radha Kriahna Guna Gao Preme dako chaitanya Nitai
After reciting these manthras, start honouring the prasadam (eating)!
REMEMBER, KRISHNA PRASADAM IS FREE FROM KARMA & CLEARS OUR PAST KARMA TOO! In fact, Krishna’s Prasadam is not different from Krishna. It is Krishna Himself!
MEANING OF PRASHADA SEVA MANTHRA
“Persons who are not highly elevated in pious activities can neither believe in the remnants of food (Prashadam) of Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor, in Govinda, the Holy name of God, nor in the vaishnavas. Oh, Brothers, this material body is a network of ignorance & the senses are one’s deadly enemies, for they throw the soul into this ocean of material sense enjoyment.
Among those senses, the tongue is the most voracious & uncontrollable; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in the world; Brothers, Lord Krishna is very merciful & He has given this remnants of His own food just to control our tongue! Please accept the nectarian Krishna Prashadam & sing the glories of their Lordships Sri Sri Radharani & Krishna and in love, call out ‘Chaitanya Nitai’!”
What are the vegetables prohibited from offering to Krishna?
There are generally prohibited foods in the list. However, there are also certain foods that are offered in certain countries, but, not offered in some other countries that I have heard. There are some differences in this matter.
However, it is always better to avoid the following foods or vegetables or food ingredients while preparing food to Krishna:
(1) All non vegetarian foods like meat, fish, eggs, etc.
(2) Onions and garlic.
(3) Mushrooms (because there is a controversy about its vegetarian nature)
(4) Some also avoid Masur-dal (red lentils), white eggplant, citron, saps from trees (if not boiled first), etc.
(5) Only raw rice is good as it is 100% in nutrients. Boiled rice is not USUALLY allowed. However, some use half boiled or semi boiled rice.
(6) Only cow’s milk is good. Milk from Buffalo and goat can be avoided. However, in western countries, or, even in India, most of the people get milk from govt or private co-operative societies supplied at the door step. This will be borne by Krishna that we may hope. (In my case, I get milk from an individual milkman who grows only cows traditionally without harmone motivations, not buffalos.)
(7) Canned or frozen foods may also be avoided.
(8) Usually, white sugar can be avoided. However, it is used in many zones. Therefore, try to reduce the usage of white sugar.
Let us see some of the views of HDG A.C. Bakthi Vedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, about this matter:
(1) “Frozen means nasty. I never take frozen…. All rotten, rather the same vegetable, as we have got in India practice, we dry it and keep it. That is tasteful.”
(2) “So far the cucumber pickles: As far as possible we should not offer to the deity things which are prepared by non-devotees. We can accept from them raw fruits, grains, or similar raw things. So far cooking and preparing, that should be strictly limited to the initiated devotees. And aside from this, vinegar is not good; it is tamasic, in the darkness, nasty food.”
(3) “Concerning the use of sour cream in the temple, it should be stopped immediately. Nothing should be offered to the Deities which is purchased in the stores. Things produced by the karmis should not be offered to Radha-Krishna. Ice cream, if you can prepare, is O.K., but not otherwise.”
(4) “Unpolished rice which looks like brown can be used… We do not mind polished or unpolished, but doubly-boiled [siddha rice] mustn’t be used. Doubly-boiled rice is considered impure. Sun baked rice (atapa) is all right.”
(5) “Soya beans and lentils are unofferable.”
(6) “Regarding purchasing things in the market, these items are considered as purified when we pay the price for them. That is the general instruction. But when we know something is adulterated, we should avoid it. But unknowingly if something is purchased, that is not our fault. Things which are suspicious, however, should be avoided.”
(7) “No, it is not very good to use yeast in preparing prasadam.”
(8) “Since it is offensive to offer anything to Krsna that He will not accept, one should be extremely cautious not to offer (or eat) anything questionable.”
Hope all of you have got all the details about offering food to Krishna. Let Krishna bless all.