In Bhakti Yoga, all activities can be turned to spiritual advancement. This article describes how to spiritualize your eating—and enjoy ecstasy at every meal.
Krishna Consciousness is a way of life that is practiced twenty-four hours a day. It fulfills the needs of the spirit, the mind and the body. We are pure spirit soul encased in these material bodies: the subtle body of mind, and the gross body, of which the five senses are a part. The need of spirit is to become uncovered and return back to home, back to Godhead upon leaving this body. The way this is achieved is by chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra and by regulating the needs of the body, which are eating, sleeping, fearing and mating.
Surrender is the first step. Surrender to a pure soul, the Spiritual Master comes with chanting and hearing this Mantra, and eating Krishna Prasadam, food specially prepared and offered to the Lord, then distributed to friends and family. These two activities produce attachment to Krishna Consciousness.
Here we will discuss Krishna Prasadam. Prasadam is spiritual food because it has been offered to Lord Krishna through the chanting of the following mantras three times each in front of the picture or statue of the Deity:
Namah om Vishnupadaya Krishnapresthaya bhutale srimate Bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine.
Namo maha badanaya Krishna prema predayate Krishnaya Krishnachaitanya namine goura tvishe namah.
Namo brahmanya devaya go brahmana hitaya cha jagat hitaya Krishnaya Govindaya namo namah.
Krishna eats the food and then we take the remnants. The good taste of the food is thus enhanced, and the body and mind become healthy while the soul remains engaged in service to the Lord.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that you may offer Him a leaf, a flower, some water, some fruit; and, if offered with love as a devotee of Krishna, then He will accept such an offering. Elsewhere in the Bhagavad Gita, He says that when something is given to Him in sacrifice, that activity is Him, and that He becomes the offering. So you can easily see that eating this Krishna Prasadam is most beneficial for making progress in Krishna Consciousness. Eating Prasadam is associating with Krishna Himself, just as chanting His Name is associating with Krishna, the Supreme Personality, the All-Blissful.
Prasadam is first of all prepared specifically for Krishna, in the way that He likes it. The Spiritual Master therefore gives all the recipes and methods of preparation to his disciples according to the system of “Parampara” (disciplic succession), and so we may be sure that we are preparing what is acceptable to Krishna.
Everything used during preparation is clean. All fruits, vegetables, nuts, rice and other grains that can be washed are washed, and all utensils, pots and dishes are washed before using. Anything that drops on the floor is washed. The cook’s hands are kept clean. So, during preparation, don’t touch your hair, clothes, body, garbage can, floor, etc. Since the food is being cooked for Krishna there should be no tasting or smelling, except when urgently required.
When Prasadam is all prepared place on a nice metal (preferably silver) platter, along with yogurt and cold water in nice metal bowls. Place on your altar and offer to Lord Krishna. After chanting the mantras you may remove the food and “take” to your heart’s content.
Now you’re ready to cook for Krishna.