Prasadam: A mercy through which we understand the Supreme Proprietor

Let me introduce myself. I’m Gauranga Das. I’m a Prasadam addict. Before joining the Hare Krishna movement I was 60 kgs. Now I weigh 70 kgs. That is the power of Prasadam. 

All of us subsist on food. We can’t survive without it. Who doesn’t like good food? 

There are four principles mentioned – ahara, nidra, bhaya, and maithuna. Eating, Sleeping, defending, and mating propel us to the animalistic way of life. These are the four ways our body and mind seek pleasure and thus eventually binding us to our material bodies. 

It is highly difficult to free ourselves from sleeping, fearing, or procreating. Likewise, we can’t free ourselves from eating. Of all senses, the tongue is the most difficult to control. Then, how else can we let off these material clutches and transform ourselves in spiritual life?  Therefore, Krishna in his most inconceivable merciful feature arranges in such a way that we can become transformed and detached simply by the process of eating. We can perform yoga simply by eating. The highest form of austerity can be performed simply by eating. Who will not want this kind of yoga process? 

The concession Krishna provides is, whatever we eat is offered to the Lord and is accepted as remnants. The food offered becomes transcendental by the touch of the Lord and is no more a cause of bondage. That is known as Prasad or mercy. 

How did hostel food push me to take shelter of Krishna Prasadam?

Many of us came to Krishna Consciousness because of Prasadam. Typically, in India, the concept of Prasadam is a few sugar balls. Anything beyond that is not considered Prasadam. After being toiled by the IIT hostel lifestyle, for the first time, we bumped onto the Krishna Consciousness Movement’s concept of having a ten-course feast and still calling it Prasadam. The taste was inexplicably impressive and they had the technology of teleporting us to different realms. Gradually, I became serious and so were some of my batchmates in IIT and we got curious to know more about this technology of Prasadam. We later became aware that there are foods in three modes of material nature. Food in the mode of passion and ignorance was completely avoided at ISKCON. The meals were pure vegetarian and without onion and garlic. So, as IITians, we had to start the cooking revolution. 

Defining the purpose of life through diet

Food containing onion and garlic drives one in the mode of passion and is not conducive for the concentration of the mind in meditation. It agitates the mind and is very hard to keep the mind still. Many may find this diet a little “too much.” However, a gymnast has a very particular diet with strict calorie restrictions whilst a boxer eats loads of protein-packed diet to build his body for the fight. What will happen if a gymnast eats like a boxer or vice versa? Both will fail in their purpose. Likewise, if a person’s purpose in life is to become self-realized by detaching from the body and mind and getting a higher perception of God’s Consciousness, this particular diet of strict vegetarianism excluding onion and garlic is recommended. 

The right diet for the right purpose is like the right fuel for the right vehicle. Otherwise, the vehicle given to us will not take us to the right destination. Of course, by making the best use of a bad bargain, we utilize our bodies as vehicles to transcend this material world by dovetailing it in performing Krishna Conscious activities. That begins with honoring Prasadam. 

Understanding the real proprietor 

yajña-śiṣṭāśinaḥ santo

mucyante sarva-kilbiṣaiḥ

bhuñjate te tv aghaṁ pāpā

ye pacanty ātma-kāraṇāt

[ Bg. 3.13 ]

Krishna states in the above verse that Whatever you eat, you offer it to me and take the remnants as Prasadam. Otherwise, you’re eating simply mouthfuls of sin. He further notes, with every mouthful you are taking that is not offered is considered a theft. This may seem ridiculous or even domineering of the Lord. But let’s consider a scenario of you owning a property and cultivating different types of fruits. Many visit the farm and continue to take all fruits cultivated by you without even showing a cent of gratitude or even feeling the conscience of offering fruit to you. How would you react? 

Moreover, all the supplies we receive through nature for our survival like eatables, sunlight, moonlight, rain, and other such are not manufactured by humans. They are manifesting under the laws of nature and are operated by the demigods under the supervision of the Supreme Lord. Without the Supreme Lord, we wouldn’t have received even a morsel of food or a droplet of water to drink to sustain our bodies. It is provided for us to keep ourselves healthy enough to pursue the ultimate goal of life – self-realization and remove ourselves from the clutches of material existence.  

If we continue to take everything from nature for our sense of enjoyment without acknowledging the Supreme Lord’s mercy on us, we certainly become thieves and eventually laws of nature punishes us in return. Receiving punishment in the form of having to face the brunt of climate change for ravaging Mother Earth is clear evidence on how laws of nature reciprocate to our selfish acts. 

Thus, offering our humble gratitude and appreciation for the mercy of the Supreme 

Lord not only frees us from all sinful reactions of birth and death but instantly revives our eternal loving relationship with him which we had forgotten several million lifetimes ago. We can start cultivating the practice of offering anything given to us first to the Lord and then use it in the service of the Lord. This way, we easily become free from the entanglements of this material nature and let go of our proprietorship over the belongings of this world, understanding who is the Supreme Proprietor of all. 

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