Jahnuj, Narayana, Nara

Viṣṇu-sahasranāma 245-247 | August 20, 2013 |

English; Inis Rath, Fermanagh, Ireland

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Question: As far as cooking prasada for the deities, the standard as I know is to be second initiated. Does this apply to cooking for the devotees and offering it to a picture? In Krishna house they have devotees cooking who chant 8 rounds and its questionable if they are following the regulated principles. Would this affect one's consciousness and can this be considered a fit offering to the Lord?… Expand>

Question:

As far as cooking prasada for the deities, the standard as I know is to be second initiated. Does this apply to cooking for the devotees and offering it to a picture? In Krishna house they have devotees cooking who chant 8 rounds and its questionable if they are following the regulated principles. Would this affect one's consciousness and can this be considered a fit offering to the Lord?

Answer by H.H. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

Well, the proper term in our terminology is to prepare bhoga for the Deities. It is offered, the Lord accepts it, and then we take His prasādam.
Yes, but that’s the strict rule that in the temple where Deities are worshipped, all cooking and Deity worship should be done by brāhmaṇ initiated devotees.
That doesn’t mean that if you are not brāhmaṇicaly initiated you should not eat, or just only eat raw food or something like that. Even that, you are supposed to offer to Kṛṣṇa.
There is laxity for some devotees who are not initiated in that way. But in the temples with installed Deities (of course Deity means installed) there bhoga should be offered and cooked by persons who are formally initiated brāhmaṇically or pañcarātrically.
If they are not chanting 16 rounds and following the principles, then they shouldn’t be cooking for Deities and they will affect our consciousness.

viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa

“When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Kṛṣṇa properly.“ (CC Antya 6.278)

Then we may say they are devotees, not materialists. They are not devotees to the level who should be cooking for distribution to others. They won’t benefit others. I’ve spoken on this many times. You can see on the website, there must be.
It affects one’s consciousness certainly because the consciousness of the cook is transmitted through the cooking.

Once, in Australia, Śrīla Prabhupāda was given some prasādam, nicely puffed up purīs. Afterward he asked: Who is the cook? The cook was Kūrma dāsa Prabhu, one of the most famous cooks in the history of ISKCON.
There are some famous cooks: Yamunā devi (who is probably the most famous), Kūrma Prabhu, Apūrva is very well known in America, Vibhu-Caitanya was there in Vṛndāvan. There are so many good cooks, but some in particular.
So Kūrma Prabhu came and Śrīla Prabhupāda said to him: Thank you very much for so nicely following the regulative principles!
We may say what’s that got to do with cooking, but Śrīla Prabhupāda could understand that his cooking is so nice because he is so seriously practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Rādhārāṇī is manifesting through him. It’s understood that cooking for Kṛṣṇa is the service of Rādhārāṇī.

rādhikāra pakka anna vividha byañjana
parama ānande kṛṣṇa korena bhojana

“In great ecstasy and joy Kṛṣṇa eats the rice, curried vegetables, sweets, and pastries cooked by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” (Bhoga-arati / Bhaja Bhakata Vatsala, verse 8)

As Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says She cooks for Kṛṣṇa rice and various vegetables, and so many different preparations.

And in South India they don’t know so much about Rādhā yet. So, they will say that Lakṣmī is cooking actually. Cooking for Viṣṇu means that the cook has to take blessing from Lakṣmī. It’s Her service, so the cook can only assist.

So, when one is in good consciousness then Kṛṣṇa is very pleased to accept the offering, and His mercy comes through fully.

If we are in materialistic consciousness, if we are not following the principles properly, if we are not up to the level of chanting 16 rounds, well, whatever good consciousness we have it will come through, and whatever bad consciousness we have it will come through also.
So, that’s the one in brief.

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Well, I’ve never heard it used for prasādam distributors, but it’s commonly used of book distributors within my understanding; maybe for prasādam distributors also. Yes, we are all supposed to be members of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprahu’s saṅkīrtana movement, under the guidance of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Śrīla Prabhupāda ascribed the term saṅkīrtana to distribution of his books and books that are meant for awakening people to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, because it’s all part of the preaching mission. Kīrtana means to glorify Kṛṣṇa. Saṅkīrtana means preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So I wouldn’t make a big thing out of this. It’s just like we are all members of the saṅkīrtana movement, but within that movement some devotees are called pūjārī, because they do the service of pūjā. We are all supposed to worship Kṛṣṇa, but those who do so as a specialised service, they’re called pūjārī. Those whose specific service is to cook for Kṛṣṇa, they may be called the cooks. That doesn’t mean that no one else can cook. But because they do that specific service that is referred to them, they are referred to as that. So specifically those who perform book distribution, within my experience, they are called saṅkīrtana devotees. I don’t know if Śrīla Prabhupāda used that term, but it was commonly used in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence. He didn’t object to that. So we may do so. 

Prasādam distribution is also good, but it’s not a function of praising Kṛṣṇa exactly, as the books are so. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch to call those who are distributing prasādam saṅkīrtana devotees, although if you want to be generous, you can call everyone a saṅkīrtana devotee. But then, there would be no need. You could just call them devotees. So, anyway, I wouldn’t make a big thing out of this. 

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