Why eat prasadam?


The Power of Sacred Food

On the spiritual path those that are most inclined to lead a
peaceful existence that respects the value of all life often adopts
the vegetarian lifestyle. It is in accordance with the yogic
principle of ahimsa, which is to observe nonviolence and abstain
from injuring any being in any way. However, in the process of
bhakti-yoga, devotion goes beyond simple vegetarianism, and food
becomes a method of spiritual progress. In the Krishna temples,
food is offered to the Deities in a special sacrament, after which
it becomes prasadam. This means the mercy of the Lord. Thus, the
food we eat after it is offered to the Lord becomes a means for our
purification and spiritual development.
Devotional service or Krishna consciousness is often described
as a process of singing, dancing and feasting. But the feasting is
done with spiritual food, Krishna prasadam.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “All that you do, all
that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all
austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering
unto Me.” So offering what we eat to the Lord is an integral part
of bhakti-yoga and makes the food blessed with spiritual potencies.
Then such food is called prasadam, or the mercy of the Lord.
The Lord also describes what He accepts as offerings: “If one
offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water,
I will accept it.” Thus, we can see that the Lord does not need
anything, but if one offers fruits, grains, and vegetarian foods,
He will accept it. The Lord does not accept foods like meat, fish
or eggs, but only those that are pure and naturally available
without harming others. So we offer what Krishna likes, not those
items which are distasteful to Him. We also do not use garlic,
onions, or mushrooms when we prepare food for Krishna.
The Lord is fully satisfied in Himself. He is the creator of
all so everything is already His. He supplies us with food through
nature, but we give thanks to Him by offering it back in a mood of
loving devotion. So if His devotee offers something with love, out
of His causeless mercy Krishna accepts it. The Lord is never hungry
for our food, but for the love and devotion we offer. And then He
reciprocates with that love.
So on the spiritual path eating food that is first offered to
God is the ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet. The Vedic
literature explains that the purpose of human life is reawakening
the soul’s original relationship with God, and accepting prasadam
is the way to help us reach that goal.
The food is meant to be cooked with the consciousness of love,
knowing that it will be offered to Lord Krishna. In the spiritual
world, Radharani cooks for Krishna and She never cooks the same
preparation twice. The temple kitchen is understood to belong to
The ingredients are selected with great care and must be
fresh, clean and pure vegetarian. Also, in cooking for Krishna we
do not taste the preparations while cooking. We leave the first
taste for Krishna when it is offered.
After all the preparations are ready, we take a portion of
each one and place it in bowls on a special plate and take it to
the altar to offer it to the Deities or pictures of Krishna.
Then the preparations are presented with special prayers as we
ask that God accept our humble offering. The Lord accepts it with
the most important part being the love with which it is offered.
God does not need to eat, but it is our love for God which attracts
Him to us and to accept our offering. Even if the most sumptuous
banquet is offered to God but without devotion and love, Krishna
will not be hungry to accept it. It is our love which catches the
attention of Lord Krishna who is then inclined to accept our
After He glances over and tastes that loving offering of
vegetarian preparations, He leaves the remnants for us to honor and
relish. Krishna’s potency is absorbed in that food. In this way
material substance becomes spiritualized, which then affects our
body and mind in a similar way. This is His special mercy for us.
Thus, the devotional process becomes an exchange of love between us
and God, which includes food. And that food not only nourishes our
body, but also purifies our consciousness.
By relishing the sacred food of Krishna prasadam, it purifies
our heart and protects us from falling into illusion. In this way,
the devotee imbibes the spiritual potency of Lord Krishna and
becomes cleansed of sinful reactions by eating food that is first
offered in sacrifice to God. We thus also become free from
reincarnation, the continued cycle of life and death. This process
prepares us for entering the spiritual world since the devotees
there also relish eating in the company of Krishna.
Not only do we make advancement, but also all of the plants
that are used in the preparations as an offering to God are also
purified and reap spiritual benefit. However, we become implicated
in karma if we cause the harm of any living being, even plants, if
we use them for food without offering them to God. Thus prasadam
also becomes the perfect yoga diet.
Therefore, the cooking, the offering and then the respectful
eating or honoring of this spiritualized food all become a part of
the joyful process of devotional service to the Lord. Anyone can
learn to do this and enjoy the happiness of experiencing prasadam.
The Sunday love feast in the Hare Krishna temples is the
opportunity in which everyone can participate in this opulence of
Lord Krishna. So we invite you to attend as often as you like and
make spiritual advancement simply by relishing Krishna

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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