Question

I was singing before prasadam:

maha-prasade govinde
nama-brahmani vaisnave
svalpa-punya-vatam rajan
visvaso naiva jayate

I realized I have no idea what it is about. After finding a translation for it I still have no idea what it is about. Aside from having the words maha-prasade in the verse, what relevance does it have? Why is it a regular ritual before eating?

My Reply

The idea of this verse is “Please don’t eat what you about to eat in the same way you eat ordinary food. This is not ordinary food.”

Naturally, one will ask, “What’s so extraordinary about it, besides the fact that it probably tastes pretty good?”

The answer is, “It is Govinda’s mahā-prasāda – it is food that you have gotten directly as a result of feeding Govinda.”

Next, the natural instinct is to feel, “Oh… really… well, so what?” So the rest of the verse addresses the “so what?” feeling by saying, “People who say ‘so what’ about Govinda’s mahā-prasāda tend to be the same people who say ‘so what’ about other things directly connected to Govinda: his name, those who teach about him, and those who adore him. These people feel this way because they have very little faith in, very little devotion for Govinda. Try not to be like them, they are very unfortunate people.”

So the translation:

Oh King
Only the most unfortunate people
Have such meager devotion to Govinda
That they consider his name, his philosophers, his devotees, and his gifts
[like this food]
To be just like any other ordinary thing.

Govinda’s name is not an external word, it is a spiritual word; Govinda’s philosophers are not ordinary thinkers and scientists; Govinda’s devotees are not ordinary sentimentalists; Govinda’s gifts are not ordinary trinkets and morsels – but unfortunate people cannot experience this, because they don’t care enough to pay enough attention to Govinda, with their inner, spiritual mind and senses.

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