Prasadam Rules

QUESTION: Can you please clarify which type of food can be offered to Krishna, and the correct procedure, so that Krishna accepts our offering and makes it as a Prasad for us.

The wording of your question reveals a very significant flaw in how you approach the whole subject, but first let me try to address the specifics of your question.

The essence of Krishna-worship is love, not ritual.

Please remember that there is more than one right way to do anything. Try to understand the essence of what is correct, then you won’t be baffled by the differences in the ways different people or groups apply that essence in specific circumstances.

The essence is bhakti. In Gītā (9.26), Krishna gives this as the essential qualifier of an offering that he likes to accept:

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्याप्रयचछति
तदहंभक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः ।।

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

In this verse Krishna says three times that the essence of what he wants is love. First he says bhaktyā (“because of love” — bhaktyā prayacchati: “I accept it because of love.”). Second, he says he accepts it lovingly because it is offered with love, bhakti-upahṛta. Third, he says he accepts the offering from prayata-ātmana (“a pure hearted person” – which means a loving person, without the stains of selfishness). By stressing it three times, Krishna makes it very clear that the essence of what he wants to be offered is love. 

There are many, many ways to express love. The details are not essential and don’t need to be fixed and set in stone. Different people can do it differently, and different reccomendations are given to different individuals in different circumstances. If you worry too much about these details, you might forget the essence. The essence of Krishna-worship is love, not ritual.

As for what kind of food can be offered, Krishna doesn’t get very specific or exhaustive, showing that it is not as essential. He simply says “leaves (patra, you can read it as leafy vegetable, or as any vegetable), flowers (puṣpa, yes there are many flowers that can be eaten), fruits (phala), and water (toya).

What is interesting is that all of these four have connotations in relation to love. A patra (leaf) is a “declaration” of the love or the “basis” of love, the relationship. The puṣpa (flower) is the symptom of love, like blushing, blinking, prespiring, etc. The phala (fruit) is the expression of love, like hugging, kissing, etc. The toya (water) is the solvency of ātma between lover and beloved, the flowing exchange of heart. This is an esoteric angle that further highlights how the essence of the whole exchange with Krishna is not some caloric content, it is love.

Feed Krishna because you want him to know that you love him and you are thinking of him. Don’t do it for any other reason.

Make it Prasadam

You said you want to do the offering correctly, “so that Krishna accepts our offering and makes it as a Prasad for us.” This shows that your main concern might not be what Krishna gets or experiences, but what you get or experience. This is a major problem. It spoils the entire thing. You have Krishna making something for you. You’ve turned the whole thing upside-down and backwards.

Don’t put food in front of a statue or picture of Krishna because you want it to magically transform into something that is “karma-free” and will give you liberation, super-purity, or the approval-stamp of a certified “bonafide follower”.

Feed Krishna because you want him to know that you love him and you are thinking of him. Don’t do it for any other reason.

Is God Hungry?

Don’t think, “He is not really hungry. He is God.” Why do you think God can’t be hungry? Flavor cannot be enjoyed well without hunger, so how can the Supreme Being, the Supreme Enjoyer, not have a voracious appetite!? Of course he can be hungry! He has more hunger than anyone! In fact, in this verse from Gita, he says, “I am voraciously hungry (aśnāmi) for the expressions of love (bhaktyupahṛta) from the pure hearted (prayatātmanaḥ).”

He is hungry for your love.

Vrajavāsīs are not concerned much with any rituals about food. In Vraja, food has one purpose: to delight Krishna. It accomplishes this purpose in two ways: directly and indirectly. Food directly delights Krishna when the Vrajavāsī’s feed him scrumptuous things. It indirectly delights Krishna when the Vrajavāsī’s eat it to increase their own health and beauty, so they can delight Krishna by playing with him energetically and enthusiastically. This is why it is very often said that “everything in Vraja is prasādam.” 

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1 Comment

  1. Great Post.
    Superb explanation of Bhagavad Gita 9.26. May Krishna empower you with more such insights to share with us. I am really hungry for that.


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