Chakra Discussions

Cooking with love and awareness

by Bhakta Edwin

Posted April 6, 2005

Prasadam should be prepared with a very loving consciousness - indeed all service should be done this way, but especially our Lord's food preparations, as our consciousness goes into the food we prepare. However, this duty does not lay strictly on the shoulders of the cooks. It is an entire temple's duty to make sure things are going well. As it is quoted in the Sikshamrita, Srila Prabhupada liked very much the notice at the train station that all the workers must see that the wheels of the train are moving [paraphrased]. In the matter of prasadam, everyone from the cook to the president to the individual bhaktin or bhakta must make sure the prasadam is as opulent as possible while remaining healthy.

The cooks definately should prepare sumptuous meals for Krishna, and make sure the bhoga is well stored and stocked. They should cook with a love for Krishna, but also with a love for the devotee. It should be emotionally painful for a cook to see their spiritual family unhealthy due to inadequate diet. If there is inadequate materials, a request can be made to the authorities for more variety and better quality.

The managers/presidents/authorities should also be concerned with prasadam, and not just when they can eat it. On an impersonal level, prasadam is the fuel that our human resources work off of. If there is bad fuel, there will be bad service performed and the temple will falter. With good prasadam and healthy devotees, morale will improve and efficiency will increase. On a - more importantly - personal level, the authority is the head of the spiritual household. It is their duty and their concern to take care of the family and see everyone is healthy. Appreciation is needed, because with that will come compassion and concern for their well-being. The authority can monitor the quality of preparation, and make sure that adequate budgeting is there for good, varied meals.

For the individual - you are the one who ultimately decides whether a meal is good or not. If a person simply comes in, eats, and leaves - how will the cooks discover if everyone is getting dysentery and scurvy? If there is a problem with the prasadam, you must let the cooks and the authoritites know. This can be done humbly and with the consciousness that Krishna also wants healthy, varied meals. Krishna is the fire of digestion - we should be giving Him proper things to digest. Krishna is also Hrisikesha - master of the senses. It is through your senses that Krishna also enjoys, thus with one's senses being used in Krishna's service, making sure the prasadam is up to par can be a sort of service. Make sure the meals have variety and provide good nutrition - if a special diet is needed, very humbly ask the cooks and authorities if this is possible. Lastly, for the individual, appreciate the cooks. Thank them! They are supplying you with what is needed to survive - not just food, but Krishna's mercy!

Ultimately we are all responsible if the prasadam is not nutritional enough, and as such we can all make sure that this improves at our respective temples. This is an important thing to do to make sure our family can continue - for that is what we really are: a spiritual family. As such, we should care for each other in such a way as to make sure we all are eating right.

Now, it is hard for me to be experienced in this - I live at a temple with a restaurant that has won best vegetarian in the city eight years in a row. This lets me have plenty of healthy and varied food, but I am not trying to write on experience of prasadam, but my realization of compassion and care for other devotees, and of spiritual communism. Please forgive my offenses.