Posted February 14, 2005
To offer food to Krishna, and to honor the remnants as prasadam, are spiritual activities. This is taught and practiced by the acaryas in the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya. Honoring prasad helps us to develop love of Krishna. It purifies the body, helps us to control the tongue, and protects against material contamination.
The method of cooking food for Krishna is also a spiritual activity. There are many rules and regulations concerning cooking for Krishna. There should be a high standard of cleanliness. Only certain kinds of foodstuffs, which are in the mode of goodness, should be used. These include dairy products, wheat, rice, pulses, fruit, vegetables and sugar. Certain spices like garlic and onions should be avoided. Vegetables and fruits should be fresh.
The article by Elise Boyd, Killed by Prasadam? is inaccurate, according to the above description. The writer objects to ghee, sugar and too many grains, but these foods are in the mode of goodness. If one doesn't want to eat a lot of opulent food, he can at least honor a little deity prasadam containing ghee and sugar. (We are not honoring the ghee and sugar. We are honoring the remnants left and after Krishna ate the ghee and sugar.) The writer objects to overcooked vegetables, but sometimes the recipe requires vegetables (like eggplant, spinach and tomatoes) to be cooked for a long time to get thick, for Krishna's satisfaction.
Honoring prasaddoes not cause disease. What causes disease is overeating. This comes from anxiety, which comes from offense. If someone wants to be free of disease, he should avoid making offenses, and chanting Hare Krishna and honoring prasad will help us to avoid offense.
To write about transcendental subject matters, one should at least come to the level of sambandha-jnana. Sambandha-jnana is the knowledge of the relationship between jiva, maya and isvara. Having this knowledge one is qualified to be initiated. With sambandha-jnana, one can develop abhidheya and prayojana. Abhidheya is the process of devotional service (sadhana) which includes vaidhi and raganuga. Prayojam is culmination of devotional service -- love of Godhead (prema and all its varieties). The problem we have today is that people write about transcendental subject matters without even coming to the understanding of sambandha-jnana.
We should also mention two other points. Krishna may or may not accept the offering. It could be that sometimes people are thinking they honor prasad but it was never accepted by Krishna in the first place. The temple leaders, the cook and the pujari need to be pure.
Secondly, honoring pujari is an eternal activity. By honoring
prasad in this life, we can take our next body as a devotee and
continue to honor prasad, whether we are in the material or the
spiritual world. On the other hand, those who eat simply for health
concerns may or may not get healthy from eating, but it will not help
them to take a devotional birth in their next life.