Ecstatic Distribution Of Sri Krishna Prasadam
Posted December 21, 2005
The hearts of Lord Krishna’s devotees are always engaged in searching for newer and bigger ways of spreading His divine mercy. Enthusiastic distribution of sanctified food items (Krishna Prasad) has often earned us the nickname of the “Kitchen Religion.” Nowhere in the world have I seen this particular seva being done more efficiently, more wide spread, more economically, more innovatively and certainly not more enthusiastically than in the creative project co partnered by ISKCON Juhu, ISKCON Mira Road and ISKCON Chowpatty under the banner of ISKCON Food Relief Foundation’s, Midday Meals Programme.
Srila Prabhupada was the ultimate genius when it came to engaging every conditioned soul in the service of Lord Hari. No matter what a person’s motive or mentality was, Srila Prabhupada could find a way to engage that person in a meaningful manner that would connect him to Lord Krishna, causing him to feel satisfied.
I recall one gentleman, who didn’t appear so pious on the face of it, yet he came regularly to meet Srila Prabhupada in the early Juhu days. One day, Srila Prabhupada commented that the local urchins were also coming daily, mostly for Prasad. He noticed that they were wearing the dirtiest thinnest rags and he asked this gentleman if he would supply them with fresh clothing. One might argue that our mission is not to appease fashion, but how Srila Prabhupada ceased an opportunity to engage this soul in Krishna’s seva and at the same time encourage these children was typical of his ingenuity.
Midday Meals is a similar opportunity that has seized a moment and placed it at Krishna’s Lotus Feet at the same time, engaging a multitude of souls in the project. Someone may grumble that Srila Prabhupada never instructed us to begin massive welfare projects, but on the contrary, address the problems directly with application of Krishna Conciousness. Prasad distribution has been a recognized method of preaching since the first Hare Krishna center opened its doors at 26 Second Ave in NYC, USA. Applying the principle on such a massive scale as Midday Meals is certainly a “first” and I can only appreciate the fresh attempt to pioneer Krishna Conciousness in this format.
What is being done is “wholesale” distribution of delicious nutritious lunch Prasad to more than 35,000 school children six days a week in Mumbai from two facilities, one at Mira Road and the other located at small efficient warehouse space in Tardeo. The uniqueness of this program is certainly distinctive. In fact, over one million meals were served in the first six months period!
The facilities themselves would put to shame most western temples. They are of the revolutionary clean standard that Srila Prabhupada demanded of his centers. There is no “dirt” being swept “under the carpets” here. From the ceiling to the floor, there is only cleanliness. That in itself is a wonder in a country where dirt is a way of life (sorry, India) for most of the population. The equipment is among the most modern anywhere and is so efficient that with very little space, 45,000 meals can be produced daily with a full clean up in between each shift.
This program is fully financed by donations ranging from small personal contributions, to large corporate gifts. The Govt. of Maharashtra subsidizes this project by supplying free rice and contributes Rs 1.25 per plate. Transparency is a vital part of their presentation and regular financial reports are available.
The ingredients are of a high quality, so much so that even pure cow ghee is used. Precisely measured servings are accomplished by specially manufactured items designed for this program. The carefully measured ingredients are cooked in steam jacketed stainless steel cauldrons that have a capacity of 300 Kgs each. Once cooked and placed into containers, the containers themselves are sealed until serving time. The carefully prepared bhoga is lovingly offered to Radha and Krishna at the onsite altar by ISKCON Brahmins before being delivered to the schools in Maruti cargo vans that have also been specially designed for this project.
Each day sees a different combination of rice, dal, beans and subji (vegetables) as well a different types of massala’s (mixtures of spices) insuring tasty Prasad meals each day of the week. As a surprise visitor, I was offered a cup of the offered Prasad. It was wonderful! I kept thinking about it the rest of the day. It was deliciously cooked to perfection. Even though I ate lunch at Govinda’s that day, I felt more satisfied by that wonderful kichari with ghee from Midday Meals!
I urge visitors to Mumbai to contact Radha Krishna das (Radha.Krishna.RNS@pamho.net), the director, for a guided tour of the facilities and a taste of the efforts. It is inspiring and gratifying to see this service in action as testimony to the endless opportunities available in the devotional service frontier. For further information, please visit their web-site: www.middaymeal.com or call 022 2369 7228.