27th March, 2016. Gurgaon
Learning to love Krishna is something like developing love for family and friends in our everyday life. But we can offer all aspects of our life to Krishna, and one of the most important and practical offerings is food. Krishna declares that devotees who eat food first offered to Him make spiritual advancement but those who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment “verily eat only sin” (Bhagavad-gita 3.13). By offering tasty vegetarian dishes for Krishna’s pleasure and then eating His remnants, we not only avoid sinful reaction, but also gradually develop our loving relationship with Him. After all, love is all about give and take.
And Krishna is teaching us give and take.
“You give something,” Krishna is begging. “You try to love Me. You learn how to love Me. Give Me.”
“Sir, I have nothing to give You.”
“Oh, you cannot collect a little fruit and flower and leaf and little water?”
“Oh, yes. Why not? Anyone can collect.”
So the Krishna consciousness movement is so nice. You can make direct friendship with Krishna. You can become direct servant of Krishna.
Srila Prabhupda Lecture, New York, 22nd July 1971
Krishna tells Arjuna, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.26) Out of His kindness, Krishna will accept even the smallest token of our faith — even a little water or a tulasi leaf — if it is offered with love. When Krishna asks us to make such an offering, He is really inviting us to reawaken our eternal, blissful relationship with Him. He wants our love. And so the key ingredient in the preparation and offering process is our affection for Him, our desire to please Him.
As the Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, and the controller and the proprietor of everything, Krishna is atmarama, self-satisfied. As Srila Prabhupada explains, Krishna does not need food, yet He will accept the offering of a devotee who wants to please and love Him (Bhagavad-gita 9.26 p). Krishna is not hungry for food, He hungers for our love and loving exchange with Him.
How To Offer Food To Krishna
Keep a new plate and glass exclusively for offering home cooked food to Krishna. Place the food prepared for Him on the plate, along with a glass of drinking water. You can place liquid items (such as dal) in small dishes (katories) kept only for these offerings. On each preparation place a tulasi leaf. When the plate is ready, place it on either the altar or a table in front of the altar, or (if there is no altar arrangement) in front of a picture of Krishna. As you sit in front of the altar, meditate on how Krishna will enjoy the offering. Ring the bell while reciting each of the following prayers three times:
nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
namo maha-vadanyaya krishna-prema-pradaya te
krishnaya krishna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvishe namah
O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.
namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krishnaya govindaya namo namah
I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krishna, who is always worshiped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole universe, and He gives pleasure to the cows, land, and senses.
(jaya) sri-krishna-chaitanya prabhu-nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
From the time you take formal shelter of an ISKCON guru, please recite the mantra of your own guru three times before reciting Srila Prabhupada’s pranam-mantra (the first in the list above). Meditate on offering the food to your guru, who then offers it to Krishna. Leave the offering in front of Krishna for ten-fifteen minutes.
Why We Use These Mantras
The devotee doing the offering is presenting everything to his own spiritual master, who will then offer the bhoga through the guru-paramparä to Lord Caitanya, Lord Krishna, and Their associates. That’s why, when offering bhoga we chant the pranam-mantras to the spiritual master, Lord Caitanya, and Lord Krishna. We are praying that They will be kind enough to accept our offering, despite our many faults and limitations. And we are doing things in a way that is approved by Them – and pleasing to Them!
Offering maha-prasadam to Sri Guru, the Guru Parampara and the Associates of the Lord
Once Krishna has accepted our offering, we can show our affection and respect for Gurudeva, guru-parampara and Krishna’s associates by offering His remnants first to them in gratitude.
- To our Gurudeva
idam maha-prasadam aim gurave namah
- To Srila Prabhupada
idam maha-prasadam om ISKCON-samsthapakacaryaya namah
- To Krishna’s associates
idam maha-prasadam om sangopangastra-parshadebhyo namah.
Leave the maha-prasadam with them for a few minutes and then remove it and clean the area for Krishna’s pleasure and theirs.
How to Respect Maha-maha-prasadam
Please sing the following prayers in gratitude before beginning your meal of Krishna’s Maha-maha-prasadam
maha-prasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
svalpa-punya-vatam rajan visvaso naiva jayate
O king, for those with little pious credit, faith in maha-prasadam, Sri Govinda, the holy name, and the Vaishnavas never arises. (From Mahäbhärata)
sarira avidya-jal, jodendriya tahe kal,
jive phele visaya-sagore
tar’ madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati,
ta ´ke jeta kathina samsare
krishna baro doyamoy, koribare jihva jay,
sva-prasad-anna dilo bhai
sei annamrita pao, radha-krishna-guna gao,
preme dako chaitanya-nitai
O Lord, this material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. Somehow we have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable. It is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. But You, dear Krishna, are very kind to us and have given us such nice prasadam just to control the tongue. Now we take this prasadam to our full satisfaction and glorify You- Sri Sri Radha and Krishna – and in love call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Nityänanda.
It is best to honor maha-maha-prasadam in a clean, peaceful place either alone or with friends/family. Talk at the table should be light-hearted and pleasing to the heart. It’s best to wash the mouth and hands both before and after the mercy meal.
(This article has been written on my request by a very senior and kindhearted devotee who preferred to remain anonymous. My primary focus was to highlight that we should offer bhoga to Krishna in a proper disciplic way and more importantly how with a little extra effort we can offer the prasadam to our Guru, Param Guru and Krishna’s associates and then receive maha-maha-prasadam instead of maha-prasadam!)
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.