Sattvika-ahara - Food in the Mode of Goodness
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
May 30, CANADA (SUN) A four-part series on the glories of Sri Krsna Prasadam.
"One must eat appropriately and not take after food as hogs take after stool. For a human being there are eatables described in Bhagavad-gita (17.8) as sattvika-ahara, or food in the mode of goodness. One should not indulge in eating food in the modes of passion and ignorance. This is called ucitahara, or appropriate eating. One who is always eating meat or drinking liquor, which is eating and drinking in passion and ignorance, must give these things up so that his real consciousness may be awakened. In this way one may become peaceful and refreshed. If one is restless or fatigued, one cannot understand the science of God. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.20):
Unless one can become free from the influence of passion and ignorance, he cannot be pacified, and without being pacified, one cannot understand the science of God."
"Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fatty and palatable.
Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the mode of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease.
Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance.
Purport: The purpose of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind and aid bodily strength. This is its only purpose. In the past, great authorities selected those foods that best aid health and increase life's duration, such as milk products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits and vegetables. These foods are very dear to those in the mode of goodness. Some other foods, such as baked corn and molasses, while not very palatable in themselves, can be made pleasant when mixed with milk or other foods. They are then in the mode of goodness. All these foods are pure by nature. They are quite distinct from untouchable things like meat and liquor. Fatty foods, as mentioned in the eighth verse, have no connection with animal fat obtained by slaughter. Animal fat is available in the form of milk, which is the most wonderful of all foods. Milk, butter, cheese and similar products give animal fat in a form which rules out any need for the killing of innocent creatures. It is only through brute mentality that this killing goes on. The civilized method of obtaining needed fat is by milk. Slaughter is the way of subhumans. Protein is amply available through split peas, dal, whole wheat, etc.
Foods in the mode of passion, which are bitter, too salty, or too hot or overly mixed with red pepper, cause misery by producing mucus in the stomach, leading to disease. Foods in the mode of ignorance or darkness are essentially those that are not fresh. Any food cooked more than three hours before it is eaten (except prasadam, food offered to the Lord) is considered to be in the mode of darkness. Because they are decomposing, such foods give a bad odor, which often attracts people in this mode but repulses those in the mode of goodness.
Bhagavad-gita 17:8-10 Text and Purport
"Prabhupada: We are interested in eating Krsna prasadam. If Krsna says "Give Me meat," we shall give Him. But He does not say. He says patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. Meat-eating is sinful, that's a fact, amedha, tamasika, but if you remain in the darkness of ignorance, you cannot improve your spiritual life. Tamasika. It is described in the Bhagavad-gita, rajasika, tamasika, sattvika. Therefore we should eat sattvika, and that is also after offering to Krsna. Then we are free from all sinful reactions. And if you want to implicate yourself in sinful activities, then you can eat whatever you like. But either you eat meat or vegetables, if it is eaten for my satisfaction of the tongue, you become implicated in sinful activities, and you have to suffer the reaction. The animal you are killing, he'll kill also you next life. Then you become bound up."
Srila Prabhupada, Evening Darsana, 07-11-76, New York
"The River Ganges flowing from the heavenly planets is full of golden lotus flowers, and we, the residents of those planets, eat the stems of the flowers. Thus we are very beautiful, more so than the inhabitants of any other planet. This is due to the law of cause and effect, for if one eats food in the mode of goodness, the mode of goodness increases the beauty of his body.' "
Purport: One's bodily luster and beauty, one's constitution, one's activities and one's qualities all depend on the law of cause and effect. There are three qualities in material nature, and as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (13.22), karanam guna-sango 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu: one takes birth in a good or bad family according to his previous association with the qualities of material nature. Therefore one seriously eager to achieve transcendental perfection, Krsna consciousness, must eat Krsna prasada. Such food is sattvika, or in the material quality of goodness, but when offered to Krsna it becomes transcendental. Our Krsna consciousness movement distributes Krsna prasada, and those who eat such transcendental food are sure to become devotees of the Lord. This is a very scientific method, as stated in this verse from Nala-naisadha (3.17): karyam nidanad dhi gunan adhite. If in all one's activities he strictly adheres to the mode of goodness, he will certainly develop his dormant Krsna consciousness and ultimately become a pure devotee of Lord Krsna."
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 1:92
"If we are actually serious about entering into the kingdom of God, Vaikuntha, then we should be very careful to follow the four regulative principles mentioned above. One must not have any sex except to have children within marriage. One must not indulge in intoxication. One must not gamble. And one must not eat meat, fish, or eggs or anything else beyond the foods established for human beings--grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, and sugar. Such foodstuffs are sattvika, or pure and good, and they are allotted for human consumption. One should not imitate the cats and dogs, reasoning that because the animals are eating meat, human beings can do likewise. If everything eatable is food, why not eat stool? Stool is also food--hogs eat stool. But human beings should not eat like hogs, who will eat all kinds of unclean foods. We have to discriminate. If we want to enter into spiritual life, we must observe these four principles of restriction. This may mean undergoing some austerity, but this is the purpose of human life. When we have purified our existence through austerity, we will be eligible to enter into the kingdom of God, but without being purified, we can never enter."
Second Chance, Chapter 16
"After taking his dinner and having his thirst and hunger satisfied, King Puranjana felt some joy within his heart. Instead of being elevated to a higher consciousness, he became captivated by Cupid, and was moved by a desire to find his wife, who kept him satisfied in his household life.
Purport: This verse is very significant for those desiring to elevate themselves to a higher level of Krsna consciousness. When a person is initiated by a spiritual master, he changes his habits and does not eat undesirable eatables or engage in the eating of meat, the drinking of liquor, illicit sex or gambling. Sattvika-ahara, foodstuffs in the mode of goodness, are described in the sastras as wheat, rice, vegetables, fruits, milk, sugar, and milk products. Simple food like rice, dhal, capatis, vegetables, milk and sugar constitute a balanced diet, but sometimes it is found that an initiated person, in the name of prasada, eats very luxurious foodstuffs. Due to his past sinful life he becomes attracted by Cupid and eats good food voraciously. It is clearly visible that when a neophyte in Krsna consciousness eats too much, he falls down. Instead of being elevated to pure Krsna consciousness, he becomes attracted by Cupid. The so-called brahmacari becomes agitated by women, and the vanaprastha may again become captivated into having sex with his wife. Or he may begin to search out another wife. Due to some sentiment, he may give up his own wife and come into the association of devotees and a spiritual master, but due to his past sinful life he cannot stay. Instead of being elevated to Krsna consciousness, he falls down, being attracted by Cupid, and takes to another wife for sex enjoyment. The fall of the neophyte devotee from the path of Krsna consciousness down to material life is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.17) by Narada Muni."
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim
ko vartha apto 'bhajatam sva-dharmatah
This indicates that although a neophyte devotee may fall down from the path of Krsna consciousness due to his immaturity, his service to Krsna never goes in vain. However, a person who remains steadfast in his family duty or so-called social or family obligation but does not take to Krsna consciousness receives no profit. One who comes to Krsna consciousness must be very cautious and refrain from prohibited activities, as defined by Rupa Gosvami in his Upadesamrta:
atyaharah prayasas ca
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca
sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati
A neophyte devotee should neither eat too much nor collect more money than necessary. Eating too much or collecting too much is called atyahara. For such atyahara one must endeavor very much. This is called prayasa. Superficially one may show himself to be very much faithful to the rules and regulations, but at the same time not be fixed in the regulative principles. This is called niyamagraha. By mixing with undesirable persons, or jana-sanga, one becomes tainted with lust and greed and falls down from the path of devotional service."
"So our main business should be how to improve in Krsna consciousness. So far other things are required, bodily necessities, that is recommended by Rupa Gosvami, anasaktasya: "Don't be attached." Don't take food, don't eat simply for satisfying your palate. That is called sense enjoyment. But you, just to keep yourself fit, just to keep your body fit for giving service to the Lord, you can eat Krsna prasada. And so far Krsna prasada is concerned, it is not very bad; it is very good. We offer... Of course, those who are followers of Vedic principles of life, they know how nice foodstuff can be offered to Krsna. There are hundreds and thousands of varieties of fruits. There is nice grains also, there is nice milk also, there is sugar also. So you can prepare nice foodstuff on these ingredients which are considered sattvika, sattvikahara. Fruits, grains, vegetables, and sugar, rice, wheat, they are considered as sattvikahara. So you can prepare. Krsna also says that patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. Krsna is the Supreme Lord. He can eat everything. Just like we have evidences from His life, sometimes He ate fire. Blazing fire in the forest, He ate up. So He can eat everything because He is God. He has got the potency of accepting anything. That is a different thing. But when He demands from His devotees, He says, patram puspam phalam toyam. So we have satisfy Him from these groups. Patram puspam means vegetables, fruits, grains; and toyam, water or milk, like that. And you partake the prasada.
Sometimes I am questioned in European countries that "What is the difference between patram puspam? That is also eatables. They are also vegetables. They have got life. Why do you ask us not to eat meat because they are living beings?" So answer is that it is not the question of living being. Every living being has to eat another living being. That is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanam. Those who have got hands, they are eating the legless. Just like the vegetables. Just like cows, goats, or other animals, they are eating grass. The grass is also a living entity, but it has no legs. It is being eaten up by another animal which has got legs. Similarly, we are also a kind of animal with hands. We are eating another animal which has no hands. Similarly, those who are strong, even in animal kingdom or vegetable kingdom, those who are strong, they are eating the less strong. In this way the whole world is maintained by one animal is eating another animal or one living entity is eating another living entity. That is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanam. So you (we) are not interfering with the right of the living entities. A tiger has got the right to eat another animal. So we are not going to preach amongst the tigers that "You become vegetarian" or "You become Krsna conscious." That is not our business. Our business is that we are inducing, we are entreating, we are requesting people that "You take Krsna prasada." That is our business. To become vegetarian or nonvegetarian is not very big business. We do not admit that vegetarians are very much pious and nonvegetarians are not pious. No. Not like that. We say that everyone is impious who is not taking foodstuff offered to Krsna. That is our view. Anyone. That is stated by Krsna. Yajna-sistasinah santo mucyante sarva-kilbisaih: "Anyone who is eating foodstuff offered to Yajna, to Visnu or Krsna, he is diminishing his volumes of sinful life." Bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pacanty atma-karanat: "And anyone who is cooking for himself, not for Krsna, then he is simply eating a lump of sinful life."
It doesn't matter whether he is vegetarian or nonvegetarian. This is the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. We have to eat what is offered to Krsna. Yajna-sistasinah santo mucyante sarva. Yajnarthe karmano 'nyatra loko 'yam karma-bandhanah. If you simply work for Krsna... That is called karma-yoga. One who is working simply for Krsna, he is karma-yogi. You have got tendency to work. You have got tendency to flourish yourself by advancing industrialism. That's nice. You go on, do it. We don't forbid it. But do it for Krsna. Make Krsna center. That is the whole teachings of Bhagavad-gita. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru. You offer... Kurusva tad mad-arpanam. Yat karosi. "Whatever you do, it doesn't matter. Whatever you eat," yat karosi yaj juhosi, "whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, give unto Me." Kurusva tat mad-arpanam. This is Krsna consciousness."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 03-26-71, Bombay
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.