Catur-vidha: Four Kinds of Prasadam
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
May 31, CANADA (SUN) A four-part series on the glories of Sri Krsna Prasadam.
kritwaiva triptim bhajatah sadaiva
vande guroh sri-charanaravindam
"The spiritual master is always offering Krsna four kinds of delicious food [analyzed as that which is licked, chewed, drunk, and sucked]. When the spiritual master sees that the devotees are satisfied by eating bhagavat-prasada, he is satisfied. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master."
"Still today in India, from these two things, namely food grains and milk, hundreds and thousands of varieties of food are prepared, and then they are offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Catur-vidha-sri-bhagavat-prasada. patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati.) Then the prasada is distributed. Even today in Jagannatha-ksetra and other big temples, very palatable dishes are offered to the Deity, and prasada is distributed profusely. Cooked by first-class brahmanas with expert knowledge and then distributed to the public, this prasada is also a blessing from the brahmanas or Vaisnavas. There are four kinds of prasada (catur-vidha). Salty, sweet, sour and pungent tastes are made with different types of spices, and the food is prepared in four divisions, called carvya, cusya, lehya and pehya--prasada that is chewed, prasada that is licked, prasada tasted with the tongue, and prasada that is drunk. Thus there are many varieties of prasada, prepared very nicely with grains and ghee, offered to the Deity and distributed to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas and then to the general public. This is the way of human society. Killing the cows and spoiling the land will not solve the problem of food. This is not civilization. Uncivilized men living in the jungle and being unqualified to produce food by agriculture and cow protection may eat animals, but a perfect human society advanced in knowledge must learn how to produce first-class food simply by agriculture and protection of cows."
"This introduction is also another symptom of guru, prasada distribution. Catur-vidha. Not ordinary. Catur-vidha means four kinds of eatables: carvya, cusya, lehya, peya. Something is chewed, something is swallowed up, something is licked up. In this way, there are different kinds of palatable dishes. Catur-vidha-sri... Catur-vidha means four kinds of different types of varieties of prasadam. Catur-vidha-sri... Sri-bhagavat-prasadam. Sri means opulent. If you eat bhagavat-prasadam, then gradually you become spiritualized. It has got the potency. If you eat the prasadam. Therefore it is said that realization of God can be done by the tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. If you engage your tongue in the service of the Lord, then you realize God realization. So what is that tongue engagement? The tongue engagement is you chant the holy name of the Lord, and you take the prasadam, remnants of foodstuff given to the Lord. Then you become self-realized, God realized. By these two methods. You don't require to be very highly educated philosopher, scientist, and a rich man and..., to realize God. If you sincerely engage your tongue only in the service of the Lord, you realize Him. It is so simple thing. It is not very difficult. Therefore, this prasadam program is there, introduced by the guru, spiritual master. Sri-vigra... Catur-vidha-sri-bhagavat-prasada-svadv-anna-trptan hari-bhakta-sanghan. Hari-bhakta-sanga means association of the devotees. These things are done... Outside we cannot do it. But if there are some devotees, we can order, "Please do it. Distribute like this. Do like this." Therefore hari-bhakta-sanghan. Krtvaiva trptim bhajatah sadaiva. And when he's fully satisfied that the prasada distribution is going on, he's very much pleased and engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord by chanting and dancing. This is the fourth symptom."
Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Gurvastakam, Stockholm, 09-09-73
"Similarly, the demands of the body can be divided into three categories--the demands of the tongue, the belly and the genitals. One may observe that these three senses are physically situated in a straight line, as far as the body is concerned, and that the bodily demands begin with the tongue. If one can restrain the demands of the tongue by limiting its activities to the eating of prasada, the urges of the belly and the genitals can automatically be controlled. In this connection Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says:
sarira avidya jala, jadendriya tahe kala,
jive phele visaya-sagare
ta'ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamaya sudurmati,
ta'ke jeta kathina samsare
krsna bada dayamaya, karibare jihva jaya,
sva-prasada-anna dila bhai
sei annamrta khao, radha-krsna-guna gao,
preme daka caitanya-nitai
"O Lord! This material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. Somehow or other we have fallen into the 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 Krsna, are very kind to us. You have sent this nice prasada to help us conquer the tongue; therefore let us take this prasada to our full satisfaction and glorify Your Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krsna and in love call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Prabhu Nityananda." There are six kinds of rasas (tastes), and if one is agitated by any one of them, he becomes controlled by the urges of the tongue. Some persons are attracted to the eating of meat, fish, crabs, eggs and other things produced by semina and blood and eaten in the form of dead bodies. Others are attracted by eating vegetables, creepers, spinach or milk products, but all for the satisfaction of the tongue's demands. Such eating for sense gratification--including the use of extra quantities of spices like chili and tamarind--is to be given up by Krsna conscious persons. The use of pan, haritaki, betel nuts, various spices used in pan-making, tobacco, LSD, marijuana, opium, liquor, coffee and tea is indulged in to fulfill illicit demands. If we can practice accepting only remnants of food offered to Krsna, it is possible to get free from maya's victimization. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk products and water are proper foods to offer to the Lord, as Lord Krsna Himself prescribes. However, if one accepts prasada only because of its palatable taste and thus eats too much, he also falls prey to trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught us to avoid very palatable dishes even while eating prasada. If we offer palatable dishes to the Deity with the intention of eating such nice food, we are involved in trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. If we accept the invitation of a rich man with the idea of receiving palatable food, we are also trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. In Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 6.227) it is stated:
jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
sisnodara-parayana krsna nahi paya
"That person who runs here and there seeking to gratify his palate and who is always attached to the desires of his stomach and genitals is unable to attain Krsna."
As stated before, the tongue, belly and genitals are all situated in a straight line, and they fall in the same category. Lord Caitanya has said, bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe: "Do not dress luxuriously and do not eat delicious foodstuffs." (Cc. Antya 6.236)
Those who suffer from diseases of the stomach must be unable to control the urges of the belly, at least according to this analysis. When we desire to eat more than necessary we automatically create many inconveniences in life. However, if we observe fasting days like Ekadasi and Janmastami, we can restrain the demands of the belly.
Nectar of Instruction, Chapter 1
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.