Honouring Krsna Prasadam
BY: SUN STAFF
Jamini Roy, Calcutta
May 28, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A five-part series on Srila Prabhupada's instructions for honouring Krsna prasadam.
"The word apavitra anna refers to food that is unacceptable for a Vaisnava. In other words, a Vaisnava cannot accept any food offered by an avaisnava in the name of maha-prasada. This should be a principle for all Vaisnavas. When asked, "What is the behavior of a Vaisnava?" Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "A Vaisnava must avoid the company of an avaisnava [asat]." The word asat refers to an avaisnava, that is, one who is not a Vaisnava. Asat-sanga-tyaga,--ei vaisnava-acara (Cc. Madhya 22.87). A Vaisnava must be very strict in this respect and should not at all cooperate with an avaisnava. If an avaisnava offers food in the name of maha-prasada, it should not be accepted. Such food cannot be prasada because an avaisnava cannot offer anything to the Lord. Sometimes preachers in the Krsna consciousness movement have to accept food in a home where the householder is an avaisnava; however, if this food is offered to the Deity, it can be taken. Ordinary food cooked by an avaisnava should not be accepted by a Vaisnava. Even if an avaisnava cooks food without fault, he cannot offer it to Lord Visnu, and it cannot be accepted as maha-prasada. According to Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita (9.26):
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it."
Krsna can accept anything offered by His devotee with devotion. An avaisnava may be a vegetarian and a very clean cook, but because he cannot offer the food he cooks to Visnu, it cannot be accepted as maha-prasada. It is better that a Vaisnava abandon such food as untouchable."
Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya lila 9:53 Purport
In Vedic culture and Vaisnava sastra, we find many references to the protocol one should follow when preparing bhoga, offering foodstuffs to the Lord, and taking Krsna prasadam. These regulations establish how prasada should be handled for both home and temple worship. Srila Prabhupada gave instructions as to how these rules should apply for present time, place and circumstance. For example, he explained how prasada should be handled for those living under shelter of the temples.
Srila Prabhupada provided a great deal of instruction and purport on Vaisnava literatures which explicitly detail how offerings are to be made to the Deities in the temple, and the prasada protocol related thereto. For example, Srila Prabhupada instructed that only twice initiated brahmana disciples were to cook in the temple. Non-brahmanas were permitted to assist, but could not themselves cook. Preparations produced by non-devotees are not to be offered to the Deities, and this regulation should extend, to the greatest degree possible, to ingredients purchased in karmi stores. At the same time, Srila Prabhupada always emphasized a common sense approach to regulative practices. For example, while regulations require fasting for Ekadasi and the observance of various religious and festival events, Srila Prabhupada instructed that one should not allow such practices to interfere with devotional service: