Honouring Krsna Prasadam, Part 3
Jul 07, CANADA (SUN) A four-part series on Srila Prabhupada's instructions for honouring Krsna prasadam.
Preparation and Cooking
"The devotee should not be anxious about cooking food; whatever is available in the forest or in the city among the fruit and vegetable groups should be offered to the Deity, and the devotee should be satisfied eating that. He should not be anxious to have very palatable dishes. Of course, wherever it is possible, one should offer the Deities the best foodstuffs, prepared within the category of fruits and vegetables, cooked or uncooked. The important factor is that the devotee should be regulated (mita-bhuk); that is one of the good qualifications of a devotee. He should not hanker to satisfy the tongue with a particular kind of foodstuff. He should be satisfied to eat whatever prasada is available by the grace of the Lord."
Srimad-Bhagavatam 4:8:56 Purport
While preparing and cooking foodstuffs, all focus should be kept on performing activities in such a way that they will be most pleasing to the Lord. The kitchen is considered an extension of the altar, and all activities carried out there should be done accordingly.
Work in the kitchen should not be considered 'social time'. Always avoid prajalpa (nonsense talk) while cooking, and keep in mind that one's consciousness directly affects the quality of foodstuffs being prepared. Rather than chat with others, listen to Krsna bhajans or one of Srila Prabhupada's lectures.
Do not lust over bhoga (unoffered food stuffs), wishing to sample preparations or thinking ahead to when prasadam will be distributed. Even after offering, do not bring prasadam back into the kitchen for eating it. If necessary, take a small meal or snack before cooking, so your appetite will be dulled.
Many new devotees find it difficult to cook without tasting or smelling the foodstuffs, because they were so used to testing the balance of ingredients when cooking for themselves. Regardless, tasting the bhoga while cooking should never be permitted. Trust the recipes, your cooking intuition and a good service attitude, and you can rest assured the preparations will be very palatable. Avoid the mental agitation of hoping the devotees find the dishes desirable and delicious. Remember that you are cooking the meal not for yourself or for the devotees, but for the pleasure of Krsna.
If bhoga falls on the floor and touches someone's feet, it cannot be offered. As previously said, cleaning the kitchen is extremely important and should be done constantly and thoroughly all throughout the cooking process. Once the offering has been placed on serving dishes, the kitchen should be cleaned up to the greatest degree possible before the cooks go off to the program.
"It is luxurious. (break) ...the ata dough. So after it is cooked... They have got ghee. That ball soaked in ghee and the dal, it is so nice when taken. That is called bati. Very quickly made. And after eating, with that ash the two or three utensils, mean the lota and the plate, they'll cleanse it very nice and walk away. And that food is sufficient for twenty-four hours. Within twenty-four hours he will not be hungry and feel very strong. The two things. And you can cook anywhere without any difficulty. In India, especially in village, you can get so many dried cow dung. So fuel is ready. The ata is packed up. And ghee in a pot. That's all. How simple life. Simply they'll sit down where there is water, and they'll take water. Then everything is arranged. No hotel. Or even there is no ata, they keep their own ghee, homemade, pure. Ata can be purchased anywhere in the village. There is no need of carrying ata."
Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, 04-29-77, Bombay
Srila Prabhupada commented occassionally on the matters of kitchen facility and paraphernalia. When discussing facilities for a particular temple, he referred to having two separate kitchen facilities, one being pakki and the other kachi. In other words, one kitchen whould be ‘expert’, and the other a simpler facility. Srila Prabhupada said that one who is self-sufficient may use simple utensils like banana leaves and clay cups. In the following purport, he described the paraphernalia one might find in a proper Vedic home:
"The walls of the house were made of first-class marble, decorated with valuable jewels. There was no need of light, for the household was illuminated by the rays of these jewels. The female members of the household were all amply decorated with jewelry.
PURPORT:It is understood from this statement that the opulences of household life were exhibited in valuable jewels, ivory, first-class marble, and furniture made of gold and jewels. The clothes are also mentioned as being decorated with golden filigree. Everything actually had some value. It was not like the furniture of the present day, which is cast in valueless plastic or base metal. The way of Vedic civilization is that whatever was used in household affairs had to be valuable. In case of need, such items of value could be exchanged immediately. Thus one's broken and unwanted furniture and paraphernalia would never be without value. This system is still followed by Indians in household affairs. They keep metal utensils and golden ornaments or silver plates and valuable silk garments with gold embroidery, and in case of need, they can have some money in exchange immediately. There are exchanges for the moneylenders and the householders."
Srimad Bhagavatam 3:33:17
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.