Instructions on Vaisnava Etiquette and Protocol, Part Three
BY: SUN STAFF
Oct 10, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of excerpts from 'Hari Bhakti Vilasa'.
Glories of Maha-prasad
The Skanda Purana says that whether one is a brahmacari, householder, vanaprastha or sannyasi, a person must eat Shri Vishnu's mahaprasada irrespective of his asrama. Just by eating Vishnu prasad, one derives the same piety acquired by fasting for millions of months. If one eats the remnants of Shri Vishnu along with tulasi and caranamrta sitting in a temple, he derives the benefit of performing millions and millions of sacrifices.
The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states that if one respectfully eats Vishnu's prasad as soon as he gets it, he delivers one hundred generations and becomes liberated even while alive.
One who eats Vishnu's remnants with devotion, offers obeisances to Hari, worships Him or offers prayers to Him becomes as worshipable as Shri Vishnu.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: "If due to his good fortune one receives My prasad coming from a dog's mouth, that is, it has been eaten by a dog, then it is eatable even for demigods like Lord Brahma."
The Padma Purana states that mahaprasad, be it dry, stale or brought from a distant place, should be eaten as soon as one gets it; there is no need of considering time, place etc. One should not eat the remnants of other demigods.
The Skanda Purana mentions that irrespective of whether one is a brahmacari, householder, vanaprastha or sannyasi, everyone must eat Vishnu's mahaprasad. If a brahmana eats the remnants of other demigods, he should purify himself by atonement. If one eats the mahaprasad of Shri Krishna, he derives the benefit of performing millions of sacrifices.
The Padma Purana says that an intelligent Vaishnava should not accept, touch, see or eat the remnants of the demigods.
Both the Padma and Skanda Puranas say that one should worship all the demigods with Vishnu prasad and offer that to the forefathers also. The forefathers will derive unlimited benefits.
The Vishnu Purana states: "O King! A householder should first offer food to the disciples and the hungry. Then he himself should eat. One should eat from a broad and pure plate. At the time of eating one should not become angry."
If a man first drinks liquid, then takes solid stuff and then drinks liquid again, his health and vigour are never reduced.
One should not drink water from the left hand.
A man should eat facing east or north. After performing acaman silently, one should take five handfuls of foodstuff for the satisfaction of the five kinds of airs and then start eating regularly. After eating, one should wash his hands up to the wrists and then sit on an asana with a peaceful mind, remembering his worshipable Lord.
The Kurma Purana says that one should eat sitting on a sacred asana, place his two feet on the ground and face the east or the sun.
Prajapati Manu said: "If one eats from a plate on the ground, making five places wet, that eating is like fasting; it does not produce any sickness. The five wet places refer to the washing of hands, feet and mouth, the giving up of anger and the smearing of the place with cow-dung."
One should never eat too much because that causes disease, decreases one's life, is detrimental to one's spiritual advancement, sinful and disgraceful.
The Markanda Purana says that a man should eat by placing his left hand on his lap and concentrating his mind on the food.
One should not drink water without help from the hand or just with the hands without a pot.
Acceptable and Unacceptable Foodstuffs
Restrictions on eating food that has not been offered to the Lord:
The Brahmanda Purana states that one should not eat a leaf, flower, fruit, water, foodstuff, medicine or anything else without offering it to the Supreme Lord. If one eats unoffered food, he should atone for that. Therefore, everything must be offered to Shri Vishnu first before it is eaten.
The Padma Purana says that food coming from non-devotees or fallen people and foodstuff that has not been offered to Shri Vishnu are like the meat of a dog.
Sage Gautama said, "O King Ambarisa! New cloth, fruit, food and drinks - everything should be offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead first."
The Vishnu Dharmottara and Agni Purana say that a devotee offers perfume, foodstuff, garlands, clothes and ornaments to Shri Vishnu first, the God of all demigods, and then accepts His remnants.
The Gautamiya Tantra says that one must worship Shri Hari with sacred paraphernalia. One should eat foodstuff after it has been offered to Shri Krishna according to the rules and regulations or if there is a Vaishnava, the maha-prasad should be offered to him.
The Kurma Purana says that all the sins of a man remain in the grain; therefore when one eats the foodstuff offered by someone, he eats his sins as well.
Water, sweet rice, foodstuffs, ghee and salt should not be offered by hand. If one eats that then it is same as eating cow's meat.
The Kurma Purana states that a Vaishnava should always receive food from other Vaishnavas, even if he has to beg for it but he should never take food from an avaishnava because his food is contaminated, even if he is a brahmana.
The Padma Purana says that an intelligent person should beg food from a Vaishnava to become free from all sinful reactions; failing that he should take his water and drink it.
The Atri Smriti states that if one eats in the house of a king, he will have to be born as a worm in stool.
When one fasts on Ekadashi and then brakes his fast on Dvadasi, that gives great pleasure to Shri Vishnu. (Matsa Purana and Kavistha Purana)
It has been repeatedly mentioned in all the Puranas that one should not eat on Ekadashi.
(Narada Purana and Padma Purana)
On the day of Ekadashi all the great sins like killing a Brahmana enter into the grains; therefore one who eats these grains acquires all those sins. (Narada Purana)
The scriptures have prescribed processes of atonement for a killer of a Brahmana, drunkerd, thief and one who had sexual intercourse with his spiritual master's wife. But there is no atonement for one who eats grains on Ekadashi. (Vishnu Dharmakar)
If a Vaishnava eats on the day of Ekadashi, even by mistake, his worship of Vishnu becomes fruitless and he falls in dark regions of hell.
Oh best of kings! The fuel of sins acquired in hundreds of lifetimes becomes burnt to ashes with the fire of Ekadashi. The results of thousands and thousands of horse-sacrifices and hundreds and hundreds of Bajapeya sacrifices cannot equal to 1/16 of the result of fasting on Ekadashi. (Narada Purana)
If one fasts on the day of Ekadashi due to lack of food, he still gets the full benefit of fasting.
If a man desires to observe Ekadashi in his mind, he will not have to see the dangerous miserable ocean of material existence anymore. (Vishnurahasia)
Just as Pranava is worshipable as the origin of all the Vedas, similarly Ekadashi is worshipped as the best of all the vratas. (Vishnu Purana)
One who desires to get the result of fasting should avoid eating at night on the day before, avoid eating at night on the day after, and on the day of Ekadashi. He should not eat either during the day or at night. (Brihanaria Purana)
Everyone, above eight and below eighty should fast on Ekadashi. (Katian smirti)
Maharaj Rukmangada announced by beating the drums: "If anyone between eight and eighty eats on the day of Ekadashi in my kingdom, that great sinner will be liable to capital punishment, or banished from by Kingdom forever. Therefore oh Brahmana! Whether man or woman, they must observe both Ekadashis in a month." (Narada Purana)
Water, fruit, root, milk, ghee, desire of a Brahmana, instructions of the spiritual master and medicine, these eight things do not spoil the vrata period.
When the dasami enters Ekadashi, one should not fast on that Ekadashi. Instead one should fast on Dvadasi. (Shomrar Dharmakar)
If dasami continues on the time of arunadai, that is 1 and 1/2 hours before sunrise, one should not fast on that Ekadashi but instead should fast on Dvadasi when this Dvadasi is pure; one should not think about it twice. (Padma Purana)
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