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Wednesday, 18 October 2006 / Published in Articles / 4,945 views

By Caitanya Nitai dasa

Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and to all his faithful servants.

As I regularly see on the health conference questions regarding grains or beans prepared in factories and sold in shops, I feel so surprised that devotees eat these things. The question whether these may be good for your physical health or not is not very relevant. The actual problem is that any food prepared by karmis is bad for your spiritual health, as it affects your consciousness, especially grains and beans. Offering these things to Krishna may not solve the problem, as Krishna is a person, not just a machine meant for accepting anything we put before Him.

In 1966 in New York Srila Prabhupada posted on the Temple’s door the famous basic principles of spiritual life that all of us have read many times. One of these is: “All initiated devotees … Should not eat foodstuffs cooked by non-devotees.” Sometimes devotees feel that these are austere instructions for strict & advanced devotees, but remember that Srila Prabhupada gave these instructions in 1966 to very new devotees.

Once in Mayapura Srila Prabhupada emphatically said, “No one may buy anything from the market. If they eat these things they will fall down! No one should eat anything not offered to the Deity.”” (Transcendental Diary
1-9: Sri Dhama Mayapur)

Another time in Germany Srila Prabhupada said that, “Under no circumstances should we eat grains prepared by non-devotees” (SPDG 14: Prabhupada at Schloss Rettershof)

In ISKCON’s official Deity worship manual, Pancaratra Pradipa, is the following quotation from Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa: “Food (especially grains) which is cooked by non-Vaisnavas or by sinful people, or which has not been offered to Visnu, is the same as dog meat.”
(1.13: Gathering Items for Worship (upadana))

There are many other things that Srila Prabhupada said on this subject, but to end this list, I would like to tell you an instructive event that happened where I live, in New Zealand. Recently some people studying the working conditions in New Zealand factories set a few hidden video-cameras in some food-factories. They were surprised and horrified to see some workers spitting or blowing their noses into the preparations, some even passing urine into the cooking pots. This was shown on television.

Similarly, regarding jam, tomato paste, etc. Do you think they bother to carefully wash the hundreds of tons of fruits and veggies, sort the rotten ones … How many worms, rotten fruits, dirt, etc … are there in jam or tomato paste? Of course once it is processed we cannot see anything, it is an advantage for the manufacturer …

The whole point of our movement is to try to maintain and increase our consciousness of Krishna, and simultaneously avoid anything that may decrease it. His consciousness of Krishna is by far the most precious asset of a devotee, and he / she should be constantly vigilant not to loose it.

Thank you.

Your servant,

Caitanya Nitai dasa


  1. 0
    hrosario ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Caitanya Nitai Prabhu,

    Dandavat pranams.

    Thank you for your wise and direct words. I am a mere bhakta in training, but sometimes feel dismayed when I go to the temples and find devotees eating Cheetos, Coke or sandwiches prepared at bakeries. They say that they don’t directly offer those things to the Deity but that they “throw a mantra” at the food. (I guess this is the mantra-ball game, which we are certain to lose.) Obviously they are eating bhoga. The sad part is that it has become acceptable. Mahaprabhu’s standard, as given in Caitanya Bhagavata, is that He does not accept any bhoga from those who don’t chant 64 rounds daily of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Srila Prabhupada was so kind that he is letting us offer things to him with a mere 16 rounds (although he says that chanting 64 rounds is the “only remedy” for curing the material disease). Still, we don’t value his mercy enough and instead shamelessly continue with our bad habits. Brahmacarya anyone?

    With regard to breads, though, a well-known pujari in ISKCON told me that when Srila Prabhupada was around, devotees wouldn’t even offer grains prepared with yeast. That standard seems to have also been forgotten. It shouldn’t surprise us though, when other more important principles like sannyasis not associating closely with females is neglected by many in saffron. Is this a sign of falldown?

    Your servant,

  2. 0
    hrosario ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    After writing my previous comment, a friend made me realize I you could have made positive comments rather than the ones that I did. The way I made my comments might not encourage anyone to raise their standards, which should have been my purpose in writing the comment. I guess I was frustrated after reading the article because it seemed to confirm a hunch I had. Three weeks ago, when we celebrated my
    daughter’s birthday at the temple, my in-laws bought a lot of junk food. I told my wife that I felt ashamed to take those things to the temple (Cheetos and other unofferable items). She asked some devotees and all were in agreement that it was fine to bring those things as part of the birthday party. I don’t blame my wife or the devotees for the decision, but I can’t help feeling very ashamed about it. Reading the article made me realize what a mistake I made. Perhaps I was speaking as a parent chastising a child. The problem is that I wasn’t addressing my children. I guess I sometimes improperly “enter” the mood of a guru and criticize things, but I should instead focus on correcting my own flaws and on learning how to be a disciple. I should be very harsh with myself, yet very lenient with others (especially those not under my care). I thank my friend for helping me realize my mistake by his sincere words. I pray the devotees will forgive me and collectively help to raise our eating standards.

    Your servant,

  3. 0
    Rohini-dulal das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hare Krishna!

    Hector prabhu, your 1. comment i felt very positive.
    In allmost all bakeries they are mixing MEAT in their products.
    Also in many Breads!(the most worst of remnants)
    It is heard to live in the city?
    Why i (we) can not live in the farms as S.Prabhupada wanted?? (For those who are not Preaching, isn’t it much better for spiritual advancement?)Anyone can coment?
    I was born in willage and than spoiled in the city.
    Your friend must had read Jaiva dharma? (by Bhaktivinod thakur) I strongly recommend to all devotees, specialy to preachers.
    ys Rohini-dulal das

  4. 0
    Tamoharadasa ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Haribol Bhakta Hector!

    Thanks for your comments, your good intent is obvious, and you will surely be recognized by Krsna for sincereity.

    Items purchased are purified by the process of purchase. Of course, you must try to assure that the ingredients are acceptable, otherwise how will you feel comfortable making the offering to the spiritual master? Sometimes on sankirtana, travel etc. there is the necessity of eating foods prepared by others, or if one is being very careful, one can eat only fruits and milk etc. which are considered to be less risky. The general rule is to be as “pukka” as possible, but keeping in mind that over-attachment to notions of ritual purity etc. can sometimes be a detriment to our peace of mind and service. Lets not be fanatical.

    In Canada, breads do not contain animla products which are not listed on the package or such a list is available from the bakery. Cheese also is generally OK, in Canada, but again, the labels must be read or inquiries made from the manufacturer. I have seen lists on the websites in this regards whcih you may care to consult.

    In Montreal temple, 1975 to 1977, we prepared breads regularly with yeast. Permission had been received. Still, if you feel uncomfortable about certain preparations, take something else. Understanding the reasons behind the rules and regulations is most important, not merely a blind following.

    Just by the way, sweets can be offered at any time, no rules or even offering mantras required, as Krsna is most fond of sweets! He will happIly take, and if in your heart you desitre the reward of love of Godhead, you will get it! (don’t tell anyone, but Krsna takes bribes!!)

    Tamoharadasa (ACBSP)

  5. 0
    Suresh das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    We have to be careful of using the “Prabhupada saids”. A devotee asked Srila Prabhupada why we can eat yogurt which is made with bacterial culture, but we can’t eat yeast in bread. He replied he never said we can’t eat yeast. Sometimes devotees who have come from other backgrounds, such as the Macrobiotic Diet, enforced dietary codes on devotees in the name of “Prabhupada said”. Apparently he was joking when he said salad was rabbit food, but for years we could never eat salad. Boysenberries were “poison berries”, apparently another joke, which devotees took literally for years. Once a devotee told me a “Prabhupada said”, and after listening to it, I corrected him, because his quote actually came from “Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet” book and not from Srila Prabhupada at all.

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