Complex and Simple Reality

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 8.5.37-43 | May 26, 2014 |

English; Los Angeles, California, USA

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Question:

Certain individuals in ISKCON believe that women can offer dandavat pranams (fully prostrate on ground in a rod like fashion). To support the argument they quote SB 8.17.5 where in Aditi fell to the ground like a rod to offer the Lord her respectful obeisances. Also cited is a video clip wherein a mataji is seen offering dandavat pranam to Srila Prabhupada.

Please comment on the above two instances in the context of the proper way of offering obeisances for women.

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Question:

As far as cooking prasada for the deities, the standard as I know is to be second initiated. Does this apply to cooking for the devotees and offering it to a picture? In Krishna house they have devotees cooking who chant 8 rounds and its questionable if they are following the regulated principles. Would this affect one's consciousness and can this be considered a fit offering to the Lord?

Answer by H.H. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

Well, the proper term in our terminology is to prepare bhoga for the Deities. It is offered, the Lord accepts it, and then we take His prasādam.
Yes, but that’s the strict rule that in the temple where Deities are worshipped, all cooking and Deity worship should be done by brāhmaṇ initiated devotees.
That doesn’t mean that if you are not brāhmaṇicaly initiated you should not eat, or just only eat raw food or something like that. Even that, you are supposed to offer to Kṛṣṇa.
There is laxity for some devotees who are not initiated in that way. But in the temples with installed Deities (of course Deity means installed) there bhoga should be offered and cooked by persons who are formally initiated brāhmaṇically or pañcarātrically.
If they are not chanting 16 rounds and following the principles, then they shouldn’t be cooking for Deities and they will affect our consciousness.

viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa

“When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Kṛṣṇa properly.“ (CC Antya 6.278)

Then we may say they are devotees, not materialists. They are not devotees to the level who should be cooking for distribution to others. They won’t benefit others. I’ve spoken on this many times. You can see on the website, there must be.
It affects one’s consciousness certainly because the consciousness of the cook is transmitted through the cooking.

Once, in Australia, Śrīla Prabhupāda was given some prasādam, nicely puffed up purīs. Afterward he asked: Who is the cook? The cook was Kūrma dāsa Prabhu, one of the most famous cooks in the history of ISKCON.
There are some famous cooks: Yamunā devi (who is probably the most famous), Kūrma Prabhu, Apūrva is very well known in America, Vibhu-Caitanya was there in Vṛndāvan. There are so many good cooks, but some in particular.
So Kūrma Prabhu came and Śrīla Prabhupāda said to him: Thank you very much for so nicely following the regulative principles!
We may say what’s that got to do with cooking, but Śrīla Prabhupāda could understand that his cooking is so nice because he is so seriously practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Rādhārāṇī is manifesting through him. It’s understood that cooking for Kṛṣṇa is the service of Rādhārāṇī.

rādhikāra pakka anna vividha byañjana
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“In great ecstasy and joy Kṛṣṇa eats the rice, curried vegetables, sweets, and pastries cooked by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” (Bhoga-arati / Bhaja Bhakata Vatsala, verse 8)

As Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says She cooks for Kṛṣṇa rice and various vegetables, and so many different preparations.

And in South India they don’t know so much about Rādhā yet. So, they will say that Lakṣmī is cooking actually. Cooking for Viṣṇu means that the cook has to take blessing from Lakṣmī. It’s Her service, so the cook can only assist.

So, when one is in good consciousness then Kṛṣṇa is very pleased to accept the offering, and His mercy comes through fully.

If we are in materialistic consciousness, if we are not following the principles properly, if we are not up to the level of chanting 16 rounds, well, whatever good consciousness we have it will come through, and whatever bad consciousness we have it will come through also.
So, that’s the one in brief.

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I have a problem concerning the purity and contamination of prasadam and consciousness.

It began with the fact that after taking prasadam at public programs (Namahattas, Bhakti vrksas, Sunday feasts in the temple) my material desires increase – images not related with Krishna appear in my mind, and in dreams images of militants, horror and erotica appear (in dreams I sometimes was strangled, maltreated, raped etc.). Because of this I felt I had to endeavor more to follow sadhana; concentrate while chanting and reading. I was advised not to take prasadam at public programs because the standards of cleanliness are very low. Thus I visited the programs but did not take prasadam and this seemed to solve the problem.

After that at some point I decided to live in the temple to dedicate more time to service, in the hope that it would be easier to practice, but it turned out to be the opposite. After one and a half months my material desires and dreams became very strong (stronger than at home). I returned home and senior devotees (brahmacaris who live outside the temple) sent me caranamrta and sent me prasadam until I recovered. I thought that this was related with aparadhas that I had unconsciously made.

Now I'm in another city, and visiting another temple, and after taking prasadam there – my bad dreams and images again manifest.

I have the understanding that this is because of the low standards of cleanliness of preparation: prasadam not being cooked by brahmanas, distributors hands dirty, dirty clothes, anyone can take a disposable plate with dirty hands or serve themselves prasadam from the vessels, also I myself need to be cleansed. Do these low standards of cleanliness in cooking and distribution of prasadam influence the enthusiasm of devotees in their service?

On the other hand, I see how many devotees live in temples and practice sadhana. And that's why I have a doubt that it could be tricks of my mind not to live in the temple? Or maybe, I should live in the temple, but cook for myself?

Please help me to get an understanding of purity standards. Is external cleanliness important? Can prasadam be contaminated? Can it affect the mind and its thoughts and images? Can it affect the desire to serve Sri Guru, Prabhupada, Krishna and devotees? Maybe, I should concentrate on chanting, do more practical service, distribute books? And maybe I should pay less attention to things that I pay attention to now as they are not so important?

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