[GHHF] Prasadam - Does God eat? How do we know?

04 Nov 2023 339 Views

Many of us have asked or have been asking the question, "Does God eat the food that is offered? If He does, why has the vessel not been emptied?"

A child got a doubt and asked the teacher, "Does God eat the offering we made, why didn't he finish the food?". The teacher heard his question and continued to teach the lessons without answering the child.

The teacher talked about the importance of Guru and asked them to read from the book.

Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnuhu Gurur devo Maheshwaraha

Gurur Sakshat Param Brahma thasmai Sri Guravenamaha.

After the lesson was over, the teacher told everyone to look at the book and learn the hymn by heart.

After a while, he went to the disciple who questioned him about the offer and asked if he had learned it. The disciple immediately said that he had learned. Even though the hymn was said correctly, the Guru shook his head. In response, the disciple opened the book and showed it to the teacher, saying, "Look at the book if you want." As the hymn is in the book... “How did you get the hymn,” the teacher asked. The disciple did not understand what to say. The teacher said again. The hymn in the book is in the gross state... when you read it, it enters your mind in a subtle state. It is in the same state in your mind. Not only that, because you are learning to read, there is no reference to the Shloka in the gross state of the book. In the same way, the Supreme Being who is all-pervading and perfect perceives the offering in its subtle form and renders it without depleting or harming Prasadam which is a gross form. We are taking that as Prasadam in a subtle form.  The subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego is also invisible to you, but you know that the subtle body is there. We have two kinds of bodies: a gross body of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and a subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego. You can see the body of earth, water, food, fruit, and so on, but can you see the subtle body?

It is believed that the deity partakes and then returns the offering, thereby consecrating it. The offering is then distributed and eaten by the worshippers. The efficacy of the Prasad comes from its having been touched by the deity. Food left by a guru (spiritual leader) is considered Prasad by the guru’s followers, as the guru is regarded as a living god. All food, if silently offered to God with the proper prayers before eating, becomes consecrated and is thus considered Prasad. (Britannica)

God doesn’t need to eat with His mouth though, He can eat with His eyes or ears, or any other part of His body. Srila Prabhupada explains:

In the Brahma-samhita it is said that the Lord has a transcendental form and that He can utilize any one of His senses for any purpose. For example, He can eat with His eyes, and He can see with His leg. In the mundane conception of form, one cannot eat with one's eyes or see with his leg. That is the difference between the mundane body and the spiritual body of sac-cid-ananda [Bs. 5.1]. A spiritual body is not formless; it is a different type of body, of which we cannot conceive with our present mundane senses. Formless therefore means devoid of mundane form, or possessing a spiritual body of which the non-devotee can have no conception by the speculative method. (SB 2.9.32)

We as humans can touch only with our hands or skin, but Krsna as God can touch just by glancing. We can see only with our eyes; we cannot touch or smell them. Krsna, however, can smell and also eat with His eyes. When food is offered to Krsna, we do not see Him eating, but He eats simply by glancing at the food. We cannot imagine how things work in the spiritual world, where everything is spiritual. It is not that Krsna does not eat or that we imagine that He eats; He actually eats, but His eating is different from ours. Our eating process will be similar to His when we are completely on the spiritual platform.

God does “actually EAT” Naivedya or Bhoga that we offer to Him. When the Lord eats that becomes Prasadam (mercy).

In Bhagavad Gita 9.26 and Srimad Bhagavatam 10.81.4, Lord Krishna states

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

‘’If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.’’

 

Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarti Thakura, in his Bhagavatam commentary-Sarartha Darshini, explains this verse as follows;

The verb ‘aśnāmi’ means “I eat”, which implies that Lord Kṛishna eats even a flower, which is supposed to be smelled, bewildered as He is by the ecstatic love He feels for His devotee.

The use of the words bhaktyā prayacchati and bhakty-upahṛtam in above verse may seem redundant, since they both mean “offered with devotion,” but bhaktyā indicates how the Lord reciprocates the devotional mood of whoever offers Him something with love. In other words, Lord Kṛishna here declares that His reciprocation in a pure loving exchange is not dependent on the external quality of what is offered. Krishna says, “Something may or may not be impressive and pleasing in its own right, but when My devotee offers it to Me in devotion, with the expectation that I will enjoy it, it gives Me great pleasure; in this regard I make no discrimination.”

 

I reality, Krishna Does not need anything, Unfact we cannot offer that does not produce. Krishna is atmarama- self satisfied. Everything comes from Him, everything is maintained by Him, and, at the end, everything is consumed by Him, like a food. Nevertheless, we should understand that He is a person. He has His personality. So He likes to reciprocate with His devotees ‘’like a person’’. If two personalities love each other, they express their love with each other. Now, love is not a static thing but expressed through service. Isn’t that a commonplace in our horizontal relationships too? If one loves someone, one will prepare his favorite dish and offer to him and would ask him: ‘’Hey how did you like the taste? Is it good? I prepared this dish for you?’’ The other person, irrespective of whether he likes the taste of food, would say ‘’Yes I liked it very much, its really good’’. This is reciprocation of love.

Sudama, a childhood friend of Lord Krishna, visited Krishna's palace with a simple gift of beaten rice (also called puffed rice or muri). It was a humble gift symbolizing the love and friendship between the two. Despite being a poor Brahmin, Sudama hoped that his friend Krishna would remember their friendship and offer him help. When Sudama arrived at Krishna's palace, he was greeted with love and hospitality, and Krishna treated him as a dear friend.

Sudama's gift of beaten rice was a small token of his affection for Krishna, but it touched Krishna deeply. In this connection, Lord Krishna tells to Sudama:

aṇv apy upāhṛtaṁ bhaktaiḥ
premṇā bhury eva me bhavet
bhūry apy abhaktopahṛtaṁ
na me toṣāya kalpate

‘’I regard as great even the smallest gift offered by My devotees in pure love, but even great offerings presented by non-devotees do not please Me.’’- Srimad Bhagavatam 10.81.3

Sri Prabhupada says that God is pleased only when the food is offered with love. It means nothing if you offer without faith and love, however the gift may be so valuable. Food is just a medium through which one expresses that love. This is the mood of a devotee. He wants to offer everything to Krishna, for the devotee doesn’t act selfishly for his own sense of enjoyment. He knows very well that nothing belongs to him, everything ultimately belongs to Krishna. God is the ultimate enjoyer. God is the ultimate proprietor. In this regard, devotees are truly grateful for the best practice -the act of gratitude.

When King Dasaratha performed Putrakameshti (a sacrifice performed wishing for son), he got a vessel full of sweetened rice which he gave to his queens, by taking which they became pregnant. Prasada is the most sacred object for a devotee. One should consider himself lucky to take the Prasada, and there is no restriction of any kind in taking PrasadaTime and place, and the condition in which one is placed - all these do not affect him in any way. Prasada is all-purifying.

 

Offer food to God with faith, love sincerity, and obedience. Chant the appropriate mantra. Then wait for a few minutes before we take Prasadam. Remember that you are eating Prasadam which was blessed by God. Try to appreciate the spiritual value of food.

 

The benefits of Prasadam are beyond description. They have the power to change entirely the outlook of a man’s lifePrasadam has the power to cure diseases and even bring back to life dead persons. There had been ever so many instances in the past in this holy land of ours which bear witness to the potency and efficacy of PrasadaPrasada destroys all pains and sins. It is an antidote for misery, pain, and anxiety. Faith is an important factor in testing the accuracy of this statement. For faithless persons, it brings very little effect. 

Modern education and culture have been out of touch with our scriptures. To cover up their ignorance, they criticize the ancient, yet scientific knowledge that filled our scriptures.  It is we Hindus who are giving our rich culture. We Hindus are committing a serious mistake by ignoring our own scriptures and culture. Prasada is a great purifier. As they are brought up in the Western style of living, they have imbibed the spirit of Westerners and forgotten the spirit of the true children of Indian Rishis of yore. Every Hindu should live for a few days in sacred places like  Vrindavana or AyodhyaVaranasi,  Pandharpur, Puri Jagannath, etc.. You will realize the glory and the miraculous effects of Prasada. Many incurable diseases are cured. Many sincere devotional aspirants get wonderful spiritual experiences from mere Prasada alone. They consider Prasada a panacea, a spiritual elixir, and the Grace of the Lord. Prasada is a cure-all and an ideal pick-me-up. It is filled with energy. One would experience wonders if he takes it with great faith

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