"Householder life is also not bad. You can maintain your spiritual life as a householder, but practise properly. You see what we do here—mangal arati, parikrama, and so on—and you can do that at your home too. Wake up, have morning arati, cook something and give an offering to Gurudev with Tulasi leaves. Always avoid outside food—cook yourself or your wife can cook. Make an altar in your house, or have a shelf with a photo of the Deities, the Guru-parampara, and offer the food you cook to them. You can take the same food for lunch too. Is it very hard to maintain this? I do not think so... You have to eat something, so cook and offer it for ten minutes to Gurudev and the Deities, in this way all your senses will be controlled, the chhaya dos (the six faults: excessive eating, materialistic endeavours, useless talks, inability to follow instructions, bad association, fickle-mindedness) will be removed, and you will get energy.
"Gurudev said that wherever you stay you can maintain your spiritual life. It is viddhi-bhakti. We are practitioners; we are not big devotees or great Vaishnavs..."
"Do not take anything without offering it first—not even a glass of water. If you take a glass of water, you must remember your Guru, remember the Lord, then only can you drink it. Continue your spiritual life practising properly in this way and you will see how much it will improve."
"What do householder devotees do? Householder devotees can practise everything individually at their homes and come to the programme at the centre every Sunday. You eat every day, you go to the toilet every day, and you must practise every day too! You must give an offering to the Lord, the Deities, to your Guru every day. Do not eat anything without offering it—that is not prasad! We must offer bhog to our Guru every day, and take prasad every day.
"It is said in Srimad Bhagavad-gita that you if you take some food without offering it to the Lord, it means you steal it and eat it, then you will enjoy sin. If you eat, if you work or do some karma for your own self, it means you enjoy sin."
"Gurudev said also that if you are a householder devotee, you can make your house a temple. What do we do in the temple? We wake up early in the morning, do mangal arati—you too can have an altar, do mangal arati, do kirtan, and go to your work (a devotee's work means working for Guru, for the Lord), and you must take prasadam.
"I saw that in many countries this is very difficult—the husband and the wife work the whole day, and the whole day their Deity fasts. They do not cook during the week and only cook on Sundays. I saw many family houses like this in the West, and in India also there are many houses where they do not cook—they go to restaurants and eat out.
"Even if you do not have time to cook—you work the whole day—you must bring the restaurant food for the Deity, offer it with Tulasi leaves, and take prasadam. That is practising life—but if you go and enjoy in a restaurant and when you come home your Deity or Gurudev fasts the whole day, that is not practising."
"You must avoid eating what you have not offered, what is not prasadam. Always avoid the outside food. I heard it from Gurudev.
"One time, soon after I joined the temple, I asked Gurudev why we must avoid the outside food—like, if you go to some restaurant, there is some vegetarian food, why must we avoid it? And I heard the answer from Gurudev. We avoid the outside food (the food that has not been offered to the Lord) because the person who cooks that food has some material desire and that desire will slowly, slowly come to you, and it will eventually remove devotional activities from your life. You must understand that it is harmful for your practising life. It is very bad."
"Sometimes you go to the market and think, 'Oh, this is very nice food. I want to eat it.' If you see something you want, then buy it, bring it home, give it to the Deity, and take prasad."
"We always go outside and see so many kinds of food there, and our tongue always wants something, always asks for some food, but we should take, we should honour maha-prasadam every day. We must give whatever we cook for ourselves to Krishna. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Krishna said, 'If you are eating something, or if you are taking something for yourself, without giving it to Me, it means you are stealing My things.' For example, you can see that some outside people eat fish, meat, and we also clean and cut vegetables, kill some plants, but the difference is that we offer it to the Lord—we do not do it for ourselves, and the outside people do it for themselves.
"You must always take prasadam—it is a part of practice. Householder devotees, brahmachari, even sannyasis—everyone must always take prasadam."
"We cannot take things at all places. Sometimes I take only the Tulasi leaves. If you take something from the hands of someone who is not a devotee—karmi, jnani, yogi—that reaction will come to you. This is why we do not take things from outside without discrimination. If you stay alone, you can cook in your room, offer it to the Lord, to your Guru, and take that prasadam—you will be happy, and your devotion will be all right."
"Food that is just vegetarian is also not for Krishna consciousness. You must take prasad. Monkeys also eat vegetarian food, cows also eat grass, calves drink milk, etc. They are vegetarian, but do they get Krishna consciousness? No."
"The main thing is that living is necessary for the service to Krishna and Guru Vaishnav. When something comes to us, we must try to avoid bad things, but if we cannot, what shall we do? To live for Guru, Vaishnav, and Bhagavan, for my service life, I must take it. In the scriptures, some rules and regulation are mentioned, it is said that first of all we must be vegetarian. But actually we do not take vegetables or anything else. We are not vegetarian, we are not meat-eaters—we only take the prasadam that comes from the Lord. But the Lord takes vegetables, that is why I offer vegetables. First I offer it to the Lord and then I take it, so what I am taking is not vegetables, it is not non-vegetables, I take only prasadam. Also, we cannot offer anything directly to Krishna, that is why we first offer everything to Gurudev, and he offers it to Krishna—in this way it comes back to me as prasadam."
(Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj)
"You offer something, and when that prasadam comes, you have to pay obeisance to the prasadam, and then take that. If you think prasad is rice and dal, that is not proper honour to prasadam. You must give proper honour to prasadam. When prasad comes, you must take some prasadam in your hand and touch it to your forehead, like this—offer it to your Guru. Even when you are not making an offering, if you take it in your hand and remember your Guru, that will be prasadam."
"If you follow me, you will be a great devotee, the only problem is that you must control your root. Do not follow your tongue, and always take prasad. You can take prasad even five times a day, no problem, but do not take anything except Krishna prasad. Do not eat outside food—soft drinks, snacks, fast food, and so on. If you do not control your tongue, the rest will not be under control too:
jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
"One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Krishna."
প্রসাদ-সেবা করিতে হয়
prasada-seva korite hoya,
By honouring the Lord's prasadam I conquer over all worldly illusions.
"If you do not control your tongue, your mind will be disturbed. Prasad seva: always take prasad, do not take what your tongue and your mind want. It is possible if you try to do it."
(Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj, Control the Root)
"If you cook for Krishna, if you take Krishna's prasad, then all kinds of material elements will go away from your heart. In this way you can transform your material life into spiritual life. Whether you work, serve, go somewhere, or stay in a temple, you must think you have service for your Guru, Vaishnavs, Bhagavan."
"Sometimes you are given some opulent prasadam like big gulab-jamuns, rasagullas, paneer, and you think, 'Oh, I will not eat so much. I am a renounced person, I will not take that.' But that is not right, it is prasad and you must take it. Krishna will be happy. You should enjoy prasadam, it is not necessary to show that you are renounced. Sometimes you are outside and get no prasadam—this is the time when you can practise renunciation and tolerate."
"Suppose there is an elephant and an ant. The ant says, 'Oh, the elephant eats so much!' and some may think that because the ant eats little it is a sadhu, but the elephant carries Lord Krishna on its back, so while the elephant does some service, the ant only bites. Eat as much as you can digest—'prasad akantha kariya bhojan, sara din koro sankirtan, eat up to your neck and chant the Holy Name the whole day.' No problem."
Question: If a person lives far away from the temple and the devotees and does not have proper facility to, for example, to cook or offer proper bhog to Krishna, what service can they do then?
"What do they eat then? Do they fast the whole day? Whatever you have, you must give it to the Lord. If you only drink water, then you can give water to the Lord, He will happily accept it. "Bhakter jinish Prabhu lutiputi khay": Krishna does not want some big prasadam from you—whatever you can give to Him, even if it is some banana skin, He also accepts it. It is necessary to give your heart."
"There is a girl who eats only rotis, she does not eat anything else, not even kitchuri—only arepa. When you go to different countries, where will you get arepa there? In Vaikuntha there is no arepa, in Goloka Vrindavan there is no arepa... You must have habit to take all kinds of prasadam.
"It is good if you offer to the Lord whatever you cook. If you have some devotion, Krishna will accept it. Krishna took food even from the mouth of a sabar (a man of a low caste)—when the sabar was eating some plantain root, Krishna took it from his mouth.
"When you cook something, when you want to use something for the service, you must offer it to the Deities. If you do it, it will be good. If sometimes you cannot do it, for example, when you are outside, still you can remember Guru, Vaishnavs, Bhagavan at that time. It is a necessary process. Some people cannot understand it and they take food before (or without) offering it to the Deity, that is not good. When you offer the bhog and take prasadam, it is good for you—it will bring benefit for you. Offer the bhog and take prasadam. Through service illusory environment will be removed from you, so it is necessary to engage in service, and taking prasadam is also service. These are the main things."
"It says here what happens if you do not get rid of all those material desires. For example, you are hungry today and think, 'Oh, I am so hungry but the prasadam is not so good today. I will eat out today—I have some money, I can go to a hotel and get something there.' Another day you think, 'I want a little more...' another day again, 'A little more,' and you end up thinking, 'What is the big deal? Nobody sees me, I can have some eggs in the hotel!' (But He who has to see it, will see it!)"
visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
"If you take food that comes from materialistic people, your mind becomes contaminated. When your mind is contaminated, you cannot chant the Name of Krishna."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila, 6.278)
"If you think about the Lord, then everything will go to the Lord. This is called Krishne-karmarpan. If you drink some water and remember Krishna, it will be taking prasadam; if you drink a glass of water and remember Gurudev, you will be taking his prasadam. In this way you can use yourself as a servitor."
"The Lord says in Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 'When a devotee serves Me and offers Me some water and a Tulasi leaf, I free them from all their debts.' Do you need money, a house, or a car to serve the Lord? Even if you have nothing, you can offer Ganges water and Tulasi to the Lord..."
"Jive daya: You can give benefit to the jiva souls by using everything for the service to the Lord: you offer a flower, you cook some rice, make chapatis or cut vegetables—it all comes from a tree or a plant, and when you offer everything to the Lord, everybody gets benefit through you. That is called devotion and this is the householder life—to do so that everybody gets benefit from you."
"A householder devotee cooks and maintains a family, and a householder nondevotee also cooks and maintains a family; but the householder devotee is intelligent because he cooks for the Deity and devotees and maintains Krishna's samsar (family). You must be clever and do everything as service to the Lord. That is called intelligence. Those who are foolish, think that they want to be enjoyers, but they do not know that Krishna is the enjoyer."
"Those who eat regularly, who work regularly, who sleep regularly, can practise properly. Regular sleeping, regular prasadam is also a part of service. If you cannot do it, you will not be able to practise. Do you understand it?"
tvayopabhukta-srag-gandha, vaso 'lankara-charchchitah
"Adorned with the articles that have been offered to You, such as garlands, fragrant clothing, and ornaments, we, Your personal servitors who partake of Your holy remnants alone, will certainly be able to conquer Your illusory energy (maya)."
(Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamritam, 3.7)
"We offer what Krishna takes and what the scriptures say, that is sattvik food, then we take it—we do not take sattvik, rajasik, or tamasik food, we always try to take maha-prasadam, and when you offer something, it must be maha-prasadam."
Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
"Do not use ginger in subjis. It is not good for health, and not good for the devotional life also. OK? If you can use only cumin, cumin powder, some tumeric, that is good for health and also your mind, your brain, your heart, everything will become cool. When you take ginger, ego comes and angry mood comes. Do not use it. If you eat a lot of ginger, more ego will come to you. If we take the prasad that Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu like, that is good for us. Also, we can cook what we like and offer it to Nityananda Prabhu, that is also good for us. Do not cook your own things and eat it yourself, this is bad for your spiritual life.
"Do not take honey, ghee, if you take them, then kamana-basana (lust desire) will always be increasing, and red dal gives anger like cow's meat (cow's meat and masoori dal are the same). I am telling it to all the devotees: always take prasadam—offer bhog to the Deity and take prasadam..."
Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, "First, clean your hand, then, if Tulasi is available, it is very nice, if not available, then think about Tulasi Devi and offer the preparation with Tulasi to your Guru, 'My Lord, this is an offering for you and your Lord, Krishna. I have brought this offering and I am giving it to you, you please give it to your Lord and take it yourself.'"
Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
This is, after all, the suicidal plane, the discordant plane where one cannot live without devouring his environment. That is the law of this land. If you want to live here then you must devour your environment otherwise you can't survive. So it is the suicidal plane. One is eating another and only then he can live, that too is only for the time being. So is this a proper land to live in?
Prasada—that is the highest solution! The principle necessities of any life here in this world are to preserve and to propagate. Our first priority is to preserve, and for self-preservation we create havoc in the environment by exploitation. The first principle of exploitation begins from the urge for self-preservation, and that means eating. We are to adjust our dealings with the environment in our most primitive necessity which we can't avoid in order to keep body and soul together. So if we can solve this one difficulty, we can almost solve the whole problem.
Prasada-seva korite hoya, sakala prapanca jaya—Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur says that the key to the solution of the whole problem of this mundane life is in Prasada. The first necessity of life is eating, and if we can solve that problem, we have solved the whole thing. Prasada-seva korite hoya, sakala prapanca jaya—the most important thing is to learn how we should take Prasadam to maintain ourselves. Our life depends mainly on that.
To live here we cannot but consume, and we cannot but create devastation in the environment by our eating. If we go to consume anything, even plants, grasses or seeds, then microscopic creatures are being killed. So the question is how to get rid of this reaction? It is said in Srimad Bhagavad-gita (3.9): yajnarthat karmano 'nyatra, loko 'yam karmma-bandhanah—we shall get relief from that reaction only if we can successfully connect everything with the Supreme Satisfaction, with Him whose pleasure all existence is meant to fulfil. So, in the taking of food, really we are to be conscious that we are collecting the ingredients for His satisfaction, and then cooking and offering to Him for His satisfaction—that should be our real purpose. And then because our whole life and energy is for serving Him, we need energy and must take something out of that. But the main point, the real substance of the transaction will be to collect, cook, and offer to Him according to His will expressed in the Scriptures. That is the first step, and only after the foodstuffs have been offered to Him shall we take anything ourselves. This will help to make us always conscious of why we are taking. We are taking because we want only to serve Him. Furthermore, whatever has been accepted by the Lord, the 'poison' the bad reaction, will have been absorbed and digested by Him just as in the case of Mahadeva who drank the poison generated from the Ocean of Milk.
Krsna is absolute and can digest anything. Not only that, but those things which have been consumed in His connection also receive promotion, so actually there is no himsa, violence. What appears to be himsa is not really so, because those whom are apparently violently treated actually receive a high promotion through connection with the Supreme. In addition whoever has been instrumental in fulfilling that connection will also receive some reward. So the devotee must think, "What shall I take? I won't take anything from the world, I shall take only from my Master, as His grace. It is His grace. His free grace to me—Prasada."
The word Prasada means 'kindness,' 'grace.' The devotee will feel, "Whatever service I do, I am not expecting anything to be paid to me in return. It is a free transaction. And whatever I receive is only His grace. So I shall take Prasada, then I shall be free from all entanglement of action and reaction even though I am in the midst of it. Because it is a fact that with every action I must disturb the environment, then if all my actions are meant for Him, the Supreme Lord, there will be no bad reaction coming to me, but rather the opposite reaction will occur and help not only me but those that were offered also. Through me, through myself as a centre, such waves will emanate that will help others to progress in their path of purification."
So, through the godliness in his heart, everyone must be a purifying agent. God is on the throne of the heart, and from there He will emanate such a fine ray which will purify not only that person's heart, but also the environment.
Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion, Vol. III
mahaprasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
"O king, one whose fortune is meagre never develops faith in mahaprasad, Govinda, the Holy Name, or the Vaisnavas."
"The body is a net of illusion, and the material senses are the enemies; they throw the soul into the ocean of mundanity. Among the senses, the tongue is the most greedy and wicked. It is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world."
krsna bada dayamaya karibare jihva jaya
"O brothers! Krsna is very merciful: to conquer the tongue He has given us His remnants! Accept this nectarean food, sing the glories of Radha-Krsna, and with love call out, 'Chaitanya! Nitai!'"
(preme bhare daka re)
"Call with love! Call with love: ‘Dayal Nitai Chaitanya! Nitai! Gaura! Hari!'"
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