Connection between food and bhakti
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it (Bhagavad-gītā 9.26).
Here the connection is being made between food and bhakti. There is another way of saying that: connection is being made between food and the Lord and the connection is bhakti. One could say, “Well, I have lots of bhakti, lots of devotion for the Lord, so much that I don’t even need to offer food. I just offer my love, I just offer my prayers. It says here, and Prabhupada says that Krishna eats through the sound so I don’t really need to offer something physical, I’ll just make a nice prayer and Krishna will hear that and through that He will eat.” But Krishna is more clever than that. He’ll know you are cheating. He’ll say, “Where is My lunch?” We say in English, “Talk is cheap.” Krishna also can taste. Mother Malati was telling that in San Francisco Srila Prabhupada had just installed the Jagannatha Deities and it was done in an extremely simple way. And he had given some instructions how to serve the Deities. Everything was very simple. One day the devotees prepared some bhoga offering, and the devotee who had prepared it had burned it and then the question came, “Should we or should we not offer it?” So they decided, “We’ll offer it. We’ll offer it because it was prepared for Lord Jagannatha and because Lord Jagannatha is all powerful, He can eat it even if it’s burned.” So they put it on the plate and they put it on the table and closed the curtain. They made the offering prayers and then from behind the curtain there was a crashing sound. The plate had fallen on the floor. Smashed, everything finished. And from that devotees immediately understood that Krishna did not want that burned offering.
Patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati, tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ. Bhaktyā means “with bhakti.” Prayacchati. Yach is from yam, to offer, and prayam, really to offer, to offer with real intentionality. The keyword is bhakti. Tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam. Prabhupada points out it’s twice that Krishna uses the word bhakti in this verse so He really is making a point. “One who offers Me with devotion,” aśnāmi, “I accept.” Prabhupada translates it as “accept,” but aśnāmi can literally mean “I eat.” So Krishna is saying,“I eat what is offered with devotion.” At one hand Krishna is offering Himself: “Okay, you want to please Me, this is how you can do it.” He is giving instruction — here is the simple method. Again as Prabhupada emphasizes, anyone can do this: “The only qualification required in this connection is to be pure devotee of the Lord.” We may feel like, “Okay, count me out, forget it! I’m not a pure devotee of the Lord!” But the point is in the context of what is being said in this chapter. This is not so remote. Krishna has been describing persons who make offerings, who worship various beings and then He is coming to this point. He says, “You can worship various beings and you are going to get results, you are going to go to those beings. You’ll go to the devas, you’ll go to the pitris, you’ll go to the bhutas, whatever. But if you worship Me, you’ll come to Me. Now, how to worship Me? This is how you do it.”
Food is a medium of devotional exchange for devotees. That is why it is prasadam. It starts out as what we call bhoga and ends up prasadam. From the external point of view there is no change, but there is so much change. And the change is registered in our enlivenment to serve the Lord. When we receive Krishna-prasadam then we want to serve Krishna.
Food becomes a vehicle for bhakti. We offer food to Krishna and if we offer with devotion Krishna receives, accepts, He eats and in His eating He leaves the food as prasadam which then we can accept as such. And we distribute it, we don’t just eat it ourselves. And that is the process of yajña. Yajña is the entire cycle. It is an offering up and receiving down. We offer service and we receive mercy. Prasadam can be also translated as “mercy.” And this is very tangible, in the form of food; it is not something in the mind. It’s right there, you can see it, you can smell it, you can taste it. And this is a wonderful thing about this process of Krishna consciousness.
From a lecture on BG 9.26 by Krishna Kshetra Swami on March the 17th, 2014 in Ljubljana/SI.
Vectoring the mind with viddhi and raga
The Sanskrit term vidhi, literally “rule,” “regulation,” or “procedure” indicates one vector or “axis” of lesser and greater emphasis on injunctive practice. Loosely speaking, this is the “grammar” of image worship. We can think of the degree of attention or lack of attention to vidhias indicating the horizontal vector in a field graph. The other vector (the vertical axis in our chart) is indicated by the term raga, suggesting (amid a wide range of meanings) “emotion,” “passion,” or “feeling”, constituting the “poetics” of worship, also attended to in greater or lesser degrees. (…) we resist simple oppositions: This way of mapping will help to see that these two principles are interdependent. A practitioner could, in other words, be both very attentive to scriptural rules of worship and highly absorbed in devotional feeling, or the converse, in countless combinations.
From “ATTENDING KRISHNA’S IMAGE Caitanya Vaisnava murti-seva as devotional truth” by Kenneth Russell Valpey, Recencia 2006. Available at: https://blservices.com/product/attending-krsnas-image
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