Prasadam: Food for the Body, Food for the Soul and Food for God
by Kirtanananda Swami
Recipes contributed by Sridama das Brahmacari
from Back to Godhead Magazine Vol. 1, Number 32, 1970
Prasadam means food for the body, food for the soul and food for God. More specifically, it is food which has been sanctified by special selection and preparation and then offered to Krsna, God, in love and devotion. Cooking for God? How absurd that sounds to the sophisticates of this modern age! How anthropomorphic! Even most transcendentalists will smile a smile of condescension at the suggestion: cooking for God! But why not? We cook for every conceivable nonsensical purpose. Why not cook instead for the Lord? Why shouldn’t this most important and central activity of life be dedicated to the Supreme? Why not cook transcendentally?
I must have woke up hungry, because my meditation this morning was on wholesome, nurturing foods in the mode of goodness.
…The purpose of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind and aid bodily strength. This is its only purpose. (from purport to Bg. 17.8-10)
Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fattening and palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 17.8-10)
This morning I was reading from Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam:
…Any living being, if he terrifies other living beings, is a most wretched subject, and the king should at once kill such a disturbing element. As the wild animal is killed when it creates disturbances, similarly any man who unnecessarily kills or terrifies the jungle animals or other animals must be punished at once. By the law of the Supreme Lord, all living beings, in whatever shape they may be, are the sons of the Lord, and no one has any right to kill another animal, unless it is so ordered by the codes of natural law. The tiger can kill a lower animal for his subsistence, but a man cannot kill an animal for his subsistence. That is the law of God, who has created the law that a living being subsists by eating another living being. Thus the vegetarians are also living by eating other living beings. Therefore, the law is that one should live only by eating specific living beings, as ordained by the law of God. The Īśopaniṣad directs that one should live by the direction of the Lord and not at one’s sweet will. A man can subsist on varieties of grains, fruits and milk ordained by God, and there is no need of animal food, save and except in particular cases. (from purport SB 1.17.10-11)