Cooking: Integral Part of Practising Life

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Kolkata-Worldwide, 26 July 2020, part 3

 

Question: Could you please explain the importance of following the four regulative principles?

I always tell about the four regulative principle at the time of initiation. The four regulative principles are dyuta, pana, striya, suna. These are primary, basic, things. Dyuta means gambling. Pana means drinking—do not drink alcohol, do not take marijuana. Striya means illegal sex. Suna means killing animals—do not kill any animals, do not take meat, fish, or any other non-vegetarian food; you must offer vegetarian food to the Deities and always take prasad.

প্রসাদ-সেবা করিতে হয়
সকল প্রপঞ্চ জয়

prasada-seva karite haya,
sakala prapancha-jaya

"By honouring the Lord's prasad I conquer all worldly illusions."

(Saranagati, 31.5, by Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur)

Everybody must follow these four regulative principles. After that, even if we follow these four regulative principles, we still have five diseases—avidya (ignorance), asmita (false identification), raga (misdirected love), dvesa (aversion to anything that goes against one's enjoyment), and abhinivesa (being unable to give up unfavourable habits)...

We all follow the regulative principles, we take prasadam every day, we do not do any illegal sex, we do not gamble, we do not drink alcohol, we do not even drink tea—but why are we still unable to proceed in our practising life, in our spiritual life? Because even if we follow these things, so many things still come up in our life—there are the five diseases (avidya, asmita, raga, dvesa, abhinivesa), there is attachment to enjoyment (rupa, rasa, gandha, sabda, sparsa—desire to enjoy with beauty, taste, smell, sound, touch), and there is also kanak, kamini, pratistha (desire for money, companions, prestige). We think we do everything, we follow everything, but the truth is that we are only instruments. We are not doers, we cannot do anything—we are only instruments. Only Krishna and Guru do everything.

So, following only these four regulative principles (dyuta, pana, striya, suna) is a simple matter. Even non-devotees should follow them because these things—killing animals, eating fish, meat, etc.—are not good for one's health, they are not good for one's life. However, only taking vegetarian food is not enough. Sometimes, we buy some food at the market, we buy something from a restaurant, but Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said,

বিষয়ীর অন্ন খাইলে মলিন হয় মন ।
মলিন মন হৈলে, নহে কৃষ্ণ-নাম গ্রহণ ॥

visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile, nahe krsna-nama grahana

"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)

We sometimes buy food in a restaurant and eat it, but we do not know who cooks it. Srila Gurudev also says that if you take food from the the hands of a non-devotee, the material desires that the person who cooks has, will come to you. That is what is called,

বিষয়ীর অন্ন খাইলে মলিন হয় মন ।
মলিন মন হৈলে, নহে কৃষ্ণ-নাম গ্রহণ ॥

visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile, nahe krsna-nama grahana

"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)

You may take outside food for one or two days if you cannot cook for some reason (for example, you have been working the whole day and did not have time to cook), but if you do it every day—if you work the whole day, go to a restaurant, eat there or get takeaway food, come home, if you do not cook, if you do not offer bhog—that is not right. I know some of our people live like this, I have seen this in many foreign countries—they take vegetarian food, but they eat outside food, they do not cook themselves. If you are doing some service and have no time to cook for some reason, it is OK for one day, but if you do this every day, it is not good for spiritual practice. You must understand this.

বিষয়ীর অন্ন খাইলে মলিন হয় মন ।
মলিন মন হৈলে, নহে কৃষ্ণ-নাম গ্রহণ ॥

visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile, nahe krsna-nama grahana

"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)

You cannot set time for chanting, you do not get time for your daily practice—this is not good, try to understand it. You should practise daily, regularly, you should chant on your beads, you should chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra without the beads, you must cook, offer bhog. You must do all this. Try to follow all rules and regulations in this way. Try to understand this and try to follow all the rules and regulations.

I have seen a photograph of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Srila Prabhupad—when he went to America, he would cook himself. He would cook himself, offer it to the Deities, to his Guru, and take prasadam. I also did that—when I had some problems and had to stay in Park Street, I cooked myself too. When Nakul Prabhu stayed with me for a short time, he would cook, otherwise, when I stayed with Ananda Moy Prabhu, I would cook and Ananda Moy Prabhu would cut the vegetables. I cooked various items, offered everything to Gurudev, and we would take prasadam. We also do this.

You must understand that when you come to practising life, you will get some austerity. I know you work the whole day, I know you come home very tired and only want to go to bed, you have no mood to cook, but still you must try to follow what I am saying. Otherwise, you will get into the habit of going to the restaurant every day. You eat food from a restaurant, but they cook meat and vegetables side by side, you do not know what they mix with what—you buy it, take it home and eat that kind of food. That is,

বিষয়ীর অন্ন খাইলে মলিন হয় মন ।
মলিন মন হৈলে, নহে কৃষ্ণ-নাম গ্রহণ ॥

visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile, nahe krsna-nama grahana

"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)

These materialists, people who have material attachments, cook, and when you eat their food, it makes your heart dirty...

You must always practise properly, that is good for you. Try to practise properly. Try to change yourself. This is how you can proceed in your spiritual life. I know it is sometimes very difficult—I know you work the whole day, you come home tired, and sometimes both husband and wife work, they do not have time to cook. I know it is very difficult, but I am telling you—you must still try to follow what I am saying, you must still try to cook, try to serve. That is good for you—you will get more energy for service, you will get more happiness in your heart.

Question: Many devotees do not eat in a restaurant, but they have a maidservant in their house and they take the food prepared by the maidservant every day. Is that the same thing? I know some have been eating such maidservant's food for ten, twenty years now...

In such cases, the maidservant must take initiation. If you have been taking food from the same maidservant for twenty years, can you not preach to her and tell her that she must become a devotee?? You can preach to somebody for fifteen-twenty minutes only and wash their brain, it is easy.

A few days ago, one devotee (not really a devotee, but a new boy) phoned me, and I washed his brain on the phone. After that, I went to Nabadwip (Nrisingha Palli), and on the way I saw him standing on the road—he said he wanted to go with me. I took him to Nrisingha Palli, and now he is a devotee, he is doing much service and doing it very nicely.

Another thing is why is it necessary to keep a maidservant? If you have to have a maidservant to cook, then she has to take initiation, otherwise, if she is not a devotee, it is a problem. In Srivas Pandit's house also there was a maidservant Duhkhi, and she became a disciple of Mahaprabhu, she became a great servitor. I have seen also many families where maidservants became devotees. Why will they not take initiation? They can easily take initiation. What does initiation mean? They already cook and take vegetarian food, so they will just wear kanthi-mala, tilaks and chant the Holy Name. What is so difficult about that? You can tell the maidservant, "I will pay you more salary if you take initiation," or you can say, "If you want to cook here, if you want to work here, you must take initiation." I have seen one devotee from Hungary who has a printing house—he said to them straight that if anyone wanted to work there, they had to take initiation from Gurudev.

Another thing is this. We also sometimes keep some workers at the temple, for example, we keep a gatekeeper or a man for cow seva who are not initiated, but they do not come to the temple to cook—they only do outside work. So, you can keep a maidservant for outside works—she can do the shopping, do the cleaning, etc. But the kitchen service is very special. The kitchen is the Lord's place—the Deities' room and the Deities' kitchen are the highest places in the house or in the temple, so why will anyone without initiation enter it? How can they enter it?

I have seen in some foreign devotee's house that they keep a girl from Indonesia to do the cooking—who knows, she could be Muslim, but what can I do? We tolerate it and take food there also. When we go abroad, we tolerate everything, Gurudev also tolerated everything—but we do it for service and for preaching. When Srila Sridhar Maharaj went to Kashmir, they could not find any pure vegetarian food, so in the end they took some food from a hotel—they got some dal that had onion and garlic in it, but they took it, they tolerated it.

So, you can take outside food for service, but not every day. Why will you tolerate it every day? Try to understand what I am saying.

In Gurudev's time also, during festival time, we saw they hired some Oriyan brahmans (some brahmans would come from Odisha and cook). I heard also that the pandas who cook Jagannath prasad also eat meat, fish, etc. in their houses. I did not see them do it, I only heard it, so we do not know if that is true or not.

Srila Janardan Maharaj: Maharaj, when you used to cook together with Ananda Moy Prabhu, what would you cook?

Many things—rice, dal, subji, etc. I know how to cook.

 

 

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A Reality Check
'Our Gurudev and Vaishnavs bestow their mercy on us, but we cannot see it because our ego is standing in the way. We think we know everything, we are very powerful and knowledgeable, but in fact we know nothing, we have nothing.'

 

Sri-krsna-chaitanya prabhu jive daya kari'
'Bhakti Vinod places a straw between his teeth and falls before Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhu and Srila Sanatan Goswami Prabhu, clasping their feet.'
শ্রীকৃষ্ণচৈতন্য প্রভু
জীবে দয়া করি'

You cannot become Haridas Thakur just by external chanting on your mala
and doing nothing.

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