Restaurant Devotion vs Pure Devotion

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Kolkata—Worldwide, 4 October 2020, part 5


Question: If I buy some food made by a karmi but offer it to Gurudev, will I then not receive the material desires of that karmi?

Actually, if any karmi wants to offer some food, they must first have a heart. They must make themselves qualified first. They must hanker for the right to offer prasadam to Gurudev.

It can be sometimes very difficult—when we go for preaching in the West or even here in Bengal, we sometimes have to take prasad from non-devotees who are not initiated, who are not qualified and who do not have the right to do it. Sometimes we have to take such prasadam for preaching purpose. Our Param Gurudev, Srila Prabhupad had to tolerate this too. Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj and our Gurudev went to many countries all over the world many times, I have been to many countries too and I also sometimes preach here in India as well—we always try to maintain our status, but sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes, some householder people who are not initiated cook, give the food to us, and then we offer it and take it. What can we do? For preaching, we have to tolerate everything and we have to accept everything. So, if it is for preaching purposes, it is not a problem, but if it is for enjoyment purposes, for material purposes, then it is a problem. Sriman Mahaprabhu says,

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)

Those who cook or offer food have some material desires, and this creates some problem. Sometimes, the husband is initiated, and the wife is not—the wife cooks in the family, and the husband takes that food, but then there is a problem. It often happens that when the husband takes food like this every day for many years, his mind eventually changes and he leaves his practising life. I have seen so many examples of this. Such devotees gradually become materialists; they may have taken a mala from Gurudev, but then they stop chanting, they become non-vegetarian, etc. We should be always careful with this. We must always take pure prasadam.

Sometimes, we work outside, we do not cook and take some food in a hotel (shop, cafe, restaurant) where they mix veg and non-veg food. It is a problem. It is possible to do this for one day or two days as an exception, but if you take such food every day and do not offer bhog, if you are habituated to eat outside food saying, "Oh, I have no energy to cook!" This is wrong. If you take prasad, your diseases will be removed, but if you do not take prasadam, how will you then recover from your diseases?

So, you are asking about bhog offered by non-devotees—yes, their material desires will still be there. In some cases, their desires can be removed by Gurudev's mercy, but that depends upon the devotee. We cannot give permission, "OK, you can take food anywhere", "You can go everywhere", etc. I do not teach you such things. Again, for preaching we sometimes digest such things, we tolerate it, but we must not do this on a daily basis and make it our habit. You live in a temple or in your house, and you bring food from a hotel or restaurant, where they mix veg and non-veg food, every day—this is not good. It is better if you cook and do the offering, then it will be pure devotion.


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