Our Disciplic Succession:
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj  Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj  Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj  Bhagavan Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad
"The Sun Never Sets on Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math":
Worldwide Affiliate Branches and Centres
 
ABOUT US GUIDANCE LIBRARY DAILY PRACTICE PHOTO CALENDAR CONTACT
 

Daily Practice

— { Cooking Viddhi } —

 

pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
matala hari-jana kirtana-range

"From afar we shall worship the raga-path, the path of spontaneous affectionate service, while we ourselves shall live within the Vedic guidelines."

patram puspam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktya prayachchhati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam, asnami prayatatmanah

"If one offers Me with devotion a leaf, flower, fruit or water, I affectionately accept that offering of the clean hearted devotee."

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

 

This page offers extensive practical guidelines on how to shop, store, cook, and offer bhoga properly. Generally speaking, all hard and fast rules and regulations (viddhi) were consolidated and recorded by Srila Sanatan Goswami Prabhu in his extensive scripture Sri Hari-bhakti-vilas for posterity on the order of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Centuries later, seeing the condition of the souls in this day and age, our Guru-varga, who manifest their pastimes out of immense mercy to all fallen souls, have significantly simplified these rules condensing them into a form which is possible for devotees to follow (following ekadasi fasts during one day with anukalpa instead of original three days of dry fast is a common example of such relaxation of rules). Considering that many devotees come to this transcendental line from various backgrounds and may not be aware of certain basics that are naturally taught to all children in religious-minded parts of India, we present here a summary of guidelines that we pray may be helpful for all those striving to progress in Krishna consciousness and practise properly for the pleasure of His Divine Grace Sri Gurupadpadma.

Please note that these are slightly simplified guidelines; temples follow stricter and more elaborate Deity worship standards (including recital of various mantras, performing archan, etc.) that can be learned directly under the guidance of senior Vaishnavs at the temple. However, these rules present the basics of devotional lifestyle that can help one adopt to temple life or just lead a cleaner lifestyle at home.

If you have any questions regarding this material, you can send your query at info.at.scsmathinternational.com

 

BHOG:
(Bhog, or bhoga, is products purchased, collected, or grown for offering to Sri Gurudev or the Deities. So, devotees see 'food' in terms of bhog and prasad, all else is undesirable or of no consequence.)

  • Bhog must be fully vegetarian. Devotees do not offer or take meat, fish, poultry, eggs, onion, garlic, masoor dal, mushrooms, tea, coffee, as well as their byproducts (for example, rennet, gelatin, non-soya lecithin, shellac, glycerine, etc.) or any products that contain any of this.
    (Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, "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.")

    (His Divine Grace Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj also warns against using ginger, ghee, and honey.)

  • When going to buy the bhog, make sure you are in a clean state. (If you pass stool, you must take a shower; if you eat something, you must wash your hands and mouth; if you touch the floor, shoes and other unclean objects, wash your hands, etc.) The same applies while shopping: for example, do not eat something while picking vegetables, do not buy vegetables that fell on the floor, do not wet your fingers with spit to open a plastic bag, etc.

  • Do not smell the bhog. It contaminates the product which then becomes unfit for offering. It may at first seem difficult for some, but with practise you can learn to distinguish better fruit and vegetables without sniffing at it.

  • Always purchase the best ingredients: natural, fresh, non-expired, non-damaged. Remember that "not offering fruits and grains to the Deity when they are fresh, or in season" is a seva aparadh.

  • When buying the bhog, do not bargain about the price. (You are purchasing something for the Lord, doing service, so showing miserly or stingy nature is inauspicious.)

  • Avoid buying ready-made meals and dishes as far as possible (bhog must be clean and 'offerable'—you can never say how the ready-made meals were made)...

  • If you are shopping with a non-devotee, do not keep the bhog in the same trolley/basket with non-offerable products (meat, etc.).

  • At home, all bhog should be kept in a clean place, not touching or mixed with offered or unclean things. If you live in a non-devotee family, you can try to secure a separate shelf for your products and try to let it get mixed with anything else as little as possible.

  • The fridge and the cupboards should be kept clean and neat. It is a good habit to wipe bottles, packages, etc. before keeping them in the fridge. (Wrapping vegetables into a cotton kitchen towel or unused newspaper can help to keep them fresh for longer.)

  • Do not eat any bhog without offering it first. Once you open a package and eat something from it, it cannot be offered. ("Bhunjate te tv agham papa, ye pachanty atma-karanat. Those who prepare food for their own pleasure partake only of sin." Srimad Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)

  • Avoid "stealing" the bhog. For example, if you offer some peanuts from a bag, you can take the remaining peanuts as prasadam, but try not to help yourself to the peanuts from the bag if you are going to offer them again.

  • If you bring some prasad from the temple, You cannot offer it to your Guru. (Offering prasad to anybody means distributing mercy, you cannot 'distribute mercy' to your Guru or Deities.)

  • If somebody gives you some products, make sure that they have not been opened and tasted before. If unsure, do not use such things for the offering.

  • "Giving the best part of collected ingredients to others and offering the remains to the Deity" is a seva aparadh.

  • "Not celebrating the Lord's birthday and other Pastimes" is a seva aparadh.

 


 

 

COOKING:

  • "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." This is the main guideline when cooking. Clean mind, clean body, clean clothes, clean kitchen, clean utensils, clean products.

  • Take shower before you start cooking, wear clean clothes. The cooking utensils, offering plates, etc. should not be touched in an unclean state. (The body becomes polluted after sleeping, passing stool, passing urine, eating, cutting hair, cutting nails, after visiting a funeral—one should take bath after these; one should wash their hands after touching ears, lips, nose, eyes, etc., after touching the floor, feet, bottom of pants or the skirt, after scratching the body).

  • When you cook for Gurudev or the Deities, you use Gurudev's and Deities' utensils (plates, pots, spoons, knives, towels, etc.). Do not use these cooking utensils for yourself, and do not use 'your' utensils to cook for Gurudev. They should be kept separately and never get mixed. If the offering utensils get accidentally mixed up with your things, they are no longer suitable to be used in cooking for the offering and should be replaced.
    The same should be kept in mind when somebody gives you utensils as a present (make sure they are new; do not use second-hand utensils unless they were used in a devotee's kitchen strictly for offering.)

  • Do not use a microwave oven (multi cooker, steam cooker, pressure cooker, blender, mixer, etc.) for preparing the offering unless you use it exclusively for offering and have not used it for your own purposes. Once you use it for your own purposes, it is no longer suitable for cooking for your Guru/Deities.

    (The more you imbibe and embrace the life of prasad seva, the more natural this actually becomes to you because you gradually get relief from the habit and desire to use something "for your own purpose"—you start using everything for the service of your Gurudev.)

  • Before you start cooking, wash the sink, tap, and wipe the kitchen counters that you are going to use. (If you have facilities to have two separate, non-adjoining sinks, it is the best; if not, make sure the sink is cleaned each time before you use it for cooking.) Rinse the utensils before using them. Rinse the offering plate/bowls before arranging the bhog on it.

  • Do not taste the preparation you are making before, while, or after cooking it. (If uncertain about salt, you can offer some salt in a small bowl/saucer next to the offering.)

  • When you cook something, try to remember that you cook it for your Guru, not for your enjoyment.
    When Srila Acharya Maharaj was asked, "Now how can I cook without thinking about myself? It is very difficult..." His Divine Grace answered, "It is not difficult. Everything is for Krishna, so cooking is for Krishna too. There is nothing difficult in that. When you cook and offer it to Krishna, you can immediately die after that, then you cannot take the food. You should think, 'I want to cook something for Krishna, but I do not know whether I will be alive or not—I can die at any moment...'" (From "Sahajiya")

  • Cooking is service, so try to cook in a devotional state of mind remembering your Guru, without arguments, nonsense talks, TV, music, distractions, snacks, tea breaks, etc. (Chant Hare Krishna or bhajans if you feel bored. If you play recordings of bhajans, do not treat it as background music, be mindful of the prayers that are being sung.)

  • If something falls on the floor while you are cooking, rinse it before using further; if however something falls on the floor and touches your foot, it can no longer be used for offering and should be discarded.

  • If you need to take a glass of water while you are cooking or touch some other things, wash your hands before you get back to cooking and touch the offering utensils (do not use the kitchen sink for washing your hands or the glass).

  • What you cook and how you cook it depends on you and your cooking skills. The important thing is that you follow Srila Gurudev's instruction and make the effort. You do not have to cook fancy elaborate dishes and become an expert cook. You have to offer something every day, so cook simple things according to your abilities, offer them to your Guru, and take prasad. (The Lord is bhavagrahi-janardana, He eats love and affection; He accepts everything from the hands of His devotees, but never takes anything from a non-devotee.)

    • As merely an example, daily bhoga offerings in India are approximately the following:
      (1—early morning) some sweetmeat or fruit;
      (2—morning) muri with kitchuri, pasta or some kitchuri-like subji;
      (3—noon) bitter or herb preparation, rice, dal, vegetable subji, chutney, sweet rice;
      (4—late afternoon) fruit;
      (5—evening) hot milk with a little sugar, chapati, some fried vegetable preparation.

  • When you cook, do not sneeze or let anything else unclean get onto the products or preparation. (If necessary, step away, wash hands, etc.) For example, if some blood touches a product or a preparation, it becomes polluted and cannot be offered any more. In the same way, do not let hairs touch or fall into the preparation.

  • Do not wash your plates with the offering plates and utensils. First wash all offering pots, spoons, knives, etc., wipe them and put them away, then you can use the sink for your needs. The offering dishes must be always kept separately and clean.

  • Wash all dishes and pots thoroughly and timely, do not stack dishes for hours and days. If you use a dishwasher, you cannot use it for both your plates and the offering utensils. Either use a separate dishwasher or your hands to wash the offering utensils.

  • The cloth you use to wipe the dishes must be washed separately from your clothes. The detergent, soap, cloth, sponge, etc. that you use to wash dishes should also be separate and kept in a clean state, replace the sponge/cloth regularly. The bathroom is a place for passing stool and other unclean procedures, so do not wash, or even take, the offering clothes, dishes or anything else there.

  • Do not walk in the kitchen wearing the same shoes that you wear outside or go to the bathroom in. If required, wear house shoes/slippers but make sure you do not go to the bathroom wearing them. If you or somebody else walks in the kitchen wearing shoes, wipe the floors.

  • All of this can be much harder to adjust to for a person living in a non-devotee family, but "everything is impossible for those who do not do anything"... Adjust to your situation as far as possible, but do not become a slave of circumstances: do not neglect the basic rules to suit your lifestyle.

 


 

OFFERING:

  • (When you wake up and open the altar or after you do the morning arati, offer some water to the pictures at your altar and keep it there for the day, changing it and offering fresh water every morning.)

  • When you finish cooking, do not put anything on your plate. First offer it to your Guru and the Deities. Have a separate plate for the offering and put what you cooked on that plate, arranging it all on one plate or in separate small bowls on a tray. Do not forget to offer some water in a glass.

  • "The Lord does not accept even one of fifty-six grain offerings or thirty-six vegetable offerings without Tulasi leaves." So, keep a Tulasi leaf on each of the preparations or at least one for the entire offering. If you do not have a Tulasi tree at home, try to plant one. If somehow you cannot plant her, you can collect some dry Tulasi leaves and offer dry leaves (you can soak them in some water for a few minutes before placing on the offering).

  • Take the offering plate to your altar, keep it near the photo of your Guru. Bow down, chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra and offer thus the prepared food (you can ring the arati bell at this time). Leave the offering at the altar for about 10 minutes. After that, pick the offering and take it back to the kitchen.

      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.N. Acharya Maharaj: "You can also try to keep a photograph of the Deities and offer bhog to the Deities—it is not necessary to cook anything extraordinary; you can cook some potato and offer potato; many people have wild spinach growing in their garden—this spinach is Mahaprabhu's favourite, you can cook it and offer it (Mahaprabhu will be even happier). You can place the offering in front of the photograph of the Deities with a Tulasi leaf, chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and say, 'Prabhu, I do not know anything, please eat this. I do not understand anything, but I am giving this offering to You.' After that, put the prasad on another plate and you can take it. Keep some plates separately for the Lord. If you eat muri, you can offer muri, if you eat rice or roti, you can offer it to the Lord. Offer whatever you can get. 'Prasada-seva karite haya, sakala prapancha-jaya—by honouring the Lord's prasad I conquer all worldly illusions.'"

  • If you are having a programme at your house, do not make the offering in front of everybody. The altar must be closed at the time of the offering (giving your Guru the privacy); if not possible, the offering should be done in the kitchen in front of a photograph of your Guru.

  • There is a temple rule that when an offering is being made at the temple, certain items like a flower, an asan, some water for washing feet, etc. are offered before offering bhoga (this is not obligatory for home worship); however, flowers must not be offered directly with the bhoga. It may seem pleasing to the eye, but it is not appropriate to place inedible items (such as flowers) on the plate with bhoga that is offered to the Lord to eat.

  • Please bear in mind one more important point. Srila B.N. Acharya Maharaj: "One day, some devotees had to go to the court at ten o'clock and they were coming back later in the afternoon. Srila Sridhar Maharaj ordered the cook, 'Cook before ten o'clock—keep some bhoga for the offering to the Deities and then feed the devotees.' So, there is some exception for those devotees who are going out for some service. If you stay at the temple and you are not going anywhere, it is not good to take prasadam before the offering. If somebody is going out, then cook something earlier, take out some of the cooked bhoga for the Deities to offer it later at the proper time, and feed those who are going out for service, for collection, etc. properly. This is how you must serve devotees. This is the rule of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's temple."

  • Do not use photographs of demigods or avatars of Lord Krishna when doing the offering—your Guru does not offer food to them, he offers it to his Guru, his Deities.

  • After the 10 minutes, take the offering plate back to the kitchen. Prepare your dishes, bowl, containers in a separate place. Rinse your hand and empty the offered bhog, prasad onto your plate (avoid touching the offering bowls/plates to your plate at any time). Empty the pots into your containers or plates in the same way.

  • Do not mix bhog (unoffered items) and prasad (offered items). For example, do not put offered peanuts back into the bag with unoffered peanuts—if you do somehow mix it, it does not contaminate the unoffered peanuts, but you cannot use them for offering after that because you cannot offer to your Guru anything that has already been offered before.

  • If you are not alone, distribute prasadam to all the present devotees first, make sure everyone has all preparations in the amount they like (do not push anyone to take more than one wants, do not put too little; always feed others with motherly affection and loving care). At the temple or during a preaching programme, the person who distributes prasadam always waits for everyone to take prasadam first and serves everyone during prasad-seva—if anyone wants to take more of any preparation (which everyone should always be sweetly offered to), the person who serves prasadam gives a second helping. It is inappropriate/offensive for this person to sit and take prasadam until everyone has finished taking prasadam. (You can read more in the section dedicated to festivals.) In a family or household setting, everyone can eat together, but if anyone wants to take a second helping, you need to wash your hands and then dish prasadam for yourself and others. Always be considerate to others, always serve devotees.

  • Recite the prasadam prayers and honour the prasadam:

    mahaprasade govinde nama-brahmani vaisnave
    svalpa-punya-vatam rajan visvaso naiva yayate

    "O king, one whose fortune is meagre never develops faith in mahaprasad, Govinda, the Holy Name, or the Vaisnavas."

    bhai re!
    sarira avidya-jala jadendriya tahe kala
    jive phele visaya-sagare
    ta'ra madhye jihva ati lobhamaya sudurmati
    ta'ke jeta kathina samsare

    "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
    sva-prasad-anna dila bhai
    sei annamrta pao radha-krsna-guna gao
    preme daka chaitanya-nitai

    "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)
    (dayal nitai chaitanya bale preme bhare daka re)
    (nitai gaura haribol!)

    "Call with love! Call with love: ‘Dayal Nitai Chaitanya! Nitai! Gaura! Hari!'"

  • Take some prasad in your hand, touch it to your forehead, and take it. Whether you eat with a spoon or with your hand, prasad is always taken with the right hand (the left hand is considered unclean, inauspicious).

  • If you do not finish the prasad on the same day, keep it in the fridge (separately, not touching the bhog). If some prasad goes off, the best way to discard it is to feed it to a pet, otherwise bury it or drop it into a river, or keep it in the garden where animals cannot abuse it.

  • Strictly speaking, do not re-heat prasadam (see the quotation below); if you have to heat it, do not use the pots or any utensils that you use for preparing bhoga. Keep a separate pot for that (and wipe the stove after you use it). If you use a microwave oven to warm prasadam, do not use it for 'cooking' or warming anything for the offering. As you cook for the offering every day anyway, try to cook a sufficient amount for the day without having to store and re-heat anything the next day. It is not appropriate to cook once for the whole week ahead as it is commonly done in some western countries.

    (For temples and many houses, where microwave ovens are not used, where no 'separate' pots are kept, where no fridges are used for anything except bhoga, and where it is impossible to reheat buckets of remaining prasadam, His Divine Grace instructs clearly:)

  • Question: Can we reheat the prasadam that has already been offered and distributed?

    Srila Acharya Maharaj: No, no. No. If it is already offered to the Lord, then we must take the remnants, you cannot make it hot again. It is not good. Not good.

    Devotee: What about milk? Can we warm it a little bit?

    Srila Acharya Maharaj: No, no. It is not good. If it gets cold, then you can take it cold.

 

In conclusion, these rules may no doubt seem overwhelming at first, but as you try to gradually transition to a cleaner lifestyle, they become a norm and assist greatly in your spiritual practice because this is the eternal lifestyle that our Gurudev wishes us to adopt and cherish.

"That state in which one is joyful through his practices while attaining the cessation of all unhappiness, and which in the beginning is like poison but ultimately like nectar, and which is born of the purity of self-realization—that happiness is said to be of the nature of goodness."

 

 

 

DAILY KIRTANS OBSERVING EKADASI

 

Introduction
Setting up the altar
Arati
Daily kirtans
Bhog, cooking, offering
Cooking Viddhi
Observing Ekadasi
Observing Festivals
Tulasi Devi
Four regulative principles
Scriptural regulations

 


Near and Dear
'If you think your Guru is far, then how far is Krishna? Venezuela and India are not so far from each other compared to Goloka Vrindavan, where Krishna lives.'

You get service by the mercy of Guru, Vaishnav, Bhagavan, but you must be careful you do not lose your service through Vaishnav aparadh, seva aparadh, and dham aparadh.

"HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS | HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS"