Be careful what you think around saintly persons!

When we visit the great saints, and when we pray to them, are our prayers heard? Is there any reciprocation? How do we know it was not our imagination?

In various pilgrimages to visit saintly persons, I have had the good fortune to get much reciprocation.

With a saintly person who is yet in flesh, reciprocation is easy to get, they will convey that to you in word and deed, sometimes they will put that in writing too.

But what about the saintly persons in “samadhi” or trance, who are physically entombed (sometimes while still alive, at their instruction), but who are clearly not dead and gone.

What to speak of death for a saintly spiritually perfected being, there is no death even for all of us – we don’t die, we just carry on in some other guise. For someone like me, there may be positive and negative consequences of our actions in a future lifetime… but for a genuinely saintly person, they are eternal residents of the Kingdom of God, while still being available by prayer to the likes of me.

But in prayer and meditation, how to know if what we have received is actually from that saintly person and not a concoction of the mind? After all there are so many who claim to “speak to God” and yet do despicable things. I am personally not comfortable sharing my inner feelings here in this article, but I do have one recent experience with a great saintly soul which was a very sweet interaction, if somewhat painful for me! 🙂

Recently, I visited Mantralayam, in South Central India, the place where Sri Raghavendra Swami, a great 17th century saint, resides in samadhi. Thousands of pilgrims throng his shrine, and ask for all sorts of things. In my previous visit in 2019, I had asked “How may I serve you” and the inspiration came “Help people understand what to ask of me”… so I dedicated my time there to distributing spiritual literature from the 20th century saint Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I was summoned to the administrator’s office, interrogated, and then the administrator, satisfied with my responses, took some books for himself and gave me permission to distribute books there anytime… More about those experiences at another time.

Raghavendra Swami is a great saint who taught about Krishna and in order to attract attention and seriousness to his teachings, he performed some miracles… a lot of people have forgotten his actual instructions and are fully enamored of the miracles, and go asking for mundane temporary blessings that are surely taken away by all-devouring death. But such a great saint can give complete relief from all material misery by granting the ultimate spiritual perfection!

I have had many other interactions with him, but I will keep that private for now… here is one, where I got a gentle fatherly slap from him!

The day we arrived, I was very hungry, having fasted all day during the long bumpy journey, but the Prasada (sanctified food) served in the temple was somewhat scanty and I went to bed hungry… in my childish impudence on my way back from the temple, I happened to “complain” silently in my mind to Raghavendra Swami that his assistants didn’t ask me if I wanted more, rushed me out, and so I went hungry. I was like, how is it that someone, one of your servitors, comes to your place and goes hungry.

The next day, I rose early well before sunrise, took my bath, meditated at the temple doors before they opened, then performed my mantra meditation right at the shrine, and later that morning, went again to obtain more Prasada (literally food received as Krishna’s mercy)… and was secretly worried that I might go hungry once again! So, in the second course, I rushed to asked for more. The serving priest took one look at me, and gave me a MASSIVE glob of rice, and I was satisfied that this time I would be just fine, my quota was met, and I had enough.

But poor little me, I had not factored in the remaining courses coming, all different varieties of very delicious rice preparations with sides! One course, two courses, three, four… a total of 8 courses were served, and each one was a fresh surprise to me, and before I could react, the item was served on my banana leaf plate with great speed, the next course arriving while I was heads down, before I could finish what was on my plate.

I have a vow of never wasting any Krishna Prasada I have been served on my plate, so I put it all away somehow, with great difficulty, laughing to myself at the same time at the transcendental trick that was played on me.

I was barely able to stand up and walk on my way to washing my hands and mouth! Needless to say, I didn’t need anything to eat for a long time to come!

It was almost as if “Oh, you say you went hungry yesterday, so let’s see how much you can eat!” a light-hearted challenge from Raghavendra Swami! And I must happily say that he won, and I lost. He could, that powerful personality, from his Samadhi, arrange to supply me with more than I could possibly eat, not a word said to anyone!

After all, what does it matter a little less to eat once in a while, I did get food enough to survive, did I not? So clearly even though my original complaint was quite childish, Sri Raghavendra Swami did hear it, and acted on it, if only to give me a gentle slap in my face. And miraculously enough, even though I had eaten probably 5-6 times of my usual quota, I did not suffer from a stomach upset that day!

This was just one of many experiences I have had with the great saints, and thanks to their causeless mercy, I carry on in spiritual life. I am grateful for all the mercy I have received undeservedly, whether it was encouragement, or chastisement, and often, slaps in my face to set me straight.

So, when you’re around a saintly person, be careful of what you think, you might just get way more than you bargained for!

Whose Consciousness have you eaten?

What is the most intimate act? Do you know how consciousness can get transferred just from the food you eat? Did you know you are literally eating someone’s consciousness?

What is the most intimate physical act?

What is the most intimate mental act?

What is the most intimate thing you can share with someone else?

I don’t know what your answers were to the above questions, but I will tell you what the most intimate is…

The most intimate thing you can do is to eat something prepared by someone else. When a person cooks something, it is not just the ingredients getting combined and heated together to produce something… the consciousness of that cook quite literally descends into whatever they are making.

This is why something that your mother or grandmother made can never be replicated by anyone else.

So when a person cooks, especially with grains, then every single element of their consciousness enters into the food they are preparing.

Every source of jubilation

Every source of anger

Every source of sorrow

Every single source of satisfaction

And Frustration

Every hope, desire, longing

Every single fear, every single moment of embarrassment

Every intention, every belief, every single trait

It is all there in that food they have prepared.

It is all there, in what you eat.

Consciousness, you eat

And you are eating it. You will imbibe it all, all their joys and sorrows, their satisfaction and their frustration, every single one of their hopes, desires, and longing will be in your heart too. Every single fear and moments of embarrasmens, every single intention and belief, their very character descends in your heart.

And there it all mixes and mingles with all the other consciousness you have imbibed, from all the other food you have eaten in your life.

Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said

viṣayīra anna khāile duṣṭa haya mana

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in https://vedabase`.io/en/library/cc/adi/12/50/

Srila Prabhupadw writes in the purport to that verse…

It is very risky to accept money or food from materialistic persons, for such acceptance pollutes the mind of the charity’s recipient…In fact, a Vaiṣṇava should not even accept charity or food from persons who do not follow the rules and regulations of the Vaiṣṇava principles.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in purport to https://vedabase.io/en/library/cc/adi/12/50/

My grandparents never used to eat outside in restaurants, etc. This was exactly for this reason, that they did not want to pollute their consciousness.

Do you know who works in those restaurants? Do you know what goes on there? Do you know the character of your cook? You should, because you are about to eat his consciousness, quite literally.

Next time you feel tempted to order take-out or go to some fancy restaurant or even a fast-food place, remember, you are buying more than just a plate of food. You are inviting all those people who work there to come and sit in your heart, feed you their thoughts and desires… it could be a lot more than you bargained for.

Before the pandemic, there were more than 70,000 restaurants in Canada alone. In the United States there were over 660,000 restaurants! Just think of how many meals of darkness are being spread? How many are inside you?

It is no use of course, to tell someone not to do something without giving them an alternative!

The ideal would be to take food prepared by an advanced spiritualist in sacrifice to God. Not meat or other dirty things, but clean pure vegetarian foodstuffs, prepared in a clean state of body and mind, clear consciousness, and in loving devotion to Krishna. The person should be cooking only to please God, not for money or any other such mundane reason.

But there are various grades of consciousness, try to find the person with the best consciousness then.

Of course, you can try cooking yourself. Cooking for God is such as wonderful loving personal service to God. Why don’t you try it?

Why no onions and garlic?

Harish V Menon, 18th January 2014

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I humbly seek clarification on my following ignorance.

Why is onion and garlic forbidden from offering to Krishna. I understand that they are in the mode of ignorance and would develop the characteristics of passion and ignorance to the person consuming it. Kindly enlighten in detail about the reasons behind the same.

Are there any other vegetables generally avoided from offering to Krishna?

Are there any other vegetables which are under the mode of passion and ignorance but are still offered to Krishna and then consumed?

I find it very difficult in making my family members understand about avoiding onion/garlic and its significance. They are not accepting this opinion citing health issues which might arise later for not consuming onion/garlic and for the loss of flavour in the food prepared without those items.

Kindly advise me how to handle this situation and make them understand and follow these principles.

Please forgive me for any offenses.

Thank you.

your Servant,
Harish V

Srivatsa Das SDA, 19th January 2014

Hare Krishna Prabhuji,
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Gurudeva

Regarding Onion/Garlic kindly read the article in the below link

why no onion/garlic

Regarding how to offer food to Krishna and what can be offered , kindly read below article

how and what to offer to Krishna

Regarding the health benefits, there are articles which says that “These natural foods are full of chemicals that can help protect a person from a variety of infections, diseases and illnesses. Garlic and onions help to protect against cardiovascular disease, respiratory concerns, diabetes, and a variety of cancers.”

By eating onion or garlic, there is no guarantee that we can avoid above diseases, since we are fully under the control of the law of nature (destiny).

Instead, if we surrender to Krishna and follow a Krishna conscious life, we are less likely to fall prey on these diseases due to healthy food habit (and healthy life too) and also our destiny is controlled by Krishna

I hope the above explanation helps.

your servant
Srivatsa Das

Rohini Devi Dasi, 22nd January 2014

Hare Krishna prabhuji,

All glories to srila Gurudev and srimati gurumataji
All glories to srila prabhupada.

Please accept my humble obeisance.

Harish prabhuji, thank you for asking, a question related to onion and garlic. Its very important to know the reason when we are avoiding certain food items.Although for devotees, when the statement cms from bonafide guru, it is accepted without any deviations and questions.
I understand its very difficult to convince family members, but pls share the two stories mentioned below and also explain the scientific reason to them. This might convince them.

Eating onions and garlic adversely affects one’s consciousness.
The modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance influence every living thing — human, animal, or plant — and we learn from the Vedic literature that onions and garlic are in the lower modes of nature: passion and ignorance. In spiritual life one should cultivate the mode of goodness and avoid the lower modes. Sin in its broadest sense is any activity that hinders our spiritual advancement. Since eating foods in the modes of ignorance and passion hampers our Krsna consciousness, Vaisnava spiritual masters teach their followers to give up onions and garlic. Most important, as aspiring devotees of Krsna we eat only what we offer Him. And His great devotees tell us He doesn’t eat onions and garlic.” The foul breathe and sweat of anyone who has consumed garlic is enough to turn many off. Not only the breathe but the whole body may reek.

In Bhagavad Gita (17.9) Krsna states that ‘Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.’ Onion and garlic fall in this category. They excite the baser instincts and make it difficult for one to control the senses. The prohibition on onion, garlic etc. is implicit, by virtue of their characteristics.

There are several stories about the actual appearance of onions and garlic in this world – here are a few:

(The following story was kindly provided by HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami) One ayurvedic doctor had told me that this description is there in Ayurveda: When Lord Vishnu in His Mohini form was distributing nectar to demigods two
demons named Rahu and Ketu sat down along with the line of Demigods. By mistake the Lord served them nectar into their mouths. Immediately the lord was informed by the Sun and Moon that those two were demons. As soon as the Lord came to know of this He cut off the heads of both demons. By that time nectar had not passed through their throats. It was still in their mouths. When the Lord cut of their heads , the heads were separated from their bodies. Thus nectar did not pass to the stomach but fell on the ground . (That is the reason why Rahu and Ketu’s head are still alive but their bodies were finished.) When their heads were cut off  garlic and Onions manifested from this nectar which fell on the ground from the mouth of the  two demons. Thus Garlic and Onions are regarded as nectar but not used for the Lord because these are remnants of demons having touched their mouths. Even the nectar touched the mouths of these two demons still garlic and onions act like nectar in curing the diseases. But they are not meant for Vishnu or Vaishnavas. The doctor told me that whoever will eat garlic and Onion, their body will Be very strong like demons body and at the same time their intelligence also will be contaminated like the intelligence of demons.

Here is another historical account:
“Once, in Satya Yuga the rishis were performing gomedha and asvamedha sacrifices for the welfare of the whole universe. A cow or a horse would be cut into pieces and placed in the fire. Afterwards the rishis would utter mantras and the same animal would come alive in a beautiful young body. One time the rishi who was about to perform a gomedha sacrifice, his wife was pregnant. She had a very strong desire to eat and she had heard that if, during pregnancy one has a desire to eat and does not fulfill this, then the baby that will be born will always have saliva coming from its mouth. Very strangely, she desired strongly to eat meat, thus she decided to keep one piece of meat of the cow’s body that was offered in sacrifice. She hid it and was making a plan to eat it very soon. At that time the rishi was finishing the sacrifice and uttered all the mantras for the new young cow tocome to life. However when he saw the new cow, he noticed that there was a little part missing from her left side. He went into meditation and realized that his wife had taken away a piece of meat during the sacrifice. Now his wife also understood what happened and quickly threw the meat far away in a field. Due to the effect of the mantras uttered by the rishi there was now life in this piece of meat. Then the bones in that piece of meat became garlic and the meat became onions in that field. Thus these foods are never taken by any Vaishnava devotee because it is not  vegetarian. Plus it is in the mode of ignorance.”

Onion and garlic are forbidden for the pregnant mother because the child’s body is too delicate and new for him to tolerate such pungent food. Restrictions and precautions to be taken by the pregnant mother, as enunciated in the smrti scriptures of Vedic literature, are very useful. Many ancient cultures recognized the aphrodisiac effects of onions and garlic and highly recommended them for those who wished to increase their sexual potency and discouraged them for those who were on the spiritual path, as they irritate the mind and senses.

There is certainly much information to indicate that onions  and garlic are beneficial in many areas of health such as the following: Antibacterial, antifungal, blood pressure, cholesterol, circulation, impotence, diabetes, as a cardioprotective, anti-oxidant, coughs and colds, stomach conditions, cancer. However for those wishing to cultivate spiritual life they should better not be taken even for those reasons.

Eating only food offered to Kṛṣṇa is the perfection of vegetarianism. In itself, being a vegetarian is not enough; after all, even pigeons and monkeys are vegetarians. But when we go beyond vegetarianism to a diet of prasādam, our eating becomes helpful in achieving the goal of human life-reawakening the soul’s original relationship with God. In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says that

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.” From this verse it is understood that we can offer Kṛṣṇa foods prepared from milk products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. Meat, fish, and eggs are not offerable. And a few vegetarian items are also forbidden—garlic and onions, for example, which are in the mode of darkness. (Hing, or asafetida, is a tasty substitute for them in cooking and is available at most Indian groceries or from Temple Services.) Nor can you offer to Krṣṇa coffee or tea that contain caffeine. If you like these beverages, purchase caffeine—free coffee and herbal teas.

While shopping, be aware that you may find meat, fish, and egg products mixed with other foods; so be sure to read labels carefully. For instance, some brands of yogurt and sour cream contain gelatin, a substance made from the horns, hooves, and bones of slaughtered animals. Also, make sure the cheese you buy contains no rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomach tissues of slaughtered calves. Most hard cheese sold in America contains rennet, so be careful about any cheese you can’t verify as rennetless.

Devotees pls add to the list. I could remember only few.

Hare Krishna.

your servant,
Rohini devi dasi.
Harish V Menon, 21st January 2014

Hare Krishna Srivatsa Das Prabhuji,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

Thank you for your nice clarification.

your Servant,
Harish V

Harish V Menon, 03rd February 2014

Hare Krishna Rohini Mataji,

Please accept my humble obeisance.

Thank you so much for enlightening me.
Regards,
Harish V

Sulaksana devi dasi, 29th January 2014

Hare Krishna mataji,

Please accept my humble obeisance.
All glories to Srila Gurudev and Srimati gurumataji
All glories to Srila prabhupada!

Thank you! Enjoyed reading the answer.

your humble servant,
Sulaksana devi dasi

Srivatsa Das SDA, 05th February 2014

Hare Krishna
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Gurudeva

When I asked this question some time back to a senior devotee in a local ISKCON yatra, the answer I got was that “Srila Prabhupada is so merciful that he has given us such nice opportunities to serve Lord Krishna”.  So, what I understood is that there are devotees, who celebrate these opportunities of small small sacrifices.

your servant,
Srivatsa Das

Shreyas, 06th February 2014

Hare Krsna Prabhuji
Dandavat Pranam!
Jaya Srila Gurudeva!

This one is one of my favorites as I had the good fortune to attend this lecture from Srila Gurudeva personally. Srila Gurudeva read out the following question which was the same as you have asked by a sincere listener and Srila Gurudeva replied to the Why: Because they stink! They are stinky. How can you offer such a stink to Krsna? Just by eating them one gets a foul smell. If you eat them then please at least do not come near me, stay away from me! (audience is appreciating and laughing with Srila Gurudeva’s amazing and simple response)

The best way to be convinced is and be able to realize this is by hearing it from sda-archives, audio,2013: 2013.09.20/SB.5.14.10/Katwaria.Sarai.BACE/New.Delhi/India (I am unsure if we are allowed to share the link hence no link, kindly search).

So with respect to family we already have such nice explanations from above but it depends on how much are we convinced?  Theory is there but so is also realization there. And depending on that we can smartly preach to family or friends as per circumstances and people. In simple words onion and garlic promote mode of passion and mode of ignorance. It is scientifically proved that these makes one more sex conscious (Aphrodisiac food) and Krsna and sex go ill together, its the worse combination! Hence a sincere spiritualist or a devotee would reject anything that is rejected by Lord or that which makes one easily serve maya. So if one is sincere to understand God one would act sincerely by rejecting these. Sources are already mentioned by Srila Gurudeva, link to which has been shared above by Srivatsa Prabhuji.

your servant
Hare Krsna!

Shreyas

Bhakta Sunil, 08th February 2014

Hare Krishna everyone

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

I had asked similar question to His Grace Sankarshan Das Adhikari

Following is copy of the question answer :

——————————

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Please clarify about foods like onion , garlic

I agree that Lord does not like these types of food and also that these are not in mode of goodness

I myself also do not like to consume these types of foods

Even after reading your reply recently about this same topic , I have few confusions that I humbly request you to clarify :

Onions and garlic are also part of Lord’s created foods. So why such foods are created by Lord though He Himself does like to be offered such type of foods?

Are there permissions for those persons who are used to eating onion , garlic  , to consume such foods under restrictions , and that they can gradually avoid such foods?

Regards,
Sunil

Sankarshan Das Adhikari Jan 24

From: ISKCON Austin, Texas USA

My Dear Sunil,

Please accept my blessings.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Onions and garlic are there to satisfy the taste
buds of those who desire such unpalatable things.

There are no permissions.  They are forbidden
in the scriptures:

Manusmriti 5.5

laśunaṁ caiva palāṇḍu abhakṣyāṇi

“Garlic and onions are unworthy of eating.”

I hope this meets you in the best of health
and in an ecstatic mood.

Your ever well-wisher,

Description: SDA

Sankarshan Das Adhikari

kṛṣṇe matir astu (“May you become Krishna conscious”).

————————————

Regards,
Sunil

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How to choose correct food products

Premal, 24th February 2012

Hare Krishna Prabhuji,
All glories to Swami Prabhupada
Please accept my humble obeisances
Are energy drinks like red bull ok?
Is soya ok?
Are carbonated drinks like soda ok?
your servant
Premal

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 24th February 2012

Dear Bhakta Premal,
Hare Krishna!
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Gurudeva.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Red Bull contains immense quantities of caffeine and other chemicals, it is an intoxicant… the same goes for other “energy drinks” in that category… basically they give you energy by artificially burning up more of your body’s resources, and many of them cause a crash. That is on the material level. Spiritually speaking, these drinks make you dull and unable to understand spiritual topics, and also cause intense material attachment and illusion. The best energy drink is a glass of nice milk that has been first lovingly offered to Sri Krishna.

Soya – this is a personal choice, ask the local devotees, your counsellors, spiritual master, etc.. Some devotees don’t eat soya, and other devotees love it… there are some different statements by Srila Prabhupada and he did not conclusively prohibit us.

Carbonated drinks, technically speaking, anything that contains bubbles in it is undesirable. As long as the drinks don’t contain caffeine, many devotees accept, for example Thums up and Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola etc., are classified as intoxicants, whereas some drinks don’t contain any caffeine. As far as possible try to avoid – we have some dentists on the group, they can elaborate on the negative health effects including enamel erosion, etc., and of course, nutritionally, they contain way too much sugar.

Other devotees, please add your perspectives too.
Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

Ankit Vora, 24th February 2012

Hare Krishna Premal Prabhu
Please accept my Humble Obeisances
All Glories to Srila Gurudeva
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Soya beans although being quite nutritious especially in protein are considered in the mode of passion because of excessive high amount of protein content which is not at all good. This you can also find in our book: The Higher Taste, Chapter 1, Health and Meatless Diet, page 11. You will find a research conducted by Dr. Fred Stare and Mervyn Hoarding article stating that even the vegetarians consume a lot of protein and excessive protein is not good even for the vegetarians and we are not even vegetarians we are vaishnavas, our goal is to please Krishna and his associates and our beloved spiritual master; so we must eat only Krishna Prasadam nothing else, and we cannot even offer such items which are in the mode of passion. One more thing I would like to add, those people who give up meat based diet often consume soy and rice (many people also consider this as vegetarian meat) which actually resemble them the taste quite similar to meat but this can also work other way round, if someone consuming soy and appreciating its taste, by some accident or willingly consumes meat its quite probable that one may stick to that because of the taste of soy quite resembling the meat. So my personal opinion is to avoid the soy based products including tofu and soy sauce which is too bad. And secondly in USA and Canada, 97 % of the soyabean is dangerously genetically modified which is highly dangerous to health. see the below link why GMO food is dangerous and completely developed in the mode of passion and ignorance damaging earth and the soil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnD-DiDRIJA (must watch documentary, I really insist, because these policy and practice are also hampering our farm community projects)

Secondly, these kind of energy drinks contains excessive carbonates which not only have a excessive high level of carbonic acid and phosphoric acid, which is too acidic, its acidity is in the level of ~4-5 pH which is highly acidic and not only its acidic, I have personally seen that people consuming these products have knee and bone weakness, even youngsters of 23-25 years of age due to excessive carbonic content. And secondly they also have appreciable content of caffeine and consuming caffeine is like consuming coffee which is against our regulative principles. And as I stated earlier, these energy drinks have high fructose corn syrup which is another genetically modified product and you won’t consume that. It’s too unhealthy and above all these reasons, they all are in the mode of ignorance and passion.

Instead of that you can consume jaljeera or lime drink made freshly with lime, pepper, honey or jaggery (gur), mint and ginger and offering it to Krishna and tasting this out of the world nectar.

I Hope I have answered your question to some extent.

your servant
Ankit Vora

Harish, 24th February 2012

Hare Krishna

I felt in devotees association that a neophyte devotee or in a starting stage there is no compulsion. Else if on first meeting or first day if we will say these or those things are prohibited, they will run away. As we are regular in associating with devotees, attending Iskcon BG or Bhagavatam classes, chanting, eating prasadam, then desire to eat only Krishna prasadam comes from within and we start eating and drinking only those products which are first offered to Krishna.

Moreover those eatables and drinks, which our tongue cannot avoid and always drag us towards them must be avoided. Tongue should be controlled by chanting and eating Krishna prasadam only.

Dairy products and fruit juices are offerable and healthy too. So why try carbonated drinks. These particular items can be checked from nearest Isckon temple.

Hari Bol
Your insignificant servant

Harish Rana

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