Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge: Verse 26
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
patram — a leaf; puṣpam — a flower; phalam — a fruit; toyam — water; yaḥ — whoever; me — unto Me; bhaktyā — with devotion; prayacchati — offers; tat — that; aham — I; bhakti–upahṛtam — offered in devotion; aśnāmi — accept; prayata–ātmanaḥ — from one in pure consciousness.
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it. Here Patram means: Leaf : Thulasi, Pushpam is : Flower, Phalam is : Fruit, Toyam is : water
Here in this verse Krishna says if you offer a bit of leaf and a bit of flower, a little fruit and little water he is pleased to accept it.
Sometimes we think does Krishna require only a leaf, a flower or fruit nothing else. Does he eat whatever we offer to him. Why only certain foods are offered to Krishna why certain foods are prohibited. And what are the ways of offering food to the Lord.
Krishna is the husband of the goddess of fortune. Krishna does not need anything from us like our food, flower petals, any types of wealth or palaces or jewels. In the spiritual world hundreds and thousands of the goddess of fortunes, are eagerly trying to serve the Supreme Lord. So, he is full. But we in this material world, are seeking the favor of goddess of fortune. But Krishna likes if we offer him something. Srila Prabupada give example of a rich father and his son. The father does not like to take any help from his son. He is self-sufficient, but if the son, once he is grown up, started to earn, and if he offers something to the father, the father will be very happy. This is natural. So, our connection with the Supreme Father is like that, and this is the stage of Bhakti or devotional service. In fact, if these things are offered to him without proper humility and devotion, he will not even look in that direction. The holy scriptures are filled with examples of how the Lord accepts the simple humble offerings of love. Actually, Krishna is Bhakta Vatsala. He can be only conquered by the true love of his devotees. He accepts the essence of the feeling of our heart, of our intention. Whether it is something grand or something simple does not matter to him. Why ? because we are giving him in devotion and love.
What if we are not able to offer anything to Krishna? Then we are not showing any gratitude towards him. After all He is our Father who is supplying us everything in this world for us to survive. And Krishna does not need our material possessions. He is satisfied with simple things like a flower, a fruit, little water that even the poorest of the poorest can offer these things. If you have good means then you can prepare very palatable food stuffs for the Lords. In Vrindavan, and in other temples in India are spending thousands and thousand of rupees for palatable foodstuff, offering to the Deity and are distributed to Devotees and non-devotees. Because by eating, one shall be a devotee too. If we invite someone to come and attend Bhagavad Gita lectures people may not be interested, but if we offer some palatable dishes, food stuff, Krishna Prasad, everyone will accept. So that is one of the process of devotional service, that we should offer very sumptuously to the Lord, and the prasad should be distributed. If you eat and if you distribute Prasad to the public, you are doing great service and the public is getting spiritual consciousness or God consciousness. So, this should be our mission ,just propagate this everywhere. In the hospital, in the charitable societies, in industrial places, everywhere we should distribute Prasadam and chant Hare Krishna, then there will be peace.
Sometimes people have this question if you offer patram, phalam, phushpam to the Lord is he gaining something or if we take anything from nature is, he at loss. No, the Lord has no gain or loss. It is for our interest the God accept. He says yes, “ Asnami” I eat. In Hindu society, since very long time, there were these Arya samajist, they do not favor the temple worship and used to criticize all our scriptures. So, one of the members of the Arya Samajist asked Srila Prabupada, “Swamiji, do you think God eats?” Srila Prabupad said, “Yes.” “Then what do you think?” “Because God says, ‘I eat.’ ” Here, Krishna says , “Asnami” So God says, “I eat.” Who are you to say that He does not eat? So, whom shall I believe, a loafer like you, or Krishna who is recognized the Supreme Personality of Godhead who says, “I eat”. Why shall I not believe?
So, this is the question of faith. We need to have faith in Krishna’s words. And without faith, we cannot reach the kingdom of God. Our experimental knowledge, our so-called defective reasons and arguments and philosophy, that will not be applicable in the transcendental field. We have to believe in every sphere of your life. For example. When you purchase an Airplane ticket you don’t think that I am purchasing this ticket, whether will this airplane will reach my destination or not ? Whether it will crash on the way. No. When get on an airplane we have that believe that this Airplane will take us to our destination. Another example is when you are sick, you visit a Doctor, the Doctor prescribes medicines for you. You have to take it. You won’t ask the Doctor will this medicine work? No, you take it, because you believe that the medicine is going to cure you. So, we have to believe and have faith that whatever we offer with Love and devotion Krishna will reciprocated to that. And we see that many faithful, great Acharya’s and devotees of the Lord, they achieved success by this faith. We have to follow them.
The Vedic literature says that we have to follow the footprints of great Acharyas. Acharya means great devotees who come to teach the people about God consciousness or Krishna consciousness. They know the purport of scriptures, and live their life according to the scriptures and they teach their students how to think of Krishna and what are the ways to worship him. In the Bhagavad Gita in the 13th chapter it is said “ Acaryopasanam” and also in 4th chapter also Krishna says Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth
So, you have to approach an Acharya that is the way of learning transcendental knowledge in all Vedic scriptures.Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) . Tad- vijnanartham: Tat means Transcendental and Vijnana means Science. So, “If you want to learn that transcendental science, then you have to approach the bonafide spiritual master. So, the Vedic literature teaches us to accept the authorized bonafide spiritual master Acharya. Krishna is the head of all Acharya’s. He is the principal Acharya. From Krishna, Brahma learned this Vedic literature. From Brahma Narada learned this Vedic literature. From Narada, Vyasadeva from Vyasadeva, Madhvacarya. From Madhvacarya so many. In this way the parampara system, the Acharya system is coming down So we have to believe that and have to follow the foot prints of Acharya everywhere. There will be many Bogus Gurus or other philosophers too in this material world who can give different opinions causing bewilderment. And if someone says that I am god, then he is fool number one and at once reject him. These Bogus Gurus are like a blind man trying to lead another blind man. They do not follow the principles of devotional service, has no direction according to scriptural injunctions, character is doubtful, and they will not have conquered the influence of the six-sense- gratifying agents—like tongue, genitals, belly, anger, the mind and words. Hearing from them becomes a sheer waste of time. They project themselves as spiritually advanced but actually not. Most of them are either after money, name , fame, have contact with politicians, land dealing, does not treat women or children with respect. It is Just like milk. Milk is a very nice food, but if it is touched with the lips of a snake, it becomes poisonous.
One who teaches about the message of God is a true Acharya. So, the Vedic literature teaches us that tarko “pratisthah: ”in the spiritual matter, you cannot argue.” By arguments we cannot reach the supreme truth, also not by purchasing books from the market and reading it, that also will not help you. You cannot learn the scriptures by your own study. One must go and learn it from the Spiritual master. Example if you want to become a Doctor or an Engineer you have to admit yourself in to that disciplic succession like a Medical college or an Engineering College where you have to attend lectures, study, appear for exams and pass the exams. By mere reading of a book brought from the market won’t help. So, this shows that the purpose of spiritual life is very confidential. So, you have to accept the footprint of bonafied Acharya. So, Krishna is the best and foremost Acharya and he is accepted as the supreme personality of God head. So here the lord says himself that “I eat” so we cannot say that he does not eat. Here is the evidence, and we have to accept that evidence, that God eats if you offer little fruits and flowers god accepts it. Like how you please your family, same way we have to please Krishna. If God eats from your hand, then how much advanced you become in spiritual life you don’t know. He accepts your things from your hand, how much fortunate you are. So here It is clearly said, Tad aham asnami. , the Sanskrit word, means “I eat. “Why? Bhakty-upahrtam: “He has brought with devotional love.” So, you try to love God, you become a lover of God and offer him whatever you eat, whatever you do then how peaceful you become and how the world becomes peaceful. Simply by the theoretical resolution we cannot make peace in the world. This world will have problems to resolve and reasons to fight but we have to try to establish our lost relationship with Krishna or God. Then there will be peace.
Why we have to offer food to Krishna?
Our world is kind of intense where one living being is the natural food for the other, “Jivo jivasya Jivanam”: Ahimsa or non -violence is difficult. Even though we think that no animal should be killed, no one should be killed but still in this material world that is not possible. In fact, we cannot be like Maharaj Shibi who was willing to give his life to help one pigeon. That is the highest degree of compassion talked within the Vedas that no harm or bloodshed should be caused to anyone. Somehow or other if we try to be non-violent also in this material world that is not possible.
Most Food contains karma which binds us to the cycle of birth and death because although it may be vegetarian one may still harm other living entities in the process of obtaining it: The farmer may accidentally kill insects during the cultivation of crops or the plants may feel some pain when they are uprooted. So many microscopic species are killed by us. Each step we make we are killing some species knowingly or unknowingly. How do we get out of living at the expense of other living being? So, the Acharyas emphasize on the word “ offering”. The importance of offering our food to Krishna. Even if we are making a good vegetarian meal and is not offered to Krishna that is considered as sin. It increases our material entanglement and our false identity as the enjoyers of our senses .Our senses are meant to serve Krishna, who is known as Hrishikesha,” The master of the senses”, the ultimate enjoyer. But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Kṛṣṇa with an attitude of love, bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering, enable one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues which will lead to clear thinking. When the food is prepared for the pleasure of Krishna, He accepts the love and devotion present in the offering and removes all sins from it. The karma present in the food is therefore transformed into spiritual energy. Every living being that die in the process also get benedictions. Honoring (eating) this sanctified prasadam (Maha Prasad) is the basis of Bhakti-yoga and helps one to make tangible spiritual advancement. Sharing and distributing prasadam is also very important!
Plants and vegetable are also living being is it not a sin to kill them too?
In Srimad Bhagavatam (3.9.15) purport by Srila Prabupada says about the importance of eating vegetarian food.
Sometimes when we say to people not to eat meat a question is put before us: “ you ask us not to eat meat, but you are eating vegetables. Do you think that is not violence? If we see eating vegetables and plants is also violence, because they too have life and killing them for personal sense gratification causes sin.
Example) We are cutting down so many trees. According to IntactForests.org, major categories contributing to forest loss include: Timber harvesting (37%), agricultural expansion (28%), wildfire (21%), construction of roads for resource mining and extraction, pipelines, and power lines (12%) and expansion of transportation networks via roads (2%). Building a home today will consume forty-four mature trees for every 2600 square feet. Be sure to include the garage when adding up your square footage. Hardwood floors, cabinets, siding, roofing, paneling etc. could more than double the number of trees needed to complete the home. In this process of cutting down trees many animals are killed knowingly or unknowingly. That is why we offer vegetarian food to Lord Krishna so he transforms the food offered to him in to spiritual food, and this will free us from sin and karmic reaction. You can use your house for the service of Krishna like chanting his holy name, offering puja, hosting temple or various Guru Maharaj’s program etc. Like it is said earlier every living being that die in the process of making your house also get benedictions
When a non-devotee kills cows, goat and so many other animals for eating purpose, it is a big sin, and the killer of animals never enters celestial abode. All those involved in killing, consenting the killing, helping the killing, carrying, selling, buying, cooking and eating the meat of an animal are equally sinful .The person who eats meat is also encouraging and in one sense supporting the killing. For example, if few thief’s go to rob a house, and one stands outside the house to look out and other few thief steal from the house, if they are caught, everyone will be punished by the laws, because the person who was outside was also supporting the crime. Similarly, one who eats meat is also involved and is liable for punishment. After all meat falls under the category of ignorance, it is tamasic food. Whichever food we eat affects our consciousness. So, when we eat meat spiritual life becomes very troublesome to follow, our mind will not be able to focus, but there are also bad karmic reactions which will have to suffer, this may be in this life, after death or in next life. And then in the after life it is very likely that we meet the animals we ate or killed, but this time they will be human and we the animals. That is how the karma works.
Why Meat eating not recommended?
In BG 14.4 Lord Krishna says Sarva-yonishu Kaunteya. “in every living being there is a spirit soul. So, animals also have soul, and we do not have the right to kill them . Lord Krishna also says Aham bija-pradah pita, he is the original father of all living entities. If we do not have the right to give life to a living creature then you don’t have right to kill anyone
But one who kills cows, goat and so many other animals for eating purpose, is doing a big sin. Killer of animals never enters celestial abode.
Meat falls under the category of ignorance. It is tamasic food Whichever food we eat affects our consciousness. So, when we eat meat spiritual life becomes very troublesome to follow, our mind will not be able to focus, but there are also bad karmic reactions which will have to suffer, this may be in this life, after death or in next life. And then in the after- life it is very likely that we meet the animals we ate or killed, but this time they will be human and we the animals. That is how the karma works . All those involved in killing, consenting the killing, helping the killing, carrying, selling, buying, cooking and eating the meat of an animal are equally sinful .The person who eats meat is also encouraging and in one sense supporting the killing.
For example, if few thief’s go to rob a house, and one stands outside the house to look out and other few thief steal from the house, if they are caught, everyone will be punished by the laws, because the person who was outside was also supporting the crime.
Sometimes even after telling people how Karma works if they meat still they will not believe. They have these false beliefs that animals don’t have a soul, and eating meat gives protein. Protein can be got from beans, lentils, peas etc.
What is the other reason why meat is not recommended?
We humans have short, soft fingernails and small, dull canine teeth. All true carnivores have sharp claws and large canine teeth that are capable of tearing flesh without the help of knives and forks. Carnivores’ jaws move only up and down, enabling them to tear chunks of flesh from their prey. Humans can move their jaws up and down and from side to side, and we also have flat molars (which carnivores lack), allowing us to grind up fruit and vegetables with our back teeth like herbivores do
Carnivores have short intestinal tracts that allow meat to pass quickly through their digestive system. Humans’ intestinal tracts are much longer, like those of plant-eaters. This gives the body more time to break down fiber and absorb the nutrients from plant-based foods.
True carnivores gulp down chunks of raw flesh, relying on their strong stomach acids to break it down and kill the dangerous bacteria in meat that would otherwise sicken or kill them. Humans have much weaker stomach acids suitable to digest fruits and vegetables. Without carnivorous stomach acids to kill the bacteria in meat, dining on animal flesh can give us food poisoning.
Many factors contribute to digestion rate and can vary individually depending on what you’ve eaten. Proteins in meat and fish can take as long as two days to fully digest, while fruits and vegetables may move through your system in less than a day due to the higher fiber content
What should be avoided while offering food to Krishna?
Krishna does not accept meat, fish or eggs., Onions, garlic and caffeine or food cooked by Non-devotees.
The reasons why these foods are prohibited is as follows.
a)Chickens are tortured
b)They are put in wire cages, with numerous birds packed in beyond capacity.
c)They can never perch, ground-scratch, dust-bathe, or exercise—all natural activity for a growing chick.
d)Beaks cut off with a burning hot blade within hours or days of birth and no pain killers used making them hard to eat food or drink water
e)The light in the shed is manipulated to maximize egg production.
f)There is no hygieneSend to slaughter house
a) Lives in its natural habitat, i.e water
b) Fish have gills. The water passes through their mouth and exits through their gills. They absorb oxygen through the water and releases carbon dioxide through their gills. When taken out of water their gills cannot absorb oxygen in the air. Hence, they essentially suffocate and die if taken out of water for a while.
c) Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. …It is also painful for the fish
d) Sometimes cooked alive causing so much pain and torture
3. Onion/ Garlic
a) Onions and garlic are considered to be Tamasic and Rajasic respectively, which means they increase passion and ignorance
b)Onion and garlic result in some negative feelings and emotions like anger, aggression, ignorance, over stimulation of the senses, lethargy, anxiety, and increase in sexual desire. Hence, those who practice meditation or choose to follow the spiritual path, live in complete avoidance of consumption of onion and garlic.
4.Coffee and tea
a) Coffee and tea are considered as intoxicants.
b) A simple definition for INTOXICANTS is:
“Anything that induces you to use it again & again & makes your mood/ mind/ body tensed if you don’t take them! You become dependent on them! They bring you totally under their control! If you don’t get them at a particular day/ time, your character will show total deviation from the normal character”
c) Equivalent to having drug
5. Food cooked by Non devotees should not be offered to Krishna
a) Heart will not be pure: Will have lusty desires
b) Will use same vessels to cook veg and non-veg foods
c) Will use the same oil to cook veg and non-veg foods
d) Food cooked without any love and devotion to the Lord
e) Food not offered to the Lord
f) Food is tasted while cooking.
g) Stove/ sink / kitchen won’t be kept clean
h) Will be cooking without taking shower or washing hands properly
i) Will be using onion/ garlic and other products not recommended for offering
j) Sometimes these people will be eating Non -Veg so our consciousness will be affected.
k) Sometimes certain products may contain traces of onion/ garlic ( Example Masalas) and it may be not mentioned in the packet, but in the ingredient section it may be written as “SPICES” . If you are not sure what they meant by “ SPICES” ask the store keeper about the ingredient. If you are not getting a convincing answer or not sure what spices are there in the packet please do not buy.
l) Sometimes vegetarian food is cooked in Chicken or Beef broth.
It is advised that devotees who are practicing Krishna conscious should not eat food cooked in Restaurants. Most of the reasons are same as above. Even though there are lots of rules and regulations which a food worker should practice in a Restaurant like Double hand washing techniques, wearing hair net, trimming of nails, proper rest room hygiene principles, chemicals used in cleaning Kitchen and other areas should be kept away from food preparing place, rodents and other disease causing pests should be kept away from food supplies, Temperature of the food should be properly maintained, food worker should not come to work if they are sick, tasting the food by touching their mouth and putting the same ladle again to stir food etc. Even though in restaurants there is proper allergy guidelines for specific food like milk, eggs, fish, tree nut, peanut, wheat, soybean but still it is hard to keep track. And if you have any food allergies then you are at risk. Even though some food workers follow the rules and regulations but still there may be few who does not follow these rules. So, there is always a chance of getting food borne illness if we eat food from restaurants. So, when we cook food at home, we know what all ingredients are we putting in to our food and it is always healthy and if offered with love to Krishna it becomes Mahaprasad.
When we eat food that are tamasic it causes disturbance to the mind and are therefore not beneficial for meditation and spiritual life. One should use fresh, natural ingredients as far as possible. One should also pay special attention to all labels of items bought in supermarkets: most cheeses contain non-vegetarian rennet, some yogurts contain gelatin and many non-vegetarian products are hidden behind e-numbers, preservatives, flavors and colors.
In initial days of Krishna consciousness sometimes Practicing devotees, will find difficult when their own family members or our friend’s eat onion and garlic. Sometimes even though they eat these foods they are willing to cook food for us without onion and garlic and we are forced to eat these foods cooked by them thinking not to hurt our loved ones. In that case we can sincerely pray to Krishna and mentally offer. Krishna knows our situation. If you are not able to offer food to Krishna at least you can offer a thulasi leaf, or a fruit or a cup of water in clean glass. Sometimes we will find hard at times to convince our family members or our friend circle not to eat onion and garlic. Lots of opposition and arguments will come. So, it is better to give them Prasadam . At least they will get some Ajnatha-sukrithi. If they see that we are strong in our Krishna consciousness, in our Sadhana then hopefully one day they will also become true devotee of Krishna.
What are the food which we can offer to Krishna?
a) Offer Food in the mode of goodness
b) The foodstuffs in the modes of goodness are: Wheat, rice, pulse (beans, peas), sugar, honey, butter and all milk preparations, vegetables, flowers, fruits, grains. Milk nourishes the brain and makes it fit to understand the higher principles of spiritual life. With milk we can make various nutritious items.
c) These foods can be offered in any shape, but prepared in various ways by the intelligence of the devotees like fry them, boil them, bake them, powder them, or whatever way they are combined or cooked, the idea is that they must come from this group of foodstuffs.
d) Food in the mood of goodness increase the duration of life, purify oneself, give strength, health, happiness, peace and satisfaction to heart
How to prepare an Offering
Importance should be given to Cleanliness first. There is saying Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so one should keep the kitchen very clean. Take a bath and cook food, and always wash your hands before cooking food. As the food is to be offered to Krishna, the Supreme enjoyer, one should not taste anything before the offering is made. The most essential ingredients are love and devotion, so while cooking one should remember that one is cooking for Krishna’s pleasure. Listening to a devotional song, Srila Prabupad’s lecture, recordings of Bhagavad Gita classes, Srimad Bhagavatam classes helps create a nice meditative mood in the kitchen.
What is the Special ingredient which we should add while offering food to Krishna?
It is Thulasi leaves.
a) Tulasī plants and their leaves are very important in devotional service.
b) We can find glorification of Srimati Tulasi Devi throughout the Vedic literature. While describing the transcendental Vaikuntha planets, the Srimad-Bhagavatam(3.15.19) explains the special position of the Tulasi plant:
c) In her form as a plant, Tulasi always stays at the Lord’s lotus feet and around the neck of the Lord. The Vedic scriptures say that Krishna accepts only food adorned with a Tulasi. “Sri Krishna sells Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.”
e) The Skanda Purana describes a few:
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Tulasi tree, which can immediately vanquish volumes of sinful activities. Simply by seeing or touching this tree, one can become relieved from all distresses and diseases. Simply by offering obeisances to and pouring water on the Tulasi tree, one can become freed from the fear of being sent to the court of Yamaraja [the king of death, who punishes the sinful]. If someone sows a Tulasi tree somewhere, certainly he becomes devoted to Lord Krsna. And when the Tulasi leaves are offered in devotion at the lotus feet of Krishna, there is the full development of love of Godhead.”
Making an Offering
A portion of each preparation is arranged in Krishna’s personal plate and bowls. Fresh water is offered in His cup. A Tulasi leaf is placed on each preparation.
Beginners may chant the maha-mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare three times.
For a more elaborate offering the prayers to the Lord is done through a Spiritual Master (if Initiated) then followed by the Prayers to Srila Prabupada, Lord Caitanya , Lord Krishna. These prayers are chanted three times each while ringing a bell. After offering the food to the Lord, we wait some minutes for Him to relish the preparations. Then the food is transferred from Krishna’s plate back into their respective recipients. Krishna’s plates need to be washed before the prasadam is served.
A special prasadam- sevaya prayer by Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Gitavali is recited by devotees before honouring the prasadam, to thank the Lord for his mercy.
1) bhai-re!sharira avidya-jal, jodendriya tahe kal,
jive phele vishaya-sagore
ta’ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati
ta’ke jeta kathina samsare
2) krishna baro doyamoy, koribare jihva jay,
swa-prasad-anna dilo bhai
sei annamrta pao, radha-krishna-guna gao,
preme dako chaitanya-nitai
What else we can offer to Krishna?
Everything in this world we can offer to Krishna. Not only our food, but our thoughts, words, deeds, our body, our mind, our time, our energies, and also other material things too. You can grow a garden for Krishna and offer flowers and vegetables, buy supplies for temple like plates, spoons, utensils, cleaning supplies, spend money to decorate the altar, lightings for the temple, buy books, pens, pencil, color pencils and coloring books etc. and donate to temple so devotees can use it to write down notes of Bhagavad Gita class, young kids of devotees can use color pencils to draw on coloring books so that they don’t disturb their parents while the lectures are going on in the temple, Give donation to temple etc. In Bg.9.27 Krishna, says Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.
It is the duty of everyone to mold his life in such a way that he will not forget Kṛṣṇa in any circumstances. Any religious ritualistic ceremonies, charity should be utilized for the service of Krishna. As the Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, the proprietor of everything, Krishna is atmarama, self-satisfied. Yet He is so kind to the living entities that to aid their spiritual progress He accepts their offerings.
An example of how we can offer everything to Krishna. One time when Prabhupada was at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Mayavadi sannyasi came to visit. Srila Prabhupada received him graciously, and they had some discussion. When the man departed, he deliberately left behind a big stack of his pamphlets. The pamphlets contained a little essay on the monistic doctrine that “all is one,” defying the direct meaning of the Vedic scriptures and completely omitting Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The next afternoon, Prabhupada met with the devotees as usual. His practice was to receive a very big plate of fruit and nuts, take some for himself, and then ask a disciple to distribute the maha-prasadam to all the devotees. On this particular day, Prabhupada called for the pamphlets. The devotees were surprised – “Why is Prabhupada calling for these pamphlets?” When they were brought in, Srila Prabhupada said, “Distribute one to each of the devotees.” The devotees were bewildered, as the Mayavadi pamphlets were distributed to one and all.
Then Prabhupada said, “Everyone take a pamphlet, open it up, and put it in your hand.” He took a few fruits from the plate, began eating them, and then indicated that the rest should be distributed. He said the devotees should use the pamphlets as paper plates.
One of the devotees mentioned later that Prabhupada was practicing yukta-vairagya by this simple act. He had found a useful purpose for the atheistic tracts, simultaneously ridiculing their author and yet engaging him in devotional service.
Let’s see how the Lord reciprocates to the love of his devotees:
1)Duryodhana’s Offering Rejected
Krishna’s visits Hastinapura as a peace messenger on behalf of the Pandavas, before the Battle of Kurukshetra. When Krishna arrived, Duryodhana invited Him to an opulent feast in a political effort to bribe Him. Duryodhana was thinking I will receive Krishna in such a way that no one would have facilitated like that before, by offering best food, nice palace, best facility he will be so comfortable and appreciative then I will ask him to fight on my side. He will be indebted to whatever I offered to him. He was thinking in his political mind how I can exploit Krishna. But Krishna rejected everything what Duryodhana offered and he went to Vidhura’s house instead, where He enjoyed a simple meal offered by His dear devotees. Vidura and his wife, Vidurani, felt such great ecstasy at the opportunity to serve Krishna personally that in that ecstasy love they accidentally offered Him a banana peel instead of the fruit, and Krishna ate it with great relish.
Moral of the story is Krishna is bound by devotees Love, he rejects the offering done with pride and deceit but accept the offering done with pure love without any selfish motive.
2) Dasia Bauri, A Special Devotee in Puri
Krishna also accepts offerings in His deity form. The deity is not simply a representation of Krishna but is Krishna Himself. Krishna’s form as Jagannatha, “Lord of the Universe,” shows special mercy toward surrendered souls, and countless devotees throughout history have appealed to Him to accept their offerings. In Jagannatha’s temple in Puri, Orissa, a special class of priests follows strict regulative worship of the Lord, who appears with His elder brother, Balarama, and sister, Subhadra. Only certain brahmanas are allowed to cook and offer the prescribed fifty-six daily preparations.
Dasia Bauri came from a low-caste family, very poor, uneducated and lived near Puri, in a village called Baligram. He was Forbidden entrance to the temple because of his caste, But he showed unflinching faith in the Lord. Once, Dasia gave a coconut to a brahmana who was on his way to the temple. He requested the brahmana to offer the coconut to Lord Jagannatha on his behalf, but to bring it back if the Lord rejected it. The brahmana proudly laughed at Dasia’s childish foolishness, but said he would offer the coconut. Once he was inside the temple, the brahmana held the coconut before Jagannatha and repeated Dasia’s message. “Dasia Bauri has sent this coconut for You. Please accept it; otherwise I will take it back. “Suddenly, Jagannatha extended His arm from the altar and took the coconut directly out of the brahmana’s hand, to the brahmana’s great surprise. Dasia Bauri’s sincere devotion was so great that the Lord personally accepted his indirect offering. Since the Lord is situated in the heart of every living entity in His Paramatma feature, He could see Dasia’s strong desire to please Him, and so He accepted the simple offering.
On another occasion, Dasia Bauri went to Puri carrying a large basket of mangoes for the Lord. When he reached the Lion’s Gate entrance to the temple, a group of brahmanas started fighting over who would take the mangoes inside the temple to offer to the Lord. Dasia Bauri told them that he did not need them to offer the mangoes for him. The brahmanas were bewildered, as they were proud of their position, and did not think the low-caste devotee eligible to offer anything to the Lord. Dasia’s faith was unshaken, however, and he simply stood back a short distance and focused his gaze on the Nilachakra, the large wheel on top of the temple. In that way he saw the form of the Lord, because the name, form, and paraphernalia of the Lord are nondifferent from Him. Nilachakra is nondifferent from Jagannatha. When Dasia held up two mangoes and showed them to the Nilachakra, they disappeared. Dasia repeatedly offered mangoes in this way until his basket was empty. A crowd gathered around Dasia and watched the mangoes disappear, as if by magic.
When Dasia told the brahmanas that Jagannatha had eaten the mangoes, they rushed into the temple and found mango skins and seeds lying all around the altar. Mango juice was dripping down Jagannatha’s smiling face. The brahmanas then understood that Dasia Bauri was a great devotee of the Lord, and their pride vanished. Dasia Bauri’s offerings showed the world that the Lord looks only for faith and love, not high birth, education, or the opulence of the offering.
Moral of the Story is : Dasia Bauri’s offerings shows that the Lord looks only for faith and love, not high birth, education, or the opulence of the offering
3)The Lord Eats a Boy’s Offerings
Even a child can manifest symptoms of sincere devotion. About fourteen miles from Jagannatha’s temple stands the temple of a deity named Ålarnatha. Lord Brahma installed this four-armed deity in Satya-yuga, millions of years ago, and since then the worship has been the responsibility of certain brahmana families. Once, it was the responsibility of Sri Ketana, who had a son named Madhu. When Sri Ketana had to go out for several days to beg alms for the temple, he gave his son the service of offering meals to Ålarnatha.
After the boy’s mother finished cooking, she gave the plate to Madhu and told him to offer it to Lord Ålarnatha. He did not know the proper offering procedure, but his father had instructed him to simply ask the Lord to take what was placed before Him. Madhu sat in front of the Lord, told Him that he didn’t know how to offer anything properly, and requested that He take the offering. Then Madhu went outside to play, so that the Lord could eat.
Krishna is transcendental, and each of His senses can do the work of the others. He can eat with His eyes and leave His remnants behind as prasada, His mercy for the devotees. Madhu did not realize this, and thought that the Lord was supposed to eat everything on the plate. When he returned to the temple, he was surprised that the Lord’s meal seemed untouched. Afraid that his mother would be angry that the Lord did not accept the offering, Madhu offered the meal again.
“My dear Lord, you have not eaten the food I left for You. My father has instructed me to make this offering for You while he is away. I am a little boy and do not know how to offer anything to You in a proper way. Please eat this; otherwise my father will be angry with me.”
He again went outside to play, but when he came back, the meal was still untouched. Crying, he pleaded with the Lord to accept the offering. When he returned, he saw that the Lord’s plate was empty, and he brought it to his mother.
“Where is the Prasad?” she asked.
Madhu told her that Ålarnatha had eaten everything, and so they were forced to fast. Devotees do not eat anything except Krishna’s prasada.
This happened for three days. When the boy’s father returned, he asked for some prasada, but his wife told him that Ålarnatha had eaten the offerings for the past three days. Sri Ketana thought that his son had hidden the prasada, fed it to dogs, or eaten everything himself. He told Madhu to offer the meal again. He would hide behind a curtain to watch.
Madhu offered the plate of food to Ålarnatha the same way he had before and then went outside. From his hiding place, Sri Ketana saw the Lord stretch out His arm and took a cup of sweet rice. Sri Ketana jumped out from behind the curtain and grabbed the Lord’s hand. Hot sweet rice flew out of the cup onto the Lord’s body. Sri Ketana told the Lord to stop taking everything, because his family would not have anything to eat. He had never heard of a deity eating, and although he was technically a brahmana, he did not have faith in the process of devotional service. The Lord then declared that He was pleased by Madhu’s simple devotion but is never pleased with any offering, no matter how opulent, if it lacks devotion or is made by a materialistic, faithless person.
Moral of the Story is : Krishna is transcendental, and each of His senses can do the work of the others (as this verse says) . He can eat with His eyes and leave His remnants behind as prasad, His mercy for the devotees. Here the Lord shows that he is pleased by Madhu’s simple devotion but is never pleased with any offering, no matter how opulent, if it lacks devotion or is made by a materialistic, faithless person.
- A Devotee’s Burnt Finger
- Nectar of Devotion: chapter 10
Real service to Krishna should be selfless, uninterrupted, and unconditional. Even apparent obstacles do not hinder the expression of pure devotion, which surpasses everything. Loving exchanges between the Lord and His devotee are inconceivable; they should not be held to material standards. Thus, the deepest significance of offerings made to the Lord is not exactly what is offered, but how it is offered.
In this regard, Srila Prabhupada has taught that Krishna accepts the intent and devotion of the offering more than the offered item itself. In this connection, there is a story in the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa that in the city of Pratiṣṭhāna-pura in South India there was once a brahmana who was not very well-to-do, but who was nevertheless satisfied in himself, thinking that it was because of his past misdeeds and by the desire of Kṛṣṇa that he did not get sufficient money and opulence. So, he was not at all sorry for his poor material position, and he used to live very peacefully. He was very openhearted, and sometimes he went to hear some lectures delivered by great realized souls. At one such meeting, while he was very faithfully hearing about Vaishnava activities, he was informed that these activities can be performed even by meditation. In other words, if a person is unable to actually perform Vaiṣṇava activities physically, he can meditate upon the Vaiṣṇava activities and thereby acquire all of the same results. Because the brahmanawas not very well-to-do financially, he decided that he would simply meditate on grand, royal devotional activities, and he began this business thus:
Sometimes he would take his bath in the River Godavari. After taking his bath he would sit in a secluded place on the bank of the river, and practice pranayama, the usual breathing exercises, by concentrating his mind on the Lord. When he had fixed the form of the Lord in his mind, he began to imagine in his meditations that he was dressing the Lord very nicely in costly clothing, with ornaments, helmets and other paraphernalia. Then he offered his respectful obeisance’s by bowing down before the Lord. After finishing the dressing, he began to imagine that he was cleaning the temple very nicely. After cleansing the temple, he imagined that he had many water jugs made of gold and silver, and he took all those jugs to the river and filled them with the holy water. Thus, he meditated on collecting water from Godāvarī, the Ganges, Yamuna, Narmadā and Kaveri. Generally, a Vaiṣṇava, while worshiping the Lord, collects water from all these rivers by mantra chanting. This brahmana, instead of chanting some mantra, imagined that he was physically securing water from all these rivers in golden and silver water pots. Then he collected all kinds of paraphernalia for worship – flowers, fruits, incense and sandalwood pulp. He collected everything to place before the Deity and nicely offered them to their satisfaction. Then he offered ārati, and with the regulative principles he finished all these activities in the correct worshiping method.
He would daily execute similar performances as his routine work, and he continued to do so for many, many years. Then one day the brāhmaṇa imagined in his meditations that he had prepared some sweet rice with milk and sugar and offered the preparation to the Deity. However, he was not very satisfied with the offering because the sweet rice had been prepared recently and it was still very hot. (This preparation, sweet rice, should not be taken hot. The cooler the sweet rice, the better its taste.) So, because the sweet rice had been prepared by the brāhmaṇa very recently, he wanted to touch it so that he could know whether it was fit for eating by the Lord. As soon as he touched the sweet rice pot with his finger, he immediately was burnt by the heat of the pot. In this way, his meditation broke. Now, when he looked at his finger, he saw that it was burnt, and he was wondering in astonishment how this could have happened. Because he was simply meditating on touching the hot sweet rice, he never thought that his finger would actually become burnt.
While he was thinking like this, in Vaikuṇṭha Lord Nārāyaṇa, seated with the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi, began to smile humorously. On seeing this smiling of the Lord, all the goddesses of fortune attending the Lord became very curious and asked Lord Nārāyaṇa why He was smiling. The Lord, however, did not reply to their inquisitiveness, but instead immediately sent for the brāhmaṇa. An airplane sent from Vaikuṇṭha immediately brought the brāhmaṇa into Lord Narayana’s presence. When the brāhmaṇa was thus present before the Lord and the goddesses of fortune, the Lord explained the whole story. The brāhmaṇa was then fortunate enough to get an eternal place in Vaikuṇṭha in the association of the Lord and His Lakshmi’s. This shows how the Lord is all-pervading, in spite of His being present in Vaikuṇṭha, He was present also in the heart of the brāhmaṇa when he was meditating on the worshiping process. Thus, we can understand that things offered by the devotees even in meditation are accepted by the Lord, and they help one achieve the desired result.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has taught that we should not try to see Krishna directly but should serve Him in such a way that He will be pleased to see us. The mental offerings of the poor brahmana were so sincere that the Lord accepted them and watched His devotee with great pleasure. When the brahmana burnt his finger, the Lord sent a celestial airplane to bring him to the spiritual world. Because of his unalloyed devotion, he became one of the Lord’s eternal associates.
Moral of the Story is : Krishna is transcendental, and each of His senses can do the work of the others. He can eat with His eyes and leave His remnants behind as prasad, His mercy for the devotees. Here the Lord shows that he is pleased by Madhu’s simple devotion but is never pleased with any offering, no matter how opulent, if it lacks devotion or is made by a materialistic, faithless person.
4)Gajendra attains perfection by offering a flower
In Srimad Bhagvatam , Eight canto, talks about Gajendra who was an elephant and the king of the jungle. He went on a nice holiday excursion with his family. They came upon a very beautiful lake filled with lotus flowers. The whole lake was fragrant because the pollen of the lotus flowers was falling in the water. And the water became like nectar. And it was a very nice cooling temperature. Gajendra went into the water and it was just so pleasurable to his body. And he wanted to share it with his wife and children- so with his trunk he was magnanimously spraying them the fragrant, nectarine cooling waters of this lake. But the nature of this world is whoever you are, wherever you are…padam padam yad vipadam…It could be dangerous at every step. As he was at the peak of enjoying, the nicest environment suddenly a crocodile bit his leg. And there was a great battle between him and the crocodile. The crocodile was trying to pull him in the water, he was trying to pull the crocodile, and he was going back and forth and back and forth for a long time. And he looked at his relatives, they couldn’t help him. And all of his strength couldn’t help him. Because the crocodile being in water was stronger. It wasn’t his place to be in water. So finally, when he was on the verge of death, he remembered his past life, when he was a king, and he was a devotee. And he remembered. He forgot his entire life as an elephant. But at this most critical juncture, the darkest moment of his life, he remembered the lord. And with his trunk he plucked a single lotus flower and raised it up toward the sky, and with tears of love and affection in his eyes, he offered a beautiful prayer. It was a prayer of surrender. He was not praying, lord save him from death and pain, but he was offering the lord his heart and his life. Do anything you want with me, I am yours. And from that one gesture of just offering one little flower with love and devotion, the supreme lord incarnated. He descended from the spiritual world to the scene of that place and immediately rescued Gajendra because he really wanted was the loving service of the lord, the lord immediately came to rescue him. Here is a person who wasted his whole life spiritually with no consciousness of god whatsoever, but in just a few seconds he just offered a flower with genuine love and devotion and within minutes he was promoted to the spiritual world.
Moral of the Story: Complete surrender to the will of the Lord with love and devotion will save you from all obstacles.
5)Shabari offers a fruit with love
Shabari was a little Nishada/ tribal girl that lived in a forest with her parents. From her very young age, she wanted to learn more about Dharma and spirituality. She thus, left her parents and village to look for a Guru. But none of the Gurus accepted her as a student since she came from a tribal background. Shabari did not give up. She kept looking for a teacher and finally reached the ashram of Sage Matanga. Matanga was impressed with Shabari’s dedication and he could tell from her behavior that she is a devoted person looking for knowledge. He accepted her as her student. Shabari lived in Matanga’s ashram for many years learning and working in his ashram. One day, Matanga, called Shabari and said that he had become old and would soon leave his body and blessed her for her discipline, hard work, and devotion. A sad Shabari, who was also very old now, expressed her desire to meet the divine and be blessed. Matanga asked Shabari to wait for Lord Rama Himself to arrive and be blessed. Shabari was overjoyed with the words of her teacher and started waiting for the day the Lord would arrive. Every day, Shabari would wait for Lord Rama and would keep the ashram tidy and ready to host. After many years of waiting, Lord Rama arrived with his brother Lakshmana on the way to find his kidnapped wife- Sita. Shabari’s joy had no bounds. She received the two brothers and made them comfortable at her small ashram. She rushed to her garden and plucked the best berries and fruits to offer her much-awaited guests. Before eating the berries, Shabari took a small bite and confirmed its sweetness and gave to Rama. Without a doubt to accept the bitten fruits, the prince of Ayodhya started munching on the juicy treats. Lakshmana, however, saw this as an insult and wanted to know why Rama is eating the fruits that are tasted by the old woman. But Rama explained that it was an expression of pure love and devotion. Without Shabari expressing it, He also tells Lakshmana that she was ensuring that no sour or tasteless fruits are offered to them and he would accept it with great joy. Rama wholeheartedly blesses Shabari and continues his journey to find his wife Sita.
Moral of the Story: Being poor is not a disqualification- and being wealthy is not a disqualification. Whether one is a king or living in a cave in the mountains, we all have equal opportunity. Krishna accepts our love, our devotion so we should serve everyone without envy or selfishnes
6)Offering of love by Suklambar Brahmachari
There’s a story in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila of Shuklambara brahmachari. Shuklambara- he was- he had nothing except a little straw hut on the bank of the Ganges. And as a Brahmachari in those days, everyday he would go out to beg for food. And he had a little cloth bag that he kept hanging from his shoulder. And in Bengal in those days, the cheapest things were the broken pieces of rice in the bottom of the barrel. So, people would just throw a small handful of broken rice in his bag and he would be grateful. He’d be thinking of Krsna, chanting Krsna’s names throughout the whole day. Then he would get home, and with love and devotion he would cook those broken old pieces of rice after washing it and offer it to Krsna. That’s how he lived his life.
So one day when Lord Chaitanya- who was in the mood of a devotee- sometimes just to please his devotees he would take the mood of Krsna and accept the worship of his devotees. And he was sitting on the altar offering benedictions to all of his devotees and everyone was chanting and kirtana for his pleasure. And in the back of the room, Lord Chaitanya happened to see this little poor brahmachari Shuklambara who had a tattered set of clothes and he was dancing ecstatically chanting the holy name and that little cloth bag with his handfuls of begged rice was –was swaying to and fro on his shoulder. He was so happy. Lord Chaitanya was just enjoying seeing his bliss. The lord called Shuklambara-to come close. The kirtana continues and he was dancing and smiling. Lord Chaitanya was just laughing seeing this, and suddenly the supreme lord thrust his hand into Shuklambara’s bag and took out a handful of this raw broken rice. And Lord Chaitanya put it in his mouth and ate it. And then put his hand again in the bag and ate it. Handful after handful. Shuklambara was saying- what are you doing? This rice-it’s not fit for you. It’s not even cooked. When the devotees saw this, everyone was struck with wonder. Lord Chaitanya was eating handful after handful. And he was saying- I have never ever tasted anything so sweet, so delicious as the rice in the bag of Shuklambara. And Shuklambara said –my lord please, this is not fit for you. And Lord Chaitanya said-birth after birth you have been a beggar and I have been stealing your rice. Said- you do not remember, but I remember. In the past birth Shuklambara was Sudama living near Dwarka. He was living in such a state of poverty-were practically starving and his wife feeling sorry sent him to Krishna who was living in a palace in Dwarka for some favour so they don’t starve or suffer much and Sudama said to his good wife that I have -if I go to see Krsna, I have to offer him a gift. We don’t have –they literally had nothing in their house. So, she went out and begged and got some chipped rice. And he didn’t have a proper bag for it- he just tied it in a little piece of cloth. Old cloth. And he went to see Krishna in Dwarka. He’s a poor Brahmana. Went through all these magnificent gates and when he arrived Krishna put him on his own bed. And Krishna washed Sudama’s feet. Krishna worshipped him. To show the world how the Lord worships those who love him. And then after they spent the day and talked about how they were old friends in school, Sudama was thinking I can’t offer Krishna this old, begged, chipped rice. So, he didn’t say anything. But Krishna knows everything. He’s in the heart of every living being. He said to Sudama- did you bring me anything? Sudama said-no I didn’t bring you anything and then Krishna grabbed the bag from Sudama’s little dhoti. Then he said- oh, my lord you cannot eat this, this is not fit for you. And Krishna opened it and took that chipped rice and ate a morsel of it. And Rukmini, his queen said-that’s enough. I can’t see you eating this. You’ve already satisfied the universe by eating this chipped rice. And Krishna was glorifying the sweet taste of that chipped rice. Sudama wouldn’t ask Krishna for any favor. He only asked Krishna-how can I serve you. He didn’t have the heart to ask Krishna for anything. So, as he was going home, he was thinking my wife is not going to be happy- I went there to ask, and I didn’t ask. I can’t ask. How can I ask anything from the lord? I am –I can only ask how can I serve. Then he came to where his house was, he thought. And instead of that old straw hut there was a beautiful palace. And then out from the palace came his wife wearing beautiful clothes. And there were all kinds of other people and there was lovely trees and lakes. Nothing like the jungle he lived in. And his wife looked at him and cried because she knew that this is due to Krishna’s kindness us. And he cried. And when they looked at each other, all they could do is cry thinking how Krishna was so kind to them. They lived the rest of their lives in that luxury. But they had the exact same mentality as they did when they were in poverty. What is that mentality? They had no envy; they had no selfishness. Whatever they had they used in the service of god and for the- and for the service of other living beings. Being poor is not a disqualification- and being wealthy is not a disqualification. Whether one is a king or living in a cave in the mountains, we all have equal opportunity. Cause Krishna accepts our love, our devotion.
Moral of the Story: Being poor is not a disqualification- and being wealthy is not a disqualification. Whether one is a king or living in a cave in the mountains, we all have equal opportunity. Krishna accepts our love, our devotion so we should serve everyone without envy or selfishness
7)Offering of love by Sridharan Kolavecha
This is a story of offering a leaf, a fruit , flower, and water. This person offered all of them. His name was Kolavecha Sridhar. When Lord Chaitanya was a young boy, he disguised himself as an ordinary boy. Nobody knew that he was actually the avatar of Krishna, he was the supreme lord. Although he attracted peoples love as he was god, he disguised the reality by the yoga maya potency. So little Nimadi Pandit-he would everyday go to a simple banana leaf seller named Sridhar. Sridhar was really materially poor. He just sat on the ground on the side of the road, and would sell Banana leaves. He had few banana trees and he would just, any part of the tree that grew, he would sell it. He would sell the bark, The flowers, The leaves, The fruits, The roots. Just had a couple of things at a time. And he was so honest. He was so compassionate to all living beings that he would somehow charge as little as possible because he didn’t want to cause anyone inconvenience. And then whatever little he made, he would first thing is take half of his profits-which is hardly anything- and use it to offer pujas to Ganges, and then take that water and offer it as love to Krishna. So little Nimai would come to him and ask the price or the bananas, leaf, and Sridhar would give him a fair price. But Nimai will give only half the price, then they would argue over the price. Because half means Sridhar would take a tremendous loss. And for him, one paisa loss was practically everything he had. And after arguing, sometimes for two hours, Nimai would just take the bananas and said alright, I’m not giving you anything. I’m just taking. And he’d walk away. And Sridhar would smile. He just took his whole inventory. He had nothing left. The lord just took it away; gave him nothing. But the lord loved Sridhar so much, he would come every day. And Kolavecha Sridhar loved Nimai so much, when it was time for Nimai to be coming, his heart wound pound with anticipation for little Nimai to come and steal his bananas. Just to see that form. He didn’t know he was god, but he loved him like god. Hearing that sweet voice of Nimai- arguing with him; that was his life, his soul, his everything. And if Nimai was late; Sridhar, his heart was going through ecstasies of separation. One day, Nimai said to Kolavecha Sridhar-why do you worship Krishna? What is he doing for you? Look at how poor you are. With all kinds of atheists and worshipers of demigods and all materialistic people-look, they have nice homes; they have good food; they have nice clothes- look at you. Your house- it’s not a house. It’s a straw hut and I know what goes on in your life. The straw hut, the roof leaks and in the monsoon seasons everything’s wet. You have to sometimes sit with a little umbrella. You have no furniture and nothing. All you have in your whole house is one old dented iron pot to carry water. And as far as your clothes- there’s so many holes in your clothes and you can’t afford needle and thread, so you just take the two sides of the holes and tie knots. I see at least 20 knots in your clothes. And as far as your food- what do you eat? You’re undernourished. And yet you’re always chanting Krishna’s names; you’re always worshipping Krishna. What is he doing for you? Kolavecha Sridhar would… he loved Krishna so much, he would chant Krishna’s names all night long loudly and sometimes he just woke the neighbors, and they would get really angry. They would scream at him- Sridhar, shut up! Sometimes they’d get even more angry, and they’d just take an old rotten vegetable and they’d throw it at Sridhar’s head and say- just eat this and be quiet. He must be crying out like this because he’s so hungry. So just eat this and go to sleep. But Sridhar didn’t care. For him his only satisfaction was pleasing the lord. For Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was saying like this to Sridhar and Sridhar replied; I’ve been in this world a long time, and I have observed Whether one is a king living in a palace with magnificent clothes and eating fine foods or whether one is a bird who just wears one set of feathers and lives in little nests made out of grass, and just eating some –you know-little berries here and there. I don’t see much difference between the two. Somehow or other, they both have what they need and time is passing for both of them in the same way. And they’re both essentially just trying to do the same thing. Trying to be happy. And as far as I could see, god’s supplying for both of them. What’s the difference? I am happy. I am happy chanting god’s names. I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need anything else. And then Nimadi said- Sridhar, you are a cheater cheating everyone. You are making yourself look like a poor beggar to get peoples sympathy but actually you have a great treasure. You have immense wealth. But you’re hiding it all, just to deceive us. Sridhar said, what do you mean? whatever you see is what I am and what I have. He said, someday I will expose you. And then the lord stole some bananas and walked away. Now interestingly, every single day when Sacimata cooked lunch for Lord Chaitanya, lord would only eat it on the plate-on the banana leaf plates that were given to him by Kolavecha Sridhar. A leaf. Yes. He would rather have that than golden plates or silver plates-just a little banana leaf. For him, everything that was put on that plate tasted like nectar because it was served on the banana leaves of Sridhar. But they were offered with love. One time the lord manifested his form of Krishna and Balarama and manifested Vrindavan before the eyes of Sridhar. Then he said to Sridhar- ask for any benediction. Anything. Sridhar said-my lord, I am seeing you. I don’t want anything else. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, but I want to give you something, ask for anything. I will give you an entire kingdom with a beautiful palace. No long for you to live in your abject poverty anymore. Sridhar said –no. I don’t want any kingdom or palace. He said- well, then I’ll give you the eight mystic siddhis. What yogis perform tapasya for many lifetimes to achieve; I will give you all these mystical powers. Sridhar said, that will just be a distraction for me if I have all these powers. I’m a simple person, I don’t want powers. He said, then I’ll give you liberation-Mukti. No more suffering ever again. Sridhar said-I don’t want Mukti. Don’t tempt me with these things. Then I’ll give you elevation to the spiritual world-Vaikuntha, an eternal life of bliss and knowledge. Take it. Sridhar said-my lord, I don’t want that either. Lord Chaitanya said, well, I know you don’t want it. But I want to give you something. For my sake, ask for something. Please ask. Sridhar said if it pleases you, then you can give me this one benediction. In every birth I take, let me always in my heart of hearts remember that beautiful little form of Nimai who always come to steal my bananas. Let me be absorbed in always meditating on that form, nothing else. When he said that, the devotees began to cry. Lord Chaitanya began to cry. Said I grant you the highest ecstasies of pure love forever.
The lord is hungry for the love of his devotee. From Chand Kazi’s house Lord Chaitanya took a few of his devotees to Sridhar’s house. And outside the house was that old, dented, iron water pot. That Sridhar-it’s all he had. He used it for every type of purpose. He used it to wash; he used it to drink from. He used it to clean himself. And he had already drunk water from that pot. Lord Chaitanya saw that pot, and went into ecstasy. He walked right to the pot and everyone was watching the lord put the pot to his lips. And Sridhar cried out- No my lord! I drank from that water! That’s a dirty old pot. But in front of everyone Mahaprabhu drank the water from that pot. He drank it more and more and more. And Kolavecha Sridhar fell to the ground and said, now I am finished. He’s drinking the water that I’ve washed myself with and drank from. And Lord Chaitanya was in ecstasy. He began to cry. He began to chant. He began to dance. He said- today for the first time in my life I have tasted the sweet nectar of Krishna’s love because I have drunk the water of Kolavecha Sridhar’s pot.
Krishna says if you offer me a leaf, flower, fruit or water I will accept it if it’s with devotion. This example is done justice to this verse. Lord ate everyday on Sridhar’s banana leaves. A fruit-he would steal his bananas every day. A flower- Lord Chaitanya one of his most favorite preparations is banana flower sabji prepared by Sacimata and drank water from his pot.
All of these examples show how Krishna accepts the sincere offerings of His devotees without regard for external distinctions such as age and social class. He rejected Duryodhana’s opulent reception because it was devoid of love and faith. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.27.16–18) Krishna tells Uddhava, “One should worship Me in My deity forms by offering the most excellent paraphernalia” but “even very opulent presentations do not satisfy Me if they are offered by nondevotees” or without love.
Krishna is literally hungry for the love of his devotees . He is looking for our sincere effort, which extends beyond food offerings and into every aspect of our lives. In fact, one of the nine main principles of devotional service is ātma-nivedanam, offering everything to the Lord, including our mind, body, intelligence, and possessions. So, let us offer our hearts to Krishna. By His mercy, our lives will become perfect offerings to Him.