Q. I have one query about prasadam. Prasadam is transcendental and hence free from karmic reactions. But it is said that the consciousness of the cook goes into the prasadam and it effects the consumer of prasadam with that consciousness. I have seen devotees who take prasadam which is cooked by brahmana-initiated devotees only and not by any other, because it may affect their spiritual consciousness. I am confused that if prasadam is transcendental then how is it possible that the consciousness of the cook remains in the prasadam and affects even after offering to the Lord.

                                                                  "The chanting of the holy name," Srila Prabhupada recommended, "should be heard as far as possible from the lips of a pure devotee." One might ask a similar question to yours re. the chanting of the pure Holy Name of the Lord, as with prasadam.

                                                                  When an offering is made to the Supreme Lord, He accepts the offering due to the love and devotion that has gone into the offering. As He states in the Bhagavad-gita, ye yatha mam prapadyante (Bg 4.11): "As one approaches Me, I reciprocate proportionately." To the degree of devotion and care with which an offering is prepared, and and then brings the offering to Him with sincere devotion, to that degree Krishna relishes that offering. Thus, when a qualified and pure devotee cooks in a thoroughly clean atmosphere and cleansed consciousness, the prasadam correspondingly becomes that much more transcendentally enjoyed by Krishna. Conversely to the degree one is not purified, Krishna does not accept the offering.

                                                                  Although there is no bar for anyone to begin devotional service by chanting the Holy Names and so on, one should come at least to the platform of goodness in order to render intimate personal services for the Lord such as cooking for and worshiping the Deities. Krishna is pure goodness, so someone influenced by passion and ignorance and not trained in the principles of devotion by qualified devotees is unable to approach and serve Him properly. Therefore, in our temples, it is the standard that only properly trained and brahminically qualified devotees are to perform direct service to the Deities such as cooking.