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  • Meditation 145: Risks of accepting food cooked by non-devotees and non-devotee association
One's mind is contaminated eating food prepared by materialistic men

Summary: Here is some valuable instruction from Caitanya caritamrta and from Hari Sauri's diary (written while serving as Srila Prabhupada's servant) on the risk of accepting food cooked by non-devotees, even vegetarian! Combine these instructions with the Kellogg's research I sent out recently...why risk taking unknown things?

Reading Assignment

a) Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 6.278

TRANSLATION When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one's mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Krsna properly.

PURPORT Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura suggests that people who are materialistically inclined and sahajiyas, or so-called Vaisnavas who take everything very casually, are both visayis, or materialists. Eating food offered by them causes contamination, and as a result of such contamination, even a serious devotee becomes like a materialistic man. There are six kinds of association "giving charity, accepting charity, accepting food, offering food, talking confidentially and inquiring confidentially". One should very carefully avoid associating with both the sahajiyas, who are sometimes known as Vaisnavas, and the non-Vaisnavas, or aVaisnavas. Their association changes the transcendental devotional service of Lord Krsna into sense gratification, and when sense gratification enters the mind of a devotee, he is contaminated. The materialistic person who aspires after sense gratification cannot properly think of Krsna.

b) Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 6.279

TRANSLATION When one accepts an invitation from a person contaminated by the material mode of passion, the person who offers the food and the person who accepts it are both mentally contaminated.

PURPORT Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that there are three varieties of invitations "those in the mode of goodness, those in passion and those in ignorance". An invitation accepted from a pure devotee is in the mode of goodness, an invitation accepted from a person who is pious but materially attached is in the mode of passion, and an invitation accepted from a person who is materially very sinful is in the mode of ignorance.

c) January 4, 1976 Srila Prabhupada's visit to Nellore

Living in someone else's house is difficult when the family members are non-Vaisnava. When preaching in India devotees are often obliged to stay in the homes of Life Members, their bad habits tolerated in order to broadcast the message of Krsna consciousness. However, Tamal Krishna told Prabhupada that when Gargamuni Swami returns to India, he doesn't want to do that anymore. He said, "He is determined that he will not eat in anyone's home." Prabhupada approved. "That is very good." "Not only that, but he's not going to sleep in anyone's home either. They want to camp out by the river sides." "Very good idea." "He says that from reading your books it is very clear that Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very careful, strict, to only eat prasadam cooked by proper persons." "No, purchase from Jagannatha temple. People would come to offer Him prasadam. So what is the cost of the prasadam, that was taken and He purchased.

Formerly, the system was there was no hotel, but there were temples. You go and you can purchase very cheap price. I went with my father in my childhood in a place. My father would never take food at anyone's house or in the hotel. He will find out some temple and pay them and take prasadam. Still there are many temples. So I was about ten years old at that time, say, seventy years ago. So he paid two annas to the pujari, and he gave us so much. It can be eaten by five, six men. Kichari, vegetables, varieties. So much. Two annas."

Tamal Krishna mentioned his experience visiting a temple in Navadvipa. "They had an arrangement like this. At least a hundred people were taking, respectable people. That temple's very big. Of course, I don't know how bona fide the people who speak at night are, but every night there are speakers with many people coming. I was very impressed by it. Nice rooms for people to stay upstairs, very active, always being cleansed." Srila Prabhupada was impressed by Tamal Krishna's description. "That is temple. So we have so many examples. Introduce this."

[More from that Nellore visit...] "Tamal recalled the previous evening. " Last night when we were reading, they all left. When you mentioned the regulative principles -- stressing no meat, crabs, fish, eggs -- they all got up and walked out." Prabhupada questioned Harikesa again about the cooking. "You said that the same cooking place will have to do, where they are cooking meat?" Harikesa reassured him, "They're not cooking it now."

d) December 22 1976, visit to Mahabaleshwar

On another occasion, December 22 1976 we visited Mahabaleshwar, a hill station outside Poona. We were being offered some land and a house by the Malhotras, some life members. We stayed with them overnight and were obliged to eat with them (mainly because I wasn't a cook so Srila Prabhupada accepted whatever they cooked for us). However their standard wasn't very high, although they were at least vegetarian.

DEC 22nd Srila Prabhupad, Gopal Krsna, Giriraj and myself all flew to Poona on the early morning flight and we were met at the tiny airport, which consists of one small shack and a landing strip, by Mr. Malhotra and his family and his brother and sister-in-law. The latter were wearing long orange robes and are follower of Rajneesh Acharya who has his asrama in Poona. They received us cordially and drove us to their home in Poona for breakfast before setting out on the trip to Mahabaleswar, which is several hours from here. The house is large, with a swimming pool etc. and they are obviously quite rich although they do not appear to have the culture that the more traditional aritocratic Hindu families have.

For breakfast everyone sat round the table togeather and the food was brought out in large bowls and passed around. Everyone simply helped themselves, dipping in, eating and dipping in again, thus completely contaminating everything. Fortunately I had served Prabupad with a portion of everything on his plate before anyone had a chance to touch it so he was not affected. I was also careful to only take from the bowls which were untouched. It took almost three hours to reach Mahabaleshwar and was quite an ordeal, the winding, upward motion of the car on the steep twisting hillside road, giving Prabhupad a feeling of sickness. Finally we arrived. The land is not so big and the house quite run down and not well kept and full of damp. Still the weather is nice and it is very quiet. After going through the sitting room there are three bedrooms along a passage and Prabhupad was given the middle one which had a small attached bathroom. The Malhotras all stayed in the large one at the far end and we three in the first. Prabhupad took his massage out in the sunshine and as his system settled he became enthused and announced he would stay for three days. The weather and atmosphere of the hills agreed with him and it would be a good opportunity to have a break from management and all the hectic programmes at the temple.

Lunch was the same as breakfast, different food but the same style of eating. This time I made sure Prabhupad and myself had sufficient so that no seconds would be required and Giriraj and Gopal also were careful to do the same. We didn't want to offend our hosts but we wanted to keep our standards. However it was still difficult to sit, all around the one small table, because of their gross habits and lusty propensities which are all openly displayed when it comes to the matter of satisfying the tongue. It was hardly prasada seva. In the evening: Finally the rest of his family arrived back and after some light conversation we were obliged again to sit and eat. They laid out some quite heavy foodstuffs and we took a full meal before retiring for the night. Prabhupad was too polite to say anything but after everyone had taken rest he called in Giriraj and myself and told us to prepare to leave at first light. He was having difficulty digesting the food and his system was upset. Also he was not keen to associate so closely with them. He told us to inform them as soon as they wake that `we are very sorry but Srila Prabhupad is not well and we have to leave so we shall not be able to stay after all. In this way we can leave in a friendly manner and not upset them'.

DEC 23rd: This morning began with the ring of Prabhupad's bell. It was 5am and we were all still sound asleep. Giriraj and Gopal didn't even hear the bell and I only responded because I was trained to it. I jumped groggily from the bed and went in to find Prabhupad sitting on the end of his bed with the small table on which I had set up his dictaphone, in front of him, illuminated with the small table lamp. He looked at me when I came in and asked quite innocently, "So you have all become infected like this?" In the background there was a loud snoring coming from the Malhotras bedroom and still thick in the brain from a heavy sleep and not realising what Prabhupad was implying I said, puzzled, "Well, I don't think we are as infected as that". Without losing his demeanour Prabhupad said softly, "No, I mean to say, you should have risen at four am and had managal arati and bathed but due to only one night's association you are already infected". I could understand then his point that association with karmis, no matter how friendly, is so dangerous. He told me this was due simply to eating with the karmis, the eating process is so important.

He sent me back into our room to wake the others and bathe and by first light we were ready for off. Fortunately the Malhotras were not long in waking and after some short discussion they agreed to allow Prabhupad to use their car to drive back to Bombay as it was said to be shorter than the drive to Poona and then flight. Actually it was also a fact that he didn't want to return to Poona because it would mean having to take prasada with them again. Just as we were loading up Mr. Malhotras brother came to Prabhupad and told him that from last night's conversation he could now understand that Rajneesh was actually a cheater and Prabhupad was very pleased that he had enough intelligence to respond to his preaching and he invited him to come and visit our Bombay asrama and perhaps stay with us also. After tactfully taking our leave we all drove down to the village and Prabhupad had a short walk with them around a small lake before we set off for Bombay proper at 7.45 am.

Shortly after starting out Srila Prabhupada ate a small orange. It wasn't long before we hit some very twisty sections of road and although it was all down hill progress was slow and difficult. For one and half hours continuously, with any break we negotiated one sharp S' bend after another, every fifty to one hundred yards. Prabhupad was in great discomfort and after half an hour we had to suddenly stop the car and Prabhupad vomitted out the open door. As we pulled up I got into great anxiety because I realised I had not packed any water and now it would be required for Prabhupad to wash his mouth out with. As I wondered what to do by Krsna 's mercy a car suddenly appeared behind us. It was the only vehicle we had seen in either direction and they pulled up and gladly supplied some fresh water for Prabhupad. After a couple of minutes we were on our way again but again after another half hour Prabhupad was vomitting. Finally we arrived on the flat lands and Prabhupad vowed he would never make such a journey again. After about an hour Prabhupad had us stop at one village. Now feeling better he wanted some puffed rice, and he had us go to different stalls and bring back samples till he saw some he thought was fresh enough. He took a little and passed his remnants to us as we drove along. I was a little surprised that he was eating again so soon after throwing up. But Prabhupada smiled and said that puffed rice can be eaten any time, even if one is ill it is so innocent.

So after a very difficult ride we arrived back in Bombay at 2.15pm. As usual the devotees were ready with full arati and foot washing paraphernalia in his room but I saw he was a little dismayed when he came in although he said nothing. He didn't want to refuse his disciples offering of love and devotion but it was going to be a strain. I therefore ushered everyone out before they could begin despite one or two protests and Prabhupad did not object. He took his massage immediately. As he sat on the very small veranda of his room he said, "I was punished almost immediately for eating with the Karmis". I couldn't imagine Krsna punishing Prabhupad for anything but that was his humility. Then after bathing he took rest and in the evening, after having gained a little strength he gave darshan.