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Jahnava Nitai Das

Sanctified Food; The Process of Sadhana

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What is the meaning of sanctified food?



Sanctified food refers to food that is prepared as an offering for the Lord. Generally people cook food for the satisfaction of their tongue. Instead we should develop the habit of cooking for the satisfaction of the Lord. Everything we eat should first be offered to the Lord. In this way the food becomes sanctified and spiritually charged.


The procedure for offering one's food to the Lord is simple. The food must first of all be pure (as defined in the next answer). Second, it must be prepared primarily for the Lord, and thus no one should taste it before it is offered to Him. Third, it should be cooked or prepared with a pure consciousness of devotion.


Once the food is prepared, it should be placed before a picture of Lord Krishna, and one should request the Lord to accept the offering. The following mantra should then be recited three time while ringing a bell:


namo brahmanya devaaya

go braahmana hitaaya cha

jagad-hitaaya krishnaaya

govindaaya namo namah


If one has a guru pranama mantra, the mantra may be recited three times before this mantra.


After this one may then eat the food that has been offered to the Lord. In this way the food one eats becomes prasadam, and it acts on one internally - not just physically.



What type of food habits should one adopt to purify oneself?



First, one should eat only those foods which are in the mode of goodness (sattva-guna), and avoid those foods in the modes of passion (rajo-guna) and ignorance (tamo-guna).These are described briefly in the Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna as follows:




rasyah snigdhah sthira hrdya

aharah sattvika-priyah

(Gita 17.8)


"Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart."




ahara rajasasyesta


(Gita 17.9)


"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."


yata-yamam gata-rasam

puti paryusitam ca yat

ucchistam api camedhyam

bhojanam tamasa-priyam

(Gita 17.10)


"Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness."


In simple terms, one should avoid eating non-vegetarian foods, including meat, fish and eggs. In addition to this one should not eat onion and garlic, as they increase the rajo-guna and disturb the mind.


One should not eat food that has been prepared several hours before - ideally only fresh food should be eaten. This is not always possible. If food is sanctified (prasadam), it may be eaten even if it is old.


Prior to eating all food should be offered to the Lord to remove karmic influences.


One should also regulate the amount of food one eats. Lord Krishna states:


naty-asatas 'tu yogo 'sti

na caikantam anashnatah

(Gita 6.16)


"There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little."


One must know how much food is sufficient to keep one healthy. One should not eat more, nor less. It is also important to regulate the time one eats. As much as possible, meals should be taken at the same time everyday.


The most important thing is to meditate on the Lord prior to eating. We must understand from whom our maintenance is ultimately coming. Before taking any food, recite "Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu", and think of the Lord.



I am a busy man. I start to my office at 7:30 am, travel 26 km to reach my office and return home only after 9:45 pm. As a result I mostly eat in hotels. Keeping this in mind, tell me what type of food I should eat.



You must try to follow principles of purity to the best of your ability. Since your schedule is such, it is not possible for you to always eat pure sanctified food. In such cases you must at least try to find food that is clean. All food carries the consciousness of the person who prepared it, and thus positive and negative energy influences us based on the food we eat. In most hotels, the cooks are not pure or clean - at least from a spiritual perspective. They are simply working for making money. When the consciousness of the cooks are low, it becomes a very negative influence on our spiritual advancement. By reciting "Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu" much of the karmic influence will be removed, so never fail to follow this practice.


When eating in hotels and other such places, always eat as a sacrifice to maintain the body, which is the Lord's instrument. Try to avoid eating for your own enjoyment. Instead eat in the hotel as a duty. You must maintain your body so that you may carry out proper service to the Lord. If you always remember this point, your consciousness can remain unaffected, despite being surrounded by unfavourable circumstances.



What type of general habits should one follow in normal life?



Here are a few principles one should adopt:


Try to rise early, around 4 am daily. This time is the brahma muhurta, a period extremely favourable for spiritual practices. During this period from 4 am to 7 am spiritual practices give quick and maximum progress.


Sit peacefully in padmasana and recite the Hare Krishna maha-mantra during this early morning time period.


Take sattvik food (pure food which does not increase one's passions). Give up chillies, onion, garlic, and excessively sour or spiced foods. Observe moderation in diet. Do not overload the stomach.


Systematically study the scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Srimad Bhagavatam, the Upanishads, etc., from half an hour to one hour daily.


Memorize some powerful prayers and recite them before you begin meditation to elevate your mind.


Do charity every month according to one's means. Never fail in this. If necessary forego some personal wants but keep up this charity regularly.


Give up bad association, smoking and liquor entirely. Try to associate with like minded spiritual people. Do not develop evil habits. Try always to develop positive virtuous qualities.


Fast on certain days of the year by eating only milk and fruit (such as ekadashi day twice a month).


Keep a japa mala and wear it around your neck or keep it in your pocket. This will remind you of God. Twirl the beads in your leisure hours and just before going to sleep. Chant your mantra on each bead.


Observe silence for a couple of hours each day.


Practice to speak truth. Always utter encouraging words.


Reduce your wants. If you have four shirts, reduce it to three. Lead a happy contented life. Avoid unnecessary worry. Be mentally detached. Live simply and develop high thinking. Think of those who do not even have one tenth of what you have. Share with others.


Practice Love. Never hurt anybody. Be compassionate and forgiving.


Have self-analysis. In the evening just before sleeping reflect over the mistakes you made during the course of the day. Keep a daily spiritual diary and self-correction register. Draw up a routine of daily activities and follow it.


Never fail to fulfil your duty.


Think of God as soon as you wake up and just before you go to sleep, and at all other times. Repeat His name always, it should ring in the mind continuously.


Develop the following qualities:


Serenity, Regularity, Absence of Vanity, Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity, Equanimity, Fixity, Non-irritability, Adaptability, Humility, Tenacity, Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity, Charity, Generosity, Purity.



What are the prayers one should recite from the time one wakes from bed to before going to sleep at night?



The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the most important mantra in this age of Kali. Try to recite it in all circumstances. When you wake up, the first thing you should say is this mantra, before sleeping, the last thing you should say is this mantra. While going to work, chant this mantra as you walk or drive. With out fail try to always remember this mantra:


hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare,

hare rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare



What types of sacrifices can one perform for the Lord? Please explain the procedures elaborately. Also explain whether the meaning of sacrifice is doing daanam to the poor people, or does it refer only to offerings made to God such as archanas, pujas, etc.?



There are various types of sacrifice (yajna or yagam) mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita:


dravya-yajnas tapo-yajna

yoga-yajnas tathapare

svadhyaya-jnana-yajnas ca

yatayah samsita-vratah


"Having accepted strict vows, some become enlightened by sacrificing their possessions (dravya-yajna), and others by performing severe austerities (tapo-yajna), by practicing the yoga of eightfold mysticism (yoga-yajna), or by studying the Vedas to advance in transcendental knowledge (svadhyaya-yajna and jnana-yajna)."


Dravya-yajna is sacrificing one's possessions for a spiritual goal. In this sacrifice one must always take into account the proper circumstances for charity. As described in the Gita, charity falls within three modes of nature. If one gives charity to an unworthy person, such charity is in the mode of ignorance, and it will create negative effects. For example, I may give 5 rupees to a beggar in front of a temple, and he will use the money to buy cigarettes. This is charity in the mode of ignorance. By assisting him in his sinful activity I am receiving a share of the sinful reactions. We must only perform charity in the mode of goodness, otherwise it will just increase our bondage. To feed the poor with spiritual sanctified food is in the mode of goodness. But to feed the poor with ordinary food is generally in the mode of passion (rajo-guna). The best charity is the distribution of the sacred book Bhagavad Gita. In this also one must find a suitable recipient, someone who will respect and utilize the spiritual teachings.


Tapo-yajna is the sacrifice of austerity.


Yoga-yajna is the sacrifice of meditation. The best form of this meditation is the peaceful chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. By meditating on the sound of Sri Hari's name one will attain the state of samadhi.


Svadhyaya-yajna is the sacrifice of personally studying the Vedic scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita. While studying we must try to apply the acquired knowledge in our daily life. Otherwise such study is not a sacrifice.


Jnana-yajna is the sacrifice of cultivating spiritual knowledge of the self. We must try to understand that we are not the external body, but are in reality the eternal spirit soul within. One day our bodies will die, but we will live on. We must prepare ourselves for this transformation.


We should try to engage in these various types of sacrifice to the best of our ability. In one's home, one should offer one's food to the Lord. One should also perform personal puja to the Lord. The pujas in the temples are secondary. If one is not personally worshipping the Lord, the archanas in the temples will not have any effect on one's consciousness. It is just a ritual where one pays 10 rupees, and a hired man recites mantras. There must be personal devotion and sacrifice. Only then the Lord will take notice. All types of sacrifice should ultimately culminate in devotion to the Lord.



What do you actually mean by the word "Sadhana"?



Sadhana is a daily spiritual practice or vow. It does not refer to whimsical religious activity, but to very dedicated and focussed spiritual activity. One's entire life should become sadhana. By offering the results of our activities to God our work becomes sadhana. By offering our food to God, our eating becomes sadhana. And by always trying to chant the names of Krishna, our every step should become sadhana. Within sadhana there is a regulated aspect that one follows as a vow. For example, our guruji has instructed us to daily recite the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra 1728 times (or 16 times around a japa mala of 108 beads). This is a vow we accept at the time of initiation. A serious sadhana is essential for making spiritual advancement.


In this present age of Kali the scriptures advise us to chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. The process of hari-nama sankirtana, or the chanting of Sri Hari's names, is the yuga-dharma for this age. No other method for self-realization will be effective in this age of Kali.


By the process of bhakti-yoga all the seeds of karma are burnt to ashes just as dry grass is quickly burnt by fire. There are many stages of karmic reactions. When we perform an activity, the reaction first exists in a seed stage. We do not immediately receive the results to our activities. The nature plants the seed of karma, and creates a suitable situation for you to receive your results. As the seed sprouts and grows, eventually a fruit will develop (karma-phala). It is at this point that the reaction is actually experienced. Sometimes many lives may pass before we recieve the results of our past activities. Thus it is advised that we take to the process of bhakti-yoga and burn up the karma-bijas (seeds of reaction) before they sprout and develop fruit which we will be forced to taste.


This process of spiritual advancement is described as a cleansing process:


ceto darpana marjanam


"Sadhana is the cleansing of the mirror of the mind."


Our heart has much dust piled on it from many countless lives. The chanting of Krishna's names will remove the dust from the mirror of our consciousness, so we can see clearly who we actually are. But when you begin the process of cleaning, the first thing that will happen is the dust will become unsettled. If there is a house that has been abandoned for many years, there will be piles of dirt and dust, and even large stones and branches scattered here and there. The first step is to remove the large objects, such as branches and stones. In spiritual life this is like stopping the external sinful habits such as meat eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling. Once the large objects are removed, we must then begin the process of removing the finer dirt by sweeping. This is like the internal cleansing of the heart of all bad qualities such as kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), etc. When one first starts to sweep this dust, it will become unsettled and fill the air. It will almost appear that the house has become dirtier! Actually the dust was always there, but it had not been disturbed. As you go on cleaning, the dust will eventually be collected and removed and the house will be spotless. The same is the case while performing sadhana. At first one's mind may not be strong or focussed, but as one continues the process, one will begin to purify oneself and the pollution in the heart will be permanently removed.



After visiting your site I have started having the urge to read the Bhagavad Gita. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of this book. Where can I find one with easy to understand English and clear explanations?



The complete "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" can be read online at the following website:




This is the translation and commentary of Bhagavad Gita given by our Guruji, presented purely without any adulteration or change. It is also available in print if you would prefer to have it as a book.


Hare Krishna!


Yours in service,


Jahnava Nitai Das,

Bhaktivedanta Ashram &

Bhaktivedanta International Charities


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