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The ill Effects Of Non-Vaisnava Foods

By Kesava Krsna Dasa

We all know about avoiding prohibited foods, but may not know why, or
what effects they produce. Becoming aware of such bad effects will
cause us to think extra before eating more “delicious sin”.

We understand that there are difficulties faced by certain
householders, especially if both husband and wife work, or are being
surrounded by indifferent family members. Whatever the situation, it
is worth trying to place oneself in an advantageous eating situation
with what “little time” we have.

“Let’s not get fanatical now!” One may protest. “Not all of us are
living in the temple, and have the luxury of daily maha-prasadam or
temple prasada. Eating out is a necessity sometimes, even if I do not
like to do so. At least I choose the places I buy from carefully.”
We usually hear arguments like, “I am eating or buying from a “mode of
goodness” outlet.” Such places are deemed “spiritual,” “trustworthy,”
or “favourable.” With further analysis on this, we could be in for a
rude awakening. These “beneficial” outlets can be more dangerous than
we ever thought.

Quite often certain spiritual practitioners think that “paying” the
price for certain foodstuffs will “purify” the food items brought,
even if the food was cooked by non-devotees. Is this true? Others will
reason that, “My dear Lord Krishna will understand.”

In the 3rd chapter of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is we should have learned
that when people in general eat foods not first offered to the
demigods or Krishna, it is an act of theft. One eats only sin. The
paying to purify argument has little validity here, because first of
all, one will be buying food items not intended for Krishna’s
pleasure. One will purchase only stolen goods.

Can we offer the same stolen goods back to Krishna again? Was there
any love and devotion used during the food preparations? Srila
Prabhupada writes in his purport to (BG 9.26); “Without the basic
principle of Bhakti, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept
anything from anyone.”

Considering that one may be very hungry, and hoping for the Lord’s
understanding, will Krishna still accept one’s offering of Bhakti in
offering stolen goods? Then we have to see how essential this offering
was. Was there ever a little time to prepare and make something
beforehand the proper way, before having to buy sinful food? All these
ifs and buts weigh up in our overall mood of offering sinful foods.

Since sin means to oppose the will and desires of the Lord, we can
only imagine to what extent the sellers of sinful foodstuffs are
infested with all of its corollaries. However delicious or wholesome
their foods are, they are still infected with, “Wow” jiva-aparadhas,
“Far out” nama-aparadhas, “Delightful” lust, “You gotta try this”
anger, and “Sublime” greed.

The effects on the consciousness can be immediate or delayed. But
habitual eating of bhoga can complicate matters for any devotee, even
to the point of deciding whether Krishna consciousness is the goal in
life. “…their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in
the complexities of material nature.” (BG 9.26 purport)

We may have our friendly contacts, and concerned, loving family
members that have our best interests at heart. Relying on them for our
meals we think nothing of any ill-intent towards us. If invited for a
“vegetarian dinner,” we’ll go and visit. After all, we hate to offend
our hosts by declining their welcome. We’ll also buy the usual “pure
vegetarian” take-aways from sattvic outlets.

The effects of eating food cooked or prepared by well-meaning people
could be more subtle and dangerous than eating grossly sinful foods.
Many of these “mode of goodness” people harbour insidious,
impersonalist or mayavadi concepts. During their own preparations they
will probably offer the food to some human being they consider as the
source of all avataras – svayam-bhagavan, or they will impose their
nihilistic or “God has no senses” thoughts, all for our benefit, of

These people are sometimes affiliated with a parampara that goes back
perhaps one or two hundred years, founded by someone who has since
assumed God status. Though very popular, their offerings certainly
pollute the consciousness of aspiring Bhaktas. Their “all paths lead
to one” sentiments are ingrained with Nama-aparadhas. Belonging to a
New-age group can express fanciful blends of home-made faiths.

For instance, we sometimes see calendars with a God human founder in
the centre, surrounded by various incarnations of Krishna. By seeing
such calendars one looks at the 2nd offence to the holy name. Let
alone Demigods not being equated with or being greater than God, but
mere humans are depicted with a greatest role – that of God Himself.
Will their foods not affect us? “…therefore, on principle one should
not accept charity from the mayavadis and atheists.” (NOI text 4

By accepting or buying foods from such people based on intimate trust,
is discouraged: “…for by such intimate intermingling we may become
affected by their atheistic mentality…” (NOI text 4 purport) And since
such people are generally indifferent, and see Bhakti as just another
pious deed, they are also guilty of another offence to the holy name.

The word insidious is used because we cannot always tell what “hit” or
affects us when we are trying to chant japa, or to concentrate while
reading and hearing. Sometimes our power of recollecting essential
scriptural information when preaching or memorising, is compromised.
But we can categorise the effects as gross and subtle.

Those who are not accustomed to eating “karmi” food will notice some
immediate effects. One will notice the bland and emptiness of the
contents; nothing compares with Sri Krishna prasadam made with love
and devotion. On eating such food, a feeling of nausea can arise, and
a general “yucky!” feeling.

Common reports of bad dreams, and other certain symptoms practitioners
are embarrassed to reveal, are the lusty desires that come unsought.
These symptoms should remain distinct from cases where, living in a
temple and subsisting on prasadam alone, one entertains lusty desires
by wilful desire.

“Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has also warned…”By eating food prepared by
worldly people, one’s mind becomes wicked.” (NOI text 4 purport) When
the mind is infested with dirtiness, this will likely slow our
devotional tempo: “At the present moment people are ‘manda’, very
slow. They do not take this Krishna consciousness movement very
seriously…” (Teachings Of Lord Kapila, Ch. 10) Srila Prabhupada writes
this in context of the word “bhoga,” which means, sense gratification.

Referring to the Bhagavad-Gita verse 2.44, we read this: “Those who
are overly attached to opulence and sense gratification cannot
understand spiritual life; they are very slow to take to it.” (TLK Ch.
10) Perhaps if we are taking Krishna consciousness casually, despite
the onset of old-age, our intake of bhoga is the cause. This has the
ability to downgrade the importance, or urgency of spreading Krishna
consciousness. In fact, bhoga can bewilder us.

This casual attitude can be compared to being concealed with the smoke
of partial Krishna consciousness. (BG 3.38) But, “Bhakti is never
casual.” Srila Prabhupada states: “It is direct activity in service to
the Absolute Truth.” (BG 9.26 purport) Here is further evidence: “One
who eats sin…cannot execute perfect yoga.” (BG 6.16 purport) We all
know that yoga is Bhakti-yoga.

Whereas a devotee will feel certain immediate effects of consuming
bhoga, a casual attitude will less likely feel or experience many
symptoms, because persistent eating of wicked food does not help to
distinguish very clearly. Eating prohibited food clouds our thinking
and dulls the brain. It is not just hot milk that helps build finer
brain tissue for understanding transcendental subject matter.

The main substance that enables clear thinking must be spiritual –
prasadam. Because it is free from duality there is less interference
with our desired concentration and determination. “But preparing nice,
simple vegetable dishes, offering them to the picture or deity of Lord
Krishna, and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble
offering enables one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body,
and to create fine brain tissue which will lead to clear thinking.”
(BG 9.26 purport)

With clear thinking we should be able to understand more by becoming
clearer recipients of mercy, without the dirt of wickedness blocking
the way. Moderation is still required to appreciate the value of
prasada. Indeed our bodies and minds need not just foodstuff, but
living food. Only prasada can be said to be alive. “The purpose of
food is to…purify the mind,” (BG 17.10 purport) and to, “Purify one’s
existence.” (BG 17.8) After all, Krishna is, “In living beings I am
the living force.” (BG 10.22)

Feeling infected one may seek some solutions, like attending a japa
workshop. If the fire of the experience dampens the taste for “karmi”
food then it is worthwhile. If one returns to eating the old
favourites then it is like dousing the fizzling flames with the
ice-cream of dark-night withdrawal. It might sound harsh, but our
implication in this theft, or loving aparadhas, will always check our
real devotional happiness and progress.

If for some reason or other we always wonder why we cannot seem to
attain a state of blissfulness, or genuine relish in Bhakti, it could
simply be the food we are eating. “…Bhakti or devotional service is
the only means to approach Krishna. No other condition, such as
becoming a brahmana, a learned scholar, a very rich man or a great
philosopher, can induce Krishna to accept some offering.” (BG 9.26

Here is a list of some effects of eating Non prasadam:

(1)Makes the mind wicked.
(2)Causes bewilderment.
(3)Destroys clear thinking.
(4)Causes lust.
(5)Dampens the enthusiasm for devotional service.
(6)Creates material desires.
(7)Causes atheism.
(8)Creates impersonal or mayavadi thoughts.
(9)Causes one to commit vaisnava aparadha.
(10)Causes one to commit Nama-aparadha.
(11)Cause indifference to Bhakti.
(12)Causes one to be inattentive while chanting.
(13)Clouds fine memory.
(14)Dulls the brain.
(15)Breaks our concentration.
(16)Makes one less serious in devotion.
(17)Causes loss of faith.
(18)Makes one casual in the matter of devotion.

With a list as long as this we can see how the dangers of eating the
wrong foods cannot be underestimated.

One’s memory of Krishna is revived by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme
Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very
easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare


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