Puranic Rules for Prasadam
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
When describing grhastha life, the Vishnu Mahapuranam (3.11.76-98) mentions a few rules about how to properly take food/Krishna prasadam. Most of these verses are also quoted by Sri Sanatana Goswami in Hari Bhakti Vilasa (# 9).
To begin with, Vishnu Purana says, “If one follows these rules, one will attain perpetual good health, strength and intelligence.” (v. 76)
iha carogya vipulam, bala buddhis tatha nrpa
Then Vishnu Mahapurana continues, “When eating one should wear clean cloth; face east or north; be happy, attentive and have a pleasant face. Don’t eat if in a bad mood. Eat fresh, tasty food and nothing stale. Before eating, chant purifying mantras and prayers, mantra bhimantritam (v. 84)
“Start with sweet tasting liquid items,
ashniyat tan mayo bhutva purvam tu madhuram rasam. (v. 87)
Middle of meal eat salty and sour items,
madhye katu tikta adhikams tatah.
End meal/prasadam with bitter and pungent items.
One who starts the meal with fluid items; takes solid foods in the middle and concludes the meal with fluid items—will always be strong and healthy. (v. 88)
“One should eat in silence and only take five handfuls of food to maintain his/her five live airs. (v. 89)
pancha grasam maha maunam
prana adyap yayanam hi tat
“After eating, one should cleanse the mouth and hands, sit down peacefully, meditate upon Radha and Krishna and pray, ‘May this food/prasadam be fully digested and assimilated and thereby give my body strength and satisfaction.’ [ed. to serve Krishna better!] (v. 90-94) After reciting this prayer, one should rub his/her stomach with one’s hand palm.” (98)
ity uccarya sva hastena parimrjya tathodaram
Rubbing the belly after eating is a very ancient practice, common in India. As an alternative to the prayer mentioned above, we suggest the following verse from Sri Bhagavad Gita (15.14):
aham vaish vanaro bhutva
praninam deham ashritah
pran apana sama yuktah
pacham yannam chatur vidham
Bhagavan Sri Krishna said, “O Arjuna, I am the fire of digestion in all living entities, and I mix with the prana and apana life airs to digest the four kinds of foodstuff.”
We have personally seen that after taking Krishna prasadam, many Vrajavasis, Gaudiya Vaisnavas and Brahmins rub their bellies and chant the Gita verse above. Although prescribed for grhastas, these basic rules of eating will benefit anyone who follows them. And for this, we have offered this post.
Sri Jagannatha maha-prasadam ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!
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