In America, there is a common saying, “You are what you eat!” This means that eating impure food produces an impure mind and an unhealthy body. Eating good sattvic food, which means pure vegetarian only, will make you think good sattvic thoughts; act in a good, pure and righteous way; and produce good health and peace of mind.
Food falls into three categories:
1. Sattvic (goodness) food—Increases life-span, energy, strength, fitness, and it produces peace, balance and joy. It is healthy, full of essential nutrients to maintain the body and mind.
2. Rajasic (passionate) food—Is too bitter or sour, high in sodium, spicy, oily, hot or too sweet.
3. Tamasic (ignorance) food—Is dry, stale, foul-smelling and contaminated.
The Chandogya Upanishad says, “Pure sattvic (100 % vegetarian) food produces mental purity and continuous remembrance, ahar-shuddhou sattva-shuddhih sattva-shuddhou dhruva-smritih.
As devotees, we want to always remember Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s wonderfully attractive name, form, qualities and sweet pastimes. To achieve the requisite mental purity to do this one must be careful that the food he eats is free from contamination by foreign elements or mundane consciousness.
Food can be contaminated in three ways: by nature, by contacting impure items, and by material consciousness.
1) By nature certain foods are impure because they are sinful and produce disturbing vibrations of passion and ignorance within the mind. Such as meat, egg, alcohol, fish, onion, garlic, leeks, and mushroom.
2) External contamination means vegetarian food made impure by contacting dirt, mosquitoes, flies, saliva, blood or sweat.
3) Consciousness contamination means food purchased by, cooked by or served by individuals in impure material consciousness. In other words, even pure vegetarian food will become contaminated if any of the above three persons is miserly, lusty, greedy, angry, dull-witted person, or infected by a sexual disease. Their bad impure qualities are transmitted to the food and into the mind of whoever eats it.
One should eat only pure sattvic food, which is free from all the above contaminations, and offered to Bhagavan Sri Krishna with a pure mind and sincere heart. When Srila Prabhupada lived alone in the Radha-Damodara Mandir he never took prasadam at “bhandaras”, which is a function where sponsors invite sadhus to take free prasadam along with a donation. Srila Prabhupada was very strict; he only took Thakuriji Radha Damodara’s maha-prasada or food purchased and prepared by his own lotus hands.
In this regard, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and then he cannot do Krishna smarana, remember Sri Krishna”… vishayira anna khaile, malina haya mana, malina mana haile nahe krsnera smarana. (Cc. 3.6.278)
In conclusion, sadhakas should be very careful about the purity of the food they eat. It should be purchased, prepared, offered to Sri Krishna, and served in pure Krishna consciousness. Then such pure food, Krishna prasadam, will sanctify our minds, purify our existence and enable us to always remember Radha Govinda Yugala throughout the day and night.
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!