376. Offering food to the Lord

Yes, it’s possible. You can offer food to the Lord. Ofcourse, the usual question from a lay person is, “Why does God need food if He is God?“. The answer from the devotees of the Lord is simple, “because He loves to!“. God is a person and He enjoys relationship with the living entities in a wide variety of moods. In our day to day world, preparing and offering food to someone is often seen as an act of kindness and love you have for that special someone. A mother is always looking to prepare tasty preparations for her child, a chef wants to show-off his skills in cooking by preparing food with great care to his customers and perhaps you are cooking for someone out of your friendship. The ancient scriptures says that you can do the same with the Lord too.

Using the very things the Lord has provided us with and offering it back to Him with love is very much appreciated by God. When a child borrows money from his/her parents and then buys a gift for them from that very same money, moves the parents a lot. They had no need for that little gift nor are they dependent on the child for such things – they can get better ones. But what matters is the action & consciousness of the child. This is very much appreciated by the adults. In the same way, the Lord is also moved when we purchase grocery with happiness, cooks a wonderful meal and then offers to Him with love. The Lord greedily accepts these preparations and longs for more from a devotee. Ofcourse, you may see the food still sit on the table but what you can’t see is that He has touched the food offered, taken them in full and also left them for you to have in the same quantity. It’s easy for Him to do these contradictory things 🙂 When you take such food, what you are having is spiritually sanctified food, free of karma or any violence. Make sure its only vegetarian as He doesn’t like non-vegetarian food including no onion, garlic or mushrooms! Such food is called “prasad”.

In the Hare Krishna tradition, there is a method of offering the food on the prayer altar. In the below content from the Mayapur Academy newsletter, you can see the clear steps outlined. So, next time you prepare and begin to consume anything for yourself, kindly do spend some time offering them to the beautiful Lord before you start.

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366. Milk

This is what I saw in a refrigerator few days ago – milk in 3 types! Extra Lite, Low Fat Lite and Full Cream!

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But i want none of those and want the “Nectarean Milk” which Srila Prabhupad is talking about below.

Milk is compared to nectar, which one can drink to become immortal. Of course, simply drinking milk will not make one immortal, but it can increase the duration of one’s life. In modern civilization, men do not think milk to be important, and therefore they do not live very long. Although in this age men can live up to one hundred years, their duration of life is reduced because they do not drink large quantities of milk. This is a sign of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, instead of drinking milk, people prefer “to slaughter an animal and eat its flesh. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, advises go-rakṣya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags.”

Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 08.06.12.

363: Healthy snacks

I remember the time when junk food, mainly chips was a part of my work schedule. Not anymore, thanks to the spiritual journey. But i still do have snack cravings here and there during work. Dried nuts, fresh fruits and herbal tea solves the problem. But there is another item that i enjoy having once a day while working:

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My team mate asked – “what is that??!”

I answered – “nature”.

360. Salad Making

Its been few weeks since i started my new service of making the Sunday morning salad at the temple.

Whenever I thought about cooking, I would contemplate on vegetables, spices and oil – boiling, frying and baking. The heavy fragrance of melting ghee, crackle of the mustard seeds, the stringent aroma of the hing, the turmeric powders, the garam masalas.

Salad? Would it a step down in my cooking efforts? Would throwing some leaves together be cooking? No one ever say, I am cooking salads.

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Thats what I made by the way this morning. I can’t believe it but making salads is something I really enjoy now. As I was talking about my attempts about the recipe with my wife at the temple, a lady in front of me was looking around for someone to talk to. Seeing me there, she boldly and perhaps hopefully walked up.

She : Excuse me…Hare Krishna
Me : Hare Krishna
She : I heard you mention salad
Me (heart pounding) : yes…?
She : Do you know how its made? It was really good.

What in the world just happened!?!

So, this is what I made today:

Vegetables Used
– sweet potato marinated in olive oil, dry basil, oregano and rosemary and then baked
– small potatoes cut in half and baked
– carrots in strips and baked

Leaves & Greens used:
– Celery, Rockets, Lettuce

Dressing:
Yoghurt mixed with Olive oil, Oregano, basil, rosemary, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, paprika powder, pepper, salt and sugar.

Bring them all together and be happy 🙂

A big thanks to Sri Krishna Chandra prabhu & Chetan prabhu for giving me the tips and guidance. And thanks to Aravind prabhu for the entertainment he provides while I prepare the salad.

Waking up early morning, doing japa and walking over to temple, spending beautiful time in the kitchen with wonderful devotees, kirtan in the background – i think the whole project is making me a better person. So, I think I am not making salads. The salad is making me.

327. “See How I run” by Sarah McCarthy

I was going through “See How I Run“, the blog of Sarah McCarthy (a leading editor of a magazine) who recently passed away due to Ovarian Cancer. She maintained her diary online through out her ordeal sharing her realizations and experiences with the world. Many of her posts have some very useful advice for those wanting to prevent cancer or those who have and looking for guidance. One such post was the recommendation of an anti-cancer book – Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr David Servan-Schreiber. I thought I would share her site and that book recommendation with my readers for their information too.

Just pondering more on death – it can happen anytime, to anyone, anywhere. It’s so important that we deeply understand the depth of death and how awareness of it can cause each one of us to make a positive impact in the world. It’s not at all necessary that one has to wait for old age to leave the body and till that time, we can enjoy as much as possible. Every human should use their intelligence and time to prepare for death – this includes maintaining affectionate relationships with one and all, undertake serious study and practice of spirituality and make a strong habit of eating clean, fresh, organic and vegetarian diet. This is just the basic foundation upon which we can build higher values. But it is a great way to start and finish one’s life.

 

Check out my 15 second video of a dish I prepared recently :

  1. Cut the Okra ends
  2. Heat Oil
  3. Crackle Mustard seeds
  4. Add Hing
  5. Drop the Okras
  6. Add Turmeric, Cumin and Coriander powder (optional – paprika or red chilli powder for the extra kick)
  7. Cover and cook till Okras are tender
  8. Add Salt to taste and even drop a little butter on them
  9. Serve with hot white rice

Took me about 10 mins to make the dish along with rice.

318. Gooseberry

It’s back !

When i was a kid growing up in my ancestral home, one of my favourite activity was to bring down the bunch of gooseberries up on the trees. We had 2 of those trees and a million of them in all sizes would rain down upon my head. Then filling my pockets with as many as i could carry, i would wander up to a secret spot (usually up on a tree) and relish biting into the juicy and extremely bitter fruit. Loved it ! As years went on, other food items took it’s place – biscuits, chocolates, junk food, chewing gum etc. After many many years, I recently went to a South Asian grocery store and got myself a packet of fresh gooseberries. And diving my teeth into them brought back memories, especially the bitter part. No other fruit I know can you eat with one eye closed. Give it a try, won’t you?

Did some hunting on the internet for some health benefit info to push you further !

Some of the health benefits of gooseberry are as follows:
• Gooseberry helps in treating various eye ailments including nearsightedness and cataract. You should take gooseberry juice with honey to enhance your eye sight.
• Gooseberry is an important ingredient of many hair tonics. Gooseberry enhances hair pigmentation and hair growth. It strengthens your hair from the roots and maintains the color and luster of hair.
• Gooseberry is a potent appetizer and as such, it enhances your appetite. You should consume gooseberry powder with honey and butter before meals so as to increase your appetite.
• Gooseberry also regulates the nitrogen levels of your body, thereby helping you gain weight in a healthy way.
• Gooseberry is also an anti ageing agent. It prevents hyperlipidaemia by reducing oxidative stress in the ageing process.
• Gooseberry also helps in preventing diabetes. Gooseberry is rich in chromium which has immense therapeutic value in treating diabetes. Gooseberry stimulates the isolated group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin. As such, it is instrumental in relieving the symptoms of diabetes.
• Gooseberry also prevents the incidence of heart ailments. It strengthens your heart muscles and as such, facilitates the free flow of blood in the body without any obstruction.
• Gooseberry also strengthens your immune system, thereby protecting you against various ailments.
• Gooseberry is antibacterial and an astringent and as such, it protects your body against various infections.
• On account of its cool and laxative properties, gooseberry may also be used to cure diseases like diarrhea and dysentery. Gooseberry provides relief in gastric syndrome and hyperchlorhydria (inflammation of the alimentary canal).
• Gooseberry forms an important component of any detox diet. Gooseberry contains twenty times the content of Vitamin C as compared to lemon and as such, has high levels of antioxidants that detoxify your body.
• Gooseberry is also instrumental in regulating the cholesterol level of the body, thereby preventing the incidence of heart attacks.
• Gooseberry is rich in proteins and as such, acts as a body building agent by repairing old cells and forming new ones.
• Gooseberry is a rich source of iron and helps in promoting the normal functioning of the circulatory and reproductive systems.