“Within a very short time, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ate enough for a hundred people. Then He asked Govinda, ‘Is there anything more left?’” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 10.127)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friend1: Going to try to relate two things here.
Friend1: Sorry, I meant connect. One from ordinary life and the other from spiritual life.
Friend1: Let’s start with the spiritual. There is the famous verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Shri Krishna says that He accepts offerings made with love and devotion.
Friend2: They don’t have to be elaborate, either. A flower or some water will suffice.
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
Friend1: Devotion, bhakti, is the key. If there is no devotion, He won’t accept the offering.
Friend2: Correct. He is not a beggar. He doesn’t need anything from anyone. One description of God is atmarama. This means “satisfied in the self.”
Friend1: From material life, we know that sometimes we aren’t in the mood to eat.
Friend2: Of course. There is the issue of digestion.
Friend1: Exactly. I remember when I was growing up school was so early in the morning, and I would try to wake up as late as possible.
Friend2: Because you were watching television the night before?
Friend1: Probably. Anyway, between the time of waking up and getting on the bus for school, I wasn’t hungry at all. It’s just something with my stomach. It needs some time to settle after sleeping for so long.
Friend2: That makes sense.
Friend1: Try telling that to my mom. She would get so angry if I didn’t eat anything before leaving. It was a big deal. I would always hope that she didn’t wake up in time. This way I wouldn’t have to deal with an argument.
Friend2: For a parent that’s the first thing to pay attention to. Is the child eating? Who cares if they are not hungry? At such a young age, digestive problems aren’t that harmful. So if you force your child to eat even when they are not hungry, that is considered better than letting them leave the house without food.
Friend1: That is one issue, but what if someone makes an offering to you? Say with the wife. She has spent all this time in the kitchen. She brings you a plate of palatable dishes. You aren’t hungry, though. If you accept, you will have trouble sleeping at night. You have personal experience of the difficulties resulting from overeating.
Friend2: And if you reject the food, it is kind of an insult.
Friend1: It’s going to lead to a major blowout. “You don’t love me? Is it because you ate all that junk before? Who told you to eat that?”
Friend2: That’s funny. Such situations have been occurring ever since there has been marriage.
Friend1: Here is the connection to spiritual life. Is there ever an analogous situation with Shri Krishna?
Friend2: Where Lakshmi Devi or Radharani makes food for Him and He is not hungry?
Friend1: You don’t have to even go that far. What about the devotees who make the offering before the deity? Is Shri Krishna ever too full? I know there is no way of telling, but is it offensive to keep feeding Him? Is there such a thing as offering too much prasadam?
Friend2: Those are really nice questions. It’s always great to have concern for the all-attractive one, to put His feelings ahead of your own. Fortunately, we have evidence to give us a clear understanding.
Friend2: For deity worship there is the famous Jagannatha temple in Puri. I think there are something like fifty-six kinds of offerings made daily, spread throughout the day.
Friend1: Wow. That is a lot.
Friend2: He can accept. Jagannatha, which is another form of Krishna, is unlimited. He can consume food just by using His eyes. He returns the remnants to the person who worships. That food becomes prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy.
Friend1: So He never gets full?
Friend2: Even if He did, He would still accept. That is His amazing kindness. There is the story of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu eating the prasadam of one hundred men.
Friend1: Whoa. Seriously?
Friend2: Lord Chaitanya is the preacher incarnation of Shri Krishna. He took the renounced order of life, sannyasa. There are strict rules to be followed, with the foundation being control of the senses. That means minimizing eating.
Friend1: Yeah, makes sense.
Friend2: But you can’t stop devotion. People loved Mahaprabhu so much that they would send Him food to eat. It was prepared with love. So much came and there was no way Mahaprabhu could eat it all. He would instruct His assistant Govinda to simply put the food in storage.
Friend1: This way no one got offended.
Friend2: Exactly. Except people started asking Govinda if Mahaprabhu enjoyed what they prepared for Him. Govinda had to lie and say “yes.” Finally, one day he approached Chaitanya and told Him what was going on. Mahaprabhu then asked for all the food that had piled up. He sat down and ate it all. You’re not supposed to do this as a sannyasi, but God is that merciful. He ate an amount equivalent for one hundred men’s consumption. So there is no reason to worry in this area.
Stockpiled offerings ready to eat,
In enjoyment mood taking seat.
To Mahaprabhu with love sent,
Happily into His belly went.
Supreme Lord ready to accept,
Anything with love not to reject.
In Jagannatha temple regularly coming,
From transcendental glance prasadam becoming.