Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Power of Prasad

I believe in the power of prasad.

My dad has been telling me for the past several years, "Prasadam, prasadam!! You must serve prasadam always; if someone eats prasadam their lives will change forever."

He's not exaggerating.

My father and mother would frequent the Hare Krishna temple while they were finishing up their degrees at University of California, Berkeley. The food was cheap and tasty, and - little did they know - it was spiked. With love, of course. Little did they know that food that has been made and offered with love to the Lord is transformed into prasadam, which literally translates from the Sanskrit as "mercy." Little did they know they were getting hit with mercy, but sure enough they became devotees of Krishna and the rest is history.

Even though you could say that I myself am a product of prasadam, I sometimes have doubted this part of Vaishnava philosophy that prasadam is all-powerful. When I adventured on the traveling youth bus tours in Mexico with Manorama Dasa and Jaya Sri Radhe Dasi, the emphasis on serving prasadam at our events was utmost. In fact, I was doubtful, sometimes even annoyed. What's the point in making all this food? Maybe we'll never even see these people again.

Then I have begun to discover over the past several years that when I myself have felt distant and cold and uninspired about being a devotee of Krishna, I eat prasadam and the world seems to right itself. I am at home, there is nowhere else I'd rather be. God loves me, Krishna loves me, everything is going to be okay.

This past Kirtan Connection I incorporated into the course learning how to serve prasadam in the traditional Vaishnava way. The tradition is that everyone sits down and the servers come to you with every possible option, from water to the main course to a dash of salt. Don't move. Our every movement is to serve you until you are satisfied.

When students hosted their graduation this past Sunday, prasadam was served out in this traditional way. While I surveyed the many people seated in rows and at tables, I began to realize that maybe all the guests would forget the kirtan that was sung earlier, they would forget the little commencement ceremony, they may even forget the eloquent words spoken by our spiritual leader.

But they would never forget how good the food was, and they would never forget the smile and kindness of those who were serving this food.

Towards the end of serving out of prasadam, one guest came up to the table where many of us servers were waiting for our next move. The guest remarked to us, "I was sitting down with my friends and we were saying how we couldn't taste any of the flavors of the food because we could only taste the love overpowering everything!"

We all went "OOOOOOooooooOOO!!" and laughed and laughed.

This is love, this is unforgettable, this is the power of prasad.

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