After class, arati began.....

Sarvabhavana Prabhu.

Miniature Vaisnavas: Sita, Krishnapriya, Devaki Devi Dasis and Sage.

Ramai Prabhu the pujari presenting gifts to the Deities.

Soon, the devotees would honor prasadam.

We always see so many pictures of the devotees cooking in the kitchen, but what is behind the seva that they are doing in the kitchen? Srimati Radharani must certainly have some role in the kitchen.

The following questions were answered in variation by a few of the devotees:
What is so special about prasadam?
What is the importance of prasadam distribution?
What role does Srimati Radharani play in the kitchen?

Ramai Prabhu, skillfully balancing the maha prasadam plates says:


In the Bhoga Arati kirttan it says:

      radhikara pakka anna vividha byanjana
      parama anande krsna korena bhojana

Radharani cooks all of the curried vegetables, sweets, and rice. She manages all of the household affairs of Krishna and she cooks for Krishna. Sometimes it's even said that it is Radha's kitchen, not Krishna's kitchen. So in the kitchen, we are trying to serve Radharani by cooking for Krishna and offering our cooking in that direction. It says in so many places that Krishna by Himself isn't so much, but when He is with Radharani He is supremely attracted, but on His own He is enchanted by feelings for relationship with Srimati Radharani. There are many verses explaining this.

There is one for example, of the conversation between the parrots. One parrot sings the glories of Srimati Radharani and the other parrot sings for Krishna and how He is attractive to everyone. But Radharani attracts Krishna. Radharani is the only person that can really satisfy Krishna, and that is why we are trying to engage in Her service. If we serve Her, then we know our service will be accepted, whereas on our own we don't know if it will be accepted.

Like, if someone like me who doesn't know how to cook tried to cook, they try to cook something and it ends up burnt or too salty. But if you're serving some expert cook like Devananda Prabhu, then you know things will come out right because he knows how to cook. So it's the same way when we're trying to serve Srimati Radharani, and Gurudev is our direct representative. Srimati Radharani has manifested Vrindavan just to serve Krishna.

I can't put it together very nicely, but these are the things that come to mind.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:

How about when we honor the prasadam. How is that service too?

Ramai Prabhu:

Well, honoring the prasadam is serving Krishna's remnants. In the Bhoga-Arati song it says:

      jasomati-ajna peye dhanistha-anito
      sri-krsna-prasada radha bhunje haye prito

Dhanistha brings Krishna's remnants and Radharani eats it with great delight and then Lalita and the other Sakhis take some too and in their minds they sing the glories of Radha and Krishna. We are just trying to follow in their footsteps and that's all I know.

Kamal Devi Dasi, why do you cook in the kitchen?


Well, in the end, it's just giving up the control, or the constant thought process of, "Oh, I can control this. I can make this taste good. I can do this, I can do that, because everything could be perfect."

The stove top heats, the spicing, everything can be perfect and then it could just taste horrible because Krishna wants to teach you a lesson not to be prideful but instead understand that really it has nothing to do with you. It's all in the Lord's hands.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
So, what is it that makes the prasadam taste so sweet?

Kamal Devi Dasi:

The Lord's mercy. The Lord's mercy that whatever I put into whatever I was cooking, was a good combination. It's the Lord's mercy that makes it all turn out okay and not burnt or curdled or whatever.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
Why do you continue to cook?

Kamal Devi Dasi:

Mainly for the association of all of the wonderful servitors in the kitchen. Sanatani and Suresvari Devi Dasis - just their constant service is such an inspiration and if I can be around them then maybe possibly, a little bit of their service might be able to someday rub off on me.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
What is it that inspires you? Is it their words, their actions or their mood? What is it?

Kamal Devi Dasi:

Oh, it's their mood - everything, the whole complete package. They are just such perfect servitors. They self sacrifice. They work all day long. Their backs are hurting, their feet are hurting but they just don't care. Their only thought is to please Gurudev, to please the Lord, and to please all of the devotees and that's all they care about.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
Do you find that the kitchen is the only place where you could possibly get this association?

Kamal Devi Dasi:

Definitely not, but it's the most concentrated because there are always devotees in there. I mean, of course there are so many different things, but being in the kitchen is just to get more sense of the community. It's like the hub of all of the different things that are going on. You can hear the class, you can see the devotees in the prasadam room, you can hear the kirtan, and it's like the center of it all.

A marvelous layered cake made by Kamala Devi Dasi. If only they would invent some sort of online feeding device.

Jagadananda Prabbhu, what is the importance of prasad distribution?

Distributing maha Bhagavat prasad is distributing the mercy of the Lord. The mercy of the Lord is unfathomable and unlimited and all sweet. By honoring the mercy of the prasad of the Lord we are actually engaging in service, prasad seva. This is Bhakti-Yoga.

Srila Swami Maharaj would call prasadam the inoculation against maya. So this will inoculate us against maya. Establishing ourselves in the service of the Lord by getting His mercy and getting a higher taste with this prasadam, and in this way by controlling the tongue, all of the senses are controlled. By glorifying the Lord and taking His prasadam, then not only will our karma be removed but we will become Krishna-ized.

We have to do this as a regular function and it also helps keep your body and soul together for Gurudev's seva. As Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to always say: "Take full prasad and full seva." So whatever helps us to do our service, Bhagavat prasad certainly helps us to do that, what to speak of on this holy day of Sri Radhastami to take Her remnants.

Of course, Srimati Radharani is the topmost cook. It's Radha's kitchen so it's all by Her mercy. Thanks to Gurudev, we are able to get his mercy in the form of Mahaprasad. Jaya Mahaprasad ki jaya! The glorification of prasadam is unlimited.

Rasangi Devi Dasi tells us a story about the glories of prasadam:


It was 1971 and I had been eating vegetarian food for the last four years. I lived in yoga ashrams, studied with Indian teachers, and was very familiar with Indian style vegetarian food.

One time, I came to the temple in San Francisco in 1971 and I had their feast. Something happened when I tasted that food. There was a light bulb in my head and I said: "What is going on here? This is something really unusual. This must be God because I had never tasted anything like this before." It was like a profound spiritual experience for me. I will never forget that.

Prasadam is very different. It's offered to Krishna and becomes non-different than Krishna. Krishna accepts a leaf, flower, fruit, or water that's offered to Him with devotion. Everything cooked in the temple is offered with devotion with Tulasi leaves for Krishna's pleasure and He accepts that. Our Guru accepts it, Krishna accepts it, and it becomes transformed. It becomes a very different substance that is spiritually transformative to whoever tastes it. That's why we need to honor prasadam regularly and distribute it as well.

Glen! What makes you keep coming to the temple? What is it about the Ashram that makes you keep coming?

It seems great to keep coming. It's difficult for me to put it into words because it's more of a heartfelt thing to feel that feeling. The chanting and the people and the food and the parking lot and all aspects of being at the temple that make me keep coming.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
What is it about the food at the temple that is so unique from the food that you find outside?


Eating the prasadam seems to bring a feeling over me completely and I seem to get involved and enraptured. Although I don't personally eat in restaurants, eating outside doesn't seem like a similar activity.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
When you had the chance to meet Gurudev this year, do you ever have the feeling that you want to spread Krishna consciousness?


Yes I do. I actually had the opportunity to meet him a number of times this last time when he was at Soquel. I have been passing out flyers for the Krishna events and though I do it with full sincerity, as best as I can, and I tell people, I still don't have the effectiveness of the result that I would expect so I have got a ways to go certainly, with everything.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
How do you plan to make some spiritual advancement in Krishna consciousness?


Well, Sarvabhavana Prabhu just gave me the Bhagavad-Gita and I just started to read it. I am very enthusiastic about that. I have also been bringing little Merk along (his little boy) to participate and I feel that that's a good thing. I am not sure why or how, but it seems like it's the good thing to do.

Vaidehi Devi Dasi:
After coming for the first time to the temple, when you heard the chanting, and the Mahamantra, how did you feel? Did it have some affect on you?


Recently I have been coming for some time, but years ago I came to the temple when Gurudev was also visiting maybe five or six years ago and I stayed for a week in a camper. I was more connected to some of the hippies and the new life-style types and I only came into association occasionally in the temple and generally stayed outside as to not take up a spot or offend anyone. I would say that my memory, or the feeling of hearing the Mahamantra over all was very nice. Although at the time I tried to be a little careful to not offend anybody because I just didn't understand that rules. I did live with a very good feeling that all of these people are generous and kind and they really ask nothing of me and only always offered. It left me with a very nice feeling that there is something there that I can learn.

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