It is great to be able to share with you all once again this week. Last weekend was very exciting and packed with a lot of festivities; Diwali and Govardhan puja, for those who are in the gaudiya vaisnava tradition. While celebrating and going through all this feasts in the midst of all the sumptuous meals, something struck me. It was the fact that we were having such a swell time with so much meals that were all pure, healthy, vegetarian but above all sanctified. There were at least 21 different types of preparations cut across three continents, all violence free.
So I thought “hey, why not do a blog on sanctified food?”
So first and foremost what is sanctified food? Food becomes sanctified or blessed when we offer it to divinity or God. We offer in various forms and ways and different traditions and religions offer food according to their rites and rituals too.
Why should food be offered in the first place? Well, food is a very vital part of our existence as living beings and thus we need to eat regularly in order to survive. However as a famous saying goes, “you are what you eat”, it is necessary we streamline the type of food we introduce into our systems. If we eat food that is impure, decomposed, putrid, or obtained by causing pain and suffering to others then we are actually introducing all these into our systems. A body that is regularly maintained by food from pain and suffering naturally begins to see nothing wrong in inflicting pain on others. A body maintained by eating decomposed food also begins to acquire a consciousness of ignorance where it fails to place any distinction on what goes into it.
Thus having being able to select the best of grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables one can present these to the Lord as a sacrifice and thus ask Him to bless it. In the Bible there are numerous cases of those who have made offerings to the Lord and usually it is mentioned that they offer the best of their crops to the Lord. Abel was one of these examples. In the Gita it is mentioned that those who eat food that is not first offered in sacrifice or sanctified, verily eat only sin. Thus every spiritual practitioner needs to be aware of the necessity of offering food first before eating. The other reason why we need to offer our food first is that we recognize the source of this food and actually give gratitude for allowing us have such a nice meal.
So naturally one may ask, can I sanctify everything that I eat? The answer is we should sanctify everything that we eat, but we can’t sanctify what the Lord doesn’t want. We cannot expect to sanctify dead bodies on our plates in the form of meat and expect the Lord to accept it. Why not? Because no father watches anyone slaughter his children and then sit back and accept them as food. In the Bible the Lord thus mentions that “He turns his face away when we present our animal sacrifices because our hands are filed with so much blood”. Thus He has requested that we offer or sanctify foods that are in the mood of goodness. Fruits, grains, cereals, vegetables, etc. are foods considered to be in the mode of goodness. If we sanctify these foods then he will accept, on the condition that we do it with love.
We will all agree that no one would like to sit at a table where he is not welcome no matter how grand the servings may be. If we do not feel loved by a person naturally we don’t accept food from them. Similarly the main requirement we need to possess in order to sanctify our food is love. What do we gain when we sanctify our food? Since we already know that eating simply to satisfy our palates is a way to incur sin, we actually neutralize all potential sins we could incur by first sanctifying our food. One may wonder but how can one incur sin just by eating? Well food production of even grains involves a lot of process and during these procedures many living things are killed and displaced from their natural habitat. When the land tilling is done many insects, worms, etc. are killed. When we prepare the food itself we also kill many more living beings, thus it is natural that we seek for forgiveness by first of all sanctifying our food by invoking the Lord’s mercy on it. This way we liberate ourselves from the complex circle of sin involved in the process.
Beyond the physical, those who have been eating only sanctified food can testify of the immense difference they feel in their body. The body feels different and the mind and consciousness also feels a lot different. We have a lot more inner peace, and focus. We naturally gravitate towards activities that elevate our minds and consciousness when we eat sanctified food compared to eating anything at any time. Readers who are interested in this subject matter may want to know how one actually sanctifies ones food. For starters, saying grace before a healthy and violence free meal is one way to start. Does that are not in a tradition where food is sanctified before eating might find this strange however in due course of time should they stick to the process, the results become evident. For those who are already familiar with the tradition of sanctifying food before eating, you can say a simple prayer while inviting the Lord to partake of your meal, mentally or by physically setting aside a part specifically for the sanctification.
A good example of sanctified food is the holy communion Christians receive in church. This is considered sacred and even equated to the body of Christ. Why? Because the principle of sanctifying food makes us understand that when food is sanctified it is no longer food, it becomes holy and spiritual communion, or Prasad. In some esoteric practices where people seek mystical strength and powers, they also partake of a different type of sanctified food but not offered to the Supreme Lord. Practitioners of dark arts partake of food offered to ghosts and spirits and by thus eating this food they also acquire mystical powers with which they can dominate matter.
Those who are in knowledge of the absolute know that such practices are not the goal of life and of what use is having a few mystical powers if one can be under the protection of the Supreme powerful Lord.
I hope this blog sheds some light on this topic and I shall join you all again next week for another exciting topic. Till then do share this blog with others. Thank you.