By Kesava Krsna Dasa
We love to picnic, barbecue, celebrate birthdays and entertain guests. We may hesitate on what fast-foods are on offer. Here is some “Party-pooping” information, which should enhance our parties even more. So “let’s party,” as they say.
Technology has enabled soya to transform into burgers, sausages, prawns, chicken breasts, steaks and more. Do we have the time to make the bread rolls to go with them? Not a problem, we can always get a few dozen from the local bakery.
In this era of instant fast-foods, it is tempting to “save time,” or to “cut corners,” and tuck in to some ready-made foods, and hope that Krishna accepts it all. The problem is, the more convenient the foods are, and the more they are infused with ignorance. Ouch!
We often hear elders say, “The generation of today have become lazy. Hardly anyone makes chapatis or rotis anymore. They’re spoilt.” Is this true? Perhaps today’s generation do not have the time that housewives had years ago. “With time on their hands they could stay at home and make full meals and breads.”
Confronting the pressures of our fast-paced social and working environments, it is quite common to get into the habit of buying convenient foods. They save time. But do they save our spiritual health? This “party-pooping” information is actually Sattvic knowledge. As sobering as it appears to be, it rewards happiness and contentment.
THE CONVENIENCE SCALE
In true party spirits we can invent terms and give a fun twist on the three modes of nature. This scale should help us distinguish more clearly what is offerable to the Lord, and what is not. A few surprises may make our eating necessities seem like a daunting impossibility. But rest assured, this is not a fatwa, just happy knowledge. Let’s party.
Here are how the 3 modes of nature feel, from our sometimes lazy, rushed-for-time and inconsiderate selves:
(1) Goodness: Least convenient; difficult; no time; can’t wait; selfish
(2) Passion: Half or semi-convenient; easier; little more time; will wait; half-selfish
(3) Ignorance: Most convenient; easiest; any time; instant; most selfish
We can now look at the same modes from Lord Krishna’s Bhagavad-Gita perspective:
(1) Goodness: Most convenient; sense of duty; make time; patience; selfless, pleasing; 1st class
(2) Passion: Less convenient; will or won’t; in your own time; when it suits you; half or semi-selfish; let’s see; 2nd class
(3) Ignorance: Least convenient; anything goes; any odd time; impatient; most selfish; not pleasing; 3rd class
CATEGORIES OF FOODS
Bearing in mind the convenience scale, it should be easier now to choose our proper foods for offering. This is not a complete list, but it should help to define matters. But be warned, many of our favourites might be in the ignorance category. Those Take-away places we buy from, literally do Take-Away our devotion.
For fun we shall begin with the ignorant foods. We will discover that those bread rolls we wanted for our soya products earlier, should be renamed Iggy-rolls, or Tamo-doughs. Are we still partying? Buying shop bread and then toasting and buttering it, as an offering to the Lord, does not constitute a full act of Bhakti. It is minimal or partial at best.
If while out shopping we feel a little peckish and want a veggie-burger, or simply to sit down for a cup of decaffeinated coffee, it is not advisable to buy from a burger or fashionable meat chain-store. Our money will further jiva-aparadhas (animal killing) and increase our carbon footprints (environmental damage).
We should be reminded that convenient foods are those foods that have been prepared, processed, cooked and sold for instant gratification, from any place, without love and devotion. They are ready to eat immediately. This does not apply to genuine vaisnava outlets.
FOODS IN IGNORANCE
(1) All brought breads, including chapatis, rotis, etc.
(2) “Pure vegetarian” foods cooked by Mayavadis, impersonalists, atheists, non-bona-fide spiritualists, etc.
(3) Chocolates, sweets, candies etc.
(4) Cereals. (Surprised? The fact that they have to be fortified with vitamins and minerals, means the cereals are dead from over-processing)
(5) Pies, pizzas, samosas and other savouries.
(6) Canned foods.
(7) Ready-made flavoured and seasoned soya products (usually frozen0.
(8) Ready-made meals (sometimes frozen)
(9) Sandwiches, veggie-burgers, etc.
(10) Any foods brought from burger or hip meat chain stores (your money goes back into animal slaughter maintenance)
(11) French fries, potato chips, etc.
(12) Recycled chlorinated or fluoridated drinking water (In some districts the same water has passed through the human system several times over. Nice to get a water filter)
Foods in passion have been prepared to save us the hassle. But we still have to prepare and cook again at home, so half the job is done for us already.
FOODS IN PASSION
(1) Flour (Who did the milling?)
(2) Frozen vegetables and other foods (Usually par-boiled or sprinkled with preservatives)
(3) Par-boiled rice
(4) Dried soya chunks or mince (par-boiled)
(5) So-called 100% pure juices (Usually pasteurised at high temperatures, then fortified with vitamin C etc.)
(6) Pasteurised milk
(7) Shop brought ghee, paneer, etc.
(8) All pastas and noodles (Oh how we love our pastas)
(9) Ready-made salads or fruit salads.
(10) Carbonated drinks, and canned drinks (Some are in ignorance)
(12) Microwave foods
(13) Cooking oils (Usually clarified by high heat or chemicals)
Foods in goodness usually take more time to prepare and cook. But that is the art of devotion. Sadly, society is geared towards, and almost dependent on fast-paced instant gratification, that leaves little room for devotional living.
Many of the above foods are also suffused with additives and flavour enhancers that try to revive their already dead state. This mirrors what we see in society. Because people have forgotten their purpose here on earth, they have to somehow seek happiness with what is available, which can be compared to MSG and Aspartame surface cover.
FOODS IN GOODNESS
(1) Fresh produce from the land (Fruits, vegetables and herbs etc.)
(2) Milk from the cows (Can be pasteurised by boiling 3 times at home)
(3) Home-made ghee and cheeses.
(4) Raw produce.
(5) Cold-pressed oils.
(6) Whole grains, rice, pulses, etc.
When natural or healthy foods are generally more expensive than passionate and ignorant foods, it is a poor indictment of the society we live in. If every day is a festival in Krishna consciousness, then the real “partying” goes on in the mode of goodness and beyond. But judging from the vast permeation of sub-standard foods, we clearly need more devotee take-aways, farms, wholesalers, to enable acceptable food production. Until we reach that stage, the party is just beginning.
Your servant, Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS