Offering Foreign Foodstuffs to Lord Krishna

Some believe that stripping our current practice of Krishna consciousness in order to present the essence to people who are not from India is the best means to preach. For example, if in a particular part of the world outside of India, if people are more comfortable eating pizza than pakoras, then by all means offer pizza to Krishna instead of pakoras. But here is the conundrum – if the standard of what Krishna likes is defined by whatever someone else likes, where is the devotion to Krishna? What about the foods what Krishna likes? Obviously, the Lord wants people to come to Him, but pleasing Him is the point, which means that the Lord has His preferences apart from our own. Our standard of devotion is that we know what some of the Lord’s preferences are. That fact guides us in what to do and not to do in the name of preaching.

In some ways serving the Lord is much like serving anyone else: if a guest comes to your home, you serve him the best of what you have to offer. It may not be exactly according to his tastes, but typically a sincere effort is usually well received, the food and reception are welcomed. But when a guest stays for a long time, and if you want him to stay, then you try to make him “feel at home”, you try to supply things that make him feel at home.

Subuddhi Raya used to spend his savings to supply yogurt to Bengali Vaisnavas who came to Mathura. He also gave them cooked rice and oil massages. When he saw a poverty-stricken Vaisnava, he would use his money to feed him.

Purport:

There is a special reference for the maintenance of Bengali Vaisnavas. A Gaudiya Vaisnava is a Bengali Vaisnava. Most of the devotees of Lord Caitanya at that time were Gaudiyas and Oriyas, inhabitants of Bengal and Orissa. There are still many hundreds of thousands of His followers in Bengal and Orissa. Bengalis are habituated to eating cooked rice as their staple food. When they went to Mathura in the north, they found that the people generally ate chapatis or rotis made of wheat. The Bengalis could not digest this food because they were used to cooked rice. Therefore as soon as Subuddhi Raya saw a Bengali Vaisnava arriving in Mathura, he would try to supply him with cooked rice. Bengalis are also accustomed to taking a massage with mustard oil. In any case, Subuddhi Raya wanted to serve the Vaisnavas according to their needs. Therefore he would supply yogurt to ease the digestion of food eaten in Mathura, particularly the chapatis and rotis made with wheat.

CC Madhya 25.206

A similar consideration should be there for the Lord Himself. It is appropriate to offer the best of what a particular country or locality has to offer, and which can be offered to the Lord, but like us, the Lord has His own desires, His own likes and dislikes, with regard to food, clothing, residence, mannerisms (Vaishnava etiquette), etc. And by shastra and by tradition (aithiya), we know what some of those are. Therefore while it is perfectly fine (and desirable) to offer the Lord the best of the local cuisine, most of the foodstuffs offered to Him should be the kind offered in India, because that is the land that the Lord Himself was pleased to personally appear in.

Of course, within India itself there are many kinds of cuisines, North Indian, South Indian, etc, so a question may arise, “Which cuisine does Krishna prefer?” Lord Krishna resides in Vridavan, so the kinds of foods offered to the Lord there should be offered to Him. Devotees should learn how to make those preparations to satisfy Lord Krishna. However, the Lord also travelled throughout India and visited many, many places, which commemorate His visit at famous temples and holy places.

The most important place of pilgrimage in southern India, or Dravida, is Venkatacala, commonly known as Balaji. After visiting this place Lord Balarama proceeded toward Visnukañci, and from there He proceeded on the bank of the Kaveri. While going to Visnukañci, He visited Sivakañci. Lord Balarama took His bath in the river Kaveri; then He gradually reached Rangaksetra. The biggest Visnu temple in the world is in Rangaksetra, and the Visnu Deity there is celebrated as Ranganatha. There is a similar temple of Ranganatha in Vrndavana. Although not as big as the temple in Rangaksetra, it is the biggest in Vrndavana.

Krishna Book, Chapter 79

The Lord personally visited these places, so He certainly enjoyed the local cuisine offered to Him in those places, too. To this end, the departed Mother Yamuna spent much time visiting famous temples in India to compile recipes for her book Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking”. This is a great service to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna Mother Yamuna has done. By recording these traditions she has done much to preserve them and, hence, propagate Krishna consciousness throughout the world.

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