Thursday, May 9, 2024

The greatness of Prasaada

Article by: Padmini Shrinivasan
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Nadayogi Nadamuni’s grandson Yaamuna was a small boy. Foreseeing his last days, the great yogi, blessed his disciple Manakkaal Nambi with Yogavidya (the science of uniting internally with the indwelling Lord), instructing him to initiate his grandson at the most opportune time. The lad grew up to become a great scholar. Defeating the courtiers of the Pandya kings, he won half the kingdom based on a bet between the king and the queen, which he ruled righteously. Getting used to the comforts of a royal life, the rigour and ordained duties associated with the lineage of yogis faded away. 

Although Nambi was too eager to impart yogavidya, getting to meet the king was next to impossible. Initiating a ruse, offering a special herb to the Lord every day, he instructed the royal chefs to feed it to the king. The herb was presented to the Lord with an intention, that the person who consumes it must imbibe divine sentiments. Just as the king started to develop a taste for the herb, he stopped sending it. The king enquired his chefs and learnt that the person who brought it daily, was not coming anymore.  He sent a word to him and Nambi met the king, introducing himself as the disciple of the king’s grandfather. He added that he had the responsibility of handing over a great treasure passed on to him by his grandfather. The king immediately quipped “My grandfather was a recluse of a tall order. He did not possess any such treasure. Moreover being a king I have no need for any treasure now”. Nambi continued saying that the treasure was kept guarded without his knowledge and was much more precious than his kingdom. He added that before handing over the treasure he had couple of things to speak to him. Their mutual talk went on and on for a couple of days, with Nambi constantly reminding the king of his rich yogic lineage, while the king enquired on and off about the treasure. One fine day, Nambi broke the news that he could collect the treasure, in solitude and silence. The king who had no desire for wealth, desired to receive the treasure as a blessing of his elders.  Nambi took him to the holy island, Sriranga kshetra and pointing to the Lord reclining over Adisesha (serpent) at the Ranganaatha temple, remarked “There lies the treasure!!” All of the kings prior merits (samskaras) swelled to the fore, granting him an inner Yogic vision of the Lord. The king stood speechless in awe, looking at the deity!

Effect of naivedya-prasada:

In the human body, the tridoshas (vaata-pitta-shleshma) represent the power of the trinity Gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara). The fundamental saptadhaatus (blood, muscle, bones etc..) energise the internal dynamics. When these three doshas as well as the seven dhaatus reach a state of equilibrium, a body state known in yogic parlance as dhaatusamyata occurs. 

As per vedic tradition, food must essentially be cooked as an offering to the Lord. The rules laid for this offering recommend foods which promote divine sentiments – saatvic character. The herb which was fed to the king possessed a special property of inducing a state of dhaatusamyata, in the person who consumed it. To pepper it, while offering the herb to the Lord, Nambi who had yogic powers, prayed and appealed that the Lord should impregnate his divinity into the herb. Such herb was fed to the king. 

In every human, the mind serves as a bridge between the external sense organs and the indwelling Lord as soul. Through yogavidya, starting from the physical plane, the mind can be made to flow right up to the soul and the same divine sentiment cascaded down up to the herb offered, then the mental plane of the chefs as well as that of the king. Nambi ensured that such a process brought about dhatuprasannata (a state in which divine bliss is experienced) through dhaatusaamyata. The maharshis of yore, discovered through deep penance that, a state of dhaatuprasannata, where all sense organs  are pulled inwards, enables a  vision of the Lord internally.   A caveat – not that everyone who consumes that herb will go through a similar experience!!!

The food consumed after naivedya- offering to Lord – is called a prasaada as it is ingrained with the benevolence of the Lord.  Such a prasaada is superior as it brings about happiness of the sense organs as well as the mind. It ensures the equilibrium of the basic body tissues (dhaatus). The king was able to receive a lofty treasure, none other than Sriranganidhi, due to the consumption of such a superior prasaada. 

 Let us all consume such a prasadam every day

Method of food preparation, purity of its ingredients, intentions of the person who cooks and serves, method of serving - all put together make an impact on the person who consumes it. Food offered to God, works as per its prior intentions and aids the process of uplifting in a spiritual plane. The inherent properties of the ingredients, too have their role to play. 

These days paucity of time is forcing us to eat out more often. Let us all try to curtail this habit and prepare food with good intentions and offer it to the Lord every day. By doing so, let us all inculcate devotion to the Lord through the consumption of such holy prasadam. An aphorism of Srirangamahaaguru is worthy of recollection at this point -“cooking food items (aduge in Kannada)  which bring home  Lord’s memory at every step (adigadige in Kannada- ingredient collection to preparation and ingestion) alone is to be considered as an ideal food preparation”.