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We are what we eat

Recent out break of E.coli in Europe, due to bacterial contamination in vegetables caused death of 18 people. Immediately people started convincing others and there were lots of news in electronic and mass media, spreading rumours that vegetables are not at all suitable for human consumption. This is the height of demoniac mentality. Birth and death of any living entity is as per Krishna’s plan and all the reasons we see for its cause like disease, accident, murder etc, are mere external reasons. Human beings have been eating vegetables for millions of ages and have been leading a very healthy life. Infact vegetarians have longer and healthier life span compared to that of people who eat meat. Meat is nothing but dead matter and we all know how bodies decay as soon as soul leaves it. So what is the fun in eating such obnoxious, decayed dead matter? Infact there is high probability of bacteria and worms to be present in such dead matter rather than in vegetables.

But indeed it is not surprising that people who love to eat meat are passing such comments about consuming vegetables. Our beloved spiritual master HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj used to say in Gujarati – “jevu bhojan, tevu bhajan, ane tevu pachhi vesh, ane tevu bhaashan” – meaning, “Whatever food we eat, the bhajan comes accordingly and we dress and speak accordingly“. If we eat saatvic food offered to the Lord, then we will be able to sing Krishna’s bhajan and wear simple clothes and our speech will also be pure – about Krishna. Whereas if we eat taamasic/raajasic food then our bhajan will be on mundane things and that will reflect in our degraded way of dressing and speech.

Krishna being our Supreme Father and creator of the whole cosmic manifestation, knows very well what is good for each species of life and has accordingly arranged for suitable body for each of them. He has further declared in Bhagavad Gita verse 9.26

patram pushpam phalam toyam / yo me bhaktyaa prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam / ashnaami prayataatmanah

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.”

Lord is not asking for fish, eggs, meat etc. So just because our senses are craving for meat, we should not commit the sin of offering whatever we want to the Lord. He is prescribing only for simple saatvic food and that too importance is given for the mood with which we are offering this to Him. Thats why the word “bhakti”, meaning “loving devotion” is stressed twice in the above verse. In his wonderful purport to above verse, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada very nicely brings out this point. He further says, “If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be purified and to reach the goal of life — the transcendental loving service of God — then one should find out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Krishna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked. Thus meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Krishna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flowers and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krishna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.”

But it is very true that only those who sincerely desire to learn the truth, will be able to appreciate and follow the above words of Lord Krishna. People who are skeptical and challenging attitude, will never be able to appreciate, relish or even come close to Krishna and His instructions. In this regard we came across a short story about an old man who was serving water to people on the road. There were many people passing by. Those who were thirsty were very glad to see the old man and they thankfully drank the water and left. But there was one man, who went near the old man and asked so many questions like whether the water is good/bad, the source of water, why he is serving it, whether he has washed the pot or not, whether he has filtered the water or not, whether he is paid for this service etc. After asking so many questions, still the person went away without taking water from that person. The reason being he was not thirsty, but still wanted to just challenge the person who is doing some service.

On the other hand we also come across some category of people who claim that they never thought/knew that eating meat is a sinful activity. But in the name of being ignorant they cannot escape from the reactions of such sinful acts. In one of the Bhagavatam classes, Srila Prabhupada has mentioned that people are suffering due to their sinful activities. He says, “Just like a man does not know the traffic rules. He drives the car on wrong side and incurs some accident, and he is taken by the police custody. And if he says, “Sir, I did not know that here the car is driven from the right side,” that does not make him excused. The law will punish him. So ignorance is the cause of breaking the law, or sinful activities and as soon as you commit some sinful activity, you have to suffer the result.” It is also said that for every animal they eat, they will be killed by the same animal in subsequent births.

To refrain from sinful activity we have to be grateful to Krishna and develop a “culture of gratitude” as mentioned by HG Devakinandan Prabhuji in one of the Bhagavatam classes. “We should carry the flag of gratitude. Whatever we were yesterday, tomorrow we must change. Otherwise this Bhagavatam speaking is just a social ritual. What is the point if tomorrow I cannot put this into practice? Then Bhagavatam also becomes a ritual. So Maharaj said, never make anything related to Krishna, a ritual. Never. Every day is a new day. Every day we have to put our hands together and every day we should be prepared to be grateful to Krishna.”

We sincerely pray at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev to bestow their mercy upon us so that we develop culture of gratitude and become more Krishna conscious.

Thank you very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Tushta Krishna Das and Suniti Devi Dasi,