Food is a gift given by the Divine Power. Nature provides us with an abundance of fresh and delicious foods which nourish our bodies, heal and help us grow. Food gives us nourishment and strength and the ability to work well. When we do not eat the right foods, we fall sick and are diseased. We do not have strength to work. Our minds are also affected. We lack purpose and enthusiasm and are unable to work and achieve our goals. Food also is energy which contributes to our spiritual efforts. When the stomach is empty, one cannot think of God or meditate!
We are not talking here about the nutrients in food or the quality of food. All of us are knowledgeable about these aspects of food and we know the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals needs for proper growth and development of our body and which foods provide us with what type of nourishment. We now discuss about how to make our food spiritual so that it nourishes, sustains and increases our spiritual energies and helps us to rise higher in our spiritual practices and also help raise the quality of our day to day work.
There are several aspects we need to know about making food spiritual. One aspect is the type of food. The food which has the lightest and finest vibrations are the best foods, for when we eat them, we take in the vibrations from the food and make them a part of our systems. Fruits, sprouts, vegetables have the highest amount of lighter vibrations and are called satwic foods. Cooked vegetarian foods with spices come second in the list and are generally rajasic in quality. Non vegetarian foods carry heavier and darker energies and do not sustain spiritual development. They come under the tamasic category.
Another important part of cooking is the kitchen hygiene and the cleanliness of the vessels and the person who is doing the cooking. Food cooked by a person who is not clean and in a filthy place or using dirty vessels will result in sickness.
The feelings and samskaras (subconscious qualities) of the person who cooks the food play a significant role in making the food spiritual. The thoughts and personal qualities of the person who cooks food is energy and this energy is transmitted to the food that is cooked and when such food is eaten, we take in those energies too. Let us see this little story of a sage who ate in the King’s Palace:
Once a King invited a Sage to his court and offered him respect and worship. After all the rituals were over, the King and the Sage sat to have their lunch. The food at the royal table was varied and delicious. The Sage was given a comfortable room to rest and sleep before he left for his ashram. As he lay down, the Sage was overcome by an irresistible urge to rob the silver glass left near his bed. The urge was so strong that he took the glass and went away quietly. At his ashram, he reflected as to why he committed such a cheap act. He went back to the King and told him of what happened and gave back the glass. He wanted to know who cooked the food and what his character was. The King said that his cook was a man of good character but nevertheless an inquiry was held. The cook confessed that on that particular day when the Sage ate food, he had gone out on urgent work and a friend who was a good cook had helped him out. This friend was also a thief who had been jailed several times for robbery.
That is why when a Mother cooks food for her family, it nourishes them in all ways. Her love and good wishes for the welfare of her family permeate the food. The food in a restaurant is sold for sake of money and such food cannot provide good nourishment. The food that is cooked with love and offered to God is the most nourishing. Food offered to God and then eaten is called Prasad. Prasad means Grace of God or Divine Mercy. It contains the vibrations of the blessings received from God.
When we cook food, we must take care to choose the freshest ingredients possible and cook in a clean kitchen. We must bathe and be fresh. When we chant the name of God as we cook food, we increase the goodness of the food. We do not taste the food that is to be offered to God. After cooking, when the food is offered to God and His Name taken in gratitude, the food is blessed and becomes Prasad. The taste of such Prasad is different. It is delicious and also spiritually nourishing.We must make our food spiritual and then partake of it.