Students! This is a very important lesson for you. We told you to chant Brahmarpanam (food prayer) before eating food either in the hostel or outside. The reason is that many impurities get mixed with the food in the process of preparation. Purity of the cook is not known. He may not be pure and clean. His body might be clean but he might be cooking with impure thoughts. The vessel used for cooking may also not be clean. You may think that the rice and vegetables that we have brought from the market are clean and pure. But you would never know if the vendor really grew them himself or stole them from someone. Hence, there can be impurity in the vegetables too. If the branch of a tree grows towards your compound you may be plucking the vegetables or the fruits. That accounts to stealing from someone. Thus, they are full of impurity. Hence it is not possible to ascertain the purity of food.
When we offer food to God it becomes sacred. God, who is residing in us, purifies the four forms of food we eat. God says, “Oh man! I am inside you in the form of Vaishwanara.” What are these four forms of food? First is the solid food which we chew and swallow. The second is that form which when kept on the tongue melts and gets absorbed. The third form of food is that which is brought inside with the help of air by sucking the food into the mouth along with the air. Typically curds are taken this way. The fourth form is the food that is taken along with the other main dishes such as pickles and chutney. God promises that He will purify all these four forms of food. I shall explain this to you with a small example.
There used to be Satchidananda Ashram in Rishikesh. There they used to serve food to the ascetics and saints living around. People who went there on pilgrimage used to offer food for the saints living there. Also people who were living in Rishikesh offered food once in a week or on some festival day. A business man, who traded in food grains, used to live in Rishikesh. Another person used to be with him as his assistant. The wife of this assistant had died and he was left with a daughter who was 18 years old. There was no one to take care of her, think of her marriage or her welfare at home. So, the businessman sent a word to this person through mediators for an alliance with that girl. This businessman was 65 years old and the girl was 18 years old. He had no courage to face his assistant directly and ask him. The assistant too wanted to get rid of the responsibility somehow and agreed to the proposal. He felt that the girl would be happy as she will be having good food, clothing and would be living in a majestic house. He also felt that the businessman would help him in cash or kind. One an auspicious day he got the girl married to the business man. But ever since her marriage she had been in tears. She felt that her life was in a mess. She was sent to the house of the businessman on the third day after her marriage. None of the wealth, riches and luxury at her new house gave her happiness. The businessman’s house was well-furnished, and the girl was gifted a lot of silver and gold. But can mental agony be subsided by material riches? It is not possible for anyone to mitigate mental pain. One night, when the businessman was sleeping, she got up, opened the door and jumped into the river Ganges. Later, the dead body was found.
On the eleventh day of her death as per the Indian tradition, the businessman sent two thousand rupees for arranging food for all the saints and ascetics around that place. That day all of them had a feast. They prepared Badam Kheer, a variety of deserts and savouries. Everyone had a sumptuous meal. In that Ashram lived a pure-hearted renunciant named Atmananda. He had also come to Swami many times. He asked for permission to stay with Me here. But I told him that this is not a place for renunciants. I gave him a rosary. He took it and went back happily. He too had food there that day. He had a sweet, Vada and Roti. After his meal he sat for meditation. During that time he had a vision of a young girl who was crying. He had never had such thoughts and did not understand as to why he was having such a vision that day. He went back to Ganges, had his bath and sat for meditation again. But again he had the same vision. He could not sleep that night. He was repeatedly thinking as to what was wrong all through the night. He could not find the reason. There was no fault at his end. The next day he had his bath and sat for meditation. He was having the same vision again. He felt that he needed some help from his Guru, Satchidananda, and so he went to see him in his Ashram. The same day another renunciant named Brahmananda came to see Satchidananda from Sivananda Ashram. While they were in conversation Atmananda went there crying. He fell at his Guru’s feet and told him his problem. The Guru asked him what he had eaten the previous day for food. Atmananda replied that he had the feast arranged by the businessman. He further explained that the thoughts with which we have our food will be reflected in us and hence he was having the vision of that dead girl. Hence, the sages and saints of the early days stayed away from the villages and did not accept food from anyone and lived on herbs and the roots in the forests.
I am not telling you to go to the forests. I know that you will not go either! But by staying in the world you have to get rid of the impurities. To get rid of the impurities in the food, you have to pray and offer the food to God. It is only because one takes food without offering to God, people are developing evil thoughts. Food is the only reason for such thoughts. There is impurity even in the food. The means of acquiring the food also has to be just. There could also be a fault with the mode of cooking the food. The cook may not be pure. When something is offered to God, it becomes Prasadam and hence it becomes sacred and pure. Hence you should offer it to God before taking it without the worry as to what others think of you.