If you want to learn how to cook and to offer food, then these are some recommendations from Sadhu Maharaja how to do this for making spiritual advancement. He had a strong desire to make this text available to everybody after discussing and correcting it together with Krishna Candra:
One of the most sublime ways of spiritualizing one’s life and that of others is the accepting and giving of prasadam. Many Devotees take a wow to never eat bhoga; at least we can always thank our ishta deva before we eat anything.
If we preach to someone, we may upset them. But if we just give them prasadam they will be blessed, uplifted, and they will change from inside. That is also why our Prem Prasadam program is so important.
“Spiritual life means to change ones attitude from “I am the controller and enjoyer” to “I am a servant of God and I want to please Her/Him and Her/His servants”. To prepare prasadam is a wonderful opportunity for this.
Already while shopping, we try to remember Radha Mohan and the devotees, asking yourself what could please them. We treat the bhoga (unoffered foodstuff) in a thankful and respectful way. For example, we do not push the bag containing the bhoga with our feet. We even avoid stepping over it or over prasadam and we try not to waste anything.
The pujaris in the temple take a shower before cooking and offering and they put on fresh clothes. We do not need to do this, but we can try to keep everything clean. For example, we can avoid wearing leather shoes, or shoes that have been worn outside. And whenever we touch something unclean, such as the shoes, feet, a dog, the floor, mouth or dishes that have been used for eating, we should wash our hands. (The mouth is full of innumerable bacteria therefore it is nice and hygienic to keep anything that came in contact with it separate from the bhoga, the utensils we use for cooking and especially from those we use for offering on the altar.)
All this helps us in a wonderful way to make spiritual progress by becoming aware for whom we are doing this. In Sanskrit this attitude is called “adhara” – appreciation and thankfulness that I am getting the opportunity to perform this service. Therefore we do not eat anything in between, preferably not even for checking how it tastes.
If possible, please use dishes that have never been used by humans or animals for eating.
We take a little bit from each preparation and put it on the clean altar or before a sacred picture. In our case it would be desirable to have also a picture of Radha Mohan there.
Now it is essential to ask our spiritual master (or if you are not initiated you may ask any spiritual master that you feel connected with) to be present and to assist you. If you are my disciple or wish to become one, I prefer that you have not a picture of me on the altar, at least not on the same height as the deity but lower. I do not wish that any bhoga is offered to me directly. If you want to offer me something, please offer it first to Radha Mohan (and to Radha Govinda Das Babaji). If you have Goura Nitai Deities for example, you may offer the food you had offered to Radha Mohan, now as mahaprasad to them!
All this you may do in your own words and in your language. You may also ring a little bell. It is important that you chant for about one minute attentively and pray from your heart that these foodstuffs may be blessed for the benefit of all those who will later eat them! You may now put this mahaprasad back into the pots or on a plate and wash and dry the dishes you have used for offering and then distribute the prasada and thankfully relish it yourself.
These are important recommendations, but the rules and rituals are secondary. More important is that you do this in a satisfied state of mind and the most important thing is that you try do it with love and devotion.”
With best whishes for the New Year for you and blessings from Sadhu Maharaja,
Here some inspirations for those who want to do a more elaborate offering. This is how it is done in the Gaudia Math:
Offering of Bhoga
First we do acamana, purifiying oneself by remembering our Lord. What is our contamination? Bahirmukhata, to think of anything else than him, to be out of our identity as a soul, where constant rememberance would be so natural. By doing acamana we remember to be an eternal servant of Radharani.
Om keshavaya namah, om narayanaya namah, om madhavaya namah
The following items are externally performed by offering a few drops of water from the acamana pot and by ringing a bell.
Svagatam aing gurave namah (we enter in the presence of our beloved gurudeva)
Idam asanam aing gurave namah (we offer him a seat)
idam sarvam aing gurave namah (we offer our very self to him)
Now in the presence and guidance of Gurudeva we enter Vrindavan to offer Bhoga to Radha and Krishna
svagatam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we enter in the presence of Radha and Krishna)
Esa pushpanjali srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we offer a rain of flower petals to Radha-Krishna and by doing that we offer ourselves… in Bhagavatam it is said that one should give that what is most dear to us….ourselves… SB 1.11.41)
Idam asanam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we offer a wonderful sitting place to the divine couple in the forests of Vrindavan)
Etat padyam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (with fragrant water – that we prepared ourself by mixing many flowers and oils in it – we are softly washing thier feet)
Idam acamaniyam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we offer acmanam to them – this is a special water mixed with campher, cardamom)
Etat naivedyam sa tulasi paniya jalam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we beg them to eat what we prepared for them… it is decorated with Tulasi and served with fresh water)
Now we chant the gayatri mantras (diksa mantras) or gopal mantra 10 times… after: Pancha Tattva Mantra, Maha Mantra
we let them relish their exchange while accepting, what we have cooked
Idam acamaniyam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we offer them again fresh fragrant water)
Idam tambulam srim kling radha-krishnabhyam namah (we offer betel, a refreshment that the divine couple is not getting tired and the lila may go on)
Idam mahaprasadam om gopeshvaraya namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to Gopeshvar Mahadeva )
Idam mahaprasadam om purnamasye namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to Purnamasi)
Idam mahaprasadam om vrindaye namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to Vrindadevi )
Idam mahaprasadam om sarva sakhebhyo namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to all the gopis of vraja)
Idam mahaprasadam om sarva vrajavasibhyo namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to all the inhabitants of the eternal vraja, especially Nanda and Yasoda)
Idam mahaprasadam om sarva vaishnavebhyo namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to all the Vaishnavas. Vaishnava is a function of the soul and it is again manifested when the soul is in its natural state. But here we meditate mostly on our parampara and all the saints in the past, present and also these who will appear here in the future)
Idam mahaprasadam aing gurave namah (offering the mahaprasadam, that can give darshan of their lila to Srila Gurudeva)