When a person wakes in the morning, feeling rested and refreshed, he completes his duties such as bathing and is soon ready for breakfast. Many people arrange their breakfast the night before. They have tea, snacks, drinks and ice cream ready to quickly take in the morning. But Kavirāja Gosvāmī says that this food and drink is not helpful. It is for the body but not the soul. If you do not give the soul nectar first thing in the morning then it will suffer and become dry. All dealings and experience the entire day will be bitter.
Tama, raja, and sattva—the three modes of material nature and any substance comprised of these qualities will disturb the soul. However, by accepting nirguṇa-tattva—by drinking līlā-rasa, the soul is nourished. Even a little of this can make the soul well, happy and strong.
This is called soul food and it is very necessary. Food for the body is not everything. Serving this body does not result in any eternal benefit. The body always has desires and demands satisfaction, but really, these desires are endless and their fulfillment can never be had.
We must give nectar to the soul. This nectar must be the drink we take upon the coming of each new day. Where can we collect this from? The guru-varga gives this soul nectar.
If you are connected to the flow of līlā-śakti then that flow will naturally continue from you to others. All souls that come in contact with līlā-śakti will be very pleased.
If you are connected to this flow, then the body will no longer disturb you. The body will know that you only give him or her nectar, and thus become peaceful.
Millions of lives have passed and millions more will pass in service to the body and mind. If we take from God but do not serve Him—if we simply take His gifts and use them to serve our body then we will suffer. This is why many our lives are full of diseases and pain. Unless one gets this special mercy of the guru-varga, all of this will not stop.
After being dressed and decorated, Kṛṣṇa and Balarama come for breakfast. They meet with the sakhās and together they sit in rows.
Yaśodā Mātā brings many golden cups and tells Citrā Devī, “First give them drinks.”
There is coconut water mixed with sugar cane juice as the first drink. If a person drinks this his throat becomes very smooth. This is followed by many fresh fruit juices and refreshing beverages that cool the stomach.
Śrīmati Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs have cooked so many preparations that it seem impossible to serve them all in one meal.
During breakfast, Rādhārānī looks to see if Kṛṣṇa is eating. She and all the sakhīs are very happy to see Kṛṣṇa eat. They give Kṛṣṇa rice with ghee and on the side they serve, ginger, neem leaves, jute leaves, some more ghee lemon, ginger and salt on the side.
Yaśodā Mātā says, “O Kṛṣṇa, this is very healthy prasāda, You should eat a lot.”
Kṛṣṇa says, “If I eat too much what will be left for my friends?”
As Yaśodā Mātā walks away a little Kṛṣṇa quickly distributed everything from His to His friends.
All the sakhās laugh, and Kṛṣṇa says, “Why are you laughing? Just eat.”
Yaśodā Mātā looks back and sees that Kṛṣṇa was not eating. Then Madhumaṅgala says to her, “Mother, Kṛṣṇa is not eating anything. He distributes anything you give Him.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī sends many kinds of laḍḍus that Ranga-devī and Citrā-devī serve from gold plates and distributed them.
Kṛṣṇa’s sakhās continue to joke with Him.
“Kṛṣṇa, You must be sick or something,” they say. “Why aren’t You eating these nice sweets? We’ll call the doctor. That will be good for You. We will tell Yaśodā Mātā to call a doctor who will give very bitter juice. Then will You be happy?”
“I’m not sick,” Kṛṣṇa retorts, “You are sick. You should drink neem juice!”
“Why don’t You eat then?”
Then Kṛṣṇa’s plate is re-filled and He eats something.
While breakfast is being served, sometimes Madhumaṅgala says, “Kṛṣṇa is very skinny. He cannot digest anything. He has no fire in His stomach. How can He eat rich foods like this, cooked with ghee, butter, and honey? How can He eat these sweets and drinks you are serving Him? These things are for His healthy sakhās like me.”
When Madhumaṅgala teases Him like this, Kṛṣṇa grabs handfuls of ghee rice from Madhumaṅgala’s plate.
Madhumaṅgala then cries out, “Hey! Kṛṣṇa is stealing all my breakfast! O Yaśodā Mātā, I’m so hungry. Give me something more.”
Then Vrajeśvarī piles Madhumaṅgala’s plate with more prasāda. Madhamangala becomes very happy, but he says, “Eating this rice and dāl is not befitting for brāhmaṇas. Where is the halavā, laḍḍu, barphi, rabaḍi and kṣīra?”
Why does Madhumaṅgala speak like this? He wants Kṛṣṇa to eat nicely. When these preparations come, he simply needs to tease Kṛṣṇa to make Him eat with gusto. If Kṛṣṇa is given these things calmly He will be uninterested. If someone gives Him a plate and says, “O Kṛṣṇa, please take this,” He will not want it. He will say, “I’m not hungry.”
Kṛṣṇa is given so many offerings by His millions and millions of affectionate devotees starting from even before the sun rises. Why would be hungry and thirsty for more? How much will He eat? Furthermore He is ātmārāma, self-satisfied, and āptakāma, without desires.
When Madhumaṅgala teases Him, however, Kṛṣṇa immediately begins to prove how much He can eat. Then everyone is very happy.
Madhumaṅgala says, “You know, You must take the food remnants of brāhmaṇas. Without the remnants of the brāhmaṇas, the vaiśyas or other members of the lower castes cannot be purified. That is why You should eat my remnants. By taking the remnants of brāhmaṇas, You will become very healthy. This is good.”
Then all the sakhās begin to laugh. All of a sudden and all at once, they steal from Madhumaṅgala’s plate.
“Yes,” they called, “Let us take the brāhmaṇa’s remnants!”
They raided Madhumaṅgala’s prasādam and passed it around to each other, laughing all the while.
“Hey!” cried Madhumaṅgala. “You have stolen everything on my plate!”
“If we eat the remnants of a brāhmaṇa we will all receive benefit,” Said the sakhās.
“No, no, no,” said Madhumaṅgala. “Anything that remains on my plate after I have finished—that is called remnants. You cannot steal everything before I have finished.”
“O sakhā, don’t you know?” Kṛṣṇa said to Madhumaṅgala. “Only if you take My prasāda can you be called a brāhmaṇa.”
This is the truth. If a person does not take God’s prasādam, he cannot be called a brāhmaṇa.
Madhumaṅgala was very happy, but he put on a show of anger, “If you people don’t respect brāhmaṇas, you will be cursed.”
He showed the boys his sacred thread and brandished it at them like a weapon. “I will curse you all to be black and skinny like Kṛṣṇa.”
The sakhās laughed, “You yourself are black. Outwardly you may be fair but the fire of anger burns inside you. You are black as coal inside.”
The sakhās tease and play like this while they eat.
One day, while Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās were joking in this way at breakfast, a small parrot appeared and danced back and forth in the lines, singing, “This is not the farm house or the gardens. Here one should respect mahā-prasāda. Do not break etiquette.”
Kṛṣṇa was surprised. “Where did this parrot come from?” He wondered.
“Where’s your house?” He asked the parrot, but the parrot said nothing.
He had come from Varsānā and his name was Śuka. He is the dear pet of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. That morning when he woke he found that Śrīmatī was not in Her room. He had overslept a little, and now he felt sad without Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. He did like to be without Her for one moment.
Śrīmatī has so much affection for Śuka. She strokes him, feeds him pomegranate seeds, rice or milk; and talks with Him. He likes to be wherever She is. But today She had left before he woke and he was there alone crying.
He decided to find Her by following Her bodily fragrance. He came to Nandagrāma where he saw that everyone was taking breakfast. He still could not see Rādhārānī but he knew She was close.
“Where can I find Her?” he wondered. This is called relationship. This is the relationship that Śrī Guru has with his disciples. Did Rādhārānī give dīkṣā to Her parrot? How is he Her disciple? He is Her disciple because of mamatā, possessive affection. This affection and my-ness qualifies one for attaining pure love—
There’s no need of dīkṣā, harināma or anything else to have this relationship. Spiritual relation is everything. There are many gurus who give dīkṣā and harināma but find that their disciples leave them. This is because Guru has no mamatā for them and thus they have no mamatā for their Guru. That Guru who has eternal spiritual power, who gives his disciples affection coming from svarūpa-śakti—his disciples will be unable to leave him for a second.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s parrot Śuka takes only Her love. He is just a bird, but svarūpa-śakti’s love is with him. This is what makes him unable to be without Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
Śuka taught Kṛṣṇa and His friends the proper etiquette to maintain while taking prasādam. He learnt all this from Rādhārānī. Śrīmatī Herself could not come directly and teach this to Kṛṣṇa in front of everyone.
Śuka looked in the prasādam hall but did not find Rādhārānī there. Śrīmatī, however, saw him and became very happy. Lalita-devi picked Śuka up and brought him to the kitchen where Rādhārānī was.
Yaśodā Mātā asked Lalita-devi, “Who is he? How did he come inside here?”
“He is very dear to Rādhārānī,” Lalita-devi said. “It is difficult to separate the two of them.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī came outside the kitchen. If a bird or any animal goes in the kitchen, Yaśodā Mātā would be unhappy. Śuka was very happy to have finally found Her.
When Madhumaṅgala makes some jokes and drama Kṛṣṇa eats so much more.
“Mother,” he calls to Yaśodā Mātā. “Give me some yogurt.”
Madhumaṅgala does not mean plain yogurt. Mother Yaśodā brings special yogurt made from boiled down milk, sweetened with honey, and flavored with saffron and cardamom. It is very thick and creamy, and is served in clay cups.
Yaśodā Mātā brings this yogurt for Kṛṣṇa, Madhumaṅgala and the other sakhās.
“O mother,” one boy says. “Look outside! There is a monkey who is very greedy to eat this yogurt. His name is Dadhi-lobha. Anywhere there is yogurt he steals it!”
Madhumaṅgala who is busy making jokes and devouring his prasādam hardly notices Dadhi-lobha sneak up and, steal his cup of yogurt and run off until it is far too late. The monkeys of Vraja are very clever.
“What can I do?” Madhumaṅgala says in despair. “I will surely starve today.”
His friends had taken everything from his plate minutes before, and now the yogurt that he was given was also taken by a monkey.
Yaśodā Mātā brought more yogurt for Madhumaṅgala and said, “Take this yogurt and then I will give you sweet rice.”
Yaśodā Mātā serves kṣīra that Rādhārānī has cooked, kept in a gold pot and covered by banana leaves. Rohiṇī Mātā and Yaśodā Mātā serve this to Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and all the boys.
If sweet rice is cooked in a gold pot it becomes thousands of times more tasty and healthy for the body.
One time, Yaśodā Mātā indicated to Rohiṇī, “Give something more to Kṛṣṇa.”
Rohiṇī did so, but Kṛṣṇa did not eat it.
Then Yaśodā Mātā said, “Kundalatā, go and give Kṛṣṇa something.”
But even then, Kṛṣṇa did not eat.
Yaśodā Mātā thought, “What should we do?”
Then she gave a plate to Rādhārānī, with some pūrīs, sabjīs and sweets. “Take this to Kṛṣṇa,” she said.
Rādhārānī reluctantly took this and walked a little ways. Catching Kṛṣṇa’s eye, Her hands began to shake and the plate fell down. The prāsadam scattering everywhere. Rādhārānī ran back into the kitchen as the sakhās watched and giggled.
Madhumaṅgala quickly snatched up the fallen pūrīs and other items and said, “Today is my lucky day!” He ate these preparations that were dropped by Rādhārānī and began to dance in ecstasy.
Madhumaṅgala said to Yaśodā Mātā, “O Vrajeśvarī, please come and feed your son. Your Kṛṣṇa will not eat anything without you. You should lovingly feed Him with your own hand. If He doesn’t eat properly, how will He become healthy and strong?”
Yaśodā Mātā gave something on Kṛṣṇa’s plate, and when she turned her back to bring more, He gave everything to this His sakhās that sat next to Him.
After a short pause, Krsna said, “Look, I’ve eaten everything.”
But the sakhās said, “If You ate, why haven’t You become fatter?”
Kṛṣṇa said, “I will go touch Yaśodā Mātā’s feet, then I would become fatter.”
Yaśodā Mātā said, “Clearly, You have no fire of digestion. I should boil some plain rice and a green leafy sabjī for You. I won’t give you anything fried or cooked in ghee.”
Madhumaṅgala said, “Yes, this is good. I will eat all the sweets and fried items.”
Kṛṣṇa and the sakhās all laughed.
Rādhārānī and all the sakhīs watch their beloved Kṛṣṇa’s face while He eats. Rādhārānī looks to see what He desires more of and what He favors. Then, under the guidance of Rohiṇī Mātā and Yaśodā Mātā, She sends more of the desired preparation one after another.
Sometimes Kṛṣṇa eats something that He finds extra tasty, but makes a face as if He does not like it, and gives it to another sakhā. Other times He greedily eats a preparation and shows by His face that it is particularly tasty. Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her sakhīs understand these hints that Kṛṣṇa gives. When Kṛṣṇa shows He does not like something it means that He really does like it and wants more.
Why does He give it away? He thinks, “If My sakhās don’t taste this they will not understand its glory.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī understands the meaning of this signal and She sends more of that preparation to Kṛṣṇa. When it comes, Kṛṣṇa says, “No more, no more.” But they give it to Him anyway so that He can distribute more and take Himself.
Prasādam is always filled with supreme bliss. If people are not happy and pleased at the time of prasādam then when it goes inside the stomach they will get indigestion. In the Western countries, when people eat, they like to watch dramas, dancing and singing. They watch movies or listen to classical music while they have their meal.
But how did Mahāprabhu take prasāda? He did not only sing—
viśvāso naiva jāyate
“Those who have little merit, O king, never develop faith in the Lord’s mahā-prasāda, Govinda Himself, the Holy Name, and the Vaiṣṇavas.”
He would first sing the glories of Kṛṣṇa and mahāprasāda—
eka-dina śāntipure, prabhu adwaitera ghare
dui prabhu bhojane bosilo
śāka kori’ āswādana, prabhu bole bhakta-gaṇa
ei śāka kṛṣṇa āswādilo
“One day, at Lord Advaita’s home in Śāntipura, the two Lords sat down to eat. Tasting the śāka, Lord Caitanya said to the devotees, “Lord Kṛṣṇa has tasted this śāka.”
heno śāka āswādane, kṛṣṇa-prema aise mane
sei preme koro āswādana
jaḍa buddhi parihari, prasāda-bhojana kori’
hari hari bolo sarva-jana
“Tasting śāka like this makes pure love for Kṛṣṇa rise in the heart. Please taste that love. Renouncing all material misconceptions, everyone please taste prasādam and chant, ‘Hari! Hari!'”
Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and the sakhās enjoy all the four types of foodstuffs: that which is drunk, that which is chewed, that which is licked and that which is sucked. They are served many dry, crunchy items, and also many sweets. There is a type of laḍḍu that is made from flat rice fried in ghee and sweetened with honey. This laḍḍu is very pleasing to Kṛṣṇa.
For the end of the meal, Rādhārānī prepares milkshakes with mango or bananas, and many other juices. These are prepared in many flavors and are served one after the other.
How much can Kṛṣṇa eat? Kṛṣṇa’s stomach contains the entire universe. Anything He takes goes to everyone. For example, pomegranates grow in this world. This is because Kṛṣṇa eats pomegranates in the spiritual world. In this way, Kṛṣṇa distributes the sweets and delicious things He eats in the spiritual words to all beings of this world.
Touching and eating the cooking of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, and watching Her from the corner of His eyes, Kṛṣṇa is filled with joy. He tastes Her loveful preparations that come one after the other and feels supreme bliss.
Hladinī-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is the distributer of this supreme bliss. This is called rasa. Simply eating is nothing. Cows and buffaloes also eat. They fill their stomachs without experiencing real taste. Real taste is called rasa. Rādhārānī watches the beauty of Kṛṣṇa as He relishes the many tastes that are in Her offerings.