Aren’t some rituals like those in which the offered milk gets drained into a gutter wasteful? Wouldn’t it be better if that milk was offered to beggars instead?
Not all the rituals that go on today are based on scriptural wisdom. To highlight those rituals that seem wasteful, generalize from them and malign the entire spiritual culture may well be manipulative and disingenuous.
The normal scriptural standard is that food is offered to the Lord and then the sanctified remnants called prasad are distributed to people. By this standard, the milk offered to God being prasad is accepted and distributed, not poured down the drain. In adherence with this standard even today scores of temples provide free prasad to people in the vicinity. Distributing free prasad to people is the mission of ISKCON’s food relief program generically known as HareKrishnaFoodforLife. This is the world’s biggest vegetarian food relief program. It has served billions of free meals to people all over the world. Presently it serves 1,500,000 free meals daily. That is 173 meals per second.
Such massive welfare work has sprung from the same spiritual culture that we want to malign as wasteful. This is the culture that many millennia ago gave the world the insight that we are all one family: vasudhaiva kutumbakam. It is a culture of caring and compassion for one and all.
Over the centuries, certain flaws may have crept into the culture. If so, then they need to be rectified – not that the whole culture be maligned and rejected. When the eyes get infected with cataract, the cataract needs to be removed – not that the whole eye be plucked out and thrown away. That would render the patient blind. Similarly, if we just reject the whole culture, people will be rendered spiritually blind.
By systematic education, we can understand what the original culture was and how the present culture can be cleansed of the many contaminations that may have come into it.