How can we know that the Deity accepts the bhoga when it remains as it is?
Transcriber: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Sharan Shetty
Question: How can we know that the Deity accepts the bhoga when it remains as it is?
Answer: It is a valid question. To understand, we must know that Krishna is bhaava-graahi (one who accepts the devotional emotion in the service). When we offer bhoga (food in a platter), he takes the bhaava in the bhoga. But if we make the mistake of sticking to material vision, then not just offering bhoga, the entire idea of deity worship can be rejected as sentimentalism.
It is important to understand the principle of Krishna manifesting in a deity is an opportunity for us to get sensory access to transcendence. With this understanding, the principle of offering bhoga should be perceived. Suppose a person visits his friend or a relative carrying a box full of sweets and after entering the house he gifts the box to that person. Ideally, in any culture, when someone gives a box full of sweets, the other person would not return it empty and would instead add some sweets in the box and then give it back. This principle is also highlighted by Srila Rupa Goswami in The Nectar of Instruction Text 4 – dadati pratigṛhṇati (offering and accepting gifts). When the meeting ends, the person will leave the friend’s home and return back carrying the box. If somebody watching from outside assumes that the box which went inside is the same box which came outside and so there was no exchange of sweets then he would be mistaken. Similarly, when we offer bhoga to Krishna, what Krishna is interested in, is the bhaava. Thus, metaphorically the bhoga that we offer is like the box and our devotional emotion and love with which we prepare the bhoga is like the sweets in the box. Just like, after gifting the box full of sweets to his friend, the person received the same box with different sweets, similarly, the bhoga after being offered to Krishna is received as it is but is filled with His kripa (His mercy).
Thus, seeing with our external vision, the food may remain the same but by spiritual vision, there has been a reciprocation of bhakti (devotional service) and kripa (divine mercy) and how do we know the difference? At intellectual level, if we understand the philosophy, we can note it whereas at an experiential level, when we take prasad (sanctified food which is offered to Lord) we may find that our heart has become purified. Our heart will become purified because we experience a higher taste and the anarthas (offences) in our heart –lust, anger, greed etc start to decrease. This intellectual and experiential understanding can be understood more clearly by the example of a child who is told by his mother to throw away all the pieces of paper lying in the house. Co-incidentally, the child finds a 100 rupee note lying on the floor and proceeds to throw it in the dustbin due to no knowledge of a currency note. The mother notices him and stops him from throwing the currency in the dustbin. She explains that this is not an ordinary piece of paper (gives intellectual understanding). Seeing the child perplexed she takes him to a shop and buys him chocolates with that money. After receiving the chocolates, the child tries to buy more of them using the wrappers of the chocolates, but the shopkeeper throws them away. This helps the child understand the difference in an ordinary piece of paper and a hundred rupee note (experiential understanding). Similarly, when we serve Krishna like a deity as per the philosophy, it is with intellectual understanding but with practise of bhakti we will experience the differences through realizations.
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