Food for Spiritual Thought
Late in the morning an exploding “PSSSSS”
resounded from the kitchen. I didn’t even have to look
at my watch to know it was precisely 11:55 a.m., because Kirtanananda
would spice the dahl with the chaunce, precipitating a mini-explosion
at the exact same time each day.
At noon two devotees brought from the kitchen the big pot of
dahl, another big pot of basmati rice, and another of Indian-style
vegetables which Prabhupada called sabji. They placed them on
the altar room floor, just next to the rolled up oriental rug.
Then they put Krsna’s personal plates, filled with small
helpings from each of the large pots as well as a cup of milk
and a banana, on the oblong altar. Having just taken his noon
bath, Prabhupada came in, and I joined the other devotees in
bowing down as he rang the bells and said the prayers for offering
the foodstuffs to Krsna.
After the prayers, Prabhupada took the plate off the altar,
and after Krsna’s plate was washed, he sat down to honor
prasadam. We went down to the temple room to take our prasadam
with everyone else. At times like this I wished I had joined
the temple when there were fewer devotees, because I was told
that in those days all the devotees used to eat along with Prabhupada—
right in the altar room. I peeked back to watch Prabhupada as
he was cutting the banana into slices by using the edge of his
bowl of milk as a knife, and allowing the banana pieces to fall
into his milk. He then put some of the rice in the milk and
mashed it all together with his fingers, as he very cleverly
turned the rice, milk and bananas into a type of pudding.
After lunch Kirtanananda and I returned to the altar room and
resumed our services. Prabhupada came in and asked him to be
sure to give me two glasses of hot milk every day. Surprised,
I looked up from my canvas. All the devotees already drank a
cup of hot sweet milk with bananas every evening, after the
class and kirtana. Why would he want me to get an extra glass
during the day?
Seeing my questioning countenance Prabhupada said, “All
creative people should have two glasses of milk a day. Just
as materialists eat fish because it is supposed to be good for
the material brain, so milk is good for the spiritual brain.
It develops the finer tissues of the brain for spiritual understanding.”
I was touched by his concern for me, and it made me determined
to put those finer brain tissues to good use in understanding
the Krsna consciousness philosophy.
The devotees sometimes called the altar room the 'front room'
and sometimes the 'sweetball room', because, at least for all
the time I had been there, Prabhupada had kept a large jar of
gulabjamon sweetballs in the corner near where I painted. Whenever
one batch was gone, he would make sure another was cooked to
Now, Prabhupada put a large spoon in the amber syrup, scooped
out a few gulabjamons, and offered them to me as I painted.
Once again I was surprised, as well as a little embarrassed,
to be given such special attention—and I took them thankfully.
That evening, after the temple program, a handful of us again
went upstairs. As I started picking up the newspapers from around
my painting area, Prabhupada motioned once again to the sweetball
jar. “We are not nonviolent,” he said. “We
have got our ‘ISKCON bullets’, and they will kill
the maya of the conditioned souls.”
I had never before heard him call sweetballs ‘bullets’.
I had to cover a giggle.
“Perfect description,” Hayagriva said. “They
are like bullets. They ex plode in the mouth like celestial
nectar as soon as anyone bites into them. Sometimes the explosion
even drips down the sides of my mouth.”
Everyone laughed including Prabhupada.