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Why Hindus offer food to god
Posted By Sarin on May 10, 2013     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news
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Last week, I got a query from one (Aniket Tripathi) of my visitors on wastage of food offered to god. This article intends to answer the queries of all such devotees/spiritual seekers.
  
In Hinduism, offering food to god is the most important ritual without which the worship is considered as incomplete and futile. All Hindus are often humiliated with a question that in a country like India, where more than 30% of the population is malnourished, shouldn’t we offer food to the malnourished beggars than to offer the same to the ever-pervading omnipresent god. Though the question is quite justifiable, some people, especially atheists, go to the extent of condemning all the ancient Vedic rituals and often criticize the ones who follow such rituals like offering food to god. The problem is that all such atheists, who think only rubbish, are in the mode of ignorance and hence, are not able to understand the spiritual values of this illusionary world.
  
Before I explain why the beggars lying on the street shouldn’t be offered food, let me explain the ritual of offering foods to the god
  
Offering Food converts materialistic food into spiritual blessings
In spirituality, all the actions we do in our daily life is first devoted to god. So, before we eat our food, we first offer it to the god and then eat that offered food. By doing so, we not only make spiritual progress by eating the offered food but also convert the materialistic food into spiritual blessings/mercy of the lord.
    I am equal to all living entities, no one is disliked or favored by me, but those persons who render transcendental service to me in devotion are in me and I also certainly am [partially] in them.”-Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 9, sloka 29)
  
Aarti or Parasadam purifies mind and soul
Food offered to the gods is called prasadam and the process of offering food is called Naivedyam. "Prasada" in Sanskrit means "mercy," or the divine blessings of the lord. By offering the food and then taking it back, we are eating the food blessed by the lord. We thank the god by saying that “Whatever I have, is the divine blessing received from you”.  
Why Hindus offer food to god
Food offered to god or ‘prasadam’

When we get the offered food back as ‘prasadam’, its value and quality increases, and this purifies our mind and soul.  Ritual called ‘Aarti’ is done to make offerings to a Deity. An aarti is done at an auspicious time (Shubh muhrat) by a priest formally in a temple or informally, in a person home on special occasion such as Marriages, anniversaries, Puja etc. Aarati tali is a tray that contains the offerings for god. Devotional songs and mantras are chanted while doing aarti. Through aarti or offering food to the god, our inner soul offer respect and devotion to the supreme soul (God).  

Satyanarayan Aarti
Before having daily lunch or dinner, devout Hindus offer their food to the god and then chant shlokas folding their hands, closing their eyes, with the belief that the god is pleased with their devotion and the food is blessed for eating. A true devotee never accepts any food not offered to the god first. Bhakti yoga is all about connecting our inner consciousness with the supreme soul. In other words, we believe ourselves to be embodied soul (jivas), a part and parcel of God, yet separate from Him.
    Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give away or whatever austerity you're in, o son of Kuntî, do that as an offering towards me. Thus you will be freed from the auspicious and inauspicious consequences of being bound by karma and liberated in having your mind set on the renunciation in this yoga, you will attain to Me.” -Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 9, sloka 27)
  
More on embodied and invisible form of the god can be understood from the following article
Kaka Bhusundi-The greatest devotee of lord rama <https://www.mallstuffs.com/Blogs/BlogDetails.aspx?BlogId=275&BlogType=Spiritual&Topic=Kaka%20Bhusundi-The%20greatest%20devotee%20of%20lord%20rama>

God only desire love and devotion in your offerings
God does not need any food. He is self sufficient, ever-pervading, omnipresent, and yet he accepts the offering of the devotees in exchange of love and devotion. Anything offered to god with love and devotion becomes prasadam
Bhagavad gita, (Chapter 9, sloka 26)
Pathram pushpam phalam thoyam yo mae bhakthyaa prayachchathi
Thadaham bhakthyupahruthamas(h)naami prayathaathmanah

Translation: Whoever offers me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even water, I accept the pious offering offered by him with love.
Why Hindus offer food to god
Lord Krishna accepting offerings from all his friends

Harir Daatha Harir Bhoktha Harir Annam Prajaapatih
Harir Vipra Shareerastu Bhoonkte Bhojayathe Harih.
Translation: O Hari, You are food, you are giver of food, and you are enjoyer of food. Therefore, I offer all that I consume at Thy Lotus Feet.
Hindus believe that everything belongs to god
Hindus believe that everything in this world belongs to god and we are just servants of the lord. By serving food to the god, we offer our devotion and gratitude to our master, for the food created by him and that belongs to him. This is just a way of saying thanks to the god and that we are not stealing his food and are taking his permission to eat the food blessed by him.  This is well exemplified in the devotional song with phrases "tera tujko arpan", meaning “I offer you what is yours”
"The saintly persons get relief from all kinds of sins by partaking the food that has been first offered to gods as sacrifice. But those who prepare food for their selfish ends eat but only sins. -Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 3, sloka 13)

Food offered to god immerses devotee in bhakti and devotion
Not only food, everything that is offered to god becomes ‘prasadam’. This includes water, incense sticks, clothes, jewels, flowers etc. All this offering is blessed by the divine touch of the lord.  
Why Hindus offer food to god
Lord Krishna surrounded by loving and devotional friends  
According to scriptures (explained later), god enters into the offerings and fill the heart of the devotees with love and devotion.  This is the reason why prasadam is not eaten alone but distributed to all devotees. Just like a diseased person contaminates the food and the disease is transferred to all those who eats contaminated food, food offered to god is contaminated by love and bhakti(Devotion) and the one who eats this offered food is immersed into devotion 24x7, singing the glories of the lord even in dreams.  
    I speak the truth, it is indeed his death. He who nourishes neither the god nor a friend, he who eats alone, gathers sin. -(Rig Veda X. 117)
Why you should offer food to god?  
According to Bhagavad gita, Food is of three types Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Sattvic (pure) food is the one obtained from spiritual sacrifice. This food which is juicy, oily, durable in nature increases strength, health, longevity, happiness, purity and taste. Rajasic (hot &spicy) food is the one which is sour, salty, bitter, hot and spicy, which gives unhappiness, burning desires, sorrow and diseases. Tamasic (intoxicating) food are the one which are stored, decomposed, dried, foul smelling, left over  devoid of any juices and indigestible.  
Why Hindus offer food to god
One, who eats the food after offering it to gods, would come to no harm of Rajasic or tamasic components/qualities hidden in the food. These negative qualities would be balanced by the positive energies and blessings of the lord
Note: Only Sattvic food is offered to god.
You become what you eat
According to srimad Bhagavatham, our thoughts and feeling is provoked by the kind of food we eat. If we eat Satvik(Pure) food, our thoughts will be satvik in nature. Hence, food offered to god will influence good thoughts and feeling in our mind which in turn will result in good deeds. If we eat rajasic food (hot and spicy) we become ambitious, egoistic and tempered human beings. If we eat meat or intoxicating foods, we develop animal qualities and lethargic nature.  
Why Hindus offer food to god
Food decides your qualities
  
Therefore, we must be very choosy about our food. Killing helpless innocent animals for the purpose of filling stomach is a bad deed (karma) with harmful consequences.
Process of digestion through gastric fire is explained through the following verse
Becoming the fire of life in the bodies of living creatures and united with Prana (ingoing) and Apana (outgoing) breaths, I digest the four kinds of food. The four kinds of food are that which is chewed by teeth (wheat, fruits), that is swallowed (water, juices), that is sucked (sugar cane, mango), that is licked (honey)” - Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 15, sloka 14)

Devotees eat and offer food for austerity, not for pleasures
Materialistic individuals eat food for pleasure. Ex: Individuals unable to resist eating meat. A spiritual person eats food for survival and to practice austerities and self control, not for pleasure.  Therefore, eating is of two types, one that leads to bondage and suffering and other as a sacrificial act that would help in the liberation of the soul.
"All beings come into existence from food. Food comes from rains. Rains originate from the performance of sacrifices. And sacrifice is born out of doing prescribed duties.” -Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 3, sloka 14)
“The ladle is God, the oblation is God, it is offered by God in the fire, which is God.
God shall be attained by him who is absorbed in God as the act of such sacrifice.” Bhagavad Gita(Chapter 4, sloka 24)

All rituals are meant for a purpose
All rituals have a deep spiritual meaning behind it. For example, consider the ritual of sprinkling water on a food, place or tulsi plant and chanting the below mantra  
Om bhoorbhuvassuvah amrutho(u)pasvaranamasi
Pranaya svaha apanaya svaha vyanaya svaha
Udanaya svaha samanaya svaha brahmane svaha
Translation
the three worlds are pervaded by the Lord, the creator.
I offer this to prana (respiratory system)
I offer this to apana (excretory system)
I offer this to vyana (circulatory system)
I offer this to udana (reversal system)
I offer this to samana (digestive system)
Why Hindus offer food to god
Offering Tulsi plant to Lord krishna

Food in temple is not wasted
As I explained above, food is offered to the god and taken back as Prasadam, which is then distributed to all devotees. So, there is no wastage of food. If there is any temple that does not return offered food back to devotees as ‘Prasadam’, then it’s the fault of temple management and devotees should refrain from making any kind of offering to such temples. If there is any wastage of food, then it's the fault of temple management/ preist. Let us understand this with a simple example   
If your kid takes money from your wallet, buys a chocolate and then distribute this chocolate to all family members with love and devotion, won’t you feel happy? Same is the happiness in the mind of the devotee whose offered food is eaten by all devotees. Same is the happiness of the god whose blessed food is eaten by all devotees.  Instead of raising question on our sacred rituals by projecting it in a wrong way, atheists or non followers should better concentrate on the wastage of foods done on a daily basis in canteens of schools/Colleges, Buffet system in marriages, functions, corporate parties etc.  
Below real incident depicts the fake generous attitude of our modern generation
During Rath yatra festival, two youngsters requested the Hare Krishna devotees to offer food to beggars than god. After that, they went to a nearby shop to eat some snacks. One of the Hare Krishna devotees, offered prasadam to a badly dressed beggar and guided him to ask for snacks from those generous youngsters. When that beggar did the same, those youngsters howled “Shoooo......Go away”.  OOPS, the double standards of our so called generous, well-educated modern generation.
  
‘OH my god’-not the right movie to watch and learn
Many of such anti-Hindu arguments that infected the minds of our modern generations are because of such movies. Though I applaud the movie for its campaign against fake gurus, most of the dialogue of this movie is very disgusting. For example, this movie talks about wastage of milk poured on shiv linga but it does not gives a formidable solution that the milk should be collected and distributed back to all devotees(including beggars). On the contrary, it says don’t worship god and donate the milk directly to the beggar (Check below for why we shouldn’t offer food to beggars). Also, the term ‘Kala pathar’ is used to represent Shiv linga. This term sounds very insulting and hurted the feelings of billions of lord shiva devotees.
Why Hindus offer food to god
Shiv linga, symbolic representation of creation of this universe
  
If you see this movie, you will find that this term ‘Kala pathar’ would have been easily avoided. Similarly, There are many such derogatory remarks that would have been easily avoided. On top of that, it is shown that despite the nonsensical arguments of Kanji, he wins the case and realizes the god too. When I saw that scene, I was like “OH MY GODDDDD...Absolute crap”. Aisa sirf movie mein hi ho sakta hai(Such things can happen only in movies). It takes eons of penance to realize god and the guy in this movie realizes god by making fun of our rituals. Good Job Mr.Director/Writer/producer and whole film unit.

Why not offer food to beggars?
Coming back to the million dollar question on why not offer food/money to the beggars. I feel most of the beggars doesn’t deserve any kind of money/food except the handicapped ones. Most of the beggars deliberately choose begging as their profession as it is a very easy way of earning money. Should we offer money or food to a person who is lazy and don’t have the desire to work and earn money/food? Why should anyone donate his hard earned money to such lazy beggars?  According to a survey, there are more than thousands millionaires beggars in Mumbai alone, each one of them owning flats in posh areas.  
Why Hindus offer food to god
Khar is one of the most Posh and costly areas of Mumbai
When government provides alternate house to beggars staying on roads or slums, this beggars sells off this house to some opportunistic buyer and starts begging in some other city or state. Some people just enjoy begging and such kind of beggars doesn’t deserve any mercy, food or money. Also, many of the beggars are controlled by Mafia gang. Hence the money or food offered by you to such beggars doesn’t go to them but to the gang that controls them. According to Hinduism, a person is accountable for his fate and deeds (Karma). If someone is a beggar, it is just because of his karma of being lazy and non-hardworking. If a child is born in a malnourished family, it is because of the bad karma in his previous birth. It is the responsibility of the parents to not give birth to any child if they can’t afford his well being and happiness. Government gives money for such abortion cases but some malnourished people just like to force his child into begging and disastrous life (Pakistani Movie ‘Bol’ expresses this message very beautifully). Moreover, it is the responsibility of the government to handle such lazy hypocrites living in slums or roads by providing them a job or opportunity to earn money/food and then keep a watch on their activities.
Why Hindus offer food to god
Beggars who now work in farms and earn money thanks to the initiatives taken by government

If you really want to donate food, then donate it to the genuine handicapped ones who are not fit for any kind of work. Make sure that he eats the food else you will come to know that the food offered by you was eaten by the member of the gang that forced him into begging.
Conclusion:
If I ask Does God physically exist? Your answer would be “No”. But if I ask this question to some genuine sages, their answer would be “YES”. According to them, Ram, Krishna, Jesus etc are physical embodied form of the lord. The diffrence here is belief. Our belief is what distinguishes one from another. Your non-belief in god is the reason for all nonsense that comes to your mind. Nonsensical people think only rubbish and hence, they find fault in sacred activities like food offered to gods. It is very easy to find fault in what others do than to understand the deep meaning in the actions they choose. All rituals mentioned in our scriptures have a deep spiritual meaning and were meant for a definite purpose. Over the years, since we are becoming materialistically advanced, we have lost the significance of our rituals. In villages, there is a daily ritual of cleaning the doorstep with cow dung and water. An ignorant person who doesn’t understand this ritual will laugh at this ritual but a wise person will understand that this ritual is for keeping the insects and flies at bay. The main problem of twentieth century generation is perception. We have narrowed our perception and try to understand this world by materialistic senses. This is the cause of all conflicts our generation is facing today. All I can say is “Be wise and understand the depth meaning of rituals instead of just believing in what your senses sees, hears and feels.”
A small sonnet in hindi to end this article
Jab suraj na tha, jab chand naa tha,
Jab yeh dharti na thi, jab yeh aasman naa tha
Jab yeh shrishti ki koi pehchaan naa tha,
Tab sirf tu(God) hi tha, sirf tu hi tha
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