Prasadam and Sin


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 59, Vol 3, 2018

In the previous article, Sivarama Swami's claim–that even devotees who consume commercial milk as prasadam will not be freed from the risk of offenses and karma–was disproven by the fact that Srila Prabhupada consumed and directed others to consume commercial milk. After all, Srila Prabhupada would not approve of the consumption of that which could not be purified as prasadam. However, this can also be disproven philosophically. All emphases added.

1) Prasadam is so powerful that it even frees one from the sin of killing:

"offer to Krsna, then it's purified. Then you are free from all sinful activities. Otherwise, even if you kill vegetable, you are sinful because it has got life. [...] Therefore the solution is that you take prasadam. If there is sin by eating vegetable or meat, it goes to the eater. We take the remnants, that's all."
(Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, 23/4/76)

Indeed, Srila Prabhupada even states that if in theory meat was offerable to Krishna, one would still incur no sin from eating it. Further, even if the sin is on a par with killing an animal, no sin is incurred if it is offered to Krishna and consumed as prasadam:

"Even by killing vegetable, you are also as sinful as killing animal. But because we offer to Krsna, therefore we are not sinful. Krsna wants it."
(Morning Walk, 22/4/74)

But Srila Prabhupada has never stated that commercial milk is "too sinful", above even animal killing, and thus "exempt" from this power of prasadam to purify, nor has he stated that it cannot be offered.

2) Rather, Srila Prabhupada lists commercial milk as a standard item along with other vegetarian foodstuffs that can be offered to Krishna and taken as prasadam:

"The first thing is that in the meeting of Dr. Spock, you should eat there. But you simply eat vegetarian dishes, like fruits, nuts, boiled potato, biscuit, milk, etc., and remembering Krishna. As you will pay for the dinner, for the fooding, you can offer them to Krishna within your mind, then eat them as Krishna Prasadam. [...]. There is a verse in Vedic literature, Drabyamulyena Suddhati. The source of receipt of the thing, may be not very good, but if one pays for it, it becomes purified. So, vegetable diet when it is paid for, you can offer it in your mind to Krishna and take it. But this Drabya means eatables, and eatables meaning vegetables, grains, milk, flowers, fruits; meat is not considered an eatable–it is considered untouchable."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 6/10/68)

"So far attending pujas at the houses of the Hindus there (Trinidad) [...] we should not accept any prasadam prepared by them. However, if they insist then we can take fruits and milk and offer them to Krishna."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 14/6/72)

Thus, commercial milk is capable of being offered to Krishna and consumed as prasadam, and its status as a foodstuff is no different to that of any vegetarian item that is offered to Krishna and consumed. And Srila Prabhupada did not state that such offering of commercial milk could only be done for a limited time. Hence, though protected milk is to always be preferred, there are no prohibitions on commercial milk being used as an alternative whenever protected milk is not available.

3) SRS also claims that offering commercial milk to Krishna, and thus turning it into prasadam, brings no benefit to the cow:

"people bring up that store-bought milk is good karma for the cow because he's serving Krishna–which I don't buy".
(SRS Podcast, 15/7/2018)

But Srila Prabhupada teaches:

"The system of worshiping Krsna by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Krsna, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone. [...] the cows and the elderly gopis who offered milk to Krsna were also elevated to the transcendental position."
(Krsna Book, Vol. 1, Ch. 6)

Srila Prabhupada states that the worshipping procedure benefits everyone, including the living entity from whom the offerings used in the worshipping procedure are derived, giving the example of the tree from which fruits were offered. Thus, the cow that supplied the milk used in the offerings made to Krishna as part of worshipping Him would similarly also benefit. And we have just established in point 2 that commercial milk can be offered to Krishna in exactly the same way fruits are offered to Krishna. Thus, as just quoted, a living entity, such as a commercial cow, whose products were offered to Krishna would get "much benefit" from doing so.

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