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Popcorn And Grape Juice Reciprocates

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When I was a young devotee, I had a very dear friend who I loved and admired very much. She was older than I was by quite a bit and had been a devotee a little longer.

There were a lot of unusual things about our relationship that made her special to me. Mostly that we could talk about things in a more intimate way, and we shared a lot of the same difficulties and were able to help each other (sometimes) to overcome some of the problems and we kept track of each other about our japa, and some other things that were particularly challenging at that time in the temple we lived in.

Bonds get developed in a stronger way when people live through difficulties together. It's a proven fact. There is nothing like supporting each other in times of need to deepen a relationship.

In those days (at least in the temples I had been living at) there was a lot of focus on reciprocation. The idea is that Krishna reciprocates with His devotees. So, in turn, we as devotees needed to realize the importance of reciprocation in our relationships.

If someone came to the temple, and gave a donation, they were given something of value in return, usually a book. If someone brought some fruit, then it was important to give them some prasadam fruit to take home. If some devotee friend of ours did some service for us that we didn't get time to do, then it was important to reciprocate by doing some of their service when it was too much and they didn't have enough time. (These are just some basic examples, things that are still done).

Reciprocation was highlighted, and talked about a lot. It got very involved, and everyone was thinking/talking about "whether they reciprocated or not".

My friend was having a problem with her husband at this time. He wasn't being very kind or attentive to her (basically), and she was suffering a lot because of it. We would talk about it, and she would keep making efforts, but usually, she was not very happy.

One day, I found her sitting on the floor, with a huge pot of popcorn she had made, and a large quantity of grape juice. I was very surprised because although she was pregnant, and pregnant women were allowed to make things outside of the daily prasadam, it was still quite an usual combination, and to just be sitting there on the floor with it, eating and eating, was rather shocking to me at the time.

I knew something was really wrong.

I sat down beside her just kind of looking at her, trying to understand this "binge" she was going on. I said to her "What are you doing? Why all the popcorn, and the grape juice? What's wrong?" I know this doesn't sound so strange to anyone now days, but then, it really was very shocking and usual for any devotee to go off by themselves and make quantities of popcorn and grape juice and sit alone just eating it. It was a symptom of great distress at the very least. I was really very alarmed and worried.

She said:

"popcorn and grape juice reciprocates"

Then she started laughing. I started laughing too. It really was pretty funny. Her husband wasn't reciprocating, so she went after the popcorn and grape juice because of the "guaranteed" reciprocation.

I laughed then, certainly, but I'll tell you, that reciprocation idea sure stuck in my mind from that incident. It really was not all that funny, and it struck me in a very serious way.

From that day forward, it became more that just a concept to me. It became an understanding of the nature of need, and how we all need reciprocation in so many ways.

Krishna is unlimited, and when we approach Him with a desire to serve, love, and take shelter of Him, He reciprocates with us to a far greater degree than what ever we have offered Him.

We as devotees cannot do that with each other of course, since we are not Krishna. However, it's still very important to reciprocate as much as we possibly can, with the things that others "offer" to us.

These "things" sometimes come in the form of kind words, good advice, a helping hand, some kind of gift, a shoulder to cry on in tough times, or someone to talk to. There are so many ways that devotees give to each other.

It's important to recognize all these things, from the smallest to the largest, and offer whatever reciprocation we possibly can offer. We won't always be able to do it, all the time, and with every single person. However, it's important to try, because reciprocation is so important among devotees.

It's a manifestation of love and caring, and loving and caring for Krishna's devotees, is one of the most important ways to love and care for Krishna, both in practice, and in the ultimate sense.

The absence of reciprocation leads people to turn to other things for comfort, solace, love, and affection. As we can see by the popcorn and grape juice story here.

Of course there are many things people turn to for reciprocation that are far more detrimental spiritually than popcorn and grape juice. (something to think seriously about).

Because we are not yet always feeling or aware of the reciprocation of Krishna directly (also, because Krishna does directly manifest His reciprocation through His devotees) the reciprocation we receive from other devotees is extremely important.

Real reciprocation is much more fulfilling than popcorn and grape juice (or sex, drugs, possessions, etc.) because in the ultimate issue, these other things don't satisfy the need of the soul for love.

The giving of reciprocation is fulfilling for the giver also, and it "completes" the relationship. Any relationship is an exchange, a give and take, and take and give.

Even when we are totally pure devotees, engaged constantly in a relationship with Krishna, it's not that it is only "us and Krishna" ever. Krishna is always surrounded by His associates, and they all are constantly engaged in loving exchanges with each other, it's just that Krishna is the center of all these exchanges.

That's a lot of reciprocation going on.

* Navasi's blog
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Comments
Wed, 09/03/2008 - 01:07 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
He reciprocated to both of us

Hare Krishna!
It is so amazing to see how Krishna reciprocates to our sincerity.

.You say here that Krishna reciprocates with his devotees. You wont belive, Krishna has kept words.

I was searching for a KC song for few days. I really wanted to hear it and get lost in His thoughts.But couldnt find it online. I read this post and just to make me understand what you really wanted to express through this post, He reciprocated. I found that song just after reading this post.

This way, Krishna reciprocated to my desire to remember Him and reciprocated to your writting too.

He is great!

Haribol!
Snehal

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Wed, 09/03/2008 - 02:14 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Magic Krishna

Haribol Snehal....

Those experiences are really precious, when Krishna is directly showing us things this way. It feels so magical when we realize how directly He is involved in our life.

People look for "magic" in so many ways, but Krishna is the ultimate magician.

My husband and I have a joke actually.... it came about a long time ago when someone was asking us "have you ever seen Krishna do anything?" .... well, we thought that was so funny. We weren't laughing at the person of course, only the concept that maybe, we might have at some point, seen Krishna "do" something.

It was funny to us, because if you're looking, you can see Krishna doing things like this all the time, in so many ways, just like what happened to you, searching for that song, and only finding it after understanding my point about Krishna's reciprocation with us.

So, now when something pretty large occurs, we sometimes say to each other "have you ever seen Krishna do anything?" lol

I'm glad you saw Krishna do that Snehal : ) Thanks for telling me you understood that point, much appreciated reciprocation, dear.

: )

(did you like your maha burfi ??? ;)

Navasi

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Tue, 09/02/2008 - 14:55 — Karnamrita.das
Karnamrita.das's picture
Prasadam Reciprocates!

As you know in the early days of the movement there was a lot of stress on honoring prasadum, and not just a little, but like Lord Chaitanya's devotees, "up to the neck". We were told we should take prasad till we "waddled like a duck", which is one instruction that we were very careful to follow (great renunciates that we were!).

Just before I moved into the Temple I was macrobiotic, eating only brown rise and raw (soaked) soy beans. When I went to the Temple for the first time I was given some very sweet milk prasad, and I thought I had never tasted anything so delicious in my entire life.

I soon moved into the Temple, and I would hear from the devotees all week long: Sunday feast--can't wait, Sunday feast--can't wait, and so I learned that in addition to chanting the holy name, this was a religion of eating prasadam (blessed food). And boy, on Sunday we took up to the neck and beyond. Sometimes the guests would be totally speechless at how a human being could consume so much food. My normal feast would be 5 plates, and I hate to admit it, but if there would be too many guests I would be in anxiety that there would not be enough for my "quota".

Devotees were absolutely wild about Prasadum and there are so many stories of how devotees would stash it, steal it, hide it, dream of it, etc. And we gained a lot of weight also.

When my wife was a new devotee in 1977 that honoring mountains of prasadam was still the practice. She told me that one regular new comer who later became a devotee asked if you had to be fat to be a devotee and live in the Temple!!! My wife gained 40 pounds her first 6 months or so. Spiritual life is supposed to be ever increasing---though not in terms of inches around the waste!

Devotees really took shelter of Prasadum in the beginning, which really helped them give up their bad habits. Prabhupada encouraged it, and we were purified.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita

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Tue, 09/02/2008 - 22:36 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I'm really laughing about some of these things, Karnamrita!

Prasadam really is "the gift that keeps on giving". It satisfies the senses and purifies the body and soul. Wow. What more can you ask for? It looks good, tastes good, and feels good.

Well, it's Krishna after all : )

This is so funny! (and true!):

"which is one instruction that we were very careful to follow (great renunciates that we were!)."

5 plates is a lot, Karnamrita! I've seen devotees eat a lot of prasadam, but 5 plates! lol! I wonder if any of the quests were in anxiety because you were around??? They might have been wondering if THEY would get any prasadam! : )

So funny what you said about your wife being asked if you had to be fat to live in the temple and be a devotee.... hehehe : )

I have had my share of prasadam "obsessions" too...

A couple that come to mind:

The first temple I lived in, they used to make this dark bread for lunch, and then we would take it out to the campus of the university to distribute it along with BTG's.

Well, I never cared much about eating before being a devotee, but suddenly, I literally FELL IN LOVE with that bread! I was thinking about it all the time.... it got so bad, I would be counting the hours, then the min. until the next time we would have lunch prasadam and I could have some. (yeah, I even started stealing some and hiding it to eat when I got the chance) : )

Another time, in Dallas, I was really attached to the yogurt prasadam made there. One morning I crept silently into the prasadam room (thinking no one would be around that early) and tried to get some of it out of the container in the prasadam refrigerator. Well, it would have been the perfect crime, except for the fact that I somehow knocked the container over, and it spilled on the floor!!! It was a really large container too..... Right then, sure enough, this older devotee (and a brahmachari!) came walking into the prasadam room! I thought I would die right then and there. I was so embarrassed! I had no idea what to say or do. (lol)

He must have understood though, because he was so nice about it and started helping me clean it up, not saying a single word to me about "what was I doing in the prasadam refrigerator at that time of morning anyway?" Not a word. I was so thankful. : )

Prasadam has surely been the "saving grace" and "first love" of a lot of devotees, and still is.

Thank you for your comments, Karnamrita, it's always wonderful to hear from you.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Thu, 09/04/2008 - 01:11 — Namacarya das
Namacarya das's picture
brahmacari

So nice attitude and behaviour od that brahmacari.

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Thu, 09/04/2008 - 01:40 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Truly

Yes, it really was.

It's something to remember and he set a very good example for me.

Srila Prabhupad has said that we should be very strict with ourselves and very patient with others. (those might not be his exact words, I'm not quoting, but the concept is accurate).

Navasi

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Thu, 09/04/2008 - 01:47 — abrennan
abrennan's picture
You know

I think we learn more by peoples behavior than what they say.

We learn almost everything by watching someone do it.

Thats's association I reckon hey?
________________________________________
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Thu, 09/04/2008 - 02:05 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Actions Speak Louder Than Words

That's one of the sayings I got told a lot as a child. It's very true.

You can say just about anything, but what you do is going to demonstrate more who you are, than anything you say.

Of course if someone "sees" an example of kindness, patience, tolerance, mercy, forgiveness, etc..., it's going to have a far greater impact on them then just saying "here's how we should be".

Now that, is a very important thing to remember for all of us who are wanting to share Krishna consciousness with others.

If we don't do the things we need to do, to cultivate these kinds of qualities in ourselves, and thus demonstrate them in our behavior, it's going to be very hard to convince anyone else that they have meaning.

Or, that they are actually attainable, or desirable, or any other thing.

Good Point.

Navasi

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Wed, 09/03/2008 - 01:05 — abrennan
abrennan's picture
It is so good...

...to hear what might seem like incidental stories whilst you are telling them but for me it is like rounding out and giving depth to everything else you two talk to us about.

So often what I hear has a two dimensionality about it. All the real life is edited out. It can lead to confusion for those who don't recognize it as they try and lift themselves up to what is technically an illusion.

Prasadam prasadam prasadam. It is so powerful a thing. I think that if you offer you food with love and you honour it ans eat it with love it has a very powerful affect and can produce radical change. Everyone should look into it and practice this way as soon as possible.

I am all for it. Oh look here's some now!

At the temple there is a very nice devotee who always gives me a little packet of Prasadam, nuts and raisins etc. It is so sweet of him. He is so kind to me to do that. He has my spiritual benefit in mind can you tell?

I have a little packet here. Yum Yum, Lord Sri Krishna Ki Jaya. I always feel like I should share Prasadam.

Please keep telling us about these things you two.

At the moment you probably have everyone hungry!

Hare Krishna

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Wed, 09/03/2008 - 04:09 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Editing

Okay, Antony...

I wasn't going to address this, but really, now you've got me started... lol

This thing you're saying, about the two dimensionality and the editing out of real life, and how much confusion it leads to, I understand.

You might remember this has been an "issue" of mine for a long time. I know you read that section of the book written by someone who was working with us at Iskcon World Review, and the incident where they were going to edit out the real details about that chess player. Do you remember that?

Well, of course I was protesting, (wait, guys, it was my job to state my opinion) because I felt that taking out the details made the story appear "unreal" and "one dimensional".

The chess player (who was a professional player) had been swearing, and knocking over the boards, etc.... before he became a devotee. After chanting, he was then able to control his temper. But, the plan was to remove some of it, like the fact that he was swearing and knocking over the chess boards, and only say that he had a bad temper and lost control of it sometimes.

So, I was saying "how can people value the story, and appreciate the depth of change from chanting, if they don't know how bad he really was?".

I can't remember for sure, but I do think that a lot of the details, or more of them did end up being published.

However, it does remain an ongoing challenge, to tell enough details to present an accurate picture, and at the same time, not just be wasting time on things that have no value, or will upset others, or distract from the meaning of the message we're trying to express.

I think it's an important point you're making though, Antony. It's really essential to try to guard against only "presenting one dimension". Or, only presenting something that we think "looks good".

I'm working on the balance. Thanks for mentioning that.

*and like I said below, it's very helpful to know these incidental stories help accomplish that. Great.

Navasi

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Wed, 09/03/2008 - 02:01 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Share Prasadam

Oh, yes, that's true Antony, always share prasadam : )

Yes, that devotee giving you the packets of nuts and raisins has your spiritual benefit in mind.

Thanks telling us that these incidental stories round out and give dimension and depth to what we're saying. Maybe Karnamrita knows that already, but it didn't occur to me.

I sometimes don't say those things because I think "oh, they are just little incidents, how could it matter".... but here, I got caught up in Karnamrita's prasadam memories... lol

*Navasi gives Antony a large bag of nuts and raisins, 5 plates of feast prasadam to Karnamrita, and a normal size plate to his wife, and some maha prasadam burfi to Snehal.

*She then eats her favorite, the Samosas. : ) (cauliflower and peas of course) ;)

Yeah, I'm sure everyone's going to be really hungry by now... lol

Prasadam Ki Jai!!!

Navasi

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Wed, 09/03/2008 - 18:21 — K A V Y A . R A...
K A V Y A . R A J A N's picture
My Ma's experience

Once my ma(mom) was alone at home. Both me and dad were out of station for some time(I think it was for 2 days) for work. Usually she takes a lot of interest to cook for both me and dad. Naturally, since we both were not there, she wasn't very enthusiastic about preparing dinner for herself only. She kept postponing the dinner making, and finally when she realized that it was time to make dinner, she was too hungry herself!

She was very hungry and didn't know what to do now. My ma is a devotee of Ma Durga. She then suddenly, out of childish love went to Ma Durga's temple located opposite to our home. She didn't expect anything from Ma Durga actually... She just closed her eyes and prayed to Ma Durga that she is very hungry and she'd be very happy if she got some small prasadam... So she finished praying, and sat in the temple for sometime.

Wonder of wonders, just then the prasadam distribution started. She first ate Puli sadam(Tamrind rice).Usually, only small serving of one particular prasadam(or maximum two) are usually done in this temple. But then that day only, a lady in the temple was serving lots of food and my ma ate payasyam, curd rice, and sweet pongal also! So from this we learn that if we pray to God sincerely, then surely God will hear our prayers(no matter how childish it is).

Then ma came back home and with a thankful heart, went to sleep with a full tummy.

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Thu, 09/04/2008 - 01:53 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Childish Dependence

That's a wonderful story Kavya. Thank you for sharing that with us.

It's an excellent example of the dependence we all need to have on Krishna. We need to depend on Krishna, just in this exact childish way.

Srila Prabhupad explains the chanting of the maha mantra to be "exactly like the genuine cry of a child for it's mother".

So, we all can take a very good lesson here, and learn to depend on Krishna in the most child-like way, being totally helpless, and depending only on the mercy of the Lord.

Very nice example, Kavya.

Of course it's also good to realize that even if we don't receive the particular thing we feel we need, such as in this case, to see it also as blessing and answer of prayer, if you mother had not received any prasadam.

Then we can think: "oh, thank you Lord, for even though I was hungry, and no prasadam was given to me, I know that You have a reason, and there is something important You want me to learn from this, thank You for this great gift You have given me"...

That is very hard for most of us, but it's something we can aspire to.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 09/08/2008 - 23:50 — Preethi.N
Preethi.N's picture
Prasadam!

Hare Krishna!

Huge quantity of prasadam reminds me only of Jagannath Puri. We were there last year for the Rath Yatra. The day before Rath Yatra, the temple is opened for darshan, after a long time.We went to take darshan in the evening, me and another god sister of mine. And, of course we were so hungry. I was thinking of prasadam all the time. Then we had the most blissful darshan of the Lotus eyed Jagannath ji. And it was so crowded.And i was praying(literally) for prasadam.
Can you imagine a crowd of 9 lakh devotees during the Rath Yatra. Suddenly, when we were returning to visit other temples, a priest called us. He gave us huge........... quantities of Rice, dal and kheer, and it was so delicious, and it was out of the world, so yummy!
I ate so much lol and when i think of special mercy, it was Jagannath's mercy. I thanked Him and was very happy :P

Similarly, during the Nrsimha Caturdasi, this year,it happened in Mayapur Jagannath temple( Rajapur) and we went there in the afternoon. But by the time, we would reach the temple, the prasadam would be over. So we were pretty sad lol that we wouldnt get anything to eat. The pujari asked me to make chandan paste for the deities, and said, that he would return. When he came back, he got us a huge pot of Raj Bhog. Wow, it had all the best delicious prasadam. What more, can one ask for? :)
I think Jagannath was always merciful for prasadam hehe. In the future, if anyone is hungry and wants prasadam, you know whom to think of !!

Jaya Jagannath!
Mahaprasadam ki Jaya!

Ys,
Radha Priya D. Dasi

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Tue, 09/09/2008 - 01:30 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Jaya Jagannath!

Wow!

These are such wonderful stories Radha Priya!

I loved reading all this, I'm sure others will too.

Such special mercy you've received from Lord Jagannath!

: )

Thanks so much for telling us about it. I am thinking of Lord Jagannath right now!

Navasi

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Tue, 09/09/2008 - 17:47 — Preethi.N
Preethi.N's picture
Jaya!

Hari Hari !

Just think of Him, and someone is going to knock your door right now! But make sure your hungry ;) else its not going to come !

Radha Priya!