The Divine Food: Mahaprashad

The Divine Food: Mahaprashad

In Sri Mandir, the food being cooked in the most sacred and world’s largest kitchen and after that when it’s being offered to the deities it became the most divine Mahaprashad.

Although it’s too delicious and mouthwatering it also is greatly honored. In Puri, the temple kitchen has got the capacity to cook for million of devotees on a single day. Mahaprasad is cooked only in earthen pots and medium of cooking is firewood only. While the pots are kept on one another and with the divine mercy of lord of the universe and Mahalaxmi Devi the pot placed on the top gets cooked first and likewise downwards and the one set on fire gets cooked at last.

The glories of Mahaprasadam are stated in the scriptures:

Padma Purana: sushkam paryushitam vapi nitam va dura-desatah prapta-matrena bhoktavyam natra kala-vicharana na desa-niyamas tatra na kala-niyamas tatha praptam annam drutam sishtair bhoktavyam harir abravit
which means “One should never hesitate to accept mahaprasadam without any consideration of time and place, and even if it has dried, it has been tasted by someone else, or if it has come from a long distance. Sri Hari teaches that a learned person will accept mahaprasadam immediately without hesitation as soon as he receives it.”

Padma Purana:
chandalena samsprstam grahyam tatrannam agrajaih sakshad vishnur yatas tatra candalo’pi dvijottamah tatrannapachika laksmih svayam bhokta janardanah tasmat tad annam viprarshe daivatair api durlabham hari-bhuktavasishtam tat pavitram bhuvi durlabham annam ye bhunjate martyas tesham muktir na durlabha brahmadyas tridasah sarve tad-annam atidurlabham bhunjate nityan adatya manushyanam cha ka katha na yasye ramate chittam tasminn anne sudurlabhe tam eva vishnu-dveshtaram prahuh sarve maharshayah pavitram bhuvi sarvatra tad-annam papa-nashanam tatha pavitram sarvatra divyam yadyapi dvijasattama tathapi vajra-tulyam syat papa-parvata-darane purvairjitani papani kshayam yasyati yasya vai bhaktih pravartate tasminn anne tasya durlabhe bahu janmarjitam punyam yasya yasyati samkshayam tasminn anne dvija-srestha tasya bhaktih pravartate

“Even the highest among the brahmanas will accept the Mahaprasadam rice that has been touched by a chandala, because there in Puri even the chandalas are not different from Vishnu, and therefore equal to the best of the brahmanas. In Puri, Lakshmi Herself takes charge of the cooking, and Lord Janardana (Vishnu, who takes care of all people) eats the food she cooks. Such type of food is difficult to obtain even for the Devas. The leftovers of the Lord’s meals are extremely pure and holy, and difficult to obtain in this world. Those mortal beings that succeed in obtaining such food will easily attain liberation. All the Devas, starting from Brahma, ardently aspire to obtain that food and always search it, what to speak of the value of the mahaprashada for the human beings.Although this food is sweet and soft, it is actually as powerful as thunderbolt in destroying sins, increasing the pious merits and arousing pure devotion in those who consume it.”

Only the food offered to Jagannatha inside the Jagannath Temple at Puri is called Mahaprasadam because of the following reasons:
* Before the food is cooked, a Rosha Homa is performed using the rituals of the Vaishnava Agni Samskara, and this Vaishnava Agni or fire is used for starting the stoves. The clay stove used for the cooking is also constructed in a Tantric way as Satkonatmaka Agni Yantra, with six elevations to hold the pots. Then the Navachakra or nine cooking pots are placed on top of the Agni Yantra stove.
* Mahalakshmi herself cooks food inside the temple kitchen (it can be felt, as the topmost pots get cooked first and likewise in a downward motion and the food is being cooked without stirring).
* The food was served to the Deities on golden plates or earthen pots are kept on top of the Sri Yantra  (made with ground rice powder) near the Ratnasinghasana or in the bhoga mandap.
* The water used for the ablution is empowered with the Nrushingha Mantra.
* The three plates are empowered with the bija mantra for the three Deities and are offered by the combination of mantra,tantra and yatra.
* During the time of Shola puja of Goddess Bimala the food after being offered to Jagannatha, the food is offered to Devi Bimala.(although the food is offered to lord with sodasaupchara with tulsi on it again near maa bimala its again offered with sodasaupchara and belva leaves on it) even the Annabali is offered to the eight Sattvika Vaishnavas: Visvakshena, Sukadeva, Prahlada, Narada, Hanuman, Garuda, Devala, and Indradyumna.
Only the food offering at this point is known as Mahaprasada.

The masala (spices) are always prepared fresh, grinding together on stones the dry uncooked ingredients, sometimes with a little water or ghi to obtain a paste. The temple standards are very conservative: no gas or kerosene is used ever (everything is cooked on wood stoves) and only a limited variety of ingredients are allowed. So in the Mahaprasada in Puri, you will never find potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflowers, cabbage, peas, capsicum, chili, karela, bhindi, onions, garlic, green beans, beans, or parboiled rice.

A number of preparations are also banned from Jagannatha’s kitchen, notably paneer (pressed cottage
cheese) and chapati (roti), although one type of chapati (called Khali roti) is prepared with boiled flour in Puri are regularly offered. The most popular item in Jagannatha’s kitchen, however, are pancakes (called pithas), of many different types.

The ingredients used are as follows:

* vegetables: muli, patola, johni, desi alu, khanda mula, saru, kankana, plantain (green banana), spinach, pumpkin, eggplant, mango flowers, tala flowers etc
* fruits: coconut, amla, tala fruit, banana, mango, apple, grapes, sitaphal, chikku, guava, orange (tangerine), raisins etc
* spices and condiments: ginger, black mustard seeds, cardamom, red cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, ajwain, nutmeg, cloves, gur (unrefined cane sugar), white sugar.
* pulses and grains: urad dal, harar dal, mung dal, chickpeas, besan (chickpea flower), atta (whole wheat
flour), maida (white wheat flour),
* milk products: milk, dahi (yogurt), makhana (butter), chenna (fresh cottage cheese), rabri (creamy cooked down milk), khua (solid cooked down milk), khiri (milk and rice pudding), ghi (clarified butter).

Daily numerous times food are offered to the deities from morning to night such as
Gopalla Vallav bhoga, Sakala dhoopa, Bhoga Mandapa bhoga, Madhyanna dhoopa, 2nd Bhoga Mandapa, Sandhya Dhoopa, Bada singhara Bhoga.
Apart from daily food offerings various times on festivals many other offerings are too made also called Panti Bhoga and many food stuffs and sweets are offered.

It is to be noted that only once in a year Rasagulla is offered in Sri Mandir, Lord placates wife with sweet delight: 
It’s when Lord Jagannatha returned from his annual rath yatra on the day of Niladri bije. Lord Jagannath tries to mollify Mahalaxmi Devi by offering her Rasagulla so that she lets him enter into the temple.This day is celebrated as Rasagulla Divas in Odisha.







8 Comments on “The Divine Food: Mahaprashad”

  1. Thankyou for the wonderful article. This is a great service to spread the glories of Sri Jagannatha Sanskruti. I have some questions

    1. What salt is used in the preparation for Lord in Sri Mandira ?

    2. Is the Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannatha offerd to Ma Bimala only during Solapuja or is it offered everyday? Bhoga Mandapa isnt ofeered i suppose ?

    3. What is Kotha Bhoga ?

    4. What is offered in 1st and second Bhoga Mandapa ? How many times generally Bhoga Mandapa takes place ?

  2. Thank you so much for giving your valuable time for reading the post, i would further recommend to read all the post and comment on them.

    ans 1 – the salt is like common salt but it's prepared there only.

    ans 2 – yes mahaprashad of lord offered to maa bimala during shola puja, actually as Maa Bimala is not present in Ratnasinghasan so a small amount of bhog is taken and offered to her but during shola puja what ever bhoga is offered to Jagannatha it will be taken there and there again with sodasaupchar puja it will be offered to maa bimala, in those days the power of mahaprashad is just too much.(only kotha bhoga are offered.)

    ans 3 – Kotha Bhoga are his own bhoga, the sakala dhoopa,madhyanna dhoopa, sandhya dhoopa and badasinghar bhoga are the kotha bhoga, Mahasuars will only cook it, and with lord's chariots woods only, for this they have got Acres of land so only Jagannatha is the owner of this Bhoga, Bhog Mandap bhogas are of suars they buy the vegetables cook it and offered it in bhog mandap and again sell it to get the profit.

    ans 4- Bhoga Mandap generally takes place twice but it can maximum takes place during 4 times, after every dhoopa and 256 types of food offering are made in bhoga mandap.Later on i will give the details about the food offering in another post.

    Jay Jagannatha !!!

  3. I hope one day i will have the luck to try a traditional Indian food like this. 🙂
    I like to eat out in Indian Restaurants but i have the feeling they don't offer the traditional dishes any more just the popular and well known-ones….

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