By Vyoma (February 1st, 2007)
Dandvat Pranams to all…
This is a story about how Srila Pabhupad instructed his disciple about cocoa contained in chocolates and inspired that disciple to get higher taste.
Prabhupad took under his care a small orphan boy. Among other services, this boy was given one service of buying vegetables from the market for Srila Prabhupad’s kitchen.
One day (specifically in the summer of year 1973) the boy bought some chocolates
(cadbury and 5 star) using the left over money, instead of returning the unused money. He put these chocolates in his bead bag to hide them and came back to the temple.
Upon seeing Prabhupad seated in the visitor room (this was around 4 in the afternoon), he quickly offered dandavat pranam, and a few chocolates slipped out of his bead bag and fell onto the floor.
Prabhupad waited for the boy to explain himself. Ashamed at being caught stealing money to buy chocolates, the boy quickly unwrapped one chocolate and offered it as a bribe to Prabhupad, expecting less scolding from him. Prabhupad took one bite and frowned. He said “What is this you have given me? Let us read the wrapper to see what it contains.”
Prabhupad loudly read out the ingredients at the back of the wrapper and remarked “This contains Cocoa!”; then he looked at the boy and said , “We don’t eat Cocoa. It has caffeine.” (we meaning Vaishnava)
Then seeing that the boy was feeling deprived Prabhupad asked “Why you feel like eating this chocolate? What do you like about it?”
“It is sweet, that is why I like it,” said the boy. Prabhupad asked the boy to accompany him to the kitchen. The boy washed the vegetables he had bought. Meanwhile, Prabhupad personally made suji halwa, and without even offering it to Krishna, he gave the boy a serving of the halwa. And what is the taste of a spoonful of pure love for Krishna? Probably none of us knows.
This boy is a Prabhupad disciple called Haridas. He is one of the oldest Prabhupad disciples at Radha-Rasabihari temple in Juhu. When he was telling me this story tears welled up in his eyes. He said, “That suji halwa was simply magical, how do I explain? Even though it was just made from milk, roasted suji in ghee, and sugar and little water, no one can make anything like that. I have never tasted anything like that in my whole life after that day. Prabhupad not only ignored my stealing the temple money, he corrected me by telling me that Vaishnavas don’t eat cocoa. Prabhupad is so perfect. He did not even chastise me. He simply gave me higher taste.”
This higher taste is actually what we all need. Given this we can give up all attraction for the different sense gratifying objects available in this material world.
Seeing the different articles posted on dandavats.com complaining that there is no “direct instruction” from Prabhupad regarding chocolates, I am submitting this article.
I am greatly indebted to Srila Prabhupad and Haridasji for sharing this lovely pastime with me. It is more about Prabhupad’s love and expert way of correcting his disciples than about chocolate.
In any case, the conclusion is that Prabhupad has definitely given direct instruction about chocolates containing cocoa. Caffeine is found in cocoa and it comes under the category of intoxicants.
Thank you for publishing this article. I am sure it will inspire Vaishnavas worldwide to replace chocolates with sugar sweets which have been offered to Krishna.
As you may know chocolate is being sold and consumed in some of our society’s centers and restaurants, etc. ISKCON’s current position on consumption of chocolate is:
That, as it contains various stimulants like caffeine (contained in coffee), theine (contained in black tea) and theobromine (contained in cacao), chocolate should not be eaten by ISKCON devotees. (GBC Resolution 31, 1993)
The above resolution is a concise summary of the technical reasons that chocolate qualifies as an intoxicant. It is for this reason that Srila Prabhupada wrote the following letter:
So far attending pujas at the houses of the Hindus there we can go and hold our kirtana but we should not take prasadam there. We can accept raw materials and take them to our temple but 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. Cocoa and chocolate are not to be taken as they are intoxicants. (Letter to Surasrestha 1972; From the new Veda Base; 1998)
Some devotees still consider chocolate acceptable for consumption based on the information that Srila Prabhupada had eaten some. Here is an interesting anecdote from Hari Sauri das Prabhu about chocolate:
From Hari Sauri:
Dear Shyamasundara prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Thanks for your enquiry on Dec. 17 about chocolate.
As it happens, we did specifically ask Srila Prabhupada about chocolate. In late October or November 1976 in Vrindavana, the devotees had opened a snack bar to the right of the front gate, where the Samadhi exhibition building now stands. They were selling hot drinking chocolate. I questioned the wisdom in this but some said it was OK.
So I took the matter directly to Prabhupada. His first response was to ask, “Where does chocolate come from?”
So we replied that it was made from the cocoa bean. As soon as he heard that, he said, “Oh, then you may not take it. Anything made from the cocoa bean cannot be taken.” So that was it. The drinking chocolate was taken off the menu. There was some short discussion about caffeine in the cocoa bean, and it is probably significant that Prabhupada asked first what chocolate was made from before he answered. His not knowing this in late 1976 would account for his taking it in early years. Its likely he just thought it was a harmless sweet and never questioned it until we came with the controversy and when he had to give a definite decision he decided against it.
I don’t think eating chocolate is a major crime but I do recall reading in a health book, one by a proponent of a strict vegetarian, non-fat diet and weight training (I just forgot his name now) that a bar of chocolate has as much caffeine in it as a cup of coffee.
Hope this helps.
Coffee, tea and chocolate may not contain sufficient intoxicants to cause a man to stagger but they do affect consciousness and are addictive. These facts have been proven by numerous investigations and confirmed by a Swiss Cadbury chocolate company director.
Disregarding the GBC resolution results in devotees being offered “prasadam” prepared with chocolate. Until someone can reveal heretofore unknown compelling reasons authorizing its use and can convince the GBC body of such, I humbly request the discontinuance of preparation, sale and consumption of chocolate in all ISKCON centers.
Once, a disciple (accustomed to drinking coffee at the time), asked Srila Prabhupada if it was really such a bad thing to drink coffee. His Divine Grace’s rather shocking response was it would be better to die than to displease the spiritual master. Ultimately we, members of ISKCON, are duty-bound to keep our spiritual master’s prohibition considering such indulgence of intoxication as detrimental to the performance of bhakti.
GBC Global Minister for Training New Devotees
Note from Giriraja Swami:
In about 1978 a Swiss director of the Cadbury confection company came to Bombay ISKCON temple. He spoke to Amoghalila Prabhu. The man asked, “Do the Hare Krishna devotees eat chocolate?” Amoghavirya replied no. The man asked why. Amoghavirya replied that chocolate contained an ingredient similar to caffeine which was a mild stimulant. The man agreed and added that it is also addictive.
One Response to Sinful Chocolate
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.