domingo, 25 de julho de 2010
Srila Prabhupada and the brown rice
Some devotees became bewildered after reading or hearing some quotes from Srila Prabhupada about the brown rice. In some passages he says that it is impure, that it cannot be offered to Krishna and even that it is food for animals! (conversation with Govinda Dasi, Prabhupada Lilamrta vol. 3). So, this is an humble attempt to clarify the matter.
The first thing to understand is what Srila Prabhupada means by "brown rice". This is nicely explained in a short letter to Mahapurusa, written in Calcutta, 17 October, 1967:
My Dear Mahapurusa,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your detailed letter. Brown rice generally is doubly boiled, therefore it cannot be used for Krishna prasadam. Unpolished rice which looks like brown can be used. Generally in American the brown rice is doubly boiled therefore unfit. We do not mind polished or unpolished but doubly boiled mustn't be used. Doubly boiled rice is considered impure. Sun baked rice is all right.
By doubly boiled (double boiled) we can understand that Prabhupada is referring to the parboiled brown "Uncle Bens" rice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parboiled_rice), and not to the raw whole grain rice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_rice). This is confirmed by the next sentence, "Unpolished rice which looks like brown can be used.".
So, the whole problem is the boiling process use on the parboiled rice ("Doubly boiled rice is considered impure"), and not the fact that the rice is polished or not. As said: "We do not mind polished or unpolished".
As a matter of fact, in Srila Prabhupada times the devotees would not offer any kind of prepared food that contains cooked grains, as any grain cooked by non-devotees is considered impure. This is a really nice "rule of thumb" to follow if you plan to stick with a pure Vaishnava diet, because this excludes almost all industrialized foods, that can be generally be classified in the mode of ignorance, because of the low nutritional value and the fact that they are made by non-devotees. A more natural diet, with grains, vegetables and milk are far better for spiritual advancement and forces you to prepare your own food with fresh ingredients, a far more suitable offering to Krishna. :-)