Offering Bhoga to Deities

Offering Food (bhoga-arpana)

This is a standard procedure for offering food to the deity that may be used for the various offerings during the day.

In some temples it may be preferable to use the simpler procedure for the early-morning offering (balya-bhoga) before mangala-arati, the afternoon offering (vaikalika-bhoga), and the late-evening offering (ratri-kalina-bhoga). The more elaborate procedure may then be used for the breakfast offering, the noon offering (raja-bhoga), and the early-evening offering.

Required Paraphernalia

Make sure the following items are present:

  1. a small bell on a plate
  2. a panca-patra containing samanya-arghya water
  3. a waterpot with a spout and cover, filled with water
  4. padya and acamaniya water, each in a patra with a spoon
  5. a visarjaniya-patra
  6. some arrangement for supporting the bhoga plate(s)—preferably chonkis
  7. asanas for the spiritual master and deities
  8. the bhoga offering
  9. flower petals and tulasi leaves
  10. a lighter for lighting a standing lamp
  11. an asana for you to sit on.

Preliminary Activities

Outside the deity room, perform acamana and offer obeisances to your spiritual master and the deities, saying pranama prayers.

Enter the deity room after clapping your hands or knocking on the deity room door, chanting the names of the deities.

Clean the offering area, arrange the eating places (such as tables and cushions), wipe off the table surfaces, and wash your hands.

Chant esa puspanjalih and the guru-mula-mantra, and draw your spiritual master’s attention by offering a few flower petals to his feet, begging his permission to serve the deities. (If necessary, for the flower petals you may substitute samanya-arghya water from the panca-patra.). Then chant:

sri-guro paramananda premananda phala-prada
vrajananda-pradananda-sevayam mam niyojaya

Listen

My dear spiritual master, who gives the fruit of the highest bliss—the bliss of love of Godhead—please engage me in the blissful service of Sri Krsna, who bestows bliss upon the land of Vraja.

 Chant idam asanam and the guru-mula-mantra, and offer your spiritual master a sitting place (asana).

Purifying the Bhoga

Bring in the plate(s) for the bhoga offering and place it (them) on the table(s). Then, while lightly sprinkling each plate with a few drops of samanya-arghya from your right hand, chant om astraya phat once for each plate.

Next, while showing the bijaksara-mudra chant the mula-mantra eight times for each deity over the appropriate plate: Over each plate, hold your left hand over your right (palms down) and count the recitations of the mula-mantra with the fingers of your right hand, as if chanting Gayatri. (If a single plate is meant for more than one deity, chant the mula-mantra for the main deity of that group. For example, if you are offering bhoga to Lord Jagannatha, Srimati Subhadra, and Lord Balarama on one plate, chant klim krsnaya namah. If all the deities are sharing one plate, chant the mula-mantra for the main deity.)

Put tulasi leaves on the bhoga preparations on each plate. (You may put tulasi leaves on the bhoga plates of your spiritual master and Srimati Radharani, as they will both first offer their plates to Krsna before partaking.) If possible, place tulasi leaves on each preparation.

Inviting the Lord to Take His Meal

Draw Their Lordships’ attention by offering a few flower petals at Their lotus feet in ascending order while chanting esa puspanjalih and the mula-mantra for each deity.

If there are no actual mats or cushions to serve as asanas, place a few flower petals as asanas next to the deities’ plates, in ascending order, inviting Them to take Their meal while chanting idam asanam and the mula-mantra for each deity.

Sitting on an asana and ringing a bell with your left hand, offer both padya and acamana to your spiritual master and then to each deity, starting with Lord Caitanya and His associates and progressing to Krsna and His associates. While doing this chant etat padyam and the mula-mantra for each deity;
 idam acamaniyam and the mula-mantra for each deity. 

Pour each spoonful of offered padya and acamaniya water into the visarjaniya-patra.

Offering the Bhoga

With a hand gesture offer the bhoga to each deity, showing the plate(s) and chanting: 

idam naivedyam and the mula-mantra for each deity;
 idam paniyam and the mula-mantra for each deity. 

(Or, for balya-bhoga and afternoon offerings you may chant idam mistanna-paniyadikam sarvam (fruits, sweets and beverages, etc.) and the mula-mantra for each deity, and for breakfast, noon, and evening offerings you may chant idam anna-vyanjana-paniyadikam sarvam (grains, vegetables and beverages, etc.) and the mula-mantra for each deity).

While ringing a bell, chant the pranama prayer(s) to your spiritual master three times each, begging permission to assist him in serving the deities:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate [spiritual master’s name] iti namine

I offer my respectful obeisances unto [spiritual master’s name], who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

Chant the pranama prayers to Srila Prabhupada three times each, begging permission to assist him in serving the deities:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

Listen

I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine

Listen

Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.

Chant the following prayer to Lord Caitanya three times, requesting His mercy:

namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah

Listen

O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You. [Cc. Madhya 19.53]

Chant the following prayer three times, offering respect to Lord Krsna:

namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah

Listen

Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Krsna, who is the worshipable deity for all brahminical men, who is the well-wisher of cows and brahmanas, and who is always benefiting the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances to the Personality of Godhead, known as Krsna and Govinda. [Visnu Purana]

Leave the deity room and chant the Gayatri mantras. You may chant all the guru-given mantras at this time. Meditate on the Lord eating. While the Lord eats, you may chant various verses of your own choosing, or you may chant the Bhoga-arati song by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, especially during the breakfast or noon offering.

After some set time (generally fifteen to twenty minutes, ten for the balya-bhoga offering), re-enter the deity room, making a sound either by knocking on the door, clapping hands or ringing a bell.

After the Lord’s Meal

Sitting on an asana and ringing a bell with your left hand, offer water. Begin with the main deity, and progress to each personality who was offered a bhoga plate.

Chant: 
idam hasta-mukha-praksalanam and the mula-mantra for each deity, and offer water for cleaning hands and face;
 etat padyam and the mula-mantra for each deity; 
idam acamaniyam and the mula-mantra for each deity.

While meditating on escorting the Lord back to the altar, chant:
 idam asanam and the mula-mantra for each deity.

Chant: 
idam tambulam and the mula-mantra, and offer tambulam (betel) to each deity.

Offering Prasada to the Lord’s Associates

Offer the Lord’s prasada remnants to your spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada and the Lord’s associates with the following mantras:
 idam maha-prasadam and the guru-mula-mantra; 
idam maha-prasadam om ISKCON-samsthapakacaryaya namah; 
idam maha-prasadam om sangopangastra-parsadebhyo namah.

Finally, remove the plates and clean the eating area. After washing your hands, offer pranamas to your spiritual master and the deities.