“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
Friend-One: Alright, this time I’m forwarding a question from someone else.
Friend-Two: What, you weren’t able to answer it? Aren’t you the expert now? The other day you were telling me how much caffeine is in chocolate, as if I didn’t already know.
F1: And don’t forget the theobromine. Is it my fault that I get excited by this stuff that I knew nothing about before?
F2: So let me hear it. I bet you could have answered it correctly.
F1: Okay, so this person asked me if I knew what Krishna’s preferred drink is. For instance, does he like coconut water? What about mango juice? They wanted to know if from Krishna’s pastimes I could tell His favorite beverage.
F2: And what was your response?
F1: I honestly couldn’t come up with a good answer. I thought for a second. I remembered that He likes butter. I think everyone knows that. It’s part of what makes Krishna so endearing. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet He appears as a naughty child in Gokula and runs around stealing. He likes the butter so much that He eats it straight out of the pot.
F2: Yeah. I’ve eaten butter like that a few times while at restaurants. I did it without thinking and my friends would always chide me. “You realize that’s not civilized behavior, right?” That’s what they would ask me [laughing].
F1: That’s funny. So the butter was the only thing I could remember. I thought maybe you could shed some light.
F2: You obviously forgot about the verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Krishna talks about offerings.
F1: I didn’t. He says that one can offer Him a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water and He will accept it. He isn’t specific, though.
F2: But why will He accept it? Is He looking to eat? Do you mean to say that God is starving for food and He expects others to deliver it to Him?
F1: The key is love and devotion. The mood of the offering is what is important.
F2: Bingo. That’s the reason He likes the butter so much in Vrindavana.
F1: Ah, so it’s because of the cows and the people? Their hearts are full of pure love for God, and that’s why He goes so far to make schemes to steal the butter. I totally overlooked that.
F2: Yes, you did. In His descent as Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord accepted wild berries at the hermitage of Shabari. That was all that she could offer, but Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana did not mind. The Supreme Lord never puts stock in the material quality of an offering. To Him there is no difference between material and spiritual; everything is the same to Him. He looks for love and devotion. Through that, something typically considered low quality becomes high quality. In the same way, an object of otherwise high quality but offered without love and devotion is rejected by Him.
F1: So the right answer would be that Krishna will drink whatever fruit juice you offer, provided you have devotion to Him?
F2: What to speak of fruits, He’ll even eat the peels. There is the famous story of the visit to Vidura’s house. The five Pandava brothers were Krishna’s cousins. They are the central characters of the famous Mahabharata, in which the Bhagavad-gita is found.
F1: Vidura was an uncle to the Pandavas, right?
F2: Yeah. So Krishna visited one time. Now there are variations to the story. The pastimes of the Supreme Lord take place eternally, spanning all of space. This means that right now He is stealing someone’s butter in some Vrindavana of some universe. It’s not that the pastimes only take place on this earth. So since the events take place so many times, there are little variations here and there.
F1: Got it.
F2: So with this visit, sometimes it is Vidura who greets Krishna with offerings and sometimes it is Vidura’s wife. Anyway, the lesson is the same. As a good host, Vidura immediately looks to offer some food to Krishna. He is so happy because he has so much love. So he goes to the kitchen to give some bananas, but in his joy he brings the banana peels instead.
F1: That’s funny. So he left the bananas in the kitchen and brought with him the peels?
F2: And Krishna just eats it as if there’s no problem. He did not say anything. The Supreme Lord teaches many lessons in a single interaction. Here we get the example of how to be an ideal guest. If the offering is made nicely, even if it supposedly tastes bad we should not say anything.
F1: What happened to the bananas?
F2: Vidura eventually came back to normal consciousness and he saw his mistake. Krishna still insisted that the banana peels tasted great. The other version to the story is that Vidura’s wife is the one who makes the offering of banana peels. The outcome is still the same.
F1: Wow. That’s a heartwarming story. Really unbelievable.
F2: I know. You could meditate on that for years. Goswami Tulsidas says that Shri Rama is a mine of politeness. The mine is a good comparison because it means that there is so much there to take. So Krishna gave a glimpse into that politeness when at Vidura’s house.
F1: I was just thinking something. If the offering was made without love and devotion, Krishna would have reason to be upset.
F2: Why is that?
F1: Because obviously the host would be looking for something. They’d be expecting a reward. And so with that motive in mind, the quality of their offering suffered. It means that they are a miser or that they are blinded by their passion to get something from Krishna.
F2: That’s a good point. Yeah, Vidura is a pure devotee. He doesn’t want anything in return. That’s the determining factor for whether or not Krishna will accept the offering.
For His pleasure to think,
What is Krishna’s favorite drink?
If with love given seat,
Even banana’s peel He’ll eat.
Like with Vidura shown,
When invited to his home.
For love and devotion just seeing,
Then pleased with offering being.