A lifestyle centred on a vegetarian diet, preferably food that is offered to God first and then accepted as His mercy, facilitates good chanting.
Initially when one practises the Hare Krishna meditation, he or she is encouraged to just chant and not worry too much about the various rules. It’s like a person who is unhealthy and is advised by the doctor to jog daily. As the person starts jogging, he isn’t particularly worried about his dress and shoes. However as he gets better in his exercise and discovers a taste for jogging and athletics, he is more particular about his shoes, shorts, and the viscosity and lightness of the sweat bands. Similarly as we begin chanting we are encouraged to somehow connect to the Lord through the Holy Names of Krishna; there are no hard and fast rules for our chanting. However as we progress and desire to improve the quality of our chanting it helps to adjust our lifestyles. One important element of our lifestyle is the diet.
The ancient scripture Bhagavad Gita has scientifically analyzed the various types of consciousness and the book soundly reasons which type of consciousness is most conducive for practising meditation and achieving a peaceful state for the mind. There are three modes in nature which combine to influence us always in various ways; goodness, passion and ignorance. The mode of goodness is most conducive for practising any kind of meditation, particularly the Hare Krishna meditation.
The mode of goodness is characterized by peacefulness, self control, purity, austerity and wisdom. The Supreme Lord Krishna discusses in the Bhagavad Gita that the diet that best helps develop this consciousness is juicy, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart. This type of food purifies one’s existence, and gives strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. As Hare Krishna chanters it helps us be in mode of goodness to help tune in internally to the divine sound vibrations of the Holy Names.
Radhanath Swami explains that we can tell a person’s consciousness by what they eat and how they eat. There are people in mode of ignorance who like to eat stale food or food that’s product of bloodshed, murder and horrible suffering. Then there is food in the mode of passion, which is very hot and stimulating to the senses and the mind. The vegetarian food is in the mode of goodness because it minimizes violence as far as possible. “But even if you eat vegetarian food, it’s still sinful because the plants and vegetables are the property of God, and there is some violence involved”, says Radhanath Swami. Violence in a vegetarian diet is far less compared to eating fish, meat, or eggs but it’s still sinful because it’s not completely free from violence. Therefore the best food, Radhanath Swami says is a vegetarian food cooked and offered with love and devotion to God; that makes it free of all bad karma.
You can try an experiment for a month; give up the consumption of meat and increase your chanting. See the difference in your consciousness; you’ll certainly feel more peaceful and satisfied within. The combination of a ‘goodness’ diet and the medicine of Hare Krishna meditation works wonders in the life of a Bhakti Yogi.