Significance of Bhiksha
Offering Bhiksha (food) to a brahmachari or sanyasi is considered as one of the foremost duties and privileges of a householder in the Hindu tradition. In Vedic tradition, it is considered the duty of the householder to support sanyasis who spend their life in pursuit of Truth for the benefit of society as a whole. From the householder’s point of view, it is a great blessing to offer bhiksha, for it affords their family a special time with the visiting sanyasis. Furthermore, this is an excellent opportunity to invite friends and families to come and spend some valuable time and even ask some questions to a visiting Acharya, so that, on top of a tasty meal, they can enjoy nice food for thoughts. Children also learn the value of selfless, dedicated service. Apart from the symbolic Bhiksha Food offered to an Acharya, in Chinmaya Mission, we also encourage families to give a financial contribution. Your donation is an expression of gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve and to enable the work of studying and teaching of the Scriptures to continue.
Signing up for bhiksha
You may sign up for breakfast, lunch or dinner bhikshas by contacting the coordinator. The bhiksha host organizes the meal for the Acharya and the guests. Have enough Prasad (fruit or sweets) for Swamiji to give one each to all those you have invited to attend. The bhiksha host family may invite family, friends and any acquaintances to participate.
Receiving the Acharya
The bhiksha host family and their guests are encouraged to assemble before the arrival of the Acharya. The Acharya is received at the door step, wherein the bhiksha host family welcomes him with a “thali” containing kumkum/chandan and a diya. Arati is done while chanting na tatra suryo bhati. Click here for the Vedic Diparadhana Mantra. If however you welcome Swamiji ceremonially with a “Purna Kumbha”, you need to chant the Vedic Arathi, na karmana na prajaya. Click here for the Vedic Arati text.
The Bhiksha family then prostrate to the Acharya and take his blessings.
Prepare a central place for the Acharya to sit at, prior to and/or after the Bhiksha-Meal, preferably with orange/yellow/white cloth (if available, according to the Acharya’s robe’s colour) covering the seat and cushion.
- Hosts will prepare the meal with consideration to any specific guidelines that the brahmacharin / sanyasi may have and which will be communicated with them when they sign up for Bhiksha.
- Typically the food must be simple and sattvic, i.e. pure, cooked with love and good intention, freshly prepared, strictly vegetarian, using little or no garlic and onions, and avoiding heavy, oily and spicy recipes.
- Dessert should be eggless and devoid of gelatin.
- When all the meal preparations are ready, he is invited to the table.
- A glass of water needs to be ready at the table, so that prayers can be offered before the meal.
- Food is served in Acharya’s plate.
- All family members are encouraged to take turns to serve him.
- Bhiksha guests may eat with the Acharya
Satsang and offering Guru Dakshina
After finishing the meal, the Acharya returns to the living room accompanied by the host family and guests. He then has a satsang with the host family and their guests. This is a good time to ask any questions that you may have, or have the kids/other members sing a bhajan etc. Chinmaya Mission Acharyas are quite comfortable with people of all ages.
After the satsang, the whole family offers a dakshina to the Acharya. This is generally done with a tray filled with whole fruits and an envelope, which contains a donation.
The amount of the offering is your choice made in cash.
All bhiksha guests may then prostrate to the Acharya and receive prasad.