The significance of chanting Brahmarpanam before meals

7th March, Tuesday, Amritapuri Ashram

Chanting Brahmarpanam before consuming food is an ancient practice deeply rooted in Indian culture and spirituality. This ritual is not only about expressing gratitude for the food we eat but also about recognizing the interconnectedness of all beings and elements involved in bringing that food to our plates. During the Gita Challenge talks by the Ashram residents, Amma, explained the significance of chanting Brahmarpanam and the importance of patience in cultivating a spiritual life.

Food plates for distribution as prasad on a Tuesday

Before partaking in a meal, we should take a moment to feel gratitude for the food that nourishes our bodies. Behind every meal, there is a multitude of people and natural elements that have contributed to its creation. The sun provided the energy for growth, clouds brought rain, bees pollinated the plants, and farmers toiled to cultivate and harvest the crops.Thus transported and sold food items we consume. Each of these elements is an expression of Brahman, the ultimate reality.

In today’s world, many people feel entitled to use their resources, such as money and possessions, in any way they please, even if it results in waste. They claim ‘it’s due to my effort,’ ‘it’s my money,’ etc.; and adopt an attitude of ‘I can do whatever I feel like; who are you to question me?’ However, Amma encourages us to reflect on the origin of these assets and the power that enables us to work and earn. Acknowledging that everything ultimately comes from a divine source helps foster humility and gratitude.

To illustrate this point, Amma shared a relatable anecdote of a boy who bought an expensive gift for his father’s birthday using his father’s credit card. When asked where the money came from, the boy replied that he used his father’s credit card to purchase the gift. This story serves as a reminder that what we possess doesn’t truly belong to us; everything we have belongs to Brahman.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude

When we express gratitude, we acknowledge that these elements are not separate from Brahman, the ultimate reality. This recognition allows us to experience Brahmabhava, a supreme state of being, and expands our spiritual awareness.

When we chant Brahmarpanam, we not only express gratitude for our food but also pray for the health and happiness of all beings. This practice encourages us to embrace a selfless lifestyle, transforming our lives into a Yagna, a continuous act of service to the world.

Mantra and purification ritual

To practice this ritual, one should chant the following verse from the Bhagavad Gita before eating:
ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥ ४-२४॥
brahma-arpaṇaṁ brahma haviḥ brahma-agnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahma ēva tēna gantavyam brahma-karma-samādhinā. (Gita 04-24)
{the meaning: The ladle is Brahman. The oblations is Brahman, the offering is poured by Brahman in the fire of Brahman. Brahman alone is to be reached by him who has deep contemplation on Brahman as the one to be known and attained. He sees Brahman in everything.}

Sri Krishna is using the example of Homa, and the items used – the ladle, the ghee, the fire, the priests, the chants and the offerings – as an allegory to explain the ultimate truth that everything is Brahman.

Before chanting the mantra, take a few spoons of water in the cupped palm of your right hand, keeping it above the food plate. After finishing the chanting of the Mantra, circle the palm three times in a clockwise direction. Then sip a small amount of water from the palm. Sprinkle the remaining water over the food to sanctify it.

Amma also reminded Ashramites about the value of patience in spiritual growth. She said, “In heaven also, there is a queue. You need to have patience. Patience is the first quality we need to develop. The best time to test is when we sit in front of food.”

Chanting Brahmarpanam before consuming food is a powerful practice that cultivates gratitude, spiritual awareness, and patience. By acknowledging the interconnectedness of all beings and elements, we can elevate our consciousness and embrace a life dedicated to serving the world. As Amma reminds us, patience and gratitude are essential aspects of our spiritual growth.