What do you like for breakfast? Aloo paratha with dahi/lassi, kachori/samosa aloo tikki; or poha, puri bhaji, khichadi, moori kismis chiwda; or idli sambar/chutney, dosai, vadai, pongal, bise bele bhaath the list goes on and on.

If you are from India then you have very well understood that I have taken you on a breakfast tour beginning with the northern part of India and from then on to the western, eastern and finally the southern part. This insistence of Indians on beginning their day with a hot, freshly prepared breakfast is now under assault. Breakfast-cereal manufacturing multinational companies, flush with their multi-million dollar advertising and marketing budget are (and I am paraphrasing here) “Willing to suffer losses for twenty years if needed,” but are determined to change the way Indians eat their breakfast). For a housewife to cook breakfast for a family in this day and age is becoming difficult. It is far easier to just buy a box of cereals, put it on the table and tell the family members to pour some milk on it. Easy? Sure. Healthy? Maybe. Good for your family? Surely not.

The devotion and sacrifice that people make for each other is very much what gives substance, meaning and beauty to the family. A mother’s love is a prominent aspect that nourishes the whole family. And the expression of that love or that sacrifice when seen by the family has a powerful effect. Sad to state that it is not appreciated until many years later.

Why is it important that one should eat food that is prepared with love and devotion?

 The Vedas state that eating food also constitutes a yajna (act of sacrifice). Srila Prabhupada mentions in the Bhagavad-gita that “Performance of yajnas has many side benefits, ultimately leading to liberation from material bondage. By performance of yajnas, all activities become purified, as it is stated in the Vedas: ahara-Suddhau sattva-Suddhih sattva-Suddhau dhruva smrtih smrti-lambhe sarvagranthinam vipramoksah. By performance of yajna one’s eatables become sanctified, and by eating sanctified foodstuffs one’s very existence becomes purified; by the purification of existence finer tissues in the memory become sanctified, and when memory is sanctified one can think of the path of liberation, and all these combined together lead to Krsna consciousness, the great necessity of present-day society”.

Thus it is not just the external appearance of our breakfast that risks change the very foundation beneath the culture is threatened.

Science explains how a simple thing can bring about a huge change. Climatologists have coined the term Butterfly effect to explain how a tiny change in the beginning can have disastrous effects later. To put it graphically a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo might change the weather in Chennai.

The media is under the control of these companies and they are looking at India as a vast virgin territory ready to be exploited. Even in the United States where there is such a hue and cry over factory processed food made easily available everywhere, the government spent two million dollars educating the general public about the hazards of this food. On the other hand, the advertising and marketing budget of just the top five food processing companies was close to one billion dollars.

So, dump that cereal box and have something hot for breakfast tomorrow.

Syamananda Dasa