There are many instructions the guru gives and we must be careful to understand their relevance according to time, place and circumstances. It is pointless to talk about big big complicated topics of the transcendental pastimes of Krishna with the gopis or the intricacies of guru-tattva, if one cannot follow even the very basic principles. Taking prasadam and prasadam only is such essential instruction.
Srila Prabhupada writes: "When there is an epidemic disease, an antiseptic vaccine protects a person from the attack of such an epidemic. Similarly, food offered to Lord Visnu and then taken by us makes us sufficiently resistant to material affection, and one who is accustomed to this practice is called a devotee of the Lord. " (Bg 3.14 purport) In other words, one who is not accustomed to this practiced but still maintains his victimhood to "the prostitute tongue" cannot be strictly called a devotee. So it is of top most importance that we take humble hearing of how important this practice and this will help us to become fixed and then make very steady and wonderful advancement in our Krishna consciousness. Who would be such a fool and not hear these very practical and effective advice?
Why is eating unoffered food so detrimental? Eating unoffered food means we are preparing for ourselves a body of an animal. Srila Prabhupada explains: "A person in Krsna consciousness, who eats only food offered to Krsna, can counteract all reactions of past material infections, which are impediments to the progress of self-realization. On the other hand, one who does not do so continues to increase the volume of sinful action, and this prepares the next body to resemble hogs and dogs, to suffer the resultant reactions of all sins." (Bg 3.14 purport) It is not possible to practice or understand Krishna consciousness in an animal body since animals do not have the proper intelligence. They are simply governed by their senses and therefore their freedom is very limited. Those who cannot control their tongues are compared to two legged animals who although possessing a human body simply misuse it for the gratification of the senses.
We may be struggling in so many ways in our sadhana and we might be wondering or even doubting whether the process of Krishna consciousness actually works and at the same time having a solution in front of our eyes: we must take prasadam and prasadam only. This is the very first step in trying to conquer the senses. It helps us to follow the 4 regulative principles. Srila Prabhupada writes: "In the bhakti-marga, the path of devotional service, one must strictly follow the regulative principles by first controlling the tongue (sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah [Brs. 1.2.234]). The tongue (jihva) can be controlled if one chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, does not speak of any subjects other than those concerning Krsna and does not taste anything not offered to Krsna. If one can control the tongue in this way, brahmacarya and other purifying processes will automatically follow." (SB 6.1.13–14 purport)
One should be also careful not to accept food or so-called prasadam from non-devotees. Srila Prabhupada states this to be the "standard practice for the initiated devotees". In other words one who wants to be initiated must strictly follow this principle. It is not that one should simply be a vegetarian. As mentioned above any food that is not offered to the Lord contains leaps of sin since the living entities have been killed and since the Lord only accepts food that has been cooked by the devotees, the rule "no meat eating" actually means "no food which has been cooked by non-devotees."
So we must understand who is actually a devotee. There is a standard who is and who is not a devotee. As mentioned above, one who is not accustomed to the practice of offering and accepting food to Krishna is not a devotee. Therefore his offerings should not be accepted. Nor can he control his senses. Usually such devotees although externally chanting Hare Krishna are still addicted to various sinful activities. Out of those, there might be many who are willing to hear about the proper standard from actual devotees and they should be given all guidance. However, those who do not want to hear should not be associated with.
Srila Prabhupada writes: "The prakrta-sahajiyas generally chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, yet they are attached to women, money and intoxication. Although such persons may chant the holy name of the Lord, they are not yet properly purified. Such people should be respected within one's mind, but their association should be avoided. Those who are innocent but simply carried away by bad association should be shown favor if they are eager to receive proper instructions from pure devotees..."(NoI: verse 5 purport)
The word prakrta-sahajiya refers to so-called devotees who take everything cheaply. They are opposed to the bona fide spiritual master, they deride him and they deride those who follow his instructions. Their association is extremely contaminating and their foodstuff cannot be accepted as Krsna-prasadam.
Srila Prabhupada writes:
Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike non-devotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Visnu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offering by such impure ghosts. (SB 2.3.23 purport)
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura suggests that people who are materialistically inclined and sahajiyas, or so-called Vaisnavas who take everything very casually, are both visayis, or materialists. Eating food offered by them causes contamination, and as a result of such contamination, even a serious devotee becomes like a materialistic man. There are six kinds of association—giving charity, accepting charity, accepting food, offering food, talking confidentially and inquiring confidentially. One should very carefully avoid associating with both the sahajiyas, who are sometimes known as Vaisnavas, and the non-Vaisnavas, or avaisnavas. Their association changes the transcendental devotional service of Lord Krsna into sense gratification, and when sense gratification enters the mind of a devotee, he is contaminated. The materialistic person who aspires after sense gratification cannot properly think of Krsna." (Antya 6.279 purport)
Similarly, an offender to the holy name and to the spiritual master cannot be accepted as a devotee. Srila Prabhupada in his article "The Science of Congregational Chanting of the Holy Name" explains that the third offense to the holy name is to worship bogus gurus. From this we can understand that anyone who worships a bogus guru on the same level with the bona fide spiritual master is an offender and thus his foodstuff will be hardly accepted by the Lord. Worshipping a so-called spiritual master on the same level with the bona fide spiritual master diminishes the value of a bona fide spiritual master and it can be compared to equalizing the names of demigods with the holy name of Krishna.
One who considers the bode of the spiritual master to be different than his soul, namely one who thinks that the spiritual master's body and the spiritual master's soul are different has been contaminated by the Mayavada philosophy. Srila Prabhupada makes this statement in a conversation with Dr. Patel:
Dr. Patel: I don't understand, and you also don't understand me. I mean to say that disciples have got to take guru as God, and not this body as God. His atma is guru, and atma is God. So guru in that way is God.
Prabhupada: No, that is not...
Dr. Patel: That is what I think.
Dr. Patel: And I don't think I am wrong.
Prabhupada: No, why God...? Why do you make...? Why do you distinguish between guru's atma and guru's body?
Dr. Patel: But the body... But the body's not guru.
Prabhupada: That is Mayavada. That is Mayavada.
(Morning Walk – February 23, 1974, Bombay)
Therefore it is extremely important that we immediately reject any such so-called prasadam from those who call the spiritual master dead or not living as they are classified by Srila Prabhupada as Mayavadis. Srila Prabhupada states: "Nor should we extend invitations to Mayavadis and atheists nor accept their invitations, for by such intimate intermingling we may become affected by their atheistic mentality (sangat sanjayate kamah). It is the negative injunction of this verse that we should refrain from giving anything to or accepting anything from the Mayavadis and atheists. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has also warned, visayera anna khaile dusta haya mana: "By eating food prepared by worldly people, one’s mind
becomes wicked." (NOI 4 purport)
One cannot make any spiritual advancement if one's mind becomes wicked no matter how much he chants the holy name of the Lord. Offenders, cheap devotees and Mayavadis who consider the spiritual master to be non-living are all unwanted association and their so-called prasadam must be strictly rejected. If one does not reject such so-called association of these impure ghosts he or she can be compared to a prostitute. A prostitute is always unfaithful and thus a devotee who is not faithful to the spiritual master cannot make any spiritual progress. Faith is the basic principle of advancement. If one is not faithful, he or she cannot associate with the devotees, nor will the devotees associate with him or her. As a prostitute carries contamination of sexually transmitted diseases, an unfaithful devotee carries contamination of impersonalism and sense gratification wherever she or he goes. He or she is not innocent but harmful. One should therefore avoid such so-called prasadam and stick to the principle of offering one's foods to Krishna via the bona fide link of the spiritual master.