patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
Word for word:
patram — a leaf; puspam — a ﬂower; phalam — a fruit; toyam — water; yah — whoever; me — unto Me; bhaktya — with devotion; prayacchati — offers; tat — that; aham — I; bhakti-upahrtam — offered in devotion; asnami — accept; prayata-atmanah — from one in pure consciousness.
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a ﬂower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
For the intelligent person, it is essential to be in Krishna consciousness, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, in order to achieve a permanent, blissful abode for eternal happiness. The process of achieving such a marvelous result is very easy and can be attempted even by the poorest of the poor, without any kind of qualiﬁcation. The only qualiﬁcation required in this connection is to be a pure devotee of the Lord. It does not matter what one is or where one is situated. The process is so easy that even a leaf or a little water or fruit can be offered to the Supreme Lord in genuine love and the Lord will be pleased to accept it. No one, therefore, can be barred from Krishna consciousness, because it is so easy and universal. Who is such a fool that he does not want to be Krishna conscious by this simple method and thus attain the highest perfectional life of eternity, bliss and knowledge? Krishna wants only loving service and nothing more. Krishna accepts even a little ﬂower from His pure devotee. He does not want any kind of offering from a nondevotee. He is not in need of anything from anyone, because He is self-sufﬁcient, and yet He accepts the offering of His devotee in an exchange of love and affection. To develop Krishna consciousness is the highest perfection of life. Bhakti is mentioned twice in this verse in order to declare more emphatically that bhakti, or devotional service, is the only means to approach Krishna. No other condition, such as becoming a brahmana, a learned scholar, a very rich man or a great philosopher, can induce Krishna to accept some offering. Without the basic principle of bhakti, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept anything from anyone. Bhakti is never causal. The process is eternal. It is direct action in service to the absolute whole.
Here Lord Krishna, having established that He is the only enjoyer, the primeval Lord and the real object of all sacriﬁcial offerings, reveals what types of sacriﬁces He desires to be offered. If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be puriﬁed and to reach the goal of life – the transcendental loving service of God – then one should ﬁnd out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Krishna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked. Thus meat, ﬁsh and eggs should not be offered to Krishna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, ﬂowers and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, ﬁsh and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krishna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.
In the Third Chapter, verse 13, Sri Krishna explains that only the remains of sacriﬁce are puriﬁed and ﬁt for consumption by those who are seeking advancement in life and release from the clutches of the material entanglement. Those who do not make an offering of their food, He says in the same verse, are eating only sin. In other words, their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in the complexities of material nature. But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Krishna and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering enable one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create ﬁne brain tissues which will lead to clear thinking. Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Krishna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Krishna.
The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gita. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita. But, in actuality, Krishna, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Krishna is absolute. Lacking senses, He could hardly be considered full in all opulences. In the Seventh Chapter, Krishna has explained that He impregnates the living entities into material nature. This is done by His looking upon material nature. And so in this instance, Krishna’s hearing the devotee’s words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting. This point should be emphasized: because of His absolute position, His hearing is wholly identical with His eating and tasting. Only the devotee, who accepts Krishna as He describes Himself, without interpretation, can understand that the Supreme Absolute Truth can eat food and enjoy it.