Usually, we pray before having food. Are there any mantras which should be chanted before taking food? If such mantras exist, do they differ according to the meal e.g., breakfast, lunch and supper?
We do have a "bhojan mantra" which we should chant before eating food:
ओम् यन्तु नदयोः वर्षन्तु पर्जंया सुपिप्पला ओषधयोः भवन्तुः ।
अन्नवताम् ओदनवताम् मामिक्षवताम् एशाम् राजा भूयासन् ।।
ओदन् मुत्ब्रुवते परमेष्ठीवा एषः यदोदनः ।
परमामेवैनम् श्रियंगमयति ।।1।।
Om Yantu Nadyo Varshantu Parjnyah Supipala Aosadhyao Bhavantu ।
AnnVata ModanVata MaMikshvataam ! eshaam Raja Bhuyasam ।।
Odanmudbruvate parmesthi va esah yadodanah Parma maivainam Sryam Gamyati!!
May the rivers flow and the clouds give rain. May the plants yield good harvest. May I become the king of all those having plenty of food, boiled rice, curd and milk. Food is praiseworthy. This food is verily Brahma the creator. This will lead to the greatest prosperity in the form of health and wealth.
मा भ्राता भ्रातरं द्विक्षन्, मा स्वसारमुत स्वसा ।
सम्यञ्च: सव्रता भूत्वा वाचं वदत भद्रया ।।2।। (अथर्ववेद 3.30.3)
Ma Bhrata bhrataram duyakshan Ma Swasaarmut swasa !
samyach savrta bhutwa Vancha Vadat Bhadrayaa !!
bramharpanam bramha Havibramhagno bramhana hutam !
bramhmaiv ten Gantavyam bramhkarm samadhina !!
Let no brother hate his brother. Let no sister hate his sister. With proper courteous behaviour and bound by a vow, always speak pleasant and auspicious words.
ॐ सहनाववतु सहनौ भुनक्तु सहवीर्यं करवावहै |
तेजस्विना वधितमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ||
Om Sah Naavvatu ! sah Nao Bhunaktu ! sah virya karva vahe !
tejosvina vadhitamastu Ma Vidvisavahe !! Shanti ! Shanti ! Shanti
May it (the knowledge of Brahman) protect us both. May it make us both enjoy. May we together acquire the capacity for knowledge. May our study be brilliant. May we not hate each other. Om ! Peace ! Peace ! Peace !
Yes, you can chant the following mantras before eating food.
यज्ञ शिष्ठा शिनः षन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्व किल बिशैहि |
भुन्जते ते त्वघं पाप ये पचन्त्यात्मा कारणात ||
The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered ﬁrst for sacriﬁce. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.
यत् करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् |
यत् तपस्यसि कौन्तेय, तत्कुरुश्व मदर्पणम् ||
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.
अहं वैश्वा नरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः |
प्राणापान समायुक्त, पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् ||
I am the ﬁre of digestion in the bodies of all living entities, and I join with the air of life, outgoing and incoming, to digest the four kinds of foodstuff.
ॐ सहनाववतु सहनौ भुनक्तु सहवीर्यं करवावहै |
तेजस्विना वधितमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ||
Oh Gods! We pray to you to please protect us, bless us with bliss, knowledge and Joy. Let us join forces together. May our studies be bright. May we not hate or quarrel with each other.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
Prayer to chant before meal
Brahmārpaṇam brahma havir Brahmāgnau brahmanāhutam;
Brahmaiva tena gantavyam Brahma karma samādhinā.
“Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the clarified butter etc. constituting the offerings, by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all actions.”
Uttering this prayer, one should start meal.
In Sri Vaishnava tradition, there is a specific procedure to be followed before consumption of Prasadam (meaning cooked rice with ghee). The name of this procedure is Pariseshanam. Oftentimes the rice and ghee are served before the rest of the meal, so it is common to perform Pariseshanam first on the Prasadam before the other foods are served.
The protocol for Pariseshanam is described here:
Wash your feet and palms and perform aachamanam.
After the rice and ghee are served, sprinkle little water on the food while chanting the following mantra, inorder to do nivedhanam to Bhagawan who resides in you as an antharyAmi. Om antharyAmiNE nama:
In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate) in clockwise direction and chant the following mantra. Om bhurbhuvassuva:
Do the following nyasam. prANAgnihotramanthrasya bhrahmA rushi: (touch top of the head) anushtup cchandha: (touch the tip of the nose) vaishvAnarAgnirdevathA (touch the heart) prANAgnihotrE viniyOgha: (both the palms together do the semicircular motion starting from outside towards you)
In your right palm, have some water, and put it around your leaf(or plate) in clockwise direction and chant the following mantra. sathyam thvarthEna parishinchAmi (during the day) rutham thvA sathyEna parishinchAmi (during the night)
Then partially lift the top left corner of the leaf or you could touch the plate. Use only the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the left hand. You can skip this step if perumAL theertham is self-served.
Request for the perumAL theertham to be served. First, sprinkle the theertham onto the food. Second, hold the perumal theertham(pAdhyam). Don't have yet, wait until the theertham is served for all.
Chant the following manthra and then have the theertham without noise. amruthOpastharaNamasi
Then perform the following prANAhoothi. Use only the thumb, index finger and middle finger of the right hand and take a very little amount of the rice and ghee mixed and swallow it without touching the teeth. Om prANAya svAhA (east) Om apAnAya svAhA (south) Om vyAnAya svAhA (west) Om udhAnAya svAhA (north) Om samAnAya svAhA (center) Om bhrahmaNE svAhA (center) Om bhrahmaNi mama AthmamruthathvAya (center) SriGovindhAya nama:
Now, switch the one you are holding with left hand to right hand. Request to serve water to purify your left hand at that corner.
Until you come to this point don't have anything other than what you had during parisEshanam.
Have thrupthi bhOjanam.
Have what you need to (food, fruits, water etc) before the utthara bhojanam.
utthara bhojanam. Request for the perumAL theertham to be served. Hold the perumal theertham(pAdhyam). Don't have yet, wait until the theertham is served for all. Chant the following manthra and then have half what was served. amruthApidhAnamasi
And pour the rest around the leaf while chanting the following. rauravE apuNyanilayE padmarbudha nivAsinAm | arththinAmudhakam dhaththam akshayyamupathishtathu ||
Then, gargle 16 times, wash your feet and perform the Achmanam twice.
The purpose of Pariseshanam is to purify the food before eating it, and offer it to Perumal before consumption. Note that we are not technically supposed to eat any food that has not been offered, so by offering the food right before consuming it, we ensure that we are not committing a mistake.
A careful observer will also note that there is a lot of overlap in the mantras between Pariseshanam and Bhojyasanam, which is the procedure of offering food during daily Aradhanam. This makes sense as both are forms of offering food to Perumal albeit in different contexts.
Those who have undergone upanayanam do a special mantra before eating. Those who do not have this adhikara, may chant:
annapUrnE sadA purNE sankara prANa vallabE jnyAna vairagya siddhyartham bhikshAm dehi cha pArvati
O Annapurna, who is full of food, the beloved life-force of Lord Sankara (Shiva), O' Parvathi - grant me alms that I be firmly established in knowledge and renunciation.
and remember "govinda" while eating and after finishing.
Those who have had upanayana samskAra (at least brahmins- I am not aware of rituals for others) do another mantra and uttara OupOsana at the end of the meal.
Rigvedic brahmins follow a specific procedure of remembering the essence of life - Prana before eating. I am not sure if some others also follow the same.
Prana is energy, vitality, power. Prana is the foundation and essence of all life; the energy and vitality that permeates the entire Universe. Prana flows in everything that exists.
Prana is divided into ten main functions. So in this procedure, first a small portion of food is taken, divided into five parts and dedicated to the five upa-pranas - Naga, Kurma, Devadatta, Krikala and Dhananjaya.
Om Nagaye Namah, Om Kurmaye Namah, Om Devadattaye Namah, Om Krikalaye Namah, Om Dhananjayaye Namah.
Then achaman is done and some food is taken with remembering five pranas - Prana, Apana, Udana, Vyana and Samana.
Om Pranaye svaha, Om Apanaye svaha, Om Udanaye svaha, Om Vyanaye svaha, Om Samanaye svaha.
It is advisable not to speak to anyone and not to leave the place while having food. When food is finished, one more achaman is done.
From here, one of the mantras you can chant before having any food, any meal, at any time of the day, is:
नमो ब्रह्मण्य देवाय गोब्राह्मण हिताय च ।
जगत् हिताय कृष्णाय गोविन्दाय नमो नमः ॥
govindāya namo namaḥ
Vishnu Purana (1.19.65)
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the worshipable Deity for all brahminical men, who is the well-wisher of cows and brāhmaṇas, and who is always benefiting the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances to the Personality of Godhead, known as Kṛṣṇa and Govinda.
In Chinamaya mission, Gita Chapter 4 sloka 24 is chanted. Our Swami Dheerananda in Washington DC gives meaning to this sloka- "Lord Sri Krishna impresses upon Arjuna that the whole life is yajna. Yajna means selfless dedicated service. Even the act of eating food is a yajan. Eating food is not merely for enjoying food, but to sustain my body, so I can do my duties cheerfully". This sloka can be chanted before any meals. When the Mission members gather for annual camps, whole Chapter 15 of Bhagvad Gita is usually chanted before lunch and dinner.
Another simple prayer before and after eating food like this one is suffice for daily ritual.
भोजन पूर्व श्लोकं
ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविः ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणाहुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्म कर्म समाधिनः ॥
अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देह-माश्रितः ।
प्राणापान समायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् ॥
त्वदीयं वस्तु गोविन्द तुभ्यमेव समर्पये ।
गृहाण सुमुखो भूत्वा प्रसीद परमेश्वर ॥
अगस्त्यं वैनतेयं च शमीं च बडबालनम् ।
आहार परिणामार्थं स्मरामि च वृकोदरम् ॥
bhojana pūrva ślokaṃ
brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma haviḥ brahmāgnau brahmaṇāhutam |
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṃ brahma karma samādhinaḥ ||
ahaṃ vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇināṃ deha-māśritaḥ |
prāṇāpāna samāyuktaḥ pacāmyannaṃ caturvidham ||
tvadīyaṃ vastu govinda tubhyameva samarpaye |
gṛhāṇa sumukho bhūtvā prasīda parameśvara ||
agastyaṃ vainateyaṃ ca śamīṃ ca baḍabālanam |
āhāra pariṇāmārthaṃ smarāmi ca vṛkodaram ||
This is what Gaudiya Vaishnavas chant before consuming any meal:
sarira avidya jal, jadendriya tahe kal jive phele vishaya-sagare ta'ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamaya sudurmati ta'ke jeta kathina samsare krishna bada dayamai, karibare jihva jay, sva-prasadanna dila bhai sei annamrita pao, radha-krishna guna gao, preme dako chaitanya-nitai
English Translation: O Lord, this material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths to death. Somehow, we have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is most voracious and uncontrollable; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. But You, dear Krishna, are very kind to us and have given us such nice prasadam, just to control the tongue. Now we take this prasadam to our full satisfaction and glorify Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, and in love call for the help of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda.