We see that Sadhus traditionally, would use their own lota and tiffin and wash it themselves with clay and so on – because it has to be pure. There are different types of plates in terms of purity. It is said that if you eat off a clay plate or porcelain plate, that is fine, but after eating from it, you have to throw it away! So there is no dish washing involved – no way of washing any dishes when you are serving from porcelain plates – those we just throw away!
“Yes but that’s porcelain!”
It doesn’t matter, since it is permanently contaminated. Therefore, you cannot actually eat again and again from a porcelain plate. In the modern world you just say:
“Hallelujah!” And keep on eating, but we should know – we should not just keep on eating without knowing. Therefore, metal plates are better. So they can use stainless steel or better – bell metal – that’s a higher level. Or better still use a silver plate – Brahmananda used to have a silver plate – we used to keep Deities on the silver plate and sometimes serve silver plates, but supposedly still more pure than the silver plate is the marble plate! A marble plate with marble cups and everything – that’s an even higher standard of purity! – but more pure than that is a leaf! Actually a leaf from a tree, and it’s like a lotus leaf or a banana leaf – that’s the best! That’s is first class and the most cultured – either that or a golden plate – you can choose! Either eat from a banana leaf or a golden plate!
(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Melbourne, March 2011)