Q: It is said that distributing Bhagavat-prasāda to others is equivalent to distributing bhakti for Bhagavān. What are your views on this?
A: If that is true, then every person who gets prasāda should become a devotee. But that is not seen to happen.
Q: These people could become devotees in the future. Maybe even in the next life.
A: It depends on the attitude of the person who is receiving the prasāda. If they are disrespectful or disinterested in bhakti to begin with, just giving them prasāda is not going to have any beneficial effect.
Q: Is there any pramāṇa for this?
A: An example of this principle can be seen in Śrī Jīva Goswami’s Harināmāmṛta vyākaraṇam. In the kāraka prakaraṇam, sūtra 1050 goes like this:
अशिष्टव्यवहारे संप्रयच्छतेः संप्रदाने तृतीया
Before translating the sūtra, I will translate the Bala-toṣaṇī commentary on it:
अशिष्टस्य व्वयहारोSशिष्टव्यवहारस्तस्मिन् गम्ये संपूर्वस्य यच्छतेः प्रयोगे सम्प्रदाने तृतीया भवति।
aśiṣṭa-vyavahāra means the behavior of an aśiṣṭa. When the behavior of an aśiṣṭa is understood, in the use of prayachhate combined with the prefix saṁ, the sampradāna is in instrumental case.
So the sūtra can be translated as:
The sampradāna of saṁprayachhate is in the instrumental case when aśiṣṭa behavior is understood.
Generally the sampradāna, or the recipient of the act of giving in charity, is supposed to in the dative case. The Bala-toṣaṇī commentary further explains that the act of giving is captured by the root dāṇa dāne from which the yacchate form is developed. But, an exception is made when aśiṣṭa behavior is understood- then the instrumental case is to be used for the recipient. The word ‘aśiṣṭa’ means ‘ill-behaved’ or as Bala-toṣaṇī glosses it, ‘mūrkha’ or foolish (अशिष्टः मूर्खः।)
The point of all this is to understand the example below given by Śrī Jīva Goswami of aśiṣṭa behavior. He writes:
विष्णोर्बहिर्मुखैस्तत्प्रसादं संप्रयच्छते, तेभ्यो ददातीत्यर्थः।
[An example of such behavior is] [Someone] gives the prasāda of Śrī Viṣṇu to those whose awareness is turned away from Śrī Viṣṇu (bahir-mukhas). saṁprayachhate means gives to them.
Here the word bahirmukha is declined in the instrumental case instead of the normal dative. The Bala-toṣaṇī commentary confirms:
बहिर्मुखेभ्यो विष्णुप्रसाददानम् अशिष्टव्यवहारः The giving of prasāda of Śrī Viṣṇu to the bahirmukhas is aśiṣṭa behavior.
This shows that prasāda must only be given to antar-mukhas, that is, devotees of Śrī Viṣṇu.