|(continued from My Early Days, below…)
One of the main elements of bhakti-yoga, Upananda pointed out, was the preparation of sacred foods, foods fit for God. For thousands of years, priests in temples throughout India had prepared divine vegetarian offerings for the Supreme Being, known by names such as Krishna and Rama. These offerings were saturated with love and devotion.
The Sanskrit word yoga carried the meaning of “connection,” specifically the connection between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. That connection had now been broken, and yoga was the means for re-establishing it.
The connection between the soul and Supreme Soul was intimate and personal, and the techniques for re-establishing the connection were also intimate and personal.
“If we love someone, we want to do things for them, and a very common thing that people do for people they love is to cook for them,” said Upananda.
“Practitioners of bhakti-yoga prepare offerings for Krishna in this same spirit of love. This love is manifested at every stage of the cooking process – from the purchasing of the ingredients to the final offering of the sacred meal to the object of one’s devotion.”
I thought it all sounded very profound yet very reasonable. I went home and thought deeply about what Upananda had said.
That day in the kitchen was an eventful one. A few months later I had shaved my head and was living in the temple as a full-time monk. I became a disciple of Prabhupada in 1971 and received the name Kurma Dasa. It wasn’t long before I was cooking full-time in the kitchen and preparing my own feasts. And the rest is history.
It’s almost 40 years later, and I no longer live in a temple. I don’t need to shave my head (nature has done that for me) but the practices of bhakti-yoga are still pivotal in my life. I write and teach and cook and chant, and enjoy kitchen life more than ever.
Posted by Kurma on 14/2/07; 10:08:30 AM