The Yoga of Cooking and Eating
Hinduism in the kitchen
Continued from page 1
As bizarre as all this might be sounding, this is the method of cooking adopted by those who adhere to the Bhakti or devotional path within Hinduism. One way to express our love for people we care for is to cook for them. So a similar way to cultivate our love for God is to cook delicious preparations with a mood of love and devotion for God.
I think most people will agree that the best meals are often prepared by a loving mother. Every time I visit my folks in Jersey City, my mom cooks for me. Perhaps because I'm so thick-headed, it took me a really long time to figure out why my mom enjoys cooking for me. She gets pleasure from watching me eat what she's cooked.
The food she's prepared is imbued with her feelings of motherly love and care. Her consciousness has entered the food and is being transferred to me. That transference of consciousness creates a powerful bond. So, even though she may or may not use the perfect amount of turmeric, hing or cumin, the most important ingredient is bhakti, or love.
Consciousness affecting material things may seem a bit farfetched, but we witness this effect taking place with works of art and music, and how they're embedded with the consciousness of the particular artists. When we listen to or examine a work of art or music, the artist's mood also becomes apparent and many times we can be emotionally impacted by that mood. Similarly, cooked food is no less a work of art than traditional art or music and is invested with the emotions and consciousness of the cook.
When we eat, we're not only eating the food and it's ingredients, but we're also eating the consciousness of the cook. A very important question we can ask ourselves before our next meal is, "Whose consciousness am I eating?"
In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the main spiritual texts of India, Krishna, or God, offers a very salient point: "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." The point being made here is that God isn't looking for elaborate and complicated offerings from the devotees. Instead, Krishna is looking for the love and devotion, or the bhakti, behind the offering.
The other very important facet of the offering is that it can't be a product of cruelty. It is a well known fact that animals undergo tremendous emotional and physical suffering when killed. In the classic Hindu text Manusmriti, it is stated, "Having well considered the origin of flesh-foods, and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let man entirely abstain from eating flesh." Such food items are not only unhealthy for the our bodies, but also unhealthy for our consciousness.