Anna Datha Sukhi Bhava
Ode to this bountiful land that nurtures the seed.. Ode to the farmer who sweats his labour and produces the crop.. Gratitude to one and all in this wonderful Ecosystem !! Anna Datha Sukhi Bhava !!
As a child sage Bhrughu was in quest of ‘Who am I’ or the famous ‘Bhrahma Jigyasa’. After deep meditation he discovers that the first layer of our existence is Anna.. Anna is the matter around, the primordial food and our very physical existence.. The Prana or life pours into us on top of Anna.. The mind that hosts the emotions, feelings and memory builds on top of prana.. Vigyana and Ananda ie discretion and bliss builds on top of our mental faculties. Anna is the very foundation..
There are lot of memories and stories around food. Constant food bickering with my mom as a child.. Only to grow up and learn the legacy she had been building around food.. First time hostel experience for weaning me off mother’s food and introducing real life.. First time hangouts with friends and delightful moments savouring Naans Paneers and Manchurias.. Distant memories of my schoolmate’s mom teaching soup basics and bestie teaching the alchemy of Sambar magic..
When good food meets the tongue and eyes, the chemistry that follows is euphoric.. There is a saying ‘vishaya vishayi sambhogha’ ie confluence of the sense organs and the object of desire.. There is complete silence in the mind and this experience is happiness and a breath taking memory..
My inlaws side got in authentic Uttara Andhra diversity into our table.. My friends and neighbors post marriage and their delightful cooking and sharing.. My maid my accomplice in my cooking experiments.. My work place cafeterias and delicious coworkers’ lunch boxes..
Delicious prasadams cooked at the temple.. Travel homes and lodges enabling family travels.. Rayalseema Ruchilu and Barbeque Nations of Bangalore.. the sugar cane juice vendor and tender coconut anna down the street..
Anna Datha Sukhi Bhava !!
Shiva once tells Parvathi that everything including food in this world is Maya or Illusion. Upset by his words Parvati decides to recede. Land goes barren and people go hunger struck.. Out of compassion, goddess Parvathi reincarnates as Annapoorneshwari Devi in the banks of Kashi and offers alms to the starving including Shiva.
Thanks to ‘Joy of Baking’ for fuelling baking transformations. With the aroma of ginger bread men, biscottis, muffins and tarts diffusing in the kitchen, it was plain euphoria.. And thanks to BetterButter for gifting me my own family recipe book..
When Buddha was meditating for days without food, a compassionate lady offered him a bowl of milk to regain some strength. Even today in Japan, there is a milk brand by name ‘Sujatha’ in her honour.
Today the global food industry has moved towards processed food. Pizzas, Pastas and Burgers in the West and Noodles in the East. Probably Indians are the blessed few who enjoy daily fresh food of rice and rotis.
Ode to our inherited Indian Ayurvedic cooking that balances our tri doshas.. Our cooking customs or Aacharas revolve around goodness of turmeric, jeera, curry leaf, ginger, coriander and hing.
And the flavour of ghee in ayurveda, sweets and pongal… Sage Charvaka lightly puts it -Live a life filled with happiness and enjoy the goodness of ghee or grutham even if it means to take a debt..
Rinam kritva ghritam pibet, yavan jivet sukham jivet
Recently I happened to interact with Archana Doshi of fame Archana’s Kitchen. I got reminded of her ‘Roj ka Khana’ shows.. Healthy cooking begins at home and starts right in the kitchen. In this jet setting age of both the parents working and availability of junk and ready to eat food, it is really a blessing to cook good food at home. Kudos to new generation bloggers and Archanas, Vah Chefs Hebbars for being the virtual tutors and spreading the tips and joy of diverse and healthy cooking to all of us and especially the next generation. A heartfelt applause and cheers !!
A healthy nation is made by healthy citizens.. Just like Annapoorneshwari Devi, they too are epitome of compassion and kindness in spreading the word of cooking..
Shankaracharya in his tribute to Annapoorneshwari devi describes her as the very kind and benevolent mother and the protector of the warriors.. The hand that feeds the mouth after all rules the world..I am really touched by this stotram.
He concludes with this saying.. Oh Mother who is always full and bountiful.. Grant me the alms of knowledge and awareness..
Gyana Vairagya Sidyartham, Bhikshaam Dehi Cha Parvati
And there are exceptions who elevate the gastronomical experience to a totally different level.. Churn the plain looking curd rice into a fiesta that is my culinary sister and bake the milestones of memories into beautiful work of art that is my friend..
Dokku Seetamma was an orthodox rich brahmin lady during the British Rule. She would cook and serve the poor and needy with all compassion even if it meant dwindling of her wealth and pariahed from fellow upper class. Her fame had even reached the British land. Unable to believe, one of them travelled all the way to India and went to her household in disguise. He was moved by her sheer charity and invited her to Britain which she politely refused.. She even refused for a photograph and finally he carried a painting of her to London which is believed to be in the museum even now.
Finally after 40 years of philanthropic service, she had one aspiration and that was to make a pilgrimage to Varanasi.. After an arduous day journey, she took some rest in the evening only to hear conversation between battered hungry crying children and the parents consoling… Don’t worry we will soon reach Seetamma’s place and she will hopefully feed us… Hearing this conversation, immediately she heads to her house overnight, begs for resources in her neighborhood and prepares a meal for her visitors.
Such are the legends of ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ unparalleled hospitality to the guests who arrive without a call and time.. ‘a thithi’. Later she had been conferred as ‘Sada Annapoorna’ ‘Forever compassionate’.
Anna Datha Sukhi Bhava !!
We are miles away from home in Bay Area which is casually referred as the third fragment of Andhra.. Stocked up spices and pickles from home and local Indian markets and grocery stores clubbed with the cheerfulness of hubby scouting for new entrees in market has welcomed our survival in this foreign land.
Surprisingly, we have discovered many many authentic flavours of Andhra cuisine and Tamil cuisine is this distant land.. Nellore, Telangana, Rayalseema, East Godavari, Vijaywada.. Kudos to friends and potlucks for preserving ethnicity and maintaining excitement and warmth around food..
An introspection from Bhagawatgita..
Annad bhavanti bhutani
This world runs on food
The divine offering in the kilns of our stomach.. For we need this Anna, the fuel of life for reaching our destiny
brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇ ā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahmakarma samādhinā