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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
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
of one's devotion." I thought it all sounded very profound
yet very reasonable. I went home and thought deeply about what
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
Over forty years have passed, and I no longer live
in a temple. I don't shave my head (nature has taken care of that) 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.