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Annapurna Puja

Annapurna is a name that means “perfect nutrient” or “perfect food”: the eating without hunger or desire, for the pure purpose of nourishment, the nourishment that nourishes and sustains anything and everything.

Shiva once said that because all form is illusion, all things are Maya, the need for nourishment is also illusion. Though food could not be had without Himsa, harm, it would be possible, said Shiva, to not cause harm by simply not eating.  Gauri, who was a reflection of Maya, disagreed with Shiva: all food was obtained by Himsa, it was true, but still, everyone had to eat.  But Shiva was not persuaded. 

So, to prove her position, Gauri caused all nourishment to disappear: no matter what a being ate, now that food could not be had. Plants, animals, people, even Shiva suffered famine, surrounded by food.  Seeing the beings distressed, and that Shiva had learned her lesson, Gauri then produced a magic Kitchen, and fed every being what most nourished them – and in the line for nourishment was Shiva, begging with a bowl. He was humble, and said “I now understand nourishment, whether physical or spiritual, is no illusion.  I understand now you are Maya, you are the source of all all food, you are Annapurna.” Gauri, now called Annapurna, fed Shiva with her own hands, and instructed him in the Dharma, the duty and nature, of nourishment, and in the necessity for the sacrifice of food.  Not being able to refrain from harming another being, we must become worthy of the sacrifice of their lives: food is not merely intended to sustain our existence.  And we must nourish others.

The Buddha Gotama instructed that before eating, the origin and necessity of the nourishment should be understood: life is sustained by death, and the sacrifice and gift made by the beings we use for food should be respected by right living – that our strengthening succeeds in preparing our own sacrifice and gift. 

What sustains us gives us the energy (Shakti) to take form and act. Understanding this, we understand that all that begins or is created must be sustained, or it ceases to be. This includes distress: understanding distress is sustained, and how, is essential to ending that distress.