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.

Shiva once said that because form is illusion, the need for nourishment is also illusion. Parvati disagreed with Shiva, and to prove her position, caused all nourishment to disappear: no matter what a being ate, it could not be found. Plants, animals, people, even Shiva suffered famine. Seeing the beings distressed, and that Shiva had learned her lesson, Parvati 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.” Parvati fed Shiva with her own hands, and instructed him in the Dharma, the duty and nature, of nourishment. This is how Parvati came to be known as Annapurna.

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.