Sunday, March 22, 2020

The mooring of the Art of cooking

Article in kannada by: Tharodi Suresha
 English rendering by: M R Bhashyam
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In the earlier article we remembered briefly the thought process and planning of cooking by today's generation.  The idea of this article is to give an introduction to the Kala- art of cooking.
The word "Paaka" (to cook) means to bring to a balanced condition; that is, creating a balance without amplifying the imbalances in nature.  "The Lord is balanced without blemish (Nirdosham hi samam Brahma). Shri SriRanga Mahaguru used to remind: "Instead of the mere contentment of the udara (stomach), Daamodara (the Lord with a cord tied to the stomach) must also be satisfied". Cooking becomes a kala (an art) only when it does not impede one from experiencing Him.
Cooking is not just an art; it is the mother of all arts. It is an art which satisfies and nurtures all living beings in creation.  It is an art that gives nourishment to all gods and superior deities; and the singer, the actor, the poet, the painter, the sketcher, the writer, the farmer, the soldier and so on.  But planning is required to create rasa (the essence of the taste types) that are appropriate for each of the different arts. The 'balance' in rasa that needs to be created must be appropriate to the nature of the artist and the kala.  The balance that needs to be blended for different archetypes is also different. Since the secret of preparation is in understanding the proportion of blend needed to create this 'balance', it is not only an art, but mother of all art forms.
Playing a very important part in the evolution of creation, the kitchen enables man to have the necessary physical strength, mental vitality, and a goal for the soul. Its vision encompasses not only the aspects of physical joy but also the bliss of the yoga.  Cooking becomes exquisite only if the different taste types, rasas, like salt, sour and spice blend and are balanced, the blend and balance that does not obstruct the experience and vision of God.  In addition, the rasa enjoyed by the senses in their field is also a part of the 'Source' rasa namely  the supreme Lord Himself (Raso vai sah).
We need to keep in mind one more aspect. Lord Shri Krishna says "the one who cooks for his own self eats only the sins. "Bhunjate te tvagham paapaah ye pachanti aatmakaaranaat".  All materials and ingredients come from God. We are also bound to his creation. He is the Lord for both. Hence, while using His things, we must be aware that all these belong to Him, the owner. Then we will not be thieves. When we offer to Him and partake it with His memories, then it transforms to prasaada, sacred food. Therefore, this activity becomes a yagna, a sacrifice.  It is worth recalling here the words of Shri SriRanga Mahaaguru that "The food-preparation which makes one remember Him at every step of the way is real cooking".
With this background, let us examine in future articles the organization of the kitchen, the people who cook, hearth, the utensils used for cooking etc. 
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at  AYVM blogs.