Sunday, August 24, 2008

Janmashtami/Krishna Jayanthi in my mother's house

Before I came to the States , under my mother's direction, I noted all the festivals we celebrated and the food that was made for each. Up to then, I had only been interested in eating all that great food but suddenly the responsibility was shifting to my shoulders. I had to know what to do, my mother said. How grateful I am to her that she gave me all that information. I look at those notes and think of her life, lived in devotion to God and after that, to cooking. My father's family could trace their ancestry back to Lord Krishna and in his hometown of Krishnagiri there is a temple to Lord Krishna, purported to be there since the conception of the village. Janmashtami was celebrated as the day before Krishna's birth as he was born at mid-night...the day after was Krishna Jayanthi. On Krishna Jayanthi, we had things with til, which was favored by Krishna. Besides the til/sesame seed dishes: laddus, murku, jeera laddu, hing laddu (yes hing), a plate would be placed in the puja room with Krishna's favorites: curd, milk, butter, ghee, buttermilk, cream. The one item not to be forgotten on this day was beaten rice (atakalu or pohe), as this was what Krishna's poor friend Sudama brought to him as a gift and what was enjoyed tremendously by Krishna. Now I see recipes for pohe kheer etc on the Internet, but we soaked it, mixed it with curd and salt and offered it that way. Lord Vishnu in his avatar of Krishna gave us the Bhagavad Gita which contains all the wisdom we need to live good lives. When I left home for the first time, my mother gave me a small copy of the Bhagavad Gita and said, "Even if you don't pray, it is okay. Just read this daily."
I did and slowly the wisdom of the words penetrated my modern mind and sank in. So, on this Krishna Jayanthi day, in the midst of our modern lives, I wish that all of us would have an attitude of appreciation for even the smallest gift and the humility to express thanks even if it something we don't want/need. While this is the duty of the recipient, it is also the duty of the giver not to give something inappropriate just to get rid of it.
“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return”
Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

1 comment:

Leena said...

Thank you for sharing words of wisdom from Lord Krishna, sometimes even if we all own our own versions of the sacred book, we still could use reminders every now and then!