Sunday, January 29, 2006


All about food (Annam) and importance of Anna Dhana.

Whatever beings exist on earth, they are all born out of food. By food alone they remain alive and to that they return to in the end.

Food is called ' annam ' because the created beings both consume it, and they are consumed by it too. It is the first among all the medicament of life.

While many in these columns have criticised that feeding the guests or devotees is the prime agenda in any of our social or religious functions, in the Manu Smrithi it is stated that it is the duty of a Gruhastha to offer food to his guest/s . As prayaschitha for the daily accrueing papas it is ordained to perform five Yagnas daily. They are namely Brahma Yagnam,Deva Yagnam,Pithur Yagnam,Manushya Yagnam and Bootha Yagnam.

1.Rishis will be pleased in hearing the Saswara Vedic Chanting
2.Devas will be pleased with the Homa performed
3.Pithrus will be pleased with the Shraadha performed
4.Adhithi (guests) will be pleased by the food offered
5.The offering of Baliharanam will please Bhoothas

Satisfying the adhithi or guest being the prime duty of the gruhastha and offering of Pancha Bhakshya should be to the utmost satisfaction of the guest.

The Pancha Bhakshyas are:

1.Bhakshya : (sweets like ladoo, Boli, etc.)
2.Bhojya: (rice, saambar etc.)
3.Lehyam: ( Pachadi, kojju etc)
4.Chohyam: (side items like Chitraannam, fruit salad, (desert) etc)
5.Paneeyam: (rasam, paayasam).

Our Smrithi states that the money can be spent in three ways. If such a person does not spend money on Daanam / annadaanam or bhogam (using it for his own happiness), the money gets destroyed. (naasham).

It reiterates that if you do not want to donate, or if you do not want to use it for your own happiness (righteous), and then the only alternative is the third i.e. money gets destroyed.

" Annadaanam Param Dhanam"-There is no greater dhanam than annadhaanam because of the contentment of the gruhastha in serving the food and the adhithi in consuming what has been served. In other material dhanam such complete contentment is not there.

Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava and Adhithi Devo Bhava is the saying in Taitreya Upanishad .

Parents are satisfied by the seva or service of their sons and daughters, Acharya by the Susroosha of his disciple and adhithi by the food served by the gruhastha. By satisfying as above the gruhastha is blessed with Saaswatha Brahmalokam.

While the duty of the Gruhastha is to satisfy the adhithi , the adhithi has also a duty in blessing the gruhastha." Annadaatha Sukhi Bhava" - even if this is not said by the adhithi in words, it is implied.The Sukham prayed for is not the loukeeka Sukham but paramaarthika Sukham- - eternal bliss.

We have been advised by our ancestors that whenever we donate,we should donate to the deserving." Paathiram arindu Pichhai Podu " is the saying in Tamil.. In olden days people had enough -Subhiksha. Even others were well looked after by the King. Brahmins were living praying for the Kshema / welfare of the Society .And serving them with food was the duty of gruhastha as aforesaid.

At a later stage, the gruhasthas realised that some of them they are serving with food were swaarthees (selfish people) and switched over to feeding the poor.And hence feeding the poor became predominant. Being blessed for feeding the poor by those being fed is a prayer for the eternal bliss of the gruhastha. This is aptly termed as "Narayana Seva"..

If a person cannot undertake the task individually,he can join a group where such an activity is conducted.

Before eating food one has to pray to God “ Namasthe Annam Asmakam Nityam
Asthu ethath” as thanks giving to Him for providing food to us. Parishechana mantras ordained for us is for this purpose..Similarly after completion of eating- before getting up we do Uttara- Aposanam. In that we have to leave half of the water taken in the hand for the benefit of the deserving jeevas in the other worlds who are earnestly awaiting for the water from the this world. “ Rourave Apunya Nilaye Padmarbudha Nivasinaam / Arthinaam Udakam Dattam Akshyyam Upathishtatu”

Subham bhavathu.

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