Annapurna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen

Feed man and God will be fed.

—Swami Satyananada Saraswati

Throughout 2008, the mammoth undertaking to construct the Annapurna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen has been going on relentlessly. This grand venture is the latest project of Sivananda Math and is nearing completion.

The scriptures have said that the giving of grains is one of the highest forms of giving. It is known as anna daan, giving food to the hungry. If man suffers and dies hungry then God also suffers and dies. It is our responsibility to serve God through serving suffering humanity. It is the birthright of everyone to have prosperity and contentment; it is not an exclusive right of some. How can our civilization claim to be advanced when there are people within our society who still go hungry? Hunger and starvation exist not only in India but throughout the world. All the technology, modernization and advancements are a farce when the basic needs of life are not fulfilled for one and all.

Since coming to Rikhia panchayat in 1989, Swami Satyananda has made every household his household. This is known as atmabhava in Vedanta. He has said: “The entire panchayat is my ashram. Every house here is my house. Their pains and pleasures are my own. Their poverty is my poverty.” This Vedantic philosophy teaches that you have to see yourself in everyone and everyone in yourself. Such profound empathy towards the needs of his first neighbours, the villagers of Rikhia panchayat, led Swami Satyananda to take the sankalpa to provide one nutritious and balanced meal daily to the kanyas and batuks and the senior citizens of Rikhia.

For many years, Sivananda Math has frequently conducted bhoj for the kanyas and batuks and senior citizens during all major festivals and programs. However, as there wasn’t an adequate all-weather dining hall to accommodate the 2,000 people, this effort was often hampered. Swami Satyananda had raised it as a most urgent need. For Sivananda Math to commit to the daily feeding of kanyas and batuks, preparation of an appropriate all-weather dining hall was necessary.

To fulfil this requirement, Annapurna Kshetram Kanya kitchen is being developed in a disused factory. This huge structure is being completely transformed into a modern and spacious dining area which will facilitate the daily feeding of over 2,000 people in rain, hail and sunshine. The Annapurna complex consists of an enormous dining area with a newly tiled floor, adequate store rooms and offices, an open air langar and facilities to store wood and coal. The original structure has been given a new lease of life and although it is still under construction, it is easy to imagine this well-ventilated space filled to capacity and perfectly serving the purpose for which it is intended. This massive construction effort has been made possible due to the support and contributions of Bokaro Steel Plant and City.

The Kanya Kitchen has most appropriately been named Annapurna in praise of and dedication to Ma Annapurna, as she is the goddess of abundance and nourishes the entire creation. Goddess Annapurna loves to give and give and give, just like our beloved Sri Swamiji.

Food nourishes and nurtures our lives. Without proper nutrition we are unable to discover our full potential and seek higher states of consciousness. By giving food, we give the greatest gift of all, the opportunity to rise above animal nature and seek higher planes of consciousness. In ancient times, the first form of God that our forefathers discovered was fire, and the second was grain. After the discovery of grains, human beings crossed the threshold of instinctive animal nature and entered higher planes of consciousness. The discovery of grain and its potential was a giant leap from animal to human awareness. By food grains, whether it is wheat, rice, maize or any other type of grain, we live and prosper, as these foods are most essential for the survival and evolution of human beings.

Swami Satyanada received the mandate from his guru Swami Sivananda, ‘Serve, Love and Give.’ These precepts became the sadhana which he lives and has perfected. The activities which he has inspired through Sivananda Math have all been a part of fulfilling this sankalpa and the Annapurna Kshetram Kanya Kitchen is an essential part of it. The construction and preparation efforts are nearing completion and soon the daily bhoj will commence. You are welcome to Rikhiapeeth to witness and partake in this latest project of Sivananda Math to fulfil the sankalpa of Sri Swamiji to uplift the most neglected within our society.