Albert Einstein said that god does not play dice; however, the Hindu gods and goddesses do…
In their abode, high on Mt. Meru, Shiva and his consort Parvati were fond of playing dice with each other. One day they decided to liven it up with a little bet. Shiva bet his trident against some of Parvati’s jewels. Shiva lost, and then bet his tiger skin to win the trident back.. and he lost again. He bet his malas… and lost. He bet his cobra, his drum, his begging bowl… and lost them all. Parvati won all the throws of the dice and Shiva lost everything he had. Naked and humiliated, he fled into the forest in a huff.
Vishnu happened to be in the forest and saw Shiva in an utterly dejected state, and asked him what was wrong. Shiva told him, and Vishnu said, “No problem, I’ll load the dice so that you will win everything back.”
So Shiva went back to play dice again with Parvati. With every throw, the dice fell in his favor and he won all his stuff back item by item. Parvati, however, had became very suspicious of such consistent “luck”, and she called him a cheat. “Indrajala (magic) is not fair. That is sooo lame!”
Then they had a very vigorous conversation that went something like this:
Shiva confessed to having Vishnu’s magical assistance, but said that it wasn’t really cheating, because the whole universe is just an illusion (maya) anyway, and possessions are transient, and the ultimate truth is we’re all one, so what’s the difference?
Parvati said, “Of course, so why did you run away with your tail between your legs when you lost all your stuff in the game?”
Shiva sheepishly said, “I just needed some time out. Anyway, the only thing that really matters is to seek moksha.” (liberation from maya, the illusion). “All this maya stuff just gets in the way, it’s nothing but a distraction.” (Parvati represents maya) “See how you, Parvati, spend so much time worrying about silly things like clothes and food and…”
Parvati was not impressed by Shiva’s philosophizing. “So I’m a distraction, an illusion, am I? Take your magic dice and go play with yourself in the forest. I’m out of here, and I’m taking all the food with me. Go sit and meditate on that!” With that Parvati vanished, and everything edible in the world vanished with her.
Soon all the world was suffering from hunger. Even the most austere yogis sitting out in the woods were having trouble meditating.
An apologetic Shiva humbly cried out to Parvati to come back into the world. Parvati was moved by his contrition, and also by the suffering she saw caused by hunger everywhere. She returned to the earth, bringing grain to eat and seeds to plant, which she freely gave to all. Shiva came to her with his empty begging bowl, which she filled with delicious porridge. He then gave her the name Annapurna.
Anna means food or grain, and purna means full, complete.
Annapurna carries a serving spoon and a pot of food. It is not a big pot, but it always has enough for everyone, and the porridge she serves is delectable, completely satisfying and health giving. She provides bodily sustenance easily so that we need not worry constantly about having enough food to eat; and with our physical needs met, we can meditate, and ponder about, and enjoy the illusion we walk within.
Our gardens and this website are dedicated to Annapurna. Whenever we go to the gardens with our begging bowls, she fills them with just what we need for nourishment, delight and wonder.