Bhakti Banquet

“What do you think they are queuing for?” asked one of the marshalls, eying the long line of people that continued around a corner. A good proportion of the five hundred people at Guru Baba’s darshan were in it.

“For food, I think,” said Sami.

“But the food stands are over there, and they are moving in the other direction.”

“So, what are they queuing for?”

The marshall nodded drolly. “They are queuing for food, and they are moving in the other direction. That’s the problem.”

Sami had been busy for the last half hour behind the scenes, fixing security and technical problems, and hadn’t noticed the queue building up. The queues to get in had been well managed, and there was a steady flow of people going in and out of the Transparent Temple, but there was pressure building inside. He went to take a look.

Guru Baba had often said that the right to food was a human right, and people here were taking him literally. There was an unbelievable queue for free Street Snacks, but none at all for the Bhakti Banquet, a set of ten delicacies in a jewel-edged palm leaf, costing a hundred dollars a plate.

Bhakti means love. The money earned from sale of this food of love would subsidize snacks and fund Baba’s charity projects. This notion hadn’t worked though, and the Bhakti Banquet’s servers were lined up, chatting, themselves looking like a queue.

Sami returned to the marshall and said, “This is a disaster. The queue is so long it has wrapped around itself completely. That’s why it seems to be moving in the wrong direction.” He silently joined a mantra for two verses, and continued. “I’m sure that’s why you came to tell me.”

The marshall nodded.

“So what should we do? I wanted to do something special for this event. I thought the two different meals would balance each other, but it looks like we’ll run out of snacks and have hundreds of banquets left over.”

The Bhakti Banquets would all go to waste. The Authority’s health and safety regulations banned distribution to volunteers, poor families and homeless people. The event would be a black hole. It was meant to pay for itself, not suck money out of projects for widows, orphans and disaster relief victims. Food is meant to produce energy, maintain life, and stimulate growth. The Bhakti Banquet was wasting people’s energy, maintaining servers’ boredom, and creating waste. It was anti-food.

The marshall said, “I was helping my son with his homework last week. It was about the history of food. The earliest method to secure it was hunting and gathering, then agriculture, and now most people rely on the food industry. It’s amazing how things have changed. Once everybody was responsible for sourcing their own food, and now people think potatoes grow on trees. How did that happen?”

“That’s it!” said Sami. “Thank you!”

In the same way that darshan affects individuals, slowly changes society, and eventually improves the world, so modern media affect everything too. A commercial conspiracy has been created. Excess war chemicals are sprayed on fields to accelerate food growth. Lotteries boost the economies of modern nations. Everyone is told they will be happier if they buy stuff. Men use cosmetics. Women drink beer. The medium is the message. The medium does the massage. We have no choice but to partake of it.

Sami announced on the intercom, “Anybody buying a Bhakti Banquet will be entered into a draw to win Baba’s robes.”

People broke from the Street Snacks queue and ran to the other side.

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