Yoga Musings : The 4 Chefs in our Life 🙏🏻

The world as we know it in our perception is created by four chefs. These chefs are not outside but deep within us. Imagine everything we perceive as a dish at the restaurant of life.

The first chef is ‘Manas’ or that part of the mind which receives all the external stimuli from our sense organs (eyes, nose, ears, skin, tongue). Manas is the first processing centre. The second chef is ‘Buddhi’ or intellect. Our discriminative self drives reasoning and logic. The third chef is ‘Smriti’ or memory, a very important chef for us to be able to compare and label things. And then there is the rebellious and dominating chef, ‘Ahamkara’ or Ego.

Let’s see this through a simple example. The senses see a Mango. The eyes don’t know that it’s a Mango. It’s just a physical organ. It conveys images of a yellow and orange round object to Manas. Manas combines inputs from all organs – eyes (the image), nose (the fragrance), skin (the touch and texture) and passes this input to Buddhi. Buddhi asks Smriti to check in the memory store. Smriti comes back saying, ‘It’s a mango. We ate it last time, it was delicious.’ Buddhi concludes ‘This is a mango.’ And then Ahamkara jumps in, ‘This is my mango. I will keep it only for myself and not share.’ Or ‘My Mangoes are far better than yours.’

That’s how a ‘Mango’ is served as a dish in the restaurant of our mind. At times one chef dominates and at times, another. Sometimes we are totally dominated by ‘Manas’ and come under the influence of our senses, dominated by material things.

Mostly our Ego or ‘Ahamkara’ calls the shots – this is my life, my money, my job, everything associated with Me. Sometimes ‘Buddhi’ gets a chance to shine, when we take logical decisions or when we develop deep insights. And yet at all times, these four chefs keep playing and stirring up a broth that becomes what we see and understand as life.

Vedanta says that there is another Master chef who lies deep within. A silent, unchanging entity called ‘Atman.’ It is nothing but Universal consciousness which lies within us, and illuminates all our lives.

Like a sun that shines upon the earth and all living beings, the Atman is the master chef that actually runs the restaurant of life. To practice Yoga is to slowly develop an awareness of this ‘Atman’, within us.

Adi Shankara calls this process so wonderfully ‘Atma Bodha’ or self-realisation. Whatever your path, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Raj Yoga, or Karma Yoga, we are all Yogis on this path of self-realisation. At times, we ponder over the purpose of our birth. The purpose is to experience and go on this journey of life, as a means to self-realisation. This is the path of yoga.

We may not realise it, but we are all Yogis.

Happy International Yoga Day 🧘🏻🧘🏻‍♀️🧘🏻‍♂️

Navaneel Kar

President, Tata Consumer, Certified RYT 200, published poet. Get Navaneel’s latest book Moonrise and Memories: Contemporary Poems to nourish your soul by clicking here.

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