There are few things on Earth more depressing than being a vegetarian amongst non-veggies and good boys. The former habitually leave you stranded in a mess, and the later have the sense not to accompany you, and are always ready with an excuse to execute their rescue plan.
Not that you are a religious messer, but it is nice not to spend hard earned money for a single meal. And so, you set out, bidding the mice luck to pin the cat, and accompanying the fair-food friends along the common path. And that’s when you hear that sacred organ, the Stomach, speak to you directly.
“Sacrilege! You, a priest of the higher order of fooddom, have blasphemed by agreeing to sacrifice base food for the pleasure of your Lord, the Stomach!”
Your friends having pushed off to where their own gods might take them (including one who suddenly changed his faith), you stop dead in your tracks, gulp down in fear of upsetting the diety, and are struck down by hunger. You weep inside, knowing how you almost turned to the dark side. You walk towards the gate to salvation, but that’s when your significant other pops up.
“To hell with the Stomach. You know what? All those bills may look green and rosy now, but come tomorrow, you’ll be short” says the Brain, who has forever been your friend and companion, and has enticed you to doodle off these very words. And then, you are afraid no more. Yes, it all makes perfect sense. Why would yoube in the pay of your Stomach? Is not gluttony a sin? Is not half the world starving? You’d be indulging while that poor kid in Ethiopia cries for a single kilocalorie of nutrition.
With these fortifying words, you stay true, refusing even to see the inviting gate. If there is any sin, it is this, you say to yourself. But then, the Stomach’s wrath falleth upon thou, and hunger bites ever harder, and the stench of the mess turns you away more effectively than the ten plagues could ever do. You run, run faster than a gazelle can gallop, passing cycles and bricks and God knows what, crying “I can’t do it, my old friend. I am true to my faith. His judgement cometh, and that right soon.”
And so you satiate the Lord with offerings from the canteen, meagre and devoid of resplendence though they are. As penance, you gobble junk, trying to relish each moment while you know that the Lord will punish. And then you retire until the next dinner, hoping someone else pays for the sacrifice that must be made.
Now you know why annadanam is thought so highly of.