Jesus on a Chapatti
Okay, maybe I went a little far last week with my Chapatti Baba idea. I think it was simply the result of cabin fever and absolute boredom that inflamed the idea of Guru Hood as a career option. It may have been an idea sparked from a story I read in a newspaper here years ago of a woman who found the face of Jesus on her chapatti. The story had a photo of the chapatti attached to it and as you can see the resemblance is strikingly close.
What struck me at the time was that the woman even noticed it as she rolled and flipped and puffed the daily bread. She probably made more than twenty chapatti for one meal. What was that woman thinking to even notice this miracle chapatti? It’s kind of like the last place you would expect to find a Christian symbol, on a chapatti. I think the miracle was not so much that Jesus appeared on the chapatti but that the woman noticed it at all. I imagined her as a housewife, cooking a mountain of chapatti for her family. Perhaps she had worked in an office all day or perhaps she cleaned someone’s house. In any case she was tired and overworked like most women anywhere really. As she cooks she allows her mind to wander across her many worries or perhaps she is purely meditative, lost in the familiar ritual movement. Maybe she has a private conversation with her god as she cooks, maybe she asks for help or advice or a sign. Then suddenly there it is! On one side of a humble chapatti, the loving face of her lord smiling a blessing on this woman. Now if this was a message or a sign from Jesus, then what is the meaning of it? Was God saying to her “I am here, as close as this” or was he making some kind of twisted joke? Or was it something more? Was it that no matter where you look, you see the face of God looking back at you? I thought of this as I kneaded my chapatti the other day. Now if you looked at this bowl from a universal perspective of the point of view of a beat poet for whom the whole world is holy, you could easily perceive that the bowl here represents the Universe before it came into being. Just a simple mix of basic ingredients awaiting the birth of desire. In this case the desire is for chapatti. In the case of the universe I think it was designed for Gods own infinite amusement, a desire to be discovered as evidenced in the Incident of the Miracle Chapatti. Anyway here we are with raw ingredients and the desire. Water is fed to the dream of chapatti. This is Brahma in action, giving form to the divine dream of Vishnu. As in life a lot of kneading, pinching, pulling and shoving is required at this point. Think of it as your formative years, the bully in the playground the sneaky-bee punches of your brother.
And then just when the dough has reached that perfect pliable plump bounciness of youth.
along comes the rolling pin and the board, the end of innocence.
The round balls of dough have their little noses rubbed in a pat of flour and smacked from side to side. The rolling pin squeezes the dough flat, and just as in life all the plump resilience of dough now lies uniformly flattened awaiting the final fire.
The chapatti flinches as I fling it on the hot iron tawa and immediately press the dough down around the edges to increase the heat beneath. Bubbles on the surface tell of the blistering pain and heat of the life of a chapatti, I flip it over and quote Rumi at it, “Remember when you drank rain in the garden? That was for this.”
From the waving head of wheat in a distant Punjab field to this kitchen, this journey was always assured. Just as in life, I guess, give or take a few detours along the way. I lift the pan and throw the almost complete chapatti into the direct flame. That’s a bit like life too if you think about it. Just when you think you are out of the heat, you find yourself in the fire.
But if you accept that your life is like a miracle chapatti that will be offered up as prasad or food for the gods you have shuffled off the hot plate of this dance of your life, wouldn’t you want to be the lightest most Melt-in-Gods-Mouth kind of chapatti? Especially because you, like the chapatti are a result of that divine desire? The chapatti that puffs on the flame is the one who surrenders completely to it’s fate
Credits: Miracle Chapatti Chapatti on flame7 comments