My special guest today is all the way from USA. She is Sohamrita Minie Saran. How do I know her? Well I first noticed Sohamrita on Facebook. Yep! would you believe I have met some really wonderful people on Facebook with whom I now share very close friendships with. Sohamrita had “liked” a pic on my profile of my daughter Mishka and of course me and my curiosity led me to her profile. That’s when I learnt that she was actually one of my sister-in-law Shalini’s friend.
As I was going through her profile I was falling in love. Then as I was scrolling down further I began to drool. By the time I was finished with Sohamrita’s profile I was not only hungry but in love…hungrily in love!. I fell head over heels in love with her amazing and absolutely gorgeous artwork and drooling over the images of her creative Vegan cuisines. I knew instantly I wanted to feature her on my blog. It’s an absolute honour that Sohamrita accepted my offer to do this post for me.
Sohamrita Minie Saran
Sohamrita please share with my readers something about yourself.
Thank you Sanjana for your heartfelt introduction and welcoming me to your blog world. I am filled with gratitude for your friendship.
I was born in New Delhi, India, 35 years ago. I lived in India for 30 years before moving to US after my marriage. I did my post graduation in Business management and enjoyed a rewarding career span of 7 years in Corporate Human Resources before I relocated to US.
Over past 5 years my interests diversified to Arts, writing, sufi poetry, dance, volunteerism as I rebirthed into a new form of life, of living in Devotion and loving surrender.
Let’s start with your paintings. So how long has it been since you first began painting?
I began to paint in 2012. I am self taught and I paint as and when the spirit moves me. I am not a professional artist. Each of my paintings is an offering to the Great spirit who is absolute and most wonderful.
Please tell us about the inspiration behind your paintings and how it all came about?
I was always drawn to visual and performing Arts. I feel when one creates a piece of art either by way of cooking, singing, dancing or painting… one is in state of Grace. Grace surrounds us when we flow in blissful stream of self expression and state of receptivity which are also strong feminine qualities and so very harmonizing.
Painting to me is like stepping into a state of wholeness where I experience ‘Being’ more than ‘doing’. In this state I feel more receptive, attentive and aware. I also find it very persistent in my experience that when I simply allow inspiration to flow through without determining much of its form, the outcome far exceeds my expectations of myself.
I paint more in my ‘devotee‘ flow state, it is uplifting, feeds the longing of my soul at many levels and shapes my art. I also find myself in this state of Grace when I dance .
I noticed your artwork signifies The Lord Krishna, Radha and Meera. Tell us about your love for Lord Krishna and your paintings in depth.
This journey of experiencing devotion and attraction for RadheKrishna has been the most elevating and potent influence I have felt in my life. I do believe ‘Krishna’ through His unlimited potencies and inconceivable ways controls access to Him and reveals himself very selectively to the ones who deeply yearn for a relationship with Creatorin form of Krishna. A relationship beyond conventional affection for God/source /creator . I was always drawn to Divinity but some years back my life had been effected innumerous categories beyond my grasp and control. In those moments was when I first began to feel a painful longing for knowing my creator and knowing His plans for me. What did this Being desire of me? I wished to enter into a more meaningful conscious relationship with God. During that phase I was also training in Hypnosis Therapy and Advanced Reiki, my interest was also getting drawn to reading Vedic scriptures and books on transcendental science. Chanting, meditating, journaling and choosing solitude was a big chunk of what used to flow into my days.
During this time, my friendship with a very special friend ‘Soma Devo’ who is a shamanic healer and someone who has endured much of his life in extreme conditions and in advanced surrender, started to grow stronger . I turned to him with meaningful questions and through the revelations in our discussions I came to recognize Krishna. Gradually, I was received in the understanding that ‘Krishna’ was that Infinite being whom I had been aching and yearning to feel communion with. Soma, was the greatest ever influence over me that strengthened God consciousness and a strong faith flow in me.
Longing is both a call and path we must take. Once the longing for God is awakened in our heart, we can neither escape nor betray. I started to feel a yearning to offer myself up to Him in every moment of my day. I would meditate on Him while I would brush my teeth or make my bed. I would go about doing everything in my house like I was doing for Krishna. From food offerings to folding clothes the thousandth time. I fell in Love with Him more and more each passing day. The more I offered the more He drew my heart and attraction to Him. Painting, is just a small component of my offering. I see Krishna in all details within everything I experience including sorrow and pain. I witness Him in the form my life is shaping day to day Krishna to me is not just as a worshipable Deity. To me Krishna is beyond just feeling awe and Reverence for. To me He embodies the power of Divine attraction. He is most wonderful, intimate companion to me. Meditating on Krishna’s form, beauty and opulence’s is distracting beyond point of addiction.
And, where there is Krishna, there is Radhe– His Feminine Shakti, His eternal consort who loves Krishna so deeply to a point of losing all self consciousness. When I meditate on Radha, I can feel her presence and admiration for her. I always invite Her to flow through me into everything I do as an offering to Krishna. One cannot develop communion with Krishna without mercy of Radharani. Radha’s ultimate gift is the experience of our love filling everyone that comes in our association, including the plants, the broken potholes on road ..everything. So much so that the Earth itself feels like an extension of one’s Divine Beloved. I feel erotically infused with Devotion to Radhe Krishna . This is my most valid state when I feel embraced by love and union. If I am tuned out, I suffer internally. Its a way of life, moment to moment that completely engages all my senses. I paint for Krishna, I dance for Him, I cook for Him and I experience Him in the most mundanenest of chores and demands of everyday life.
So when I am in the mood to paint, I simply offer an intention to paint for RadheKrishna, asking for their Grace and auspicious energy to flow into the painting.
Radhe – Yogini Of Love
Do you make an income out of your artwork?
My friend Soma Devo, inspired and encouraged me to consider ‘gifting’ my paintings as a way ofoffering to RadheKrishna . He is an incredible Artist himself, and has created exceptionally stunning paintings in his devotee flow . My husband is a great support to me. He pushes and encourages me to paint and explore all my creative callings.
I recognize that I give my work to Krishna and not really the recipient. So, I have gifted some of my paintings and remaining are some incomplete work I am working on slowly. I do intend to hold an exhibition in near future . I wish to place the monetary returns in hands of Krishna. This is the first lesson I learned from Soma on Faith flow. In faith flow, there is no planning on returns. With Trust there is not just material returns but spiritual ones as faith feeds the relationship with God. This makes ‘giving’ more of a spiritual joy experience rather than monetary one.
Can you tell us a bit about one of your favourite paintings?
I give each painting my all. I feel very centered in them as my love for Krsna has profound impact on my experience of painting. I feel the paintings I have gifted so far have all been very special. The First one that I painted for a friend was on a theme ‘Krishna playing flute’. To date that is the most most special painting. When I have my friends who receive the paintings, I feel I have gifted them something more special than just a painting! I feel in this way Krishna is also giving me service by way of sharing Him with others and in this way I feel I am with Him in all ways. Every painting I paint feeds my devotion and that is a gift to life.
Now let’s move onto food. Please tell us how you became a Vegan? Was it by choice or by birth?
My vegan journey started in 2013. I was as is withdrawing from meat. I had stopped smoking and I felt a strong desire to quit drinking wine. I was naturally feeling inclined to realign my life with main focus on what I was eating.
One day I happened to watch Earthlings, a detailed documentary on untold suffering from brutal exploitation and killings of animal species for milk, meat food, leather and vanity purposes. That was a wake up call for me. Food since than is not just something with a nutritional value but a significant spiritual significance. I feel as long as I consumed meat and products, I willfully denied the torture and suffering innocent, defenseless animals had to endure in the process. To me that felt like living in a very restricted and disconnected reality.
A lot has changed and realigned in my being since I turned vegan.
How did you feel when I approached you with the offer of a guest post on my blog?
I was taken by surprise. I Thank you for this beautiful gesture. But, I must give all credits to my Mom when it comes to cooking. She is an incredible woman of strength and Patience. She is an absolute Goddess when it comes to cooking and serving her family! Much of my inspiration and love for cooking I take from her.
Have you ever read any of the posts on my blog? If you have whats your opinion about my stories and in particular the vegetarian Fijian recipes?
When I visited your blog, I felt the warmth of your love for family, cooking and life as I read the blog chronicles. I particularly liked the street food pani poori post. It brought back my memories of being in India. Your style of writing is very personal and one takes an instant interest in all the excitement filled moments that feature in each story. You set the mood for chai and having conversation with a friend.
What benefits have you found from your Vegan diet?
I feel more aligned with reality, beauty, grace and I have understood the true meaning of Compassion. I do not see any value in classifying animals as cute or edible. They are all innocent and sentient beings carrying in them their own intrinsic value. They are here for their own purpose, to enjoy their own existence. We as Humans need to respect and protect that. Only can then, we can hope for peace on this planet.
Animal Farming is the number one cause of World Hunger, Violence, green gas emission, pollution of rivers, destruction of Biodiversity and ecology imbalance on earth, apart from Dietary related ill effects on health. There has been enough studies and reports by WFO and other official resources that point out strong evidences to prove how lethal animal farming and animal food is at all levels.
The biggest benefit, I feel after turning vegan is contentment and joy of simplicity.
What advice do you have for my readers if they decide to transition to a Vegan diet and lifestyle? How easy or difficult is the process?
Please remind yourself each day that the Nature offers us (unless we are living on a far deserted island with absolutely no source of plant food) with abundance of plant based, healthy, environmentally friendly alternatives to violent and ecologically devastating food and lifestyle choices. Please choose compassion every day, every moment. Start with small incremental changes in your diet everyday that meets your nutritional requirement and remind yourself of the reason why you are making the change.
As a suggestion, start with quitting meat, slowly onto quitting cheese and other dairy products and finally replacing the milk in your cup of coffee with delicious almond /coconut /soy / hemp milk or any other source of nut milk available in your local store. I don’t consider it my right to control what one is eating but I think considering ‘whom’ we are eating as a collective society is a bigger issue in the interest of all beings on planet.
And finally what recipe did you choose to share with my readers today and why?
This recipe is my husband’s favourite that we always cook this one together – Steamed tofu in ginger curry leaves.
A pack of tofu (Organic , GMO free), cut into large cubes
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
2 medium sized tomato (roughly chopped)
1 cup green peas
freshly ground 3 large spoons of ginger- garlic
handful of fresh curry leaves
1/2 tspn of mustard seeds
1/2 tspn of coriander seeds
1/2 tspn of cumin seeds
2-3 green cardamom
1 three inch cinnamon stick
8-10 curry leaves
Spice Mix A
Mix together (for curry )
1 tspn paprika
1 tspn turmeric powder
1 tspn coriander powder
1 tspn cumin powder
1 tspn dried fenugreek leaves
½ tspn of black pepper
Spice Mix B
Mix together (for tofu)
1 tspn of dried Chives or fresh
handful of Dill leaves
zest of 1 lemon
Heat 1 tbspn of coconut oil in a pan. When the oil heats up, add curry leaves, add turmeric powder. Add onions. Add salt, keep stirring on medium low for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic ginger paste. Add coriander and cumin powder. Keep stirring and cook till onions begin to turn brown. Add chopped tomatoes. Add spice mix for curry. Cover and cook for roughly 8 minutes, stirring occasionally….adding little water if the mixture becomes too dry.
Turn off the flame when cooked and keep the pan partially covered allowing the mixture too cool. In the meantime, steam the tofu cubes with spice mix B (reserved for tufu) sprinkled over the cubes. Steam for about 5 minutes or till soft to desired consistency. Grind the curry paste in a blender.
In the same pan, add a tspn or two coconut oil. When oil heats up add mustard seeds. Let them sputter, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, add cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. Add a handful more of curry leaves. Add ground curry paste from the blender, add water (for desired curry consistency), bring to boil. Drop the steamed tofu cubes and cook together for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish w ginger juliennes, cilantro and half lemon juice .
Serve hot over a bed of jasmine rice.