K-PAX was a film screened in 2001, starring Kevin Spacey, about a psychiatric patient, Robert Porter, who claimed to be from a planet K-PAX. While being treated for delusions in the Psychiatric Institute of Manhattan, he quickly became the leader of other patients who, without exception, found his extra-terrestrial background believable and inspirational. In fact, even the doctor who analysed him, Dr. Mark Powell, was at times baffled by his proficiency in astronomy, physics and advanced psychology. In spite of the doctor – patient relationship, he took seriously Robert’s advice to evolve and reconciled with his estranged son. After all, according to a “k-paxian” report, our universe is known for repeating its mistakes again and again, forever.
Whether the film was a sincere portrayal of the grey area between a mental illness and unknown, supernatural aspiration, is irrelevant here. I’m mentioning it because my today’s recipe is called “K-PAX soup”! My beloved bhakti-yoga mentor – my Gurudev – gave it to me years before I knew about the film. It was his favourite lunch item for awhile. He passed away in 2006 and I never had a chance to ask why he named the soup as such. He was an eccentric personality with an exceptional intelligence and a quirky sense of humour. I suspect the name was related to the origin of the recipe: a person he might’ve jokingly likened to a “k-paxian”.
In the secular society it’s acceptable to designate oneself according to the family line and relationships, race, gender, income status, education, occupation, moral, religious or political standing, and talent etc. We usually bypass quickly the question “who are you?” by offering our name and field of work. Everyone has a shortcut to pin oneself in a position one wants to be associated with and, if the situation allows, we are thrilled to narrate the longer version of our achievements and personality traits.
From the point of view of spiritual reality all such distinctions are, however, alien identities even though they may be within commonly admissible behavioral boundaries. Vedanta-sutra, the essence of knowledge compiled by Srila Vyasadev thousands of years ago, starts by an aphorism athato brahma jijnansa: the human form of life is meant for inquiring about the spiritual nature; the substance of all forms and definitions. To someone freed from physical, mental and intellectual coverings, we likely look as “k-paxian” with our illusory selfhood as the poor Robert Porter in the film.
Whatever the case, this soup is very good! There are only a few, selected spices that compliment each others. It depends on the complexity of the curry powder how much taste it attributes. I’m using a home-made mixture of roasted coriander, mustard, fenugreek, jeera, urad dal, black peppercorn, red chili, curry leaves and turmeric, but you can substitute it with a simple a combination of (roasted) jeera, fennel, coriander, red chili and turmeric. Or, use a store bought curry powder.
The soup is best served with bread or a piece of pie. We had an eggplant tart on our forest lunch.