A few years ago, I took a month-long trip to India which left a lasting impression and a deep desire to return again, sooner rather than later, to the place of my ancestry.
Just before I embarked upon my journey, I received a call from my yogic father who was staying at the ashram in Mysore. His stay, as it turned out, was fated to end just before I would arrive in India and he phoned with a few words of advice as I would not be meeting him there. “Carry an open mind,” he said, “India is a mirror, it shows you who you are.”
It took almost a full day in the air from Toronto to land me upon India’s soil: 2:10am Indian time, two days after departing as a result of the nine and a half hours time-difference between Toronto and Delhi. In that day’s travel, I had been fed eight meals, watched five movies, and fallen asleep more times than I kept count.
The unusual nature of India began to reveal itself to me almost immediately upon arriving… completely drug-free, I never suffered even a minute amount of ‘jet-lag’ there.
In reality, India is a country that quickly strips massive amounts of your ego away if you let it in. It is country so populated, that in a matter of a few years, it will outdo China in population size. 1.5 Billion people live in India, and when you’re there, you know it. People move en-masse on foot, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, trucks, tractors, buffalo drawn carts, etc. All simultaneously.
In one whole month, despite moving within a human mass larger than any I’d ever seen before, I collided with only a grand total of two people. It was a notable demonstration of how people had learned to live as one.
Yoga teaches that as the ego is destroyed, connection to all others increase. And I both felt and saw this everywhere I looked in India. I saw it in the way people spoke without words but with a slight sideways nod of the head. I saw it in the way people would help to push another man’s heavy burden up a hill as he passed by, without being asked. I saw it in the way insanely crowded buses of people would find room where there was none because someone else needed to get on. My ego could not ignore the lessons of it’s own unimportance.
It was two weeks into my trip that I finally saw the truth of the “mirror”. On my way to Agra, I found myself looking out along a garbage-strewn road, thinking that it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. I smiled to myself then, for I saw how my ego that had so previously coloured my world had been stripped away, and what was now visible was a beauty I had not previously imagined. I realized that the mirror itself was me, and that India had simply cleaned it.
The Yogic Way®
Kavita Maharaj is the owner of Red Door Yoga® and the director of The Red Door Yoga School® in Lantzville. She can be reached at 250-390-9367 or through www.reddooryoga.ca for questions.