Undoubtedly, I was not aware whether I was ready for India or India was ready for me. As it has turned out so far, it would appear that I would never be ready for India on certain levels. India is just too vast and all consuming....... it waits on nothing and no one. It is a technologically driven tidal wave gobbling up all in its pathway as it ascends to soon becoming the greatest and most powerful nation at the end of this century.
India is just too large and enormous for my comprehension
My comprehension of India is limited by the conditioning of living on a very small island all my life. Western imperialism and an ethnically divided Trinidad has definitely consumed too much of my conscious time to consolidate a world view on life. India is just Indian people exploding and overflowing any and every which way. They are Hindus, Muslims and Christians that travel, work, shop and cohabit peacefully. Their sense of security, identity, confidence and belonging are rooted in the sheer volume of people's customs, cultural idioms, language that traverse all of India without exception. It is that long and colourful history that is characterised with a combination of Hindu, Muslim and British rule that have cemented and moulded India, the subcontinent, into one homogenous nation.
It is with great determination and to some degree, one of arrogance and ego that I recognised how displaced and innocuous I have been in this timeless land. The notions and preconceived ideas have all been assaulted and have been slowly ostracised from my conscious psyche. It has indeed been a very debilitating revelation and required deep inner strength to arrive at some minimal reconciliation of humility and reverence for a place that incredibly does not in the least professes to be sacred, religious and spiritual.
It is as if India is a well-kept secret. It is well-preserved and its synergy lies in its ability to metamorphosise itself internally. To experience India is to visit India. The majority of what constitutes India in the external media is far removed from its reality. It is a false propaganda.
Travelling cross country alone appears not to be the preferred thing. Nine out of ten travellers that I met travelled in groups of two or more persons. Their seem to be solidarity and a sense of security and comfort in numbers. My solo expedition was turning out to be much more than I had bargained for on this trip. At times one could feel the encroaching aloneness tormenting, sucking away at ones equilibrium. It felt like a greedy bottomless pit that was perpetually hungry for any kind of imposed neurosis. It would be with great conviction and determination that I had to chase this monkey off my back. The gregarious side of any human accepts company as part of its natural order. This journey was the test, the real McCoy, the epiphanyof my preparedness for such a state of mind.
The advancements made in my yoga/meditation practice over the years would become the vehicle that would become my constant and conscious guide in the management of my mental state. Like an athlete with years of practice and discipline I was ready to discover whether my early morning tapas and hour long meditation sessions would serve me in good steed.
My yearning for alone time has been exemplified in the frequent, long hours I normally would spend at my studio. There was no need to communicate, talk, follow instructions, respond, be on my guard, it was about sucking up a quality time of being in the now. The studio afforded privacy, quietness and rural esthetics in the form of luscious greenery, cool wind and a back to nature sensibility.
Without fully understanding I had been developing an appreciation for being alone. It is a wonderful experience, to be enthralled in one's personal space, to be consciously aware of ones surroundings, to live in the now, to embrace and enjoy the presence of another person with the fullest and richest of ones admiration and love. The "intunement" of the present more and more has become overwhelmingly gratifying. Such a state does not harbour, nurture and feed any of the discomforts, negativity and experiences that resonate from ones interaction with anybody or anything internally or externally. It is a living in the now with all of the wonderfulness of its glory and passion.
This state of being is what has brought me to India. It is a self-imposed action. It is a tapasya that has to be fullfilled, like possibly going on a hajj. Most important is the realisation that it is not about being alone but being in company far greater and gratifying than wife, mother or father. It is what I call the Shiva and the Shakti that moves, guides, inform and protects my every action, thought and emotion.
It came upon me like a thief in the night, when I least expected, maybe like a toothache. Times of inactivity and no sense of purpose appear to be the calling card for the ego to begin its work to unravel and dissipate any and everything associated with the good, the light, the wholesome and any recent positive in roads cultivated on the journey. The discipline that had been etched in my system over the years from yoga and meditation would now become the weapon to suppress and repudiate this plague, virus or diabolical attempt to possess and ingratiate me into a world of dementia, paranoia, depression, anxiety and mindlessness.
This ego was surely wicked, quick to seize the moment, belching out new paradigms, frontiers and perceptions that were alien to my equilibrium. It was a sheer case of assault on my sensibilities. The ball was in my court, I could no longer be a passive player, defense was not going to be the preferred tactic.
This brings me closer to why I have come to India.. It was to be on a spiritual journey that I conjured up at home. India through the eyes of a romantic, a dreamer, a want- to- believe foreigner. Many Trinidad tourists have visited India for one reason or the other. For many it has been on arranged tours to holy sites. Some of them are friends and family that I have known for some time. Similarly, were the influx of Indian nationals to these shores which included business men, professionals, and holy men/missionaries.
The holy men have been the ones that have made the biggest impact on creating a religious image of India and in no uncertain terms intensify the concept of bhatki. The local pundits and the various Hindu religious organisations have also been very instrumental in nurturing and moulding Hinduism into what it is today.
Hinduism has had its genesis with the arrival of the indentured labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India to Trinidad and Tobago. They came to these shores some one hundred and sixty years ago and initiated a brand of Hinduism that has been refined to producing a Hindu in ways, customs and rites that in more ways than one is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. It has become a religion that is on par with the likes of Christianity and Islam.
Present day India has also redefined Hindusim over these years. Theirs, unlike that of Trinidad and Tobago appears to be rooted in something far more greater than rites and rituals. They seemed to have unconsciously taken religion out of Hinduism and replaced it with spirituality. Finally, the old adage starts to make sense, ...Hinduism is a way of life. In no uncertain terms, does the Hindu have to prove to anyone that he is Hindu.
This insight came to me whilst observing the people's manner and behaviour during my fourteen hours wait in the Varanasi train station. Such contentment, spread a sheet on the floor, conversation, have a picnic, sleep and sleep any which way. Of course there was always space to make for new passengers in the crowded waiting room..At no time did I sense disappointment, frustration and uneasiness with the people.
The fourteen hours delay was brought on by poor weather conditions as a result of the winter's fog. .. My early two hour arrival at the train station was compounded by an initial two hour train delay. There was a train waiting for me to catch for Hardiwar from Delhi. Not in my wildest imaginings could I have foreseen that it was possible to miss my train at the Delhi station. Mentally, four hours did not seem to long a wait in a train station. Any thing is better than missing ones ride.
Hunger, the cold, tiredness, an uncomfortable space, aloneness and sleepiness soon became a cocktail that was psychologically messing with me at all levels. There would be no train waiting to take me to Hardiwar. My reservation would have to be cancelled for a five day stay in a temple in Rishikesh to hopefully find some spiritual guidance. There was the added issue of a refund for my proposed train fare.
Inherent in the waiting room were the ingredients that would slowly gnaw away at my remaining sensibility. The chatter of the people, the voice of the female announcer every five minutes on the loud speaker, the constant flow of people in and out of the waiting room were no longer attractive and novel but rather progressively becoming distracting at two and three in the morning. Frustration breeds vulnerability and it is at this point the true self surfaces pointing the way towards the light away from the impending darkness. Like an orgasmic eruption, the animate becomes inanimate. Calm, contentment and peace of mind quickly replaces the ego's attempt to destabilise decorum and equilibrium.
Spirituality had been found in a train station. It had nothing to do with a swami or any orthodox prescriptive rite of passage or trek up the Himalayas! One of my well used quotes from Christ ...we have eyes yet we cannot see...now hits me smack dab in the face. Spirituality, had been staring me in the face all these years. An ardent ego fuelling me down a straight and narrow pathway suppressing the inevitable, could now no longer resist the unfolding of my enlightenment.
This realisation has been a life- long pursuit ever since I was a teenager. Long ago, I turned my back on orthodox Hinduism. . Religion, a man made phenomena had made Hinduism a science here in Trinidad and Tobago.
Puja, howan, the pundit, sat sang, ramayana, yagna were all just too inadequate to satisfy my inner desire for something more than bhakti. Synonyms like Godhead, self realisation, enlightenment, maya and nirvanah were all just rivers of preparation that could lead one to the sea of consciousness.