Oprah Winfrey went to the Jaipur Literary Fest and had something interesting to share about her experience in India. As interesting as it is, I wish India wasn’t addressed as if it was some kind of an exotic bird or an animal. Whenever someone from outside of India – specially West – comes over, s/he finds there is an energy, that is missing in other places and so comes out with interesting comments – either out of political correctness (if s/he cannot really come to grips) or out exasperation (can’t fathom what hit him/her) or out of fascination (haven’t seen such a order in chaos before).
- “I came here with an open mind, and it has been expanded… It’s the greatest life experience I have ever had,”
- “You feel like you’re in the centre of something bigger and greater than yourself.”
- “It’s like being in a video game. I don’t know which way to look,”
The fascination for India is also in many ways like the fascination with Indian Spirituality or Hinduism. Many seem to like Yoga. They know Yoga works. They know modern science despite all the advances has not created anything like Yoga. Or even close. They like the talk of Chakras – of course the scientific community doesn’t like this “hocus-pocus”, but that is like saying Mercedes is the best car, but I hate the parts of Mercedes so I will use the parts of Ford but want a Mercedes.
So, beyond the talk of Chakras – in the new Age circles – there is little seriousness to the Spiritual pursuits. Don’t get me wrong, there are some from West who really are serious, but that number is very less given the numbers of those who flock to such spiritual paths.
Spirituality and India is NOT “Interestingly Exotic”. Unless it becomes a new paradigm for people to live life, the world will keep going downhill.
Let me explain.
India’s Spirituality, most of it is what is known as Hinduism, is based on Diversity built on Unity. Once the foundational unity of Creation and Creator was understood and realized – that each atom and each microinch is ONE – then it was ok to have diverse and multitude ways to build on this foundation. You can approach the world the way you want, when you know that the foundation is strong, real, proven, realized and eternal.
On the other hand, Western Religious pursuits have been the opposite. They have built Unity to replace the Diversity. There were numerously different beliefs and paths in Europe 2000 years back. But on that Diversity of people’s thinking, a forcible cloak was put. Of one religion and one ideology. Such that it is not about pursuing the path yourself, but of adhering to this sense of Unity, which was to replace the diversity inherent in human mind. By deceit, by money, by sword, by lure, somehow – those with power and passion – made sure that Diversity of human kind gave into Unity of a certain authority. That is why West keeps looking for structure in everything. Things get fluid and they are looked at with exasperation, fascination or as exotic.
The reason why India (and indeed Indians) can handle chaos and work with it in calmness – as it was a neat structure – is because of the inherent spiritual foundation – which has thrived on unleashing infinite Diversity of Divinities (as per one’s taste) – on the foundation of ONE Eternal Divine. It is easy to handle.
But more importantly, that is the Truth of this Creation as well. As scientists are discovering.
Unless there is a serious understanding of this substantive ethos of India, people from outside will keep on treating India, Spirituality, and culture as an exotic animal… little realizing that they can actually benefit from internalizing this instead of standing “apart” and being distantly interested and fascinated.