Politics, dead rituals, decaying values. The utter disconnect with the throb of the spirit. Every religion on earth is passing through this. Every. Perhaps there is a reason. Perhaps we will never know. But that this disconnect exists, no one can deny.
India has been a calling. For many. To journey. Into, into, into. Themselves. And through that, to discover, to uncover, the eternal, the universal All. For this, she has offered many streams to dive into. One of those is a huge gushing river. They call it, Hindu. Its a word that is not India’s. The Persians gave it. The British, for simplicity, carried it forward. It is after a river, Sindhu. Or Indus.
For many brought up in my times, the word ‘religion’ – any and every – brings to mind images loaded with senseless violence and pain. Or with jingoistic reclamation of a past pride. Ego. Ahamkar. The one thing that the ancient Hindu sages said was false, that had to be not just left, but consciously killed, dissolved. Maro, he jogi, Maro. Die, o Yogi, Die. Maran hai Meetha. Sweet is the Death of the Ego.
For that death of the ego, were journeys, pilgrimages. For that death of the ego were prayers. For that death of the ego were stories. For that death of the ego was, Life. Said, unsaid. Every religion on earth designs itself this way. The ancient Hindus just bang into the head, from every possible angle. Dhyan. Bhakti. Karm. Yog. Choose a path. Live it. Or you are back. Again, and again. Till you get the idea, right.
They practised Ego-dissolution. In the cold peaks of the Himalayas. The chilling waters of the Ganges. They chanted. Used Sound. Used asanas, body postures. Imagination, breath, body, concentration, contemplation. Nothing was left untouched. To Search. For that One truth. And … they prayed. To the river, to the mountain, to the earth, the sky. For support. They knew. Life is not just this one body. The soul moves. The bird, the tree, the minerals, the water, the rock … are no different from humans. One can become, unbecome, anytime. Connections. Web. Of Life. Eternal.
River, tree, mountains … they were all Gods. All Divine. And, of all fountains of Bliss, all seekers of Truth, Nature gave the roots. Moses heard the divine voice in a burning bush. Through a river was Jesus baptised. A spider protected Muhammed. In oneness with a river, Nanak found Bliss. Siddhartha became a Buddha under a tree. It happened when he touched the Earth. The bush, the river, the spider, the tree. The Earth. They gave us the roots, so we could fly.
But, somehow. Who knows how. The divinity in elements, the sacredness of life, disappeared. Like with ever other religion, God was ripped away from Nature. Confined to concrete structures – temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches, the works. And man?! He was free! To do token prayers. And rape. Nature.
Me? I am a rebel child. I fight tooth and nail with any imposed system. I fought with my mum. For her mantras. I fought with my dad, for his prayers. I fought with this whole edifice of the religious thought that seemed to be full of only sheep. Dead followers. Blah, blahs. Repeating. Not Living.
But Life, she has her ways. To humble. Its been a while. I have been journeying with the Hindus. To their pilgrimage places. To their temples. And to their scriptures. Let me tell you, they are Fire. As ancient or as modern as the person who dares journey with them. They burn. All that is false. My life caught the fire, the flame. And what came of it was a remembrance of the Earth. Deep. As my mother would sing to me. As my Dad would lull me with.
Bhoomi Mangalam. Udaka Mangalam. Agni Mangalm. Vayu Mangalam. Blessed be the Earth. The Sky. The Fire. The Wind.
I offer you, the essence, of my journey into India’s mother tradition.