“Certainty is the enemy of freedom” – Tom Robbins.
In India, its homeland, the practice of yoga is largely invisible but characterised by an all-encompassing pursuit of truth, freedom and divinity. India has so much to teach – in microcosm and macrocosm – but most of all it is a place of paradox and contradiction: populous, with the fastest growing population in the world (one in six people on the globe is Indian), a nuclear and economic superpower with 50% illiteracy, a third of the world’s poor (despite being home to some of the world’s wealthiest people and companies). Overwhelming natural beauty and a high level of nature consciousness but environmentally ravaged by pollution; mayhem on a very inadequate road system but no road rage and a dearth of accidents; luxurious hotels, private jets and opulence in amongst beggars, hawkers and some of the worst physical deformities imaginable; a lack of clean water, no primary healthcare and some of the friendliest people ever encountered…
Spiritual, yes – although highly ritualistic with obvious inconsistencies e.g.: in the treatment of animals; colourful and vibrant yet staid and conformist; friendly and secretive; bustling and oppressive but contemplative and meditative; cheap, but boy can you get ripped off; accepting yet judgmental, sexist and racist…. India is not the world in microcosm – it is the world! And with over a billion people in only 3 million square kilometers, it’s difficult to escape.
What a place, what an education, what a completely different place from other countries.
The yoga of India doesn’t seem to be all about the physicality that those outside of India have made it. Alignment, precision, structure, organisation, rules, notions of wrong and right, were existing precepts that were overlaid on top of the original practice – shamanic imitations of animals – a celebration of nature spirits and a recognition of our co-existent place in this space we occupy.
“Truth is one, interpretations many” ~ Bapuji