If you have been reading my blog, you know that I’m incredibly in love with India. I have been to India only twice (2015 and 2017) and have set foot only in four states (Karnataka, Jaipur, Delhi, Calcutta). But my love affair with India started long before 2015.
Let me pay homage to this beautiful country which I love as my own. How do I love India? Let me state the ways.
There were several practices originating from India that helped turn my life around about 20 years ago. Yama and Niyama, sadhana (meditation), kiirtan (chanting), asanas (yoga postures), and satvic (sentient vegetarian) diet, all of these put together is called the practice of yoga (union). It is a way of life that provides guidance and practice for going back to The Source, our one true home. I also learned the greeting namaskar, which means “I pay my respect to the divinity within you, with all the divine charms of my mind, and the cordiality of my heart.” The greeting goes with the anjali mudra, done by putting palms together, touching the bridge of nose with the tip of thumbs, then the chest. It is easily the most beautiful greeting I have ever learned, and I feel everybody should learn to greet this way, in their local language, but with the same ideation. I also learned about little things like tongue-cleaning which was very helpful in my transition to vegetarianism that time (I’m vegan now!), and drinking lemon water with salt. It took me years to be able to succeed in doing full dry fast, but hey, better late than never.
I’m a sucker for Indian movies and music. Although I’m aware that so many terrible movies and songs abound (not just in India but all over the world!), I’ve seen quite a few movies and heard a lot of songs that I instantly fell in love with. I love Bollywood and I know there are still more to discover about Indian cinema such as Bengali, Telugu, and Malayalam movies, to name a few. My most favorite Indian movie ever is Lagaan and everything else I’ve seen have only been second best or less. Please educate me more about Indian cinema and recommend to me something that does not have any song and dance number in it, except The Lunchbox, which I have seen several times.
For Indian music, my entry point was bajans or devotional music, then kiirtan chanting “Baba Nam Kevalam” whose deeper meaning is “Love is all there is”. Then of course playback music for Bollywood movies. I was shocked when I found out that Aamir Khan did not sing his songs in Lagaan and in all other movies, and my world was never the same again. From Lagaan I also became a big fan of A.R. Rahman, who I believe is nothing short of a genius. I listen to a lot of Arijit Singh, Atif Aslam, Shreya Goshal, and Sunidhi Chauhan. I know there’s so much more, and I’m more than willing to explore and find out.
There are also a lot of Sanskrit and Hindi words I love and many of them do not have exact English or Filipino equivalents. Many of my favorites start with the letter S such as sadhana, samadhi, sadhaka, sanyasii, sadvipra, samskara, and samaj, which I learned when I was deep into yoga practice. My recent additions are samuday, sajan, sooraj. All other favorites are food names like samosa, dosa, poha, kitchouri, roti, and many more.
Speaking of food, India was also instrumental in my shifting to vegan diet and lifestyle. I was a vegetarian for 17 and wanting to become vegan. I will share the story in more detail in another post, but to cut the long story short, my 2015 visit was pivotal which made me want to be the best version of myself and so I decided to become vegan when I came back.
After that visit, I thought of stretching myself further and seeing how far I could go outside of my comfort zone. I decided to learn a new language and a new script, Hindi and Devanagari, and although my current ability in reading and writing this language is nothing beyond a first grader, I am continuing to learn and loving it.
There are so many things to explore and see, to learn and love about India. But best part of India for me is its people, more than a billion of diverse, talented, spiritual, friendly, funny people, some of whom I am privileged to call friends.
How about you? What do you love about India?