She is often referred to as the land of Gandhi, incomparable exotic cuisines, mystery, yoga, spirituality, and so many things ancient. And when people think of what’s negative about it they think of poverty, corruption, narrow-mindedness, and an addiction to tradition. India has experienced thousands of kings, both the despotic type as well as the wise and visionary. The religious mystique of this land can be credited to a series of wise men who dug deep into the human spirit to uncover and solve some of the most bizarre mysteries of existence. And today, it is also the land where the greatest miscomprehension of ancient wisdom exists which can be credited to immature and childish errors in perception of its common citizens. There are so many dimensions to this land and one truly needs to question if he or she knows anything at all about India. How do we analyze a country? Normally, we consider several factors regarding the quality of its society including economy, technology, education, and government. And, in comparison to its peers, I think India lags terribly in most of these dimensions. But is that all that a land can be limited to? Is it even acceptable to say that a land can be judged based on the behavior of its inhabitants? Let’s deviate from the conventional way of analyzing a country and look deep into the soul of India to discover what she truly is.
India is not simply a land that exists within carefully calculated borders and ruled by a majority-favored government. It is not tradition, culture, cuisine, and religion that define this land of pure mystique. When you wonder about the unacceptable poverty that reigns supreme in India, it becomes very difficult to understand how a society so advanced in its approach to existence throughout millennia can remain so materially poor and incapable of resolving such a fundamental issue. I think the primary reason for this is that the inhabitants of this land have never held material wealth in high esteem. While there seems to be a great craving for social status and material wealth, there is a much stronger underlying desire to find intellectual and spiritual understanding within oneself. Throughout millennia, the inhabitants of this land never accepted that material supremacy matters more than everything else. They valued each aspect of life as much as the material aspect and sought to grow in every dimension of living.
Does economic progress truly imply human evolution? We have been so conditioned to believe that true progress means economic security that sometimes we just fail to understand that economics is just a human idea. What does it mean to be Indian? Does the fact that you were born to Indian parents, eat Indian food, live in an Indian city, or look like an Indian mean that you are Indian? Does the fact that you vote for your democratic suppressors, or wave that lovely Indian flag about, or post about your patriotic spirit on social media imply that you are Indian? No, it doesn’t. The Indian mind has been corrupted by perverse ideologies preached by people who know nothing about this sacred land. They have promised the inhabitants of this heaven a greater heaven which does not even exist. Unfortunately, a deep desire to imitate the west has destroyed the innate intelligence that always existed in India. If this desire to become economically supreme can be transformed into a desire to be humanly supreme, I think this land has endless potential to return to her former glory. And that former glory does not bleed dry another nation and does not rely on the impoverishment of an enemy for the wellness of oneself. It is true glory from which all nations on the Earth can drink from, as they have in the past. So, what really is India? And what does it mean to be Indian?
Civilization was born in the rich and fertile plains of India. It was here that the ape decided to become conscious of itself and coin the term human being. To be Indian means to be human. To be Indian means to crave mystique, wonder, and evolution. India exists in the human soul. It is a compartment in the human spirit that drives it to growth and self-understanding. I do not say this because Advaita and Buddhism were born in this land. I do not say this because this is the land of Siva and Krishna. I say this because I have never considered India to be a country. The word ‘country’ implies a very limited concept and I do not think that it can contain the vastness of what India truly represents. India is not just a nation with a set of ideologies and values that its loyal citizens strongly adhere to. If you walk into a dark corner of the Himalayas, you will find people who will laugh at the common definitions of India. If anyone is to be blamed for the world’s limited understanding of this great land, it is its inhabitants alone. We took too much pride in the glory of our past and continue to flaunt around our culture like it is a priceless necklace that gives us a priority pass to redemption. Everything beautiful dies and it is foolish to carry around a corpse that was once beautiful. This is what we do with our culture and tradition. It was beautiful and now it is dead. It has no more use to us. If we continue to rely on it, our entire approach to life becomes prejudiced with ideologies that smell of rotting corpses. We need to leave behind the things that we once considered beautiful and now march into the future to discover new intricacies and ecstasies that existence can offer us. We need to continue to embrace that powerful thirst for mysticism that has brought us this far. Our infatuation with western thought has destroyed the mystic within each of us causing us to overvalue the fancy delights of intellectual and logical thought. We need to drop it all and rediscover the inner wealth that exists within each of us.
Growth has nothing to do with your daytime job, the decisive number in your bank account, the percentage of tax you pay, and your good favor with god. Growth is individual freedom. It is the ability to converse with each other without prejudices and to understand each other’s perceptions and interpretations of life as it moves before our eyes. Conversation was treasured more than any other form of human intelligence in India. In ancient India, actual dialogue existed as opposed to ignorant monologues that are thrown around in modern society in the name of conversation. We need more dialogue. We need people who listen to each other and digest what the other person is saying. And to do this, we need to drop all prejudices regarding identity and culture.
Logic calls for an explanation of the consequences of acting out my suggestions. But what I am proposing is illogical. Having a true conversation would seem illogical to every educated mind in today’s world because self-growth is valued more than human growth. You are educated to value yourself more than anything else. And what are you but a stupid collection of ideas and prejudices, however beautiful and sophisticated they are. India means openness. She means conversation, love, appreciation, and true community. Whoever you are and wherever you live, I urge you to explore this inner map within you that is India. She will reveal some of the subtlest intricacies of the human experience to you and you will not be disappointed. Everyone who is tired of life moves toward India because she offers a soothing ointment for the wounds caused by basic human endeavors. Whether it be yoga, the Himalayas, or the pure vibration that pulses in this land, there is healing available for everyone who can be open.
I was blessed to be born in this wonderful land. But it is the fragrance of her people and the mystique of her imperfection that taught me what it truly means to be Indian. I am not a patriot in the common sense of the word. But I find it my duty to introduce the world to the real India, the ancient land that cradled and fueled the evolution of humanity. When you stand alone in the middle of this land, you will understand how insignificant you are no matter who you are. That insignificance will drive you to seek and find answers to some of the most significant questions of existence. And you will come home to yourself.
So, when people usually ask me, what is India? I say, she is pure mystique! And you must taste her before you die.
“I call India not a country, but an inner space. I call India not something that exists there in geography, on the maps. I call India that which exists hidden within you, and that which you have not yet discovered. India is your innermost space. India is not a nation, it is a state of mind.” – Osho