Holistic Living - A journey of transformation
by Life Positive
We lazily viewed the setting sun and I asked him: "Do you hate me, the city person, for robbing you of your village, your community, your tradition, just so that I can get a little more electricity to light my city's prominent buildings; my home, my surroundings?" "No," he said quietly.
He had grown up along the banks of the beautiful Narmada, playing in her waters. Now she posed a threat to his community's existence. I saw rural India reflected in what he said, a Confucian spirit quietly accepting whatever we, in urban India, doled out to them. I reflected on what I had seen in this river valley over the past few days.
Torn communities, lost traditions, a dying eco-system, illness and suffering; all so that a dam can be built, a dam that does more harm than good. I had seen this in Bihar where large open-cast coal mines were destroying artistic tribal communities and wildlife migratory corridors. Covered with coal dust while passing through a coal mine area, I thought to myself: "Is it right that 80 per cent of India, who need and use so little, be destroyed to support people who are so wasteful and caught up in consumerism? Can I not sit in the dark for a few hours every night and light up fewer buildings if It will help save a few of these beautiful people?"
So began the transformation in my life. It all started nine months ago when I decided to throw up a successful career as a software engineer yielding to a restlessness that had been bothering me for years. "How can you quit after a Ph.D.?" my friends wondered, not understanding that for me it was the beginning of a voyage through India, a voyage through her deserts, her mountains, her people, a voyage of discovery and transformation.
I travelled across the country and learned about life from everything I saw, things that challenged my perception of reality. As I stood at a height of 5,000m on the Himalayas in Ladakh gazing down at the Indus flowing in a gorge below, as I sat on a camel's back looking at the Thar desert stretched out endlessly before me, I felt nature telling me that I was but a very small part of this infinite whole.
My defined sense of self was suddenly very insignificant. In Garhwal, I saw little waterfalls cascade from great heights and form tiny streams that merged with the Ganga as she moved on. It made me wonder why we still strive to stand alone, each of us with our own egos, instead of losing ourselves in the oneness of all things?
While in Bihar, I learned that the tribals did not cry when one of their own died, for they believed that this loved one had simply crossed over to the other world and became a spirit they could communicate with in various ways. I saw a lOO-year-old Oraon tribal woman laugh and dance and claim she was bored just sitting and making mats. I could not help comparing her zest for life with the apathy of my grandmother, who complained that she was simply waiting for death to take her away.
The tribals in Manibeli in the Narmada valley spoke of how they worked hard in their fields for six months and then sat back for the next six to enjoy the fruits of their labor. When my friend tried to suggest that they should put their time to good use, they responded with laughter and asked: "Do people in cities really work all through the year? Then, when do you enjoy?"
In all this, I suddenly caught a glimpse of a different kind of existence, one which is alien to us. We cannot live and let live. In our world, the paradigm has shifted before we 'ate to live', now we 'live to eat'. The four camels I came across in Rajasthan were so different. Ranoo the one-eyed camel, Kaloo the black one, Rakedh the wild one and Moomal the only lady! Comfortably seated on Rakedh's back, I observed them. Ranoo and Kaloo competed to lead, Machali; their keeper, chased the group trying to command while Rakedh set off on his own little trips. And Moomal? She walked her path with grace and quietude. She seemed free, oblivious of the presence of camel-ego, the mundane call of hunger and thirst and the impetus to perform.
And here I was, fighting, fidgeting, adjusting, struggling in this world of men, with no time to enjoy just being a woman.
Women in the desert villages seemed to be shut in their homes—yet they appeared so free. Were they protected from the world outside just to allow them to focus on being female, so as not to fritter away that amazing energy of the Mother Goddess that exuded from them? They seemed to be the ones who were free and unbound, while I was the one weighed down by ambition and ego and always fighting to be someone else instead of just being me.
My interest in the Mother Goddess cults led me to work with eunuchs. We shared our troubles, danced, fought and cried together. The eunuch who had appeared frightening and dirty to me, now seems tender, loving and vulnerably human. Radha, my favorite eunuch, made tweezers which she sold to other eunuchs. She told me she made a profit of Rs 6 for every pair of tweezers. I asked her why she did not do this full-time and make enough money to get out of prostitution and she said: "I am a Hijra and my purpose in life is to dance, sing and worship the Goddess. I cannot lose track of that just to make money."
Words of wisdom! Where am I going with all this? I am just a drop in this mighty ocean, but can I be less wasteful in using what Mother Nature offered? Can I be flexible like the Ganga winding her way through the mountainside? Can I live from the heart, using love and compassion to build bridges between different realities instead of destroying them? Can I enjoy being a woman, and also allow myself the freedom to travel and experience? Can I get in touch with what I am here for and not get caught up in doing something else?
I think I can.
Deepa Krishnan, India
|HOME | SUBSCRIBE | WALLPAPERS | ADVERTISING | POLICY | PRACTITIONERS | WRITERS | PEOPLE | ABOUT | CONTACT|