India, the Land of God
The fascination I have for the Indian culture, born out of practicing Sahaja Yoga Meditation, is the reason for writing of a number of works having as topic the various aspects of Indian classical music, including my PhD thesis which had as topic The Influences of Indian Culture and Music in the XXth Century Western Music.
I landed in India in 2009 after gaining an ICCR scholarship. I was in the last phase of my PhD and this allowed me to study abroad. I left Romania by the end of August, when the temperatures were pretty high. My luggage for the next 6 months was a small one, comparing to what the needs were, but I was sure I was going to manage. My destiny in Romania already put me for many years in the situation of having a minimal life style, so I was not very fond of comfort.
Before my departure, in the moment I got the visa, His Excellency, Mr. Debashish Chakravarty, Ambassador of India in Bucharest, gave me quite a serious briefing regarding rules that would keep me safe in India.
I didn’t’ know I was going to break all of them.
My purpose was to have a deeper look into the Indian classical music, than the books and treatises offered to me in the libraries.
On one hand was the educational experience under the guidance of my musical Guru, on the other hand was the visitor perspective, then living in that society which had other rules than mine and, the most important, was my spiritual growth.
My experience in India changed my life forever.
Sahaja Yoga Meditation
Sahaja Yoga was not something new for me. I was already practicing it for 15 years. However, having more time for myself, because the studying requests and regime were a lot easier than in my country and also having a break from my job in Romania (I was a full time employee since my high-school graduation), gave me the opportunity to start more serious than even my sadhana, my discipline towards conquering the heights of the Spirit.
I remember an advice I got in my first day in India from one of my roommates, an Italian lady, 20 years older than me: “Forget the way you think the things should be. Time has a completely different value here. Might pass months before you can solve a problem. But don’t worry, everything will be fine. Just immerse in this New Reality which is India”.
I was assigned to the best place to learn the real classical music in the traditional way: Trikalaa Gurukulam, lead at that time by Padma Shri awarded Prof. Dr. Leela Omchery, author of no less than 19 research books and former head of Music Department at Delhi University. I know her lessons are gold.
It was a privilege for me to be the student of the remarkable scholar Leela Omchery. Even at the beginning she was skeptical because of some experiences with other European students, she was very proud of me in the end.
I was invited to perform in all the class productions and I was even a soloist.
Her words on my graduation certificate were: “If she got an opportunity to continue more days, she would have become a marvelous student, or surpassing some of her Indian colleagues.”.
Yes, I was learning very fast, but I was already a professional in my own country. Changing the system, the tuning and the thinking were not something very complicated for me. After all, we studied modal music in Romania too.
My Teacher offered me support in one of the most terrible moments: when my wallet was stolen in the bus on my way to our class, she asked her driver to escort me to the police station to fill the complaint and also gave me 20 rupees so I can get back to my place.
In our last class, she offered me an interview which I later published in Romania. The whole content is fascinating, but the ending could bring one to tears; “I have only one pray to God: let me have the same birth again and again. Let me be born here again and again with the same husband, with the same children, with the same family and relatives and the same students.”
Experiencing a Foreign Country
The hardest challenge for anyone in a foreign country is to be able to manage there. In India I was put in situations that in my own country I wouldn’t have considered to put myself in. Coming from a system (in Romania) where the first concern are the foreign students, who get free places in best hostels with private room, internet, TV and laundry service into another one where you’ve discussed something before leaving my country regarding the arrangements there, and discover something else when you arrive, is a big shock.
Like it was not enough being a woman and white, I found myself without accommodation and having to rent a place on my own. I didn’t know the procedure in my own country. Luckily, salvation came from the sky, a miraculous one. A young girl who I already knew from Romania and who managed to find a place for both of us inside Sahaja Yoga community.
In the beginning, I was hit by this cliché: white woman-rich woman. The Ambassador warned me that this might happen. Was difficult to explain to people that my scholarship is so small that one hardly can survive. But however, the good nature of people always saved me.
“Madame, this is India”
A funny experience was when I asked how can I reach the place I was going to live. I had the address and I was at the closest metro station. I was told: 3 km. I walked with my heavy laptop around my neck in the humid heat for at least one hour. When asking again, I was already tired and upset: “someone told me is only 3 km, but I think I already walked for 5 and I don’t see I am getting any closer.” I got an answer that became emblematic for my whole 6 months staying: “Madame, this is India”. Shocking, out of any logic, but since there was no way I could fight about it or even negotiate, the only option left was to accept and trying to take things as they come.
Another thing I learned was that sometimes, if you knock long enough to a door, it opens, even it was not supposed to. At that moment I understood what “Incredible India” means and I also understood what the Italian lady told me in the first day. What is supposed to happen it happens anyway. For the Europeans, this lifestyle looks chaotic. Extremely crowded, with people that are very different, with rules that are in the same time compulsory for some optional for others, and completely ignored in the same time, somehow, thigs happen and surprisingly, they happen the right way. The solving comes out of the blue when everybody lost the hope. But the miracles belong to the next chapter:
Finding “Priceless” in India
If there was something indeed priceless in India, was the spiritual becoming. I had more time to deal with myself, to introspect and to try to overpass the problems that are normal for any human being.
And here the miracles started to work.
One was in December, when I was on my way to the Romanian Embassy, where were held the elections for out president. I took the wrong bus and I had to turn back. There was the ring road to cross and I didn’t notice that the bridge was not far away. There was no pedestrian crossing at that point and I just adventured myself into a very dangerous situation. After crossing the first half, I thought thig a are going to be easy. But no. it was a dual carriageway. I crossed one and stopped on the double line, waiting for a break between 2 cars to jump. But there was no break and directly in the line there was a motorcycle coming directly to me. I just saw myself dead on the road. Didn’t know what to do, I closed my eyes and I was led somehow one half-step in front. The motorcycle hit me, but I remained standing while it rolled on the road. Happily, nobody was hurt. Yes it was my fault, and yes, the rider had bad intentions. But I understand that God is watching me and saves me even when I do something stupid.
I felt the love of God at the most intensive way, like never before.
The Power of a Sahaj Bandhan
Another incredible thing happened 6 weeks before my returning home. On my way to my music guru, my wallet was stolen. After filling the complaint, on my way to my flat, while crying in the bus, a friend from Sahaja Yoga collectivity just called me. I explained her what the problem is and that the worst is that I lost all my papers, passport included. She said: “I put a Bandhan , vibrations are cool, don’t worry.” A Bandhan is a request we send to God (through transmitting energy in circle patterns with our palms) and we can feel the result immediately in our fingertips, due to our Kundalini (energy) awakening.
** (check the link for video and explanations)
Well, I put a Bandhan myself. It was indeed cool. I stopped worrying so much. In five days I got my wallet with all my papers back directly from the hand of our Consul. Never before and never after something similar happened to me. I understood. God lives there, in India!
Taking India with me to Europe
In Europe we value time. We have a completely different rhythm. But in India I could, for the first time in my life, experience acceptance and relief even in situations that I didn’t like. Somehow, I could make a very interesting compromise between my super-efficient lifestyle and the relaxed and more joyful Indian one.
Now, after 10 years, I work even more, I am even more efficient, but also the Indian tools are there to color my life.
I miss India. This is why my kitchen closet is full of Indian spices. If in India I was using every single occasion to drink black coffee, like I used to do in Romania, now, back home, I am an expert in masala chai. If in India I was eating sliced packed bread, now, I can make roti and even dosa.
In India I relearned joy. I said before, I was hit by clichés. At my returning home, another thing hit me: nobody was smiling. Unhappiness and hidden anger were reigning over people’s hearts. It was the middle of a financial crisis. After returning home, I had my eyes more open to beauty.
Yes, Romania had many beautiful things that in India were not available. Incredible red sunsets, the snow, the scent of the earth in the springtime, and, more than anything, the song of birds.
What does India have?
There is something in the sacred soil that makes everything possible, from death danger which is present everywhere to inexplicable salvation situations, came out of nowhere, from loneliness to the joy of collectivity, from ascetic life to wealth.
The inner state contains the whole scale, from perplexity to revolt, then resignation, joy, ecstasy, ascension.
I may say I am one of the luckiest. I went to India to study their classical music and I returned richer than ever.
There, in India, I touched the sky with my hand.
The perfection exists, can be reached and evolution has no end.
We are so beautiful and we don’t know!
(excerpts from Cleopatra David’s essay submitted for the ICCR Essay Competition on the occasion of 70th Foundation Day. Topic: “Studying in India: My Personality Growth, My Experience” )
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