Things I Learnt from Staying in an Indian Village

As much as I’d love to say that I hail from a quaint little village in India, I can’t. I mean the closest my friends and I even get to saying the word village is when we are referring to “Village Cinemas”, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that rural life is right up there in my list of unknowns. Anyway, it had always been a dream of mine to visit a traditional Indian village and I was EXTREMELY excited when we were invited to one by a family friend. And so, after twelve hours of road tripping, five instances of carsickness, multiple complaints of vertigo from the elders and encounters with roads that were really rock filled mud tracks, we arrived in the village slightly bruised and battered.  It was all worth it though, because this trip ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s a few things that I found pretty awesome.

#1 Atithi Devo Bhava- Guest is God

This saying prescribes a dynamic of the host-guest relationship in Indian culture and is taken from the Taittriya Upanishad which claims Matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava ( be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God). I’ve heard of this concept many times before but this trip was the first time I saw it actually being lived out in real life.

I’ll never forget the number of times our hosts called our taxi driver to make sure we were ok on our journey to their place (approx. 28 times), or the amount of food they packed into tiffin carriers for us to take on our drive back. Nor will I forget the time the lady of the house literally jumped up and ran outside to pluck me some flowers when she saw my flower-less braid ( when I exclaimed at how gorgeous the flower she chose was, she winked and said “just like you “)! To top it all off, the members of the house were quick to offer us ANYTHING if we so much as mentioned that something was nice.

One of the most unforgettable moments of my life was how the family took us to their prayer room just before we left, and made the elders sit on a chair. The husband and wife of the household then proceeded to fall at the feet of each elder to take their blessings and then gave us all sarees and gifts. By this point we were all in tears, incredibly touched by the love in the room and extremely heavy-hearted at the thought of leaving. Every time I wear the saree given to me, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling as I fondly recall the love I felt that day.

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#2 Keep it Simple!

The most endearing thing about the villagers was how genuine and simple they were. There were no airs and graces to be seen within a 50 mile radius of the place, that’s for sure! The women giggled shyly as if they were newly married brides whenever we praised them for their amazing culinary skills and the men were incredibly modest about their ability to harvest fruits, oils and vegetables across acres and acres of land through manual labour ( “I’m only an agriculturist” said a successful farmer, with his hands folded). Although talented in various arts, the children were softly spoken and very humble about the extent of their talents.  One boy claimed that he played “a little tabla” and we soon found out he was a student of a highly esteemed Indian musician after further enquiry. Their humility was definitely something to aspire to.

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#3 Men are Treated Like Kings but then, Women are Treated Like Queens. 

In recent times especially, there’s been a whole lot of talk about feminism and differences in the way that men and women are treated in Indian Culture. Undeniably, there’s been an abuse of power by many individuals in creating a structure that is patriarchal and abusive to women, but fundamentally, Indian culture sees a man and woman as equal halves. One of the first things that struck me during my trip was that the men in the household were treated like Gods. The women refused to eat until their husbands had eaten and spoke to their husbands with much respect, serving them at every and any point possible. But equally, the men treated their wives with dignity and love, made sure that their wives were not straining themselves too much with the household chores and took care of the household finances. The result? The women were essentially untouched by the stresses of the outside world, which made them emotionally available to take on a nurturing role within the household. The men took on the role of a provider and made sacrifices to keep the household running. I’d say that the real winners in this arrangement are ultimately, the kids brought up in these households who have every opportunity to form secure attachment styles to build their lives upon.

This visit almost seems like a dream now that I’m miles away in Australia, but I’m SO incredibly grateful to the universe and all the Gods that fulfilled my wish to spend a few days in an Indian Village!

 I am a 23 year old tradition lover living in Australia. As I have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Parts of this blog are fictional, while others are based on my own experiences. Happy reading! – Divya

 

 

 

 

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The Curious Tale of The Wandering Tube-light

Here lies a tale of an effeminate soul, older than the body it called home. Dropped from the heavens above, it found refuge in the womb of a woman it would soon call “amma”. It knew not where it came from, nor where it was going . All that it knew, was that it did not want to be born again. As it floated around the confines of it’s temporary home, it asked itself “Who am I?”. Asking thus, the new born babe made its dramatic entrance into the world, with firm resolve of answering this question by the end of its earthly sojourn.

Kabīrā jab ham paidā hue jaga hańse ham roye….. 

Saddened at leaving the heavenly abode from which it came, the infant cried. Around her, everyone smiled, eager to welcome the family’s newest member. As time passed, she began to smile too. After all, what was there to worry about? Before being born, she did not make arrangements for as to where her next meal was going to come from, nor where she would be sheltered. She did not choose the family that she was going to be born into and yet here she was, fully fed and clothed, with not a worry in the world. In this drama of life, with its pre-written script of pleasures and pains, triumphs and tribulations, she was merely a witness.

Of course, as she grew up, she sometimes forgot this reality, giving herself far more importance in her role of “planning her life” than she should have. She stressed over the outcomes of her efforts, walking around with the burden of her expectations lying heavily on her shoulders. She worried about bank account balances and future job prospects. She wondered where in the world life was going to take her. She cried over biochemistry and anatomy, over other mundane things of human reality, free-falling into the world of stress and worry.

prakrteh kriyamanani
gunaih karmani sarvasah
ahankara-vimudhatma
kartaham iti manyate

The confused soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks itself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by the Supreme.

Until one day,  she decided that she had had enough. “Who am I?” she asked. Who was I before all the stress, and who will I be after all the stress? That day, she chose the path of happiness. The kind that could not be shaken by the trials of life. That day, she chose the path of love. The kind that put God first, everyone else next and herself last. That day, she wore a smile that could not be wiped off under any circumstance. To the One who took care of her before she was born and the One that will continue to take care of her for time immemorial, she offered ultimate faith. She was no longer the doer.

She worried about nothing, she went with the flow and she took life as it came, one step at a time. Unfazed by calamity, she walked on her journey of life. Life was a game and she played it, laughing all the while. She knew she had God on her side. “Oh is this what we are doing now, life? Ok then! ” she chuckled as life took its own course. She still put in her best efforts into everything she undertook, but placed no expectations surrounding their outcomes. She stopped taking herself and life seriously. She was just a humble tube-light, floating her way about life. She was very happy and in the end, that’s all that mattered. Therein lied her satisfaction. Everything was perfect, just the way it was!

Purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate purnasya purnamadaya purnam evavashishyate

The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete. And because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as a complete whole. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself. And so everything that happens, is perfect in His eyes.

What is your “quest for happiness story”? Leave a comment down below!

I am a 21 year old University student living in Australia. As I have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading! 

 

 

I’m sorry Kali. I’m just not into you.

A yuga is a timeframe within a four age cycle, as per Indian spirituality. A complete Yuga consists of a transition from the Satya Yuga to the Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Sathya yuga is the time period where righteousness and truth prevails and as we progress through the other three timeframes, morality declines progressively until we reach the age of darkness and ignorance, or the Kali yuga. As predicted in Indian scriptures, in this age, people lack virtue. They become slaves to their passions and speak untruths. Humans eat forbidden foods and engage in unrestrained sinful practices. The environment is polluted, water and food become scarce. We currently live in the Kali Yuga. For the purposes of this piece, I have chosen to embody the Kali timeframe as a physical being. 

The cusp of Dwapara and Kali Yuga was accompanied by the laments of the Noble Parikshit. The metaphorical bull once standing firmly on four limbs of righteousness was now mutilated beyond recognition. The limbs of penance, cleanliness and compassion now gone, all that remained was truth. Amidst pangs of despair, your reign began.And so it was that man forgot the purpose of his birth, the road to salvation and  God himself.

Sensory gratification now reigns supreme. Strange times you have caused Kali, strange times indeed.  The path of righteousness is rarely tread upon, while acts of immorality are rampant. In a strange turn of events, doing the right thing has to be accompanied by valid justification. Doing the wrong thing is seamlessly integrated into social norms. I must say though Kali, you are doing your duty to perfection. Your efforts are far-reaching, to say the least.

Such is the time we live in, that we willingly intoxicate ourselves until basic consciousness is but a shadow in the distance. Such is the time that we live in, that we manipulate the earth, its resources and our animal counterparts with intentions are nothing short of being obnoxiously selfish. Such is the time that we live in, that women, who were once embodiments of virtue, physical manifestations of the divine mother, no longer see themselves thus.

It is but a saving grace that you vowed to only manifest your ill-effects where the name of the Lord is forgotten, where there is gambling, drinking, lustfulness and the desire to kill.  Although, by the looks of it, that doesn’t make much difference to most of our generation. These elements have all been incorporated into the normal, seen as nothing less than harmless fun. After all, wrong doings can be dismissed by claiming that to err is human. And perhaps, to some extent it may be. But in the grander scheme of things, man travels on the journey of life trying to understand his self and attain everlasting happiness.

Sooner or later, we will all realise that trying to seek bliss by pursuing materialism or sensory gratification is pointless and then your efforts will be futile, Kali. Then, no precious time shall be wasted on seeking the illusory treasure troves of impermanent happiness. The journey of self-discovery has to come to an end at some point and man will revel in its culmination. All in good time.

So as attractive as your proposal sounds, as tempting as it is to fall into your welcoming embrace, I have only one thing to say to you. Let’s agree to tread on separate paths, no hard feelings. Let’s keep a mutually exclusive existence going, I am not interested in anything else.

What are your thoughts on the predictions written in the scriptures? Pretty accurate? Leave a comment below!

I am a 20 year old University student living in Australia. I am no expert in Indian culture, but my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Parts of this blog are fictional, while others are based on my own experiences. Any Brahmin influences on my writing a solely a product of my imagination and my interaction with Tambrahm friends. Happy reading! – Divya