March 18, 2009

The Curious Case of ‘A’

My uncle would often comment that in India, we realize the importance of our own heritage after it gets an additional ‘A’ at the end. I used to be curious as to what is this ‘A’ that makes us realize the importance of our own talents/ knowledge.

It took me sometime to realize what he meant - the western world takes the Indian knowledge and talents, benefits from it and markets it so well that we start realizing the importance and import it back with an English spelling. So, Yog becomes Yoga, Ayurved becomes Ayurveda, Ganesh becomes Ganesha and so on :)

While in India, we are still struggling with getting Yoga teachings out of the service tax list and pushing for its secular credentials, the rest of the world is minting money. The last estimate put the Yoga industry in US at more than 25 billion dollars.

The ancient yogis lived very simple and focused lives with bare necessities. However, today comfort and branding is essential. The market is flooded with yoga mats, outfits and even seats to sit in vajrasana! As expected, this is already catching up in India...

I remember Sri Sri (Guruji) saying many times,
“There are seven things about India that we should be proud of:

1. Our tourism potential (natural and architectural wonders)
2. Our culinary traditions (unmatched cuisine in variety and richness)
3. Our jewelry and our clothes (designs)
4. Our spiritual knowledge (scriptures, literature, yoga, meditation)
5. Our medicine system of Ayurveda (capable of treating the root cause)
6. Our classical dances (variety and subtlety)
7. Information Technology!

We must develop all these even more. We are great at self criticism – we must stop this and be brave and bold!

We must develop self confidence in ourselves and in our traditions. We should even teach them to others. Teach them our language through our culture, through our spiritual knowledge. Each one of you must be an ambassador of our country's culture."

Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this curious case of ‘A’.