An Indian Winter
Spending three weeks in India just before Christmas felt wonderfully otherworldly.
First there were all the Christmassy goings-on here, with the days dark and wintry and jolly Christmas lights appearing and then we whisked off to bright sun and multi coloured saris (in Rajasthan) and honking cars and palaces and forts and elephants and camels and dolphins.
India always seems to reach right into my entrails; not as unpleasant as that analogy suggests. I mean that there is something so powerfully pervasive, right into my soul. There is always a spiritual experience along the way, even when least expected.
This time was no exception. For me, India oozes magnificent multi layered messages all at once; the charming trader who can sweet -talk you into buying not one, not two but several scarves etc.; the smiling driver who nods emphatically that he knows where to go (two hours later after stopping to ask the directions several times you reach there and he is quite unabashed smiling happily that we have got there); the constant bustle; the curiosity… “You are Scottish, did you vote for independence?”
Somehow the energy of all of this seeps through …. but then there is the spiritual ancient energy of India which accompanies, or is the carrier, of all this. Subtly one is touched and the message received; we are here not only as individuals but as sharers in each others’ fortunes.
Down at the very tip of India is a tiny rock island standing a five minute ferry ride away from the mainland. There is a statue built on a rock next to it. This is a statue of Swami Vivekananda, spiritual teacher and philosopher (1863-1902). He meditated for three days and nights on the rock island and reached enlightenment.
As I stood at this place (it is surrounded by railings) I felt myself become very peaceful and as if any wrinkles in my mind were being ironed flat. Apparently he was a very practical teacher who believed that religion was” the science of consciousness” and he thought it important to help all (especially the poor) to discover their own confidence about being more than just flesh and bone.
Interestingly, there is a meditation room here at the rock, and when the Tsunami hit this part of the coast all those in the meditation room were saved, even though the wave had swept over the island and had reached up to the neck of the statue next to the rock. Little places of miracles abound in India.
On my final evening I was the surprised recipient of a very special connection with a saddhu, through some friends. It will suffice to say that as a result of this I feel hugely appreciative of the help which human beings can sometimes give to and receive from each other.