For all it’s material flaws, India represents an advanced personality on Earth, an eternal landscape, a spiritual sanctuary, and the opportunity to attune to the mother of Yoga.

 
One of the most profound, sweet, and mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had was a walk around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. I had moved back from a long career as an actor. Living in New York City for a decade and then Los Angeles got the best of me, and surfaced the saddest of me as well. In coming ‘back home’, I truly found just that, home here on Earth within Bhakti Yoga.

This walk around Walden was with the first time I experienced live hari-katha, discussion about the Divine, with a Vaisnava monk in the order of my Gurudeva.

We walked around sharing. I told stories of how I found Gurudeva and the devotees Nimai Caitanya and our reading of the Jaiva Dharma. He told me pastimes. Maharaja shared the pastime of Radha sitting on the lap of Krsna while Madhu tried to get the bee away from them. That bee was in total ecstasy being around them, and Radha could feel his pain of being swatted away. In fact, even though she was in Krsna’s lap, she embodied so much intense pure love for him, that the idea of the bee being forced away from him got her insanely emotional. While still on his lap!

This pastime gave me an aha moment I had never received from any of the religions or cultures I had studied.

So vivid was my connection with this, so clearly did it explain my moods in youth, that I was forever seated in my own spiritual drivers seat. From then on, I would hear that pastime and hundreds like, over and over again gaining more personal insight to my souls blueprint than I could have ever imagined.

This souls connection to my own true identity is the cornerstone of bhakti. It is free and it is every soul’s ultimate destination, despite our material birth body, ethnicity, religion, or social creed. It is called sanatana dharma, the eternal function of the soul.

Even Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden, loved Indian Culture.

How much more admirable the Bhagavad Gita then all the ruins of the East…One sentence of the Gita is worth the State of Massachusetts many times over…”

Our practice of yoga is called rupanuga because we follow the lineage of spontaneous devotion to the divine. It’s a heart-centered primordial yoga, this bhakti. We travel deep into our souls to the very seed, or bija, to remember. Physically we may also travel to the take the dust of these saints upon our head. 

They incarnated in India.

When we act from a heart space, the process and the goal of our practice – which is to say our life – is transformed.

Is Yoga a physical practice? Yes. We have bodies and must learn self-care and self-love. But that is only the beginning.

Within India there exists an eternal landscape, a place naked and inherently spiritual. Of course, technopoly has invaded the cities. There is a disconnect between the ancient ways and the new, there is violence and pollution. But that does not change what India is, Who India is, and the fact that these pure souls are born there. 

The first secret of all yoga is that we are not these bodies. We are not this material plane at all. We are spiritual beings having a human embodied experience. There are people who live an exceptionally clean life. They understand the modes of material nature, they understand dharma, they understand devotion, and they live that way spirit generation after spirit generation. 

 

A funny thing happens when we take our annual Yoga Journey to India. We visit three places – Vridavan in Uttar Pradesh, Jaganath Puri in Orissa, and Navadwip off the coast of West Bengal. Our students quickly find that physical practice becomes automatic, it’s form and function becomes vividly real. All of our concerns, judgements and anxieties about our bodies and doing it right melt away.

Movement is spontaneous, it’s always appropriate, and it feels awesome.

Our minds surrender too, with the body as the gateway. We are confronted with our own veiled psyches. We see trash, babies pooping on the ground, cows in the street. And this melts our hearts, as it shifts our consciousness.

We go to India to enter into a flow beyond time, place and circumstance. To become enraptured, if even for a moment, in the merciful truth of our true identity.

 

Love,
JaiShree

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