With the blessings and guidance of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Krishnananda from Rumania and me traveled to villages of Andhra Pradesh to put a smile on people’s face.
Well, when we arrived, we found that the villagers were already smiling! The village folks live a simple life in a beautiful harmony with Nature–something rare to experience in the cities.
But something was lacking from those smiles. Something, I found out later – a lack of identification with their culture. After 200 years of British colonial rule (and of course other invasions), most of Indian culture has been destroyed. Youngsters have taken to western clothing, non vegetarian food, alcohol, television, internet and chemical farming.
When invaders came for the first time to India, they saw that this country was so powerful, with all its wealth, rich culture, human values and educated people. They realized that the only way to rule this country was to destroy its roots and that is exactly what they did.
Meeting Local Press:
We had a meeting with the Local Press in Srikakulam. They were surprised to see that in more than 150 countries around the world people are learning Yoga and Meditation through the Art of Living. They were wondering why generally Indian people are going in the opposite direction and moving away from their culture and traditions. I shared my experience with them and why I practice the Art of Living Yoga and Meditation programs.
Into the Rural Villages, Padayatra:
We had free morning to relax and recover from our long train journey. Krishnananda and I did a nice prolonged sadhana (spiritual practice which includes meditation, yoga, pranayamas, etc) and we got fully energized. After a very tasty and traditional lunch, we headed towards a beautiful village nearby the sea-shore for a Padayatra.
The villages of India are so beautiful. They can be very small from 200 to 1000 or 20000 people. The main occupation is farming. People welcomed us with big smiles and flower garlands.
We first went to the Gram Devata of the Village (the Village Deity that protects the Village), to take permission and blessings to do good actions in the village. We did a padayatra (walking tour) of the village and blessed more than 1000 villagers.
The Blessing technique taught by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to meditators is such a miracle! Within a few days you are taught to become available to direct Divine Energy through your body and bless people. It’s a very pleasant and fulfilling experience.
People were very happy to see international friends acknowledging their own culture and learning that so many people in the world are benefiting from meditation which was born in India!
Around 5pm we went to a village nearby Srikakulam called Ampol where a Satsang was organized. The local people played beautiful devotional Indian songs and we discussed about the ancient wisdom that has become so integrated with Indian Culture.
After our talk we sang more devotional songs and then we blessed around 200 people! It was 9:30 pm and we hadn’t eaten yet. But we felt so much energized after this satsang that we went to another nearby village where a Ganesha Idol was being honored as part of Ganesha Chaturthi Celebrations. We joined in, chanted the Ganapati Shanti Mantra and blessed hundreds of people before returning to our place of residence.
It was around 11pm and we were quite exhausted. But our padyatra experience had been so wonderful that instead of hitting the bed, we started packing our bags. We had been called to another town called Kakinada! The 500-km car journey on Indian roads was not so comfortable. All my buttons got pushed and I took it as a reminder to value the time when Iam in more comfortable circumstances.
In the quiet hours of morning, we were welcomed to a beautiful farm house in Kakinada. We rested well and enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast. The padyatras continued for few more weeks. The experience was fascinating. India is a land full of magic, grace and knowledge, and I’m really in love with it!
Like the Indians, all native and ancient traditions honoured Nature – the Sun is respected, the Wind, the Air… All the 5 elements from which this creation is born are honored and adored. The ancient cultures of Indian Americans (US, Canada), Mexico (Mayas), Peru and Bolivia (Incas and others), New Zealand (Maoris), Australia, have mostly been destroyed!
I pray that this will not happen to India and people will take responsibility for the country. It is time to go back to the roots.