Before I left on my two-month Journey to India, I was asked the Question, “Why do you always go back to India? Why not visit other places in the world?”
It’s not that I don’t have a desire to see other places in the world, but as a Yogi, India holds such a powerful pull of rich spiritual wisdom that it’s hard not to come back to get that feeling of being spiritually charged in the birthplace of Yoga.
India’s ancient culture has always been directly tied to a deep sense of spirituality which has been preserved through the passing on of traditions from generation to generation. Spirituality and practicality has been interwoven in such a way that I feel is truly unique to India. There’s hardly any mundane activity that isn’t somehow deeply rooted in spirituality. The openness and acceptance of religious and spiritual freedom is evident everywhere. There’s no taboo concept like “never discuss politics or religion” as we hold in the West. As you wander down any street you’ll see mosques, temples and churches next to one another. You’ll see people praying at roadside temples, stopping on their way to work to say a quick prayer, people chanting mantras, singing devotional songs, decorating their houses, bodies, cars and children with their chosen Deity/God/Guru. Devotion isn’t something that needs to be hidden within a church or a temple, but is accepted and normal to be expressed in day to day life. It’s this openness that I feel attracts so many western truth seekers as a safe place to discover and explore their own sense of spirituality.
India has always had a rich history of spiritual Masters, Saints and Gurus and is easily the World epicentre of spiritual wisdom. The ancient spiritual techniques that have been practiced thousands of years ago can still be found today undiluted and preserved through strong lineages and teachings that have been transferred from Guru to Disciple. The energy created through extensive spiritual practice by these enlightened beings can be strongly felt in the places where these masters spent their time. To visit these holy places and feel the energy is an amazing and sometimes overwhelming experience. In these places we are reminded of just how profound our existence is beyond the physical material world.
As a traveller India isn’t always the easiest country to visit. The sheer volume of people, pollution, the sounds, smells, colours etc. is typically known as an “assault to the senses”. Travel can be difficult at times, sometimes 100km can take 3-4 hours to reach. Keeping an open mind and willingness to adapt to the cultural expectations is very important to stay sane and safe. You really need to be able to “adjust”- a term many Indians use to describe the typical change in plans that might occur within a day. That being said, you won’t go anywhere where there isn’t someone who is curious about you, willing to help you out or even offer you food. To Indians, the “Guest is God” and you can really sense that wherever you go.
India is often regarded by its people as “Mother India”, which to many outsiders seems absurd by the way we often see India depicted with it’s pollution, poverty and economic disparity. Yet when you travel away from the city centres, talk to the people, and see their constant reverence and connection to the nature, animals, the land they harvest, the temples they worship in and the ancient sacred places they sustain, you quickly realize that there is a deep sense of gratitude for what this land provides. The pull I feel to visit India really does feel like I am “coming home”, as India is the Motherland to all the teachings I am drawn towards. All of my visits to this holy land have been life changing and have strengthened my faith, trust and devotion. This being said, I don’t think just coming to India will magically change you. The whole “Eat, Pray…Run Away” concept that many unclear travellers have about “finding them self” through travel is not necessary when it comes to true spiritual growth and development. Spiritual seeking starts within and no external experience can give you what needs to be experienced within.