I understood spirituality when I was away from India

Arts and Culture

When I was in India my understanding of spirituality was limited to reading the Autobiography of a Yogi or trying to unravel Ramana Maharshi’s teachings and not succeeding, or spending time listening to stories of Gods and Nayanmars.

Then I moved to the US in 2003 and for someone who had lived 38 years of her life in India, the US was something of a jolt. I was ripped off all physical support systems that I was used to in India. I had new relationships to forge, needed new qualifications to live life such as a driver’s licence (couldn’t have a driver as in India), needed a visa to be able to work. To top that there were worries about who will take care of my one year old while I pursued my career. It was an environment of flux which gave birth to new questions and self-doubts. And all this I had to wade through myself without the kind and encouraging words of my parents over the telephone lines as I was so used to in India. It was definitely a period of turmoil and now looking back, a churn leading to new possibilities.

That period led to questions like; why me? why should life turn itself on its head? why should life be difficult at all, why does all this happen? And the search started to find answers to these questions. The door opened in the form of a program offered by the Isha Foundation with Sadguru himself.

The program somehow gave perspective to everything that was in disarray and all of it started to make sense in a vague way. It started with ‘acceptance’ first – of the fact I was now in the US and irrevocably so. I couldn’t go back to the comfort of my well-paying job in India, or the freedom to pursue my music, while cooking and other chores were left to the maids. I had to live in the present. And that’s when all the spiritual books I had read started making sense. I had to experience this to understand the meaning of spirituality.

Life took me back to India in 2009. India in contrast was crowded with action and people. There was constantly a bustle to answer the door bell, to answer the numerous service vendors at my doorstep (from the milkman to the gas delivery man) or to keep in step with the mad traffic and demands of a large city. I had realised by now that there was a lot more to be done apart from rituals and temple visits on this journey of life. So this time in India I chose to learn Samskritam (Sanskrit), a language that helped me penetrate more into the spiritual realm.

In a couple of years, again there was a push to leave the country, this time to Canada. I relied on my instincts and went with it, fully trusting that this was the way I was being shown.  For the first three months I was all by myself figuring out how to settle down and get my son to join me. Being alone with hours and hours to reflect on while I watched my thoughts, started influencing my personality. I came to trust life more and more and started enjoying the lack of knowledge about tomorrows.

It was a bit of all; my understanding of spirituality, lonesomeness and the country itself, which gave me a window into a large and limitless meadow where I could “stop to smell the roses”. This allowed me to start a Samskrita Bharati chapter in Toronto where we have offered more than 25 shibirams to lovers of the language. Teaching Samskritam has opened doors to my roots and I understand better where it all started as I get a glimpse of the wisdom that our saints and sages bequeathed to us.

It has been a journey to look back with a satisfied smile – not at what went right but as to how it altered my wiring, so as not to assess what happened in terms of right and wrong. It gives me a courage that is indescribable. It used to amaze me that all this happened when I was away from India – where most people go for spiritual discoveries. But I guess it could happen to most people when they are away from the country they are used to, because that’s when you have to face yourself, away from the hustle and bustle. Now I say let the waves come, as I stand on the shore unafraid to be dunked by a wave whose shape and size lie hidden in the depths of the sea.