We finally had a class with Dr. Kausthub Desikachar this afternoon. He is the grandson of guru Krishnamacharya and is the director of KYM where I am studying. He was younger than I expected, both in his physical appearance and his attire, and spoke in such a modern/ contemporary style that I was quite surprised. He is our professor for the “application of yoga” class and we will be studying with him for the next three weeks. Today we mainly talked about the origins of yoga and why each of us chose to come and spend time at KYM. He asked us to state our names, where we were from, what we did for a living, and why we’re here. A French woman replied that she was here because she was looking to deepen her yoga studies. To that Dr. Desikachar countered, “but why do you need yoga when you have champagne?” Why indeed? The French student replied, “well, champagne isn’t enough!” It has been a long week of Sankrit, chanting, philosophical discussions, conscious breathing, asana and meditative practice. Why am I in India studying yoga when I can be in New York or anywhere else in the world?
India is dirty. India is hot. India is crowded. India is poor. So why am I in India and why do I like it here? I’ve been thinking about those questions for myself and some of the concepts we studied this week in school made me think of this line from Hamlet,
“there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
India IS dirty. India IS hot. India IS crowded. India IS poor. It’s India. It just is. It’s nothing like New York and everything I love so much about that great city. I think you can choose to love India or hate India, but the realities of India won’t change.
In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali wrote “yogah citta vritti nirodhah”- yoga calms the fluctuations of the mind or yoga completely focuses the activities of the mind. Yoga philosophy says that purusha, the blissful and unchanging consciousness, is separate from prakrti, our mind/body/matter which is always changing. Our suffering comes from the fact that we cannot distinguish the two and we are too attached to the the things that are constantly in flux. We see the world through our own tinted lenses and can’t see the true essence of what is real. Once we can remove the layers that cloud our judgment, our mind becomes a mirror to the clear consciousness. Maybe Shakespeare was a yogi. He didn’t say that you could achieve samadhi or kaivalyam, but the idea of your thoughts changing the way you perceive reality is part of the fundamental beliefs in yoga.
Every practical logic tells me that I should hate being in a dusty, hot, and chaotic place like India but this afternoon, I actually thought that I could live here. In fact, I decided today that I would stay in Chennai for another two weeks to take an intensive course in meditation. I will also likely move to an apartment that is a lot smaller, dirtier, and overall less desirable than the one I am currently living. I honestly don’t believe that I need to live in a place this nice. I have no use for the AC in my room or the TV since I don’t turn either of them on. My current “good” apartment actually feels very incongruous to the outside world that surround this apartment building. So I’m going to detach myself from this one and take the “bad” apartment. I think the new apartment will do just fine, as I will think of it as a “good” one. I know that I will be perfectly happy there. After all, it’s India. It just is.