I was on the flight from Houston. It had been sometime since we had left Houston and we were now in mid air. I flipped through the pages of a magazine from the seat pocket and found an article on a new yoga destination somewhere in Mexico. ”Yoga in Mexico?” I questioned myself and immediately started reading it. I am not sure if I would have read the article with the same interest if it was “Yoga in India”.
The article had explanation of some basic concepts such as birth of yoga, meanings of some Sanskrit words, explanations of asanas etc. I finished the first 2 pages and was about to flip to the third page when I noticed the woman, maybe in her mid forties sitting next to me, reading the same article. She too had noticed me reading the article.
Woman: Interesting write up, isn’t it?
Me: Yeah. Good one
Woman: Where are you from?
Woman: Do you do yoga? It says people in India do yoga.
(There was a picture in that article of a man practicing some asana near a river bank in India)
(I forced myself not to say no. I remembered that the only asana I had ever learnt was the surya namaskara, and it was ages since the last time I did it)
Woman: What is this pran-yam
(There were names of some asanas in the article and Pranayama was the first.)
(I did not want to take this question though I knew something about Pranayama, because I realized where my answer would lead to; question to the meaning of the second asana in that list. I had not heard of any other asanas mentioned in that list. There was no explanation of these asanas in that article. I decided to answer the question on Pranayama and excuse myself back to the third page of the article)
Me: Pranayama is a breathing technique. It’s an asana involving inhalation, retention and exhalation…………
(The lady nodded her head and I felt she had understood something. She looked down at the article. I was sure she will ask me the meaning of the next asana in the list. I had to act quickly and decided to get up from my seat when I heard someone saying “Excuse Me”. It was the flight attendant who had come over to give us some snack packets and drinks. I heaved a sign of relief as I put the magazine back into the seat pocket to pull the tray table. The lady too put back the magazine to pull the tray table)
I was thinking about the conversation as I drove back home from the airport. I felt ashamed at my ignorance about such a great technique. It is from the same country I am from and my knowledge about it is close to zero. I don’t know what else exists that have become famous else where, which have their roots in India. India has such an excellent culture and we are forgetting it all. I think every county would have something excellent from the past which its people would have forgotten. We realize the importance only when someone else finds it and shows the world how valuable it is.
As I write this blog and think to myself, I don’t know if I can write this same blog in Kannada or Marathi, the languages which are closer to me than English. I don’t remember when was the last time I read a Kannada or a Marathi newspaper or a book. It would be really shameful to call myself an Indian just because I was born in India. I feel it has become more important to know our own culture before I try to learn others, more so in this era of globalization.
~Narendra V Joshi