Monday, January 25, 2010

Gana-tantra Divasa, 2010

Today is Ganatantra Divasa or Republic Day in India. The sixtieth anniversary of the declaration of India as a republic. We had a brief ceremony at S.R.S.G. with the singing of India's national anthem.

On the last day of our stay at Sadhana Kendra ashram, we visited the school on the ashram grounds, named after Swami Chandra's guru. I had been impressed by the cheerful and respectful students on my way to and from our residence to the ashram core of meditation hall, dining hall, library, and Swami Chandra's quarters. The children all folded their hands and said, "Hari Om."

On this day, the headmaster (he called himself the children's friend), Swami's disciple, a brahmachari whose name I don't recall, took us around to see the classes and hallways, which were of a very good quality, especially when you consider that many of the pupils come from homes that are little more than stone and grass shacks.

He took us to the assembly where the students begin their day with prayer. You can see from the picture how they all sit in rows and chant Sanskrit prayers and a Hindi bhajan or two. Our students chanted the morning prayers that we use at SRSG.

The headmaster introduced us and I spoke a word or two about the saha nau avatu prayer, telling them to both teach and learn in joy and with the blessings of God.

The assembly ended with the students standing and singing the national anthem of India. Here is A.R. Rahman's excellent version, featuring many of India's greatest living musicians.

Anyway, I only tell this because, God's honest truth, tears started flowing from my eyes. Maybe it was when they sang "Ganga Yamuna" and all this Save Yamuna Save Vrindavan business came back at me, but my eyes were running for at least five minutes.

So what is that? I never once in my life shed a tear for O Canada. Never even learned it, in French or in English... Maybe it is time to seriously consider Indian citizenship.

I have been thinking about it. The idea that I am a "foreigner" who has no say in the way India grows or develops irks me, especially where the holy places are concerned. And the truth is that no matter how much India irks me, India's story, the myth of India, from the Upanishads and Puranas, to Ashoka and Buddha, to Chaitanya, to Gandhi, is the one that shapes and has shaped my life.

India as a bad copy of America is not my India, but I am willing to deal with that. Jai Hind!


  1. oh jagat ji .
    how pleased am i to read this post . after dealing with so many iskcon devotees alienating themselves from india and hinduism at every moment of their existence , when i came across this post of yours i couldnt help appreciating the noble feelings in you .

    in the finest sense , idea of nationality is indeed a mayic identification .but attachment to bharatavarsha doesnt quite fall into the same catagory . srimad bhagavatam itself glorifies this hallowed land . the land of countless seekers , saints and avatars . the land which has every possible ways to understand the supreme .

    india , its culture and its faith systems are inextricably linked . so when one truly loves the faith of this land he cant help but love the land that gave him his faith too !

    " punjab sindhu gujrat maratha dravida utkala vanga .
    vindhya himachala yamuna ganga , ucchala jaladhitaranga . "

    vande mataram .

  2. Thank you halley for all your comments. Hope to meet you one of these days. Jai Radhe!

  3. thank you jagat ji for replying back . is there a way to contact you -- like email of something ? i would be be happy to be in touch with you .