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!