While wishing everyone a Happy 70th Indian Independence Day, I request everyone to pause and think about what being Indian is to us.
India and Being Indian to me has always been all about accepting and understanding all the cultures this land has been home to.
We have been home to many saints and philosophers and have never stopped learning spiritual lessons all the time.
Apart from established religions, India has always honoured the mystic, the seeker, people who wants to have nothing but God in their lives.
In India, spirituality and religion are part of everyday life. In no other country, perhaps, will you see a sadhu (a renounced ascetic or a practitioner of yoga) walking on the street with just a blanket and his rosary as his possessions without attracting any attention. India is home to all the major religions of the world, thriving in harmony since centuries.
It is perhaps only here that one can see people making the symbol of a cross while going across a church, giving a chadar (blanket) to a mosque and then proceeding to a temple to pay obeisance at a temple while singing the gurbani (hymn) of the Sikhs and/or a Buddhist chant to complete the process of reaching out to the Divine.
Why just organised religion? Even minstrels of all kinds are always honoured in this land. In fact, even became insane for the love of God is considered a valid path like those shown for instance by the Bauls. The word Baul comes from the Sanskrit “Batul,” which means mad, or “afflicted by the wind disease.” The Bauls are India’s wandering minstrels of West Bengal, whose song and dance reflect the joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine.
This is true Indian freedom. Freedom to pursue the path you wish to while respecting all who follow their path. For in India, it is the act of worship is the thing that matters not the names and symbols.
This is indeed the true strength of India. It is not just ‘live and let live’ but ‘seek and let seek’.