Indeed, you cannot be in India without being affected by her, she does not let you visit, and move through, she wants you to know her, feel her and this happens through the eyes you meet, the hands that reach to you for money, the softness of her people, the devastating poverty that many live in, and the wealth.
India has her own rhythm. The best way to know anything is to be in relationship, and to know her through her Yoga is such a way.
Going to classes at the Institute is the same as meeting India, much more really than we are prepared for, no matter how many times or how ready you feel you are. You are not, and cannot be, otherwise how can you be shifted out of your ideas to a another way of seeing, feeling and thinking. You are taken over, your props are stolen, there are too many people in the hall, and there is not enough room to practice, yet this is incredible.
It is not ours, and we are here to be taken over.
This morning Guruji sits outside the hall waiting for the press to come and interview him. He has just won a prestigious award. He sits receiving his students as they come to pay their respects. I pay mine, and look up into his eyes, eyes that look back into mine, and twinkle. This man who was responsible for bringing Yoga to the west , drawing a thousand to a class, and able to bring them to a unity of being as they work side by side, raised and transformed by their desire to work and change their lives.
He is old now, much smaller than the lion that commanded a room of disparate yogis. Now what I see is his dignity and simplicity, his honour, waiting patiently on them who come to interview him. Dressed as always simply, and immaculately.
It is really in India that you can know what this yoga journey is about. Its mystical nature, the truth that exists for all, the stripping, and the support that enables us to desire a spiritual life.
Coming to class, the room too full, all shapes and sizes there, all levels of experience, and all coming to experience this incredible teaching. No one here is beautiful, not the Iyengars. The students, too, may be decked in this or that, but they seem so thin, so taut in relation to this capacity these teachers demand and impart to their students. We all fit in. What a silly idea to say there are too many, everyone moves and assists in the squeezing until after an hour or so one gets the sense of one body, one community, one human race. Everyone does what they are capable of and that is what we are.
We belong to each other, and there are no special ones.
Crossing the road, the surging traffic will open to accommodate you. There are no rules, nothing is neat, everyone is trying to survive, yet people see you, look and respond to you as a human, enter into a relationship with you, no matter how briefly. You are not alone in India, you are part of the human family.
Outside the Institute the coconut seller is waiting for the class to end and sell us his slightly inflated coconut juice, and rickshaw drivers will mill about to get their share, and we will complain about this or that, have our ever ready opinions about what is good, what is not, and yet we have all been touched by this spirit of work and possibility, of dignifying our lives, while looking down more easily at our clay feet.