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IF I WERE in INDIA…

November 1, 2012

If I were in India now, even if I have read some nega articles about the Indian spiritual and charismatic leader J. Krishnamurti, I would still want to meet him if he were still alive. I want to watch him walk and talk with his students and disciples at Rishi Valley, or in any of the Krishnamurti schools in India. I imagine myself listening with them reminiscent of the day when I was sitting in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogesh, said to be the spiritual adviser to The Beatles. I can vividly recall the time when little rustles and movement, even coughing alerted his disciples while he spoke. The disciples, many of whom were Westerners stood at designated points guarding the guru. There was silence in the entire ashram when his car entered the venue; it was with reverence that he was welcomed by his congregation.  A faculty staff of the Film and Television Institute of India where I studied brought us to the place. He was a yogi’s disciple, and it was from him that I first came to hear and learn about the guru who popularized Transcendental Meditation. We sat some distance away from the Maharishi because of the presence of his many followers. The Maharishi sat on an elevated level, with magnetic look as he appeared to me, his eyes, though kind in expression were rather piercing. As he spoke…there was deafening silence. Though it was just an “observation” tour for me, fragments of images that day remain in my memory, and that include for example, noticing barefooted Western disciples of the Maharishi sitting outside the ashram selling their personal wares, to survive or be able to prolong their stay there I guess.

Currently, I am reading Mary Lutyen’s “Krishnamurti: The Open Door,” a biography written in a style only some one who lived, worked, and followed the man could successfully write. I liked the way events dissolve from the past to the present and otherwise. Anyway, I literally grabbed it during a book sale; got it at a price equivalent to a cent…A few knows K in our country — K is how Lutyen addressed him in the book — so no one seemed to be interested in the man, and the book. I first heard about Krishnamurti from an old man, owner of a small bookstore opposite Popular at the Main Road in Pune. He sold interesting titles, and one that caught my attention was the book of writings of Krishnamurti. He got us interested in K. The bookstore owner must have been a follower as he talked about K with high esteem. Anyway, I lost all the books that I bought and brought to Manila from India in the fire that burned down our house in 1998. In acquiring this book, not too recently, it reminded me of the time he became a part of our consciousness. During monsoon times when I and my Indian friend and hostel/classmate Dipti Bhalla couldn’t and wouldn’t want to go out of the campus, it was our practice, or rather a habit to always read and together discuss Krishnamurti’s thoughts over a cup of hot chai.

I did not have the opportunity to watch him personally from a distance like Maharishi Yogesh — [K was still alive when I was studying at the FTII in the early 80’s] — but if I were to visit India now, even if K were not around, I’d like to visit and walk around Rishi Valley. Besides, much unlike before, at least we can now watch and listen to Krishnamurti online, and see him up close [jkrishnamurti].

Or, if I were back in India, I’d go to the Himalayas with my friends Dipti and Kunal Verma, her husband. They recently came up with a book titled “Ocean to Sky: India from the Air” with lots of wonderful aerial photos out there [to the Himalayas]. It’s a dream not impossible to attain if they are there. I’d also like to visit Shantineketan, or Rabindranath Tagore’s school in Calcutta as an alternative to the Rishi Valley. We failed to visit the place because of a train strike during that time in the 80’s when we got stranded for two days at the train terminal with our Vietnamese classmates who were victimized by thieves who stole their shoes while we were all asleep. Fondly in my recollection, it was in Calcutta that I first saw the disciples of Mother Teresa. They were very simple nuns, mostly petite and all barefooted — well, at least the ones whom I saw. It was also there in Calcutta that I first had a glimpse of the great and famous filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Ooops! it wasn’t just a glance by the way… because I asked him for an autograph. ” The Apu Trilogy” is one of his uncaptioned films that made me cry. That’s how powerful his films are!

Lastly, if I were in India, who wouldn’t one to be in the place I considered my home for nearly four years — Pune?

[Note: Haha! The Weekly Writing Challenge prompted me to write this but I actually misread the prompt from ‘I Wish I were’ to ‘If I Were’… My brain told me something else… Anyhow, I enjoyed dreaming…Or, should I just title this “I Wish I were… in India???” Anyway, there are more DP Challenges to come, so am just letting this form part of post a day challenge.]

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