Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International

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  AHYMSIN newsletter, Issue - March 2012  

A Norway Family at SRSG

by Lalita Arya

I was invited by Swami Veda to dine with him and with this beautiful family from Kongsberg, Norway.  It is not often that one sees an entire family from a European country attending yoga classes, sitting in with meditation groups, enjoying Indian cuisine at the ashram. I had seen the children playing with the ashram kids and when I was invited to dinner, it was a good opportunity to talk with them. The reason for being here Erik, the father, said (Mom was at a conference) was that they wanted to expose the family to a completely different culture and to learn English. So they came to India. They were in Kerala for 6 months, then wanted to see the north, heard about SRSG and here they were.

Since dinner was not the best place to conduct an interview, I invited them to my home. There are 4 kids ranging from age 14 – 6, with lovely names likes Endre, Kaja (pronounced Kaiiya), Selma and Iselin. One interesting piece of information was, though Dad said the decision to come to India was democratic, the 14 year old son piped up that it was not entirely so. It was only when Mom said everyone was going that the decision was final. Witnessing the exchange between father and son made me smile. I recalled my own kids going through the trauma of moving from a large mid-western American city to come to Rishikesh to live. Then it was not much fun, but the samskaras absorbed were so strong that they just wait for every opportunity to return. I tried to indicate this to Erik and complimented him and his wife for such a momentous decision.

Endre, the son, said he liked the openness and friendly feelings of the Indian people, the flora and fauna, the flush greenery; the food was OK;  the traffic horrible (I agree); and he missed pancakes. Since they attended a private school in Kerala for 6 months, he realized why Indian teachers had to be so strict because there were usually 50-60 kids per class and that needed much discipline. He enjoyed the art after school, music and some sports. Learning yogic discipline at SRSG was one of the most impressive parts of their trip. He hoped to share his experiences with his friends back home, but denied that this was a vacation. He argued that this was a trip to learn; vacation meant having fun with friends! I thought that he had picked up excellent English and at least one of the purposes for their trip was accomplished.

His younger sisters enjoyed playing Hide and Seek with the ashram kids and liked the SRSG gardens. For 12 year old Kaja, who spoke a lilting version of Keralese English, the highlight of the entire trip was receiving her personal mantra from Swami Veda. They hope to see the Taj Mahal, trek in Nepal and enjoy some other parts of India.

It is an amazing feat to travel with an entire family so far away from home, and though faced with many challenges of culture, food, language, the children seemed quite happy. I had placed a plate full of Indian mithai (sweets) on the table for them, and by the time they were ready to leave, it was all gone! Well, if nothing else, they will miss the rasgollas! What I liked about talking and observing the interaction among the family members, is that families seem to be the same anywhere. The older sister so caring for the younger ones, the son arguing politely with his father, the father exercising patience, the young sister scolding the older brother to watch his re-actions in public, it was all so lovingly expressed. Whatever these two parents have taught and are teaching their children they have to be complimented for taking such a bold step, taking time away from their careers, to give to their children what children all over the first world countries need – exposure to how other peoples live. The older kids said that they feel that their experiences will make them see their lives differently from their friends, who have not had the good fortune of doing what they did. They look forward to going back home, but know that it will never be the same for them.  Looking at the courage of this beautiful family made me realize that there might be innumerable differences among the cultures of the world, but the Love that binds humanity together is universal.

(Photo courtesy of DevKumar)

Editor’s Note:
“Nurturing Spirituality in the Family” Conference 20th – 25th February 2013 at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. Join us for five days of learning simple philosophy of living and practical guidelines to develop and cultivate a healthy and happy family life.

Please see: http://www.ahymsin.org/main/index.php/India-Events/nurturing-spirituality-in-the-family.html