Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Watching...

... The Story of India on PBS. Saw the first episode and a half last night, and am recording the series. I was born at a time when India was still a part of the British Empire (!) and most of what I knew about the country, growing up, was what I read in Rudyard Kipling and the Mowgli stories--not to mention the Mowgli films starring Sabu. It was, in my child's imagination, a country of bejewelled maharajahs and tigers and black panthers in the jungle. Much later, I learned about the Raj, the period of British rule in India, Gandhi, and the struggle for independence. Later still, with a growing interest in the spiritual heritage of the eastern world, I learned something of the traditions of the Hindu and, most recently, the Buddhist teachings.

I have never visited India. Much aware of the huge problems of poverty, overcrowding, hunger and disease, I have always found it hard to reconcile what I imagine to be the realities of life there with the humanitarian wisdom of its intellectual and spiritual heritage. Still, this current series reminds me of the appeal of the country's lush landscapes and its brilliant colors, the intense proximity of life and death, the wealth of its history. It surprises me, too, with previously unknown stories of its prehistorical past, the loam in which the teachings of the Buddha germinated. It's a fascinating overview, well worth the watching. I'm looking forward to further episodes in the series.

6 comments:

mandt said...

Living in India was probably the most extraordinary passage in my long life. The series is wonderful----particularly the tale of Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism, not to mention his grandfather, Guypta's voluntary retreat into exile as a sannysin.

robin andrea said...

One of our fellow bloggers Pohanginapete left his home in New Zealand two years ago and spent seven months in India. He is an amazing photographer and a profoundly good and deep thinker. I highly recommend taking a look at his site. His images and perceptions are quite stunning. You might have to check his archives from late 2006 - 2007.

I have always been drawn to India, but know that I will never go there. My whole life people have asked me if I am from India. I have always answered, "No, not this lifetime."

PeterAtLarge said...

mandt, I have heard the same from many quarters, and some part of me envies the experience, like...

... Robin, I'm pretty sure that I won't make it there. Not in this lifetime! Thanks for the tip, Robin. The photographs are certainly amazing, and the writing strong... I appreciate the referral.

thailandchani said...

Hm. This is one area where we need to be really careful. Just because India may not be as materially wealthy as this place doesn't mean the people don't have a rich culture and it doesn't diminish anyone's intelligence.

The rich and beautiful culture there is what made me rant one day at my site about "Office Tiger" and the fact that the culture is being overrun by the faux-culture here.

It's all very disturbing.



~*

mandt said...

Thailandchani, you are so right, but remember with ironic humor Benaras (Varanasi now). Vultures are dropping parts on the condo terraces of India's new wealth with all the divine gleaning of old.

Anonymous said...

Buddha instructed us to "train your mind." What that means is at another blog, www.watchingbuddha.blogspot.com
For most of us, who will never make it to India, but who want to internalize the teachings of Buddha, this is a good blog.
Being absorbed in the world differs from being absorbed by the world.