Does India still offer any sort of real spiritual alternative to materialism, or is it now just another fast developing satrap of the wider capital world? (Dalrymple, 2009)
In the last twelve months I have read four books that are either about India or the stories take place in India. This is not something that has happened at random, but a clear decision and desire to get to know about that country, its people, and its culture.
The truth is that, no matter what kind of game you find yourself, no matter how good or bad the luck, you can change your life completely with a single thought or a single act of love. (Shantaram)
The saga started last summer when I read Shantaram. I got absolutely fascinated not only by the main character’s story, but also by India and its different layers. Shantaram was a great begining to deromanticize the “Mystic India” and get a more complex and diverse view of the subcontinent and its people.
After Shantaram, I needed a break from India and read some latinamerican literature.The break didn’t last that long, since almost by accident a copy of The White Tiger got to my hands. Though I didn’t like much of the style and the climax of the White Tiger, I enjoyed its main story that reveals a driver’s life in New Delhi.
“See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of?Losing weight and looking like the poor.” (The White Tiger)
My interest in India grew bigger, and another book came to my hands. Autobiography of a Blue Eyed yogui is a non fiction narration about the journey of an American man who transforms himself into a yogui. This book is, on one hand, a traveler’s diary in an exotic place, but on the other, it is a much more complex account of a man in search of the truth. I read this book while I was traveling in New Zealand, and somehow I related myself to this man. The book does not go deep enough to get a thorough understanding of the meaning of life and what truth is. However, it is a good account of an American man experiencing culture clash and the struggle in his search for enlightment.
“The real revolution is to transform yourself, not society. If you can succeed, then society will follow. The world is fucked up, corrupted by capitalist elites, but we cannot hope to win any war on the material plane. Finding the Truth is the only way.” Cartouche, in Baba: Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi
As I read more about India, more questions arise. Therefore, I have started the year reading Nine Lives by William Dalrymple. Nine lives is an amazing account of nine Indian people’s lives. Each chapter is devoted to a different story. Each non-fiction story is about one person who has followed a unique path to religion and spirituality. The stories show real people in modern India who have struggled into darkness to find spiritual devotion. Dalrymple gives a contextual framework and lets the people speak. Nine Lives sheds light on how modern India deals with spirituality and sacredness.
I have enjoyed Nine Lives so much that has definitely made my interest in India grew bigger and bigger. What can I read next?
“The water moves on, a little faster than before, yet still the great river flows. It is as fluid and unpredictable in its mooods as it has ever been, but it meanders within familiar banks ( Dalrymple, 2009, p. XV)