By Jheri St. James
Exotic, colorful India
hosts the world’s second largest population.
It is the seventh largest country on earth, occupying most of the
subcontinent, the land mass of south central Asia that tapers south from the
Himalayan mountains to Cape Comorin and Sri Lanka. The Indus Valley civilization,
in what is now Pakistan, was the first great culture on the subcontinent of
India. In 1500 B.C., Aryan people brought the Sanskrit language and Hinduism
to India. Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims fought for thousands of years on and
over this giant landmass, but the British government finally took over in 1857.
Nearly 100 years later, India achieved sovereign status in 1948, followed by
more conflict. This is the big external, visible history of India.
The small story of India has to do with people, and tiny things like rice,
beans, peas, tea, sugar, jute and pepper; and the spices used in Indian cuisine.
The women of India cook in brilliantly colored saris, six-yard lengths of fabric
wrapped ingeniously around the body and head. India has a powerful internal,
invisible history of spiritual heritage; people of great faith, devotion and
The seven-limbed practice of Yoga began in India and now is revered globally
for its beneficial effects in every aspect of human life. In many Yoga classes,
teachers and students greet each other with palms together and a bow, saying “Namasté--the
Divine in me salutes the Divine in you,” a lovely acknowledgement of
the invisible divinity in all people. Yoga is a 3,000-year-old science, a “work-in”,
not a workout; the benefits felt more than seen.
The soil of India contains components both large and small, visible and invisible.
Hamid Mansuri brought Common Ground 191 some of this complex soil prior to
the extensive damage to this majestic land from the 2004 tsunami, where 10,000
people died in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and the islands of Kerala,
Andaman and Nicobar.
The topsoil of some of this most ancient of lands has gotten a good wash now;
the dead being buried; the living rebuilding their lives. Common Ground 191
wishes the country of India Namasté. The Divine in us salutes the Divine
in you. May a great Divinity guide us both to shanti (peace).