Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Indian than you think

"India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only." -American Author Mark Twain.

What many of them realize about Indian culture  now due to globalization, perhaps Mark Twain realized it much before.

 My husband was on a business trip to San Francisco last year. One of his customer who is an American had come to meet him. He greeted my husband not with a handshake but with his palms touching each other and said Namaste. That was not all, during his course of talk he mentioned to my husband how he adores and has taken to the Indian way of spiritual living. He practices yoga and applies its principles in daily life by breathing consciously(meditation). Today due to globalization, it is clear from instances like these and the news that the world has beautifully adapted some of our culture and lifestyle practices and one of them is YOGA.

My yoga instructor who taught me here has now migrated to the west coast of US and she says one need’nt look much further than the end of the road to see a yoga studio in many cities. My class mates in Denver & LA vouch for this and so does my cousin in Atlanta.

Apart from the people in my real life authenticating it, we know of celebrity practitioners like Lady Gaga, Singer Madonna, Oprah winfrey, Julia Roberts, Nicole kidman etc.,  and above all the first man of the US , President Obama himself promoting Yoga as part of school curriculum in the US.

Today, this Indian spiritual science and exercise form is a million dollor industry in the US. Although the traditional yoga has morphed and goes by many names like vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, kathak yoga, therapeutic yoga, acro yoga, power yoga etc.,.All these styles are only adding popularity in almost every generation of fitness and wellness enthusiasts and this has also proved one thing. India is going back to the roots and leading the world too. Not just in US, Yoga Alliance has its network in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe etc.,

There are also  many instances which shows that the greatest contribution by India to the world is not just material science and spiritual science but also in the field of arts, culture,food and cinema. The love for Indian classical dance has uprooted many foreigners from their own soil and brought them to temples of culture like Kalakshetra, nritya gram and there are many foreign researchers in the field of temple architecture. One such lover of Indian  architecture, culture, crafts and folk performing arts is Philadelphian Dr. Deborah who married an Indian Dr. Ram Thiyagarajan and set up the heritage village Dakshinachitra at chennai.

Indian food seems to be equally popular in foreign shores. In the US,  Obama's love for Indian food took him to Indian restaurant 'Rasika' in Washington for a quiet birthday celebration, David Cameron British Prime minister's fascination for Chicken rogan josh and Indian food has him hailing Indian food as  ' a Great British industry'  and so it is with many celebrities like Matt Damon, Tom cruise, Kate perry etc.,

The mention of Hollywood celebrities brings me to the popularity of Indian cinema. There are so many instances where there has been colloboration and where many foreign directors have moved to shoot in India like the 'Life of Pi' , 'City of Joy' etc,.   Recently, even Kevin spacey danced to the tunes of Bollywood song  "Lungi dance' at IIFA, Tampa.

If India food, dance, culture, movies has many lovers, can Indian music be far behind?

Indian music has had a big influence on music outside India. If In the past,The Beatles added sitar tunes to some of their recordings, George harrison learnt sitar from Ravi Shankar and  Yehudi Menuhin's  love for Indian music brought out the best of Ravi Shankar and him in "West meets East". In  recent times,  American clarinetist and music composer with the Indian name Shankar Tucker's  love for Indian music speaks soulfully in his musical compositions.  Needless to say about Musical maestro Ilayaraja's symphony orchestra and Madras Mozart AR Rehman who has teamed up with western singers. 

To top it all, recently the impeccable Sanskrit rendition of Rudram from Vedas  by Erhard brothers in The White house is another indication of popularity of our culture. 

 Erhard brother's impeccable rendition is viral on social sites.

 Even in India, it is a pleasure to see many foreigners in the premises of Ramanasram, Auroville , cultural centres like Nrityagram, Kalakshetra adapting to Indian values.  

Arts, culture, food, and cinema of India is now popular and accepted all over the world.  Thanks to globalisation, The world seems to recogize and  heart India.

 "If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India."-Romain Rolland, French scholar 

This post written for Indiblogger and Lufthansa's More Indian than you think  .


  1. If you can speak good English and can throw some words from Hindu religion and philosophy, you can make a lot of money. Rich white people fall for such things. I hate to be a spoiler in your beautifully written post. Common man in the street in USA has no idea who Ilayaraja is. You sound like every common man in Western countries are going after "things Indian". That is not true, me think.

    1. Your comment is no spoiler SG. You stay in the west and have better exposure than me and so your comment is well taken:)

      That said, let me defend myself. This post is about indianisation of the world due to globalisation. I hope you have not missed my opening and closing lines of the post. At many places, i have used the word 'Seems',' 'most', the lines" leading the world" is for 'yoga' and there is no denying that yoga originated in India. Regarding Ilayaraja, not just US even in India many may not be aware of ilayaraja unless he/she is fond of music or has good GK. And more over i was referring to his budapest symphony and royal philharmonic orchestra without elaborating so may be it is not clear.

      I hav'nt travelled far and wide but i am aware through near & dear ones, news and other media that we are not a country known for snake charmers and elephants any more. We Indians have had our share of struggle and and today there is a strong Indian presence everywhere in the world and we can't be ignored. That was the idea behind the post illustrated with examples.

      And like you say even i don't hink every western country is going after things Indian but surely I think India is being recognized.

  2. Yes and no Asha. Indian culture is still largely unknown and ignored in the world, except for the odd exceptions that you have elaborated.

    Yoga is easily the most widespread export but almost everywhere it is an exercise form rather than any spiritual concept. The exercise form, at least, is everywhere in the world

    Indian food is popular only in the UK. Any other place, including in the US, it is largely for Indian expats or visitors

    Bollywood music is extremely popular in the Middle East, but just that.

    India is simply not an "interesting" place for most people in the world. Visitors are put off by the hardship of travelling in the country and the general conditions of chaos and lack of hygiene.

    We have a long way to go before we capture the world's imagination to a significant extent. But, yes, we do find "more Indian" than we think, in some unlikely places. After all an Indian expat is virtually everywhere in the world.

    1. Right Ramesh,I accept what you say. You are a widely travelled man and have more experiences.

      My post is solely based on the experiences of my known ones who too have mixed experiences and media.

      News reports say that Bollywood is popular even in europe so much so that Jungfrau Railways in Switzerland inaugurated a train named after Yash Chopra. With his signature and name on a signboard, the train was launched by him( courtesy:India today) and even a lake in Swiss is named after yash chopra and is popular as chopra lake and also Rajnikant is popular that chips are named after him in Japan and the students of London university of Arts are officially declaring themselves as Fans of the super star and working on a documentary on him and they have fondly named it as Rajni.
      Yes, i too agree travel tourism in india is a great put off and i have seen this in Thanjavur and other places myself.

      Yes, we have a long way to go ........but don't you think we have made our presence felt to what we were before?

      Regarding the spiritual concept too, i could have elaborated more but like you say the exercise form is more popular and the spiritual concept has only reached a minor population but still we have arrived:)

  3. What the world outside sees as unique and great of India is rather rubbished, ignored and aspersed in the country.
    The past over which we have no right to laud about and pat our backs unless we prove we are worthy successors of a rich past.

    1. No, we can't pat our backs for what our elders and ancestors have achieved but certainly we can take pride in our heritage and motivate ourselves and the future generation too. From Aryabhatta to MOM. is a great journey, i think we Indians are proving worthy of our rich past and the future too will gear and look up to the present. We need to pump up our self-esteem in the world stage:)

  4. If only we appreciated our culture like the people in the west do.
    We run away and are embarrassed at our own history.

    1. True that, we need to take pride in our culture, heritage and history.

  5. An excellent post, Asha, highlighting the richness and the acceptance of our culture worldwide! Enjoyed reading it and all the very best for the contest :) ♥

    1. Thank you Shilpa, Glad you enjoyed and i enjoyed writing this post:)