Book Review: Six Months in India – Yoga in its Original Context

Six Months in IndiaSix Months in India – Yoga in its Original Context
by Vik Vad

Type: Print Book
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality
Language: English
Price: Rs.350.00 + shipping

“Six Months in India – Yoga in its Original Context “ is written by Vik Vad, who teaches yoga in Austin, Texas in the US. Six Months is a blog-to-book conversion and retains its journal-like writing format. Vad, an Indian brought up in the US, comes to India to discover his roots and to learn about yoga from the place of its origin and blogs/writes about his time in India.

Quote: “Some things I want to explore for study are: reading more books on yoga and tantra; learning mantra; basic Sanskrit; exploring jyotish (astrology); doing japa (mantra repetition) to various gods and goddesses and learning what energies they represent and why; puja (ritual); pilgrimages to holy sites; and visiting with spiritual people of different backgrounds. I am also going to take in the culture and not plan things too much, just let them unfold.”

In this neat, professional-looking book, he details the Hindu customs he encounters, the culture, the filth as well as the beauty of India as he sees it, in his decidedly American way. He travels to different parts of India including Chennai (south), Nasik (west) and Agra (north) and visits cities, villages, temples and ashrams.

The author writes in such a casual, conversational manner that you can almost hear him talking.  It is a very personal book with Vad’s opinions colouring the entire tome, but one does discover some interesting information (about gods, mantra, visiting various temples, and so on). It would have been a better work if the author had compiled the content keeping in mind a readership and organised the content to flow better.

On the one hand he shows a strong hunger and respect for gods and goddesses and then, there’s a personal domestication of the gods: “Shiva’s actually a wandering yoga dude that does whatever he wants.” (Note the colloquial American “that” while referring to a person.)

He stays at the Aurobindo Ashram and recommends it thus: “The ashram seems to kind of be run by senior citizens, these people are like parents or something, but at least there’s discipline here, it’s definitely not a bunch of partying foreigners like some ashrams are.”

Sometimes the author writes in a juvenile fashion. He says “Fuck India!” when he is upset about an infected ear piercing. He then blames Indians for India’s poverty and rants about the filth and the power cuts, arranged marriages, the works. After all this, he says that now he has got all this out, he can be calm and sensible once more.

Vik Vad hates the acronym ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) but Vad is baffled by India: “It’s not that people in India are unhappy, though, or that this is really some bad place or something. If that were the case, I’d leave tomorrow and come back home. Indians are actually quite happy on the whole, in fact sometimes I think they’re actually generally happier than we are, somehow.” There is that tone of surprise, as you can see, that such a place and people can be touched by something as positive and profound as happiness.

Also, for a yoga practitioner who came to discover his Indian (Hindu) roots, he says towards the end of the book that if he could make a choice for his next birth, he’d pick the US for his birthplace and Christianity as his religion. Oh, well. But the book is a fun read, even funny in parts (“When you spend a lot of time walking near the road, at the end of the day you blow these nasty black boogers out of your nose”).

He gets sentimental about India once he returns to the US, however, and swears he will remember everyone and the kindness they showed him with gratitude.

– Hasmita Chander

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Six Months in India – Yoga in its Original Context

  1. Harsh Sarma August 2, 2011 at 10:49 am Reply

    A true ABCD if you ask me. India can do without irritants like the author.
    His wish about being born a Christian sums it up best, I guess.
    Such people trivialize the Indian tradition and further the West’s arrogant opinion of itself. India and Indian culture aren’t something that can be grazed in one lifetime (let alone a few months), but when you are as pig-headed as this author, your own arrogance will ensure that you remain forever in your own shell.

  2. Bandi August 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm Reply

    I believe the author cannot help the influence he has been under for somany years. The life style and environmental factors between India and other countries vary very highly. As I came to India 5 years ago, I was equally perhaps arrogang. But the climate in the tropical belt changes many things. One learns to live with somany factors. I truly believe he cannot help there much either, the rest being the time and patience.

    Bandi

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