India is the world's youngest nation with sixty percent of its population under the age of twenty-five. That makes a staggering 612 million young people. India along with China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, leading to an accelerated and massive urbanization in search of a livelihood, education or a better life in general. Young, independent and prosperous would describe a typical urban Indian today.
These may seem to be ideal attributes, but cut off from one's roots, without proper guidance and with excess disposable income, the young urbanites of India are indulging in counter-productive thoughts, interactions and desires. Steeped in materialism and the samskaras of consumerism, they lose out on the beauty and simplicity of life. I am one amongst this youth of India!
After the initial instructions of sitting straight, closing the eyes and visualizing a candle flame, I pulled out my mobile and changed the status message to "meditating." This automatically triggered updates on three social and two professional networking sites, announcing my activity to at least forty friends online.
Then, an hour-long attempt to calm the mind followed. Thoughts, regrets and plans chased each other, drawing a picture of my life. Images appeared of family members, friends and colleagues, the ways I spent my nights and days, my ambitions and fears. Now and then there was the feeling that something was wrong and missing in it all. The class ended with the resolution to spend some time in a yogic environment.
And so I did on a six months course in Ganga Darshan. I was immersed in a world of yoga which embraced a wide range of yogic aspects and practices like mouna, kirtan, satsang, karma yoga, mind management, mantra chanting and living in the presence of the guru with a group of people from all around the world. I discovered yoga as the instrument to know myself better and give direction to my life.
I realized that for Indian youth there are many ways to connect to their cultural roots. They may join mothers and grandmothers in their daily worship, spend time in an ashram doing seva, be open to Indian classical music or dance, discover the natural beauty and vibrancy of spiritual places on a pilgrimage, or simply enjoy the wealth of spiritual literature of the many saints and sages.
My connection is yoga which I hope to make an integral part of my life. I feel that Indian youth still have a basic understanding of a path defined by their ancestors about the way to lead one's life. Today more than ever they are in need of taking up the ancient system of yoga in order to find peace within and help create peace and harmony around them.