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Top 5 myths about India

photograph of snake charmers in Jaipur, India

snake charmers in Jaipur, India

Myth #1: Traveling in India is dangerous

Before I went to India for the first time, I was warned to my teeth about how dirty and dangerous India is, especially by the doctor at the travel medical clinic. She really tried to put the fear of disease into me, and I went to India the first time loaded with precautionary supplies, pills and additional health insurance. Then I landed in Delhi at the very civilized home of my friend Ajay, who lives with his family in the Delhi equivalent of Forest Hill (one of the most upscale neighbourhoods in Toronto), and they laughed at all my stuff. When I did get sick I went to the local Max Medical Centre and after waiting about 10 or 15 minutes I got to see the British-trained head of internal medicine. The medical centre was spotlessly clean, modern and efficient, better than almost anything I’ve seen in Canada, and the visit cost 500 rupees or about $10.

At this point in my journey, about 10 days in, something began to dawn on me. I realized that many people in Canada, including me, were of the idea that India is a barbaric place. In fact, I found it to be very civilized. I no longer carry all those supplies and pills, I no longer buy extra health insurance. I practice caution, but I don’t assume the worst, I assume the best. And guess what?

This is what I have come to believe through my own experiences and those of many people I know: India will mirror back to you your own attitude, feelings, prejudices, barriers and limitations – and India will evoke your higher self, too. It can be very painful to see how impatient, judgmental, middle-class, naïve and unkind you can be! And very uplifting to discover your compassion, open-mindedness and spiritual awareness.

But I really do believe India knows best. India is like a guru who gives you the experiences you need to move you along your path. I often say that going to India is like that scene in Star Wars when Yoda sends Luke into the cave. Luke asks, “what will I find there?” and Yoda answers, “only what you bring in with you.” So if you are afraid, you will have scary experiences. And if you are open and trusting (within reason), you will find kind, helpful people who can really help smooth over the unavoidable challenges to travel in India.

Myth #2: India is a country

photograph of turban wearer in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

Pushkar, Rajasthan, India

India is often called the subcontinent, and there’s a reason. It is more like a continent or the European Union than a country like Canada, which is fairly homogenous from one end to the other, multiculturalism, natives and Newfies notwithstanding.

In fact, not so long ago – before and even during the Raj, the British colonial period – India was a nation of princely states, not unlike the city states of Italy; and before that, powerful rulers – who often attained that power through conquest and invasion – reigned over vast tracts of the country. The result is that India is an extremely diverse nation. As you travel from one part of the country to another, you meet people with very different linguistic, cultural and even ethnic backgrounds. In the south, the people are descended from the Dravidian culture. In the north, which was subject to many more waves of invaders and conquerors, the people are of Aryan descent. Rajputs from Rajasthan are about as similar to the Christians of Goa as an English peer is to a Greek fisherman.

There are 14 official languages – each state has its own official language – and just about every religion the world has to offer. Four of the world’s great religions were born in India – Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Today, the vast majority – about 82% – are Hindus, but with a population of 1.2 billion, that still means that the other religions are well represented. Islam, with 12% of the population, has 144 million followers.

So don’t expect the food, language or customs to remain static as you travel. In the north, wheat is commonly eaten as bread (naan, poori, roti, parantha, chapati, etc.); in the south it’s all about rice. In the north many people speak Hindi – but in the south, very few.

photograph of fishermen in Kovalam, Kerala, India

Fishermen in Kerala

Myth #3: Yoga is a system of exercises

Yoga was lost in translation. It did not survive the transatlantic voyage. What we have in the west is but a shadow of yoga’s full stature. You are forgiven for not knowing this; I also did not know until I went to India to study yoga.

Shiva, god of yoga, in Rishikesh, India

Shiva, god of yoga, in Rishikesh, India

Yoga is one of the six schools (darshanas) of Hinduism, and one of the four that adhere to the advaita tradition. This is the belief in one truth, one consciousness, and all is god. Beneath the apparent duality of life – which is illusion, maia – all is one. The point of yoga is to still your mind so that you can become aware of this truth, and act accordingly.

If you did not get this idea from going to a yoga studio in a western country, you would not be alone.

In the classical system of yoga, known as Raja Yoga, there are eight limbs. One of them is asana, or the physical practise of postures. The point of the postures is to create and maintain bodily health so that you have the vigour to follow the other seven limbs, such as meditation.

In one of the most important books of yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, asana is mentioned only three times, while meditation is mentioned many times. Meditation is one of the primary tools for achieving the awareness of truth – thus it is far more “important.”

My teacher in India, Swami Brahmdev, does not teach asana. He answers questions during satsang, chants during evening meditation and founded and runs a beautiful, peaceful, garden-like ashram for people who want to live in a spiritually focused environment. There is an asana teacher at the ashram, but the ashram does not revolve around asana practise. Not at all.

Myth #4: India is poor

Many people in India are materially impoverished compared to middle-class Canadians, but that does not make them poor. I have become very leery of labeling others as poor, disenfranchised and marginalized. I know this is a politically correct thing to do, but it sticks in my craw. Seriously, how dare we? How dare we be so judgmental? And doesn’t that just serve to make so-called “poor, disenfranchised and marginalized” people into victims, further exacerbating any problems they may have? I personally like to believe in my own abilities to survive and overcome, and I resent anyone who tells me I am a disenfranchised woman.

photograph of pilgrims watching the sunrise in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

pilgrims watching the sunrise in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

I have to say my mind was really turned around on this issue by my teacher in India, Swami Brahmdev who said, “Do not judge someone as poor. You do not know how rich a person is inside.” He then went on to tell us about the sweet contentment of the “poor” man who sells vegetables to the ashram and who leads a very simple, but satisfying, life.

In fact, generally speaking, I find the people of India to be on the whole much more content, much warmer and more generous than the materially richer people of the west. I now feel that western spiritual poverty is just as unhealthy and probably a lot more destructive to the planet than material poverty. If everyone on the planet lived that way a middle-class Canadian lived, the world’s resources would be used up by the next Commonwealth Games.

Myth #5: Hinduism is a religion

photograph of Krishna at Sivananda Ashram, Kerala, India

Krishna at Sivananda Ashram, Kerala, India

Hinduism is the world’s oldest extant religion and has a billion followers, which makes it the world’s third largest religion. But Hinduism is not strictly a religion, as we think of it in the west.  It was not founded by one person, it does not have a core doctrine, there is no central authority, it does not require followers to accept any one idea, and no on can agree on when or even where it began.

The origins of Hinduism are lost in time, and are highly disputed. Scholars now believe Hinduism arose as long ago as 10,000 B.C. The earliest of the Hindu scriptures – The Rig Veda – could have been composed before 6,500 B.C. But the word Hinduism itself is not to be found in any of the scriptures. It was named after the people of Sindh, who settled between the rivers Indus and Sindh in what is now Pakistan. The Persians named people of Sindh “Hindus.”

Hinduism is a way of life – known as Dharma, the law that governs action. It is essentially a conglomeration of diverse religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas, beliefs and traditions. “It is characterized by the belief in reincarnation, one absolute being of multiple manifestations, the law of cause and effect, following the path of righteousness, and the desire for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.” http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/p/hinduismbasics.htm

The principal deities of Hinduism are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, sometimes referred to as the Hindu Trinity. Brahma is thought of as the creator, Vishnu as the sustainer of life, and Shiva is associated with dissolution and death. But many Hindus regard their gods and goddesses as manifestations of the Supreme God, Brahman  — and there are as many as 30 million manifestations. After a visit to India, Mark Twain wrote: “India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.”

India’s gifts to the world

Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th century mystic highly revered in India, captured the spirit of Hinduism by saying, “there can be as many spiritual paths as there are spiritual aspirants and similarly there can be as many gods as there are moods, feelings and emotions within the individual believer.”

photograph pf Mariellen in Kerala

me in Kerala

Mythologist Joseph Campbell (who I consider to be one of my most influential teachers), expressed the essential difference between the philosophy of Hinduism and the monotheistic religions when he wrote: “The first principle of Indian thought, therefore, is that the ultimate reality is beyond description. It is something that can be experienced only by bringing the mind to a stop; and once experienced, it cannot be described to anyone in terms of the forms of this world. The truth, the ultimate truth, that is to say, is transcendent. It goes past, transcends, all speech, all images, anything that can possibly be said. … it is not only transcendent, it is also immanent, within all things. Everything in the world, therefore, is to be regarded as its manifestation. There is an important difference here between the Indian and the Western ideas. … Hinduism believes in the omnipresence of the Supreme God in every individual. There is no ‘fall.’ Man is not cut off from the divine. He requires only to bring the spontaneous activity of his mind to a state of stillness and he will experience that divine principle within him.”

Finally, historian Arnold Toynbee wrote my favourite description of Hinduism, which sums up what makes it so attractive to me: “There may or may not be only one single absolute truth and only one single ultimate way of salvation. We do not know. But we do know that there are more approaches to truth than one, and more means of salvation than one. … This is a hard saying for adherents of … Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but it is a truism for Hindus. The spirit of mutual good-will, esteem, and veritable love … is the traditional spirit of the religions of the Indian family. This is one of India’s gifts to the world.”

phototgraph of sacred cow in Haridwar, India

sacred cow in Haridwar, India

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106 Responses to Top 5 myths about India

  1. Ayngelina November 24, 2010 at 2:10 am #

    Really beautiful way to explain very common misconceptions Mariellen, makes me want to visit India even more.

  2. Jayne November 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    “India will mirror back to you your own attitude, feelings, prejudices, barriers and limitations – and India will evoke your higher self, too.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Wonderful post by someone who clearly knows India well. I look froward to becoming more familiar with it myself one day.

    • hempreet singh May 2, 2014 at 5:43 am #

      GO and read about sikhs in india th backbone of india and do visit india better than any other country in the whole world can say whole universe

  3. Vipul November 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Hello Mariellen..

    I Just Gone Through Your Blog And Found It Very Knowledgeable.. Its Like You Got All Points Right.. Its Like Some India Guide Book Breaking All Myths..

    If More And More People Come To India And Experience It, It’ll Strongly Make India’s (Old And Colonial Times) Image More Clear.. There Are Some Points, I’m Happy, That Some One Raised In Their Blog esp Regarding Hinduism.. We Even The Citizen Of India Don’t Fully Know What Hinduism Is.. But With Your Blog, People Will Come to Know About Those Points Which Are Not Mostly Addressed And Remain In Those Minds Who Are About To Embark Their Journey To India..

    Its Must Read To Everyone… My Fellow Indians, You’ll Also Have Good Informations Out Of it So.. Plz Read..

    • tera subhchintak October 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      chup nonsense………..

  4. Emiel November 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,
    I just found your blog through your comment on 501places. It’s amazing, I love your niche focus on India! I traveled India back in 1998 and it’s the country that made the most impact on me. As a coincidence I’m now writing a short series of blog posts on India. The country is so big, so fascinating, well worth the dedication of your blog!
    Emiel

  5. chris m November 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    WOW! What an outstanding piece. Thanks for sharing. You’ve fanned the flickering flames within me to get over the India and see it for myself. Congrats on some good work!

  6. Mariellen December 1, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    Thanks so much for the positive comments Ayngelina, Jayne, Vipul, Emiel and Chris, I really appreciate. Yes, @Emiel, I obviously agree: India is well worth a dedicated blog! It’s a country that leaves a strong mark on just about everyone who visits.

  7. Krista December 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,
    Your blog is soooo gr8. Lots of my friends in India enjoy your delightful and informative comments as well. Keep up the good work.
    Just got back myself, after 10 weeks of ups and downs in New Delhi,volunteering near Nainital,visiting an ashram in the Punjab and relaxing in Bhagsunag (near Dharamsala). Plan to go again next autumn. Take care.

  8. Siddhartha Joshi December 6, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    This is a very well written and a balanced article. I am glad you enjoy India so much :)

  9. Satu December 6, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    What a beautiful post (again). My boyfriend (who lived in India for years) often says that in India, a poor person has the right to be happy; here in the West not. If you’re materially poor in the West it’s almost as if you should be ashamed of yourself. In India, and in many other countries in the so-called third world, people who don’t have much can be happy and content.

  10. Dehradun City December 6, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Hi Mariellen. Thanks for an interesting post. I really loved it. You have given a very different look to India through your writing.

  11. Orangesplaash December 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    What a fabulous list – I could not have said it better myself. India is truly a diverse country with rich cultural heritage. And your blog is an excellent reflection of the same. I feel it is only when you witness different cultures, that you can truly and completely respect them, along with your own cultural values.

    I am sure you are having a great time in India. Keep up the blogging!

  12. Jennifer December 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Mariellen, I will quote this:
    “India will mirror back to you your own attitude, feelings, prejudices, barriers and limitations – and India will evoke your higher self, too.”

    Absolutely….
    This goes for any and everything.
    In fact I know plenty of ‘foreigners’ and ‘immigrants’ unfortunately, including Indians, in America who built up their ‘ideas of Americans’ and block themselves from talking to Americans thinking ‘we’ are all this or that, or not this or that. That is a delicate and controversial topic, but it’s true as I have seen it many a times.

    Also, the “India is poor” stereotype falls into that quote too….if you go thinking all you’re gonna see is ‘poverty’, ‘slums’, ‘beggars’, ‘kids in snot nose and no clothes’, you’re bound to see it- unless you go to Kerala! I recently gave a cross-cultural training to college kids going to Kerala, when we (myself and my Kerala-born friend) gave a talk on this topic, the attendees were a bit in shock that there was a place in India where the poverty was not overt. Also, I should mention that it’s only in US- in Harvard Square- where I was approached and harrassed and stalked by BEGGARS wanting my money. That never happened to me in India, though I worked in many slums, saw many beggars on the way to the Chennai trains, busses, etc, but never was one there to stalk me or physically follow me to take my money! (That Harvard beggar would also follow me and my coworkers to the BANK on paydays and wait for us outside as we cashed our checks!)

    The other thing about “India is poor”- let’s try this on for size- let’s compare comparable cost of living in your friend Ajay’s neighborhood and many like that across India in the metros with the cost of living in comparable places in US or Canada. I betcha India is more expensive now a days than some comparable metros in India! Now is that poor!? Who’s poor now?

    Things are rarely as they appear, huh!

    Thanks for writing this.

  13. Tosk59 December 10, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    A lot of this is on the money, but overall you lay some of it on a bit too thick… only part of the story…

    http://bit.ly/hHYfTT

  14. Mariellen December 10, 2010 at 4:28 am #

    Thanks for comments everyone. Your comments highlight for me two things: 1) Perspective really is everything. 2) I may be laying it on a bit thick, @Tosk59, but that is part of my intention: I’m trying to give another perspective to the usual western media depictions of India, and the common stereotypes and judgments. Of course I know this is only part of the story — this is a blog, not a Ph.D. thesis.

    No one will agree that poverty is a good thing, or that it is “better” to be materially poor. But the affluence, greed and over-consumption of the west is too far the other extreme.

    I would like to see a middle ground, the best of east and west. It would be ideal if everyone had their material needs met, and family, community and spiritual pursuits were a big part of the mix. Ok, I’m an idealist. I’m outed.

    M

  15. Tosk59 December 10, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    That’s cool. We need idealists… I tend to be a bit dyspeptic myself…

  16. Tosk59 December 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    HuffPo article (argues caste not due to Hinduism) – ‘Caste, Hinduism and Human Rights’, with link to ‘Not Cast in Caste – The Whys, Whats and Hows to Understanding the Big Picture’

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suhag-a-shukla-esq/hinduisms-white-elephant-_b_794813.html

  17. seema January 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    One of the best description about the good things of India.As an Indian I know that these myths are synonymous with my country’s name because many times India has been represented like that.Thanks very much for clearing these myths.

  18. Quinn January 16, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Hello Mariellen! I’m not sure if you’ll see this, but I wanted to thank you for your words here and your blog. I just came across it tonight and I am SO excited to explore the depths of your arhives. My interests lie paralell with yours: Yoga, spirituality, creativity, and healing. I read your bio and I too am just coming out of a depression and using yoga as my main guide. Thank you for sharing your story here!

    Jai Bhagwan,
    Quinn

  19. Mallika April 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Finally made it to reading your blog Mariellen!
    As an Indian myself, I truly appreciate your writing and warmth for India. I found this piece to be one of the most candid, yet positive descriptions about India that I have come across.

    Kudos to you!:)

  20. New Mobiles May 16, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    It is not dangerous to travel in India. It is a very nice place. Thanks for this sweet blog. Thanks a lots

  21. Mariellen May 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks for comments everyone, really appreciate the discussion. I hope yoga works as well for you as it did for me, Quinn. And I am happy to shine a positive light on India, Mallika. I just returned from my fifth trip to India, totaling about 15 months — much of it traveling by myself — and my experience is that India is not dangerous. I agree with New Mobiles, “It is a very nice place.” Of course, it probably helps that I have such a positive attitude. My attitude is mirrored back to me. Sweet indeed. Thanks, India, for your warmth, generosity and wisdom.

    • Dr. Amit Madhav Bhattacharya August 2, 2014 at 7:03 am #

      Dear Madam,
      India is not dangerous at all, it is incredible! Please visit Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh sometimes and you will find a perfect symphony of contradictions. You must REALIZE that people see, what they like to see; People say what they like to say; and people believe, what they like to believe. Everything is MAYA because it is a virtual world.
      However, your write up is extremely interesting and I wish, when you write back to me; you would post some beautiful landscapes of your beautiful country.
      Love to you.

  22. Harish June 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    Hey Mariellen,
    Wonderful work. Really liked it especially the comparison with the Star Wars. It really feels nice when people like you write about the real India and not about the dusty and overpopulated Indian cities and about the IT jobs stolen from the West. Would like to stay in touch with you and would be more than happy to help you if at all you need… while on your trips to India. :) BTW I stay in Vizag in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. :) :)

  23. Mariellen June 28, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Hi Harish,

    Thanks for your comments. It really means a lot to me when Indians like my writing. I try to be honest and also knowledgeable and non-judgmental. But there are so many versions of the “real India,” depending on who you talk to, that I don’t think that phrase has any “real meaning.” btw, I’ve never been to Andhra Pradesh – where do you recommend I visit?

  24. Harish June 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Hey Mariellen Andhra Pradesh has many places to visit.
    1) Hyderabad- for its rich Nizami Culture.
    2) Vizag- for its ancient buddhist sites and araku valley for its rock formations and tribal people.
    3) Tirupati and its surrounding places
    4) Warangal
    5) Vijaywada.
    For more details you can visit the link below. Hope that helps you.
    http://aptdc.in/home/intro.php
    :)

  25. Mariellen June 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Wow, thanks Harish, I will put A.P. on my wish list for sure!

  26. Mohit gupta August 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Hi Indophile ,

    I got the link of your blog from Sharell’ blog.And I must say It is a completely different experience reading your posts.

    Even I was not so positive about the things you have mentioned about India but you explained in very convincing manner.

    I am definitely going to read all your post.

    Regards
    Mohit

  27. Mariellen August 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Thanks Mohit. I always like that Rumi story about the five blind men and the elephant. Each touched a different part of the elephant – tusk, skin, tail, etc. – and thought what they touched was “elephant,” was the truth. We each see a different piece of the truth :)

  28. Michael November 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    What a great article. I had to smile every now and then, remembering that I experienced aspects you mentioned. And you are right, India is by no means barbaric, just extreme and a great place to learn and see new things. So far I only have one story from India on my blog, but several more are to come. Michael

  29. Shekhar November 23, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    Q : What is India ?
    A : Once upon a time there were five blind friends wandering through deep jungle (Dont ask me who got them there ?) and suddenly they all felt something in front of them, coz they were blind they asked each other what is it in the front ..

    First frind : this is something long and round ..must be a python snake

    Second friend : no its something hard like rock and not that long ..must be a small tree with two branches

    Third friend : no its big and round must be a piller

    fourth friend : no its huge ..must be a wall

    fifth friend : its thin and round must be cobra snake ..

    but guys actaully it was an elephant ..

    india is so diverse from north (Aryans) to South(dravidians) from west (Aryans) to east (Mongoloids) ..india is combination of many small countries ..with many langauges and tonnes of diffrent ethinicity .. India is a Guru to the world.

    Thanks

  30. Mariellen December 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    This is a wonderful retelling of a wise old story, thanks so much for contributing Shekhar. And yes, the diversity of India is one of the things that makes it such a wondrous place!

  31. ami March 3, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    wow! being and Indian I could have not been able to explain or express Indai the way you have it. Totally agree with all…

  32. Rouillie Wilkerson March 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time. So magnetic in fact, that I read some of it more than once, more than twice even! To let it sink in. Thanks. :)

  33. Chakravarty Dada March 16, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Very few people have an insight to write with an unbiased mind , your expression in writing is laudable , you have a beautiful mind Mariellen – om

  34. Mariellen March 17, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    Thanks so much Ami, Rouillie and and Chakravaty – I appreciate your comments, it means a lot to me. I write from my heart, guided by the line from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly.”

    • Kamalakar November 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      I appreciate. Nice article about India and effort to understand the “subcontinent”. also I suggest that you should try to notice this . while you travel from north to south and east to west of India, you will find common undercurrents running all along the country. May be they relate to traditions, beliefs, religious, living styles, lifestyles and so many similar thins. (I noticed this several times while I used to go places during my career) Each of this could be a point of special considerations. I am still on it.
      Anyways good luck to you

  35. rahul April 11, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    very well written, and we have saying in our india,
    “ATHITHI DEVO BHAV ”
    (guest are like god)

    so most welcome for future trips…

  36. Mariellen April 11, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks so much Rahul. Indians are just about the most hospitable people I’ve ever met — so this saying actually has a lot of truth in it. Indian people are the main reason that i feel comfortable travelling in India by myself.

  37. govind May 10, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    hi Mariellen

    its great to read such a balanced and well informed explanations about india. i am in tourism and i exactly introduce India the way you mention. keep doing your good works . india needs lot of people like you to show the west . this place will change your life and will mirror back.

    thanks

    govind

  38. vinayak May 25, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    hi Mariellen ,
    i really liked your thoughts about INDIA . Honestly , it feels great when the world look towards INDIA with a different perspective . Thanks :-)

  39. Rajiv June 21, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Hey! I have seen almost half of the world and travelled more than I can say! But this is true India has it’s own taste of life, and what you wrote is just amazing. I have been trying to express India and you did it just “Perfectly”! The best line! “what will I find there?” and Yoda answers, “only what you bring in with you.”

  40. Sumit August 2, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    hi Mariellen
    i read your post i wanted to share an incident with you.. with my friends i was in red fort.. we saw many foreigners, and thought to talk with them..we approached and one of my friend(heroically) said “hi, you can ask us any thing u wanna ask”..suddenly they thought something they turned and went away LOL :)) they might be to much ‘teased’ by other indians i guess :D

  41. Mariellen Ward August 2, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Hi Sumit, Thanks for the comment. I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. Perhaps you are right; perhaps too many touts, cons, and people trying to “get something” from them had approached them. But perhaps they are just not friendly people! There are a LOT of very warm, friendly, helpful people in India, and i hope foreigners will learn to be a bit more open and trusting. They should have taken the time to find out your intentions.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Is tiger tourism helping or hindering?My Profile

    • srikanth January 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      I LOVE YOUR WORD HERE…….even you realize the value of india…….but people over here not realizing their mother land ……they all are growing fast but in a wrong way……!!!!.. ,……….

  42. rajnish jena August 29, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Thank u marie.. thank u a lot.. u described india so well and so nice.. love u for that and thank u so so much… u r a great person and rich by thought… thank u again…

  43. Raghav September 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Wow,

    It is the word i felt immediately after reading your post. One should have open mind to accept greatness other cultures. I believe you have it, and you understand the India by roots, not like other people come here. And very few people can do it (including Indians). Hats off to you for great understanding and much better explanation. In fact lot of Indians should read it and understand what our ancestors gave us in terms of spirituality, religious and philosophical practices.

    Really much appreciated for this post.

    • Mariellen Ward April 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      Raghav, as I said to Rajnish, it is Indian culture that is great; I am merely trying to capture it. But thank you for your kind words, very humbling. I do try to see India with my heart.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Dazzled by Indian classical music maestrosMy Profile

  44. the dark evil September 8, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    if only india gets develop soon

    • Mariellen Ward April 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      Yes, would love to see India develop in a positive way, more equality for everyone in terms of rights and distribution of wealth.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..A woman’s voiceMy Profile

  45. Nishant Sharma October 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Very nice post miss. I am just amazed that you wrote so well about Hinduism. Not much indians know about it. I will share it with friends. :)

  46. Sonny November 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    I suggest u watch or read Life of Pi… Id like to know your view… religion is of man’s making, at times i think so is god! you are gorgeous……. all by ur making.

  47. Jineesh Narayan November 23, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Mariellen,
    I love the way you see things in India,I became a fan of you after reading your blog,I am sure you will have the love and blessings of more than one billion people……………

  48. Sagar November 27, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Hello Mariellen Ward,
    I have no words to say about your fabulous post on our country- “India”. Indians are known for their heritage. Yes, as you mentioned there are so many cultures and practices in both South India and North India, but they are all teaching on same thing “God is one”. God is always being a single object and accepting our prayers by appearing in multiple forms. For example: I am an “Analyst” when I am in office, I am an “organizer” when I am steering an event and I am a blogger when I am writing on web … Basically I am the only person holding multiple tags to address multiple activities. But still the object is same. In the same manner, God is holding multiple tags- Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva- to create, rule and destroy the universe. But God is still a single object.
    I wholeheartedly express my gratitude towards your interest on INDIA. I will be glad to help for any information required in Andhra Pradesh- Southern India.

    Best wishes,
    Vidyasagar

  49. Mariellen Ward November 30, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Thanks for comments. I really enjoyed the book Life of Pi (written by a fellow Canadian, btw), Sonny, and I am also looking forward to seeing the film.

    Jineesh, that’s a really nice thing to say! Thank you so much.

    One of these days I will get to Andhra Pradesh, Vidyasagar. I am already preparing for the spicy food!
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Hotels in India: 24 hours in hotel heavenMy Profile

  50. sudhakar December 7, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Thanks for your article on India. Read “Vivekananda” and you will understand our INDIA better.

  51. Anirudh January 3, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Hello Mariellen,

    Just read your blog. I am an Indian so I was happy about the fact that my country was represented so nicely by you. I am glad that your trip to India was successful and a happy one without any incidents.

    I liked many points in your blog. Our country has a lot of problems. But then again, so does every other country. Many of my American friends mock that India is so poor and the people live in a bad condition. Quite conveniently forgetting how many homeless people there are in New York :) Considering our population, our cultural diversities and our long history of over 5000 years we are doing quite well for ourselves despite our shortcomings.
    But not every one is poor. The list of top ten richest people in the world probably has a couple of Indian names in it. Our problem is the gap between the rich and the poor.

    As one person mentioned in an earlier comment even poor people in India are happy. They may not have a car or Cable TV but they are content with what they have. I think that is our greatest strength and one of the reasons for our survival against adversities. We try to live happily with what we have rather than be sad and depressed about not having something.

    Its a good thing you practice Yoga and wrote about it. I’ve seen many foreigners practice Yoga. But the problem is they learn from someone who doesn’t understand how it works. Most of the people I saw treat it as an exercise and are more concerned with Asana than meditation and Breathing. So they end up not getting its benefits. This article will shed some light on that.

    All in all a good article which will help clear out some myths about India and probably help travelers have a better experience in India. I hope you will keep writing articles about India.

    On a side note, You look very beautiful in a Sari :) Good Luck on your future voyages :)

  52. Samantha January 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Wow have never read a better article about india :) You have explained everything so perfectly with so much detail!
    I have only just discovered you as a writer and i am already hooked :)

  53. bobit January 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    really nice post,
    the Myth #3: Yoga is a system of exercises

    its new for me too . .You described india very well in ur blogs
    bobit recently posted..Press Release Distribution FormatMy Profile

  54. Hardik January 31, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    Hey Marelein..wonderful wonderful post….just loved it..

  55. Balaji February 21, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    Vanakkam marelein,

    I felt like telling you to know more about the “GURU”. It is said that , one step towards God (truth) makes the truth two steeps towards the seeker. But “GURU” will step nine towards you. Truth does not come in direct contact until you are ready to comprehend. This is where “GURU” comes. To my life experience, there are few questions. 1) why one should look for Truth? First, what makes him to have that need? 2) What and who guides you towards that? 3) Should you look for GURU or GURU comes to you? 4) If you looking for GURU. How and where should one look? 5) If GURU comes to you. What made The GURU come to you? what eligibility you have, for this to happen? ……..
    This is between a HONEST seeker and a SIMPLE GURU… A digger digs tones of mud to find few ounce of gold. The digger (GURU) and the metal (HONEST seeker) has mutual relation. The digger is so desperate looking all is life and digging through tones of mud to fine that pure few valuable metal, so that the value of the metal and the purpose of digging,, helps both and human kind in wide perspective.
    GURU is of many kinds (male, female, old, friend, young, stranger, enemy, moving and non moving things, dreams and so on….). and GURU are not just only one for each in once life time. In fact, if one looking for Truth alone will find more that one GURU. (but not necessarily).
    In many type of GURU, there are mainly of there type that i have come across. One: that, (GURU) shows the path and the rest of the walk should be done by you alone. Two: Walks the path that the GURU wanted to teach/show but does by being on it. Third: Does both.
    I tried to enplane because, there is difference between teacher and GURU. since the word ‘GURU’ (eastern) is not the substitute word for ‘teacher’(western) in spiritual India.

    wish you Blessed and Blissful life to you and for your’s.
    Balaji

    • Mariellen Ward April 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Really enjoyed this comment, thanks so much for contributing your knowledge of Gurus and how to find them. It is not really a western concept — as you said, we are used to teachers, which is different.
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..Photo Essay: Stories of DelhiMy Profile

  56. binoy April 8, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    nice and wonderful.

  57. Anupal April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    We Indians believe in the motto “Atithi Debo Bhaba” that means “our guests are equal to god”.We take care of our guests as we do in case of our almighty.We the Indians had been following this for centuries.We all welcome to this “Incredible India”…………….

  58. Ravi April 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Thank you for your valuable insight. I would like to quote a verse from Upnishads & Bible:

    Those who see all creatures within themselves
    And themselves in all creatures know no fear.
    Those who see all creatures in themselves
    And themselves in all creatures know no grief.
    How can the multiplicity of life
    Delude the one who sees its unity?

    Om Tat Sat

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – Bible

  59. Raju Shah May 1, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    A very good account on India, except for the rubbish where the discredited theory of North Indians belonging to a race of Aryans, and Dravidians as different race, peddled by the author.

  60. keshavgopal June 2, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    very thought provoking. it hit the bullseye in dispelling beliefs about india. mera bharat mahaan

  61. Joshi July 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Well written. I Strongly encourage you to write more in future.

    But, I’d like to give few advices to every foreigner through you, who’d like to visit India.

    1) There is a very well known saying

    “When you are in Rome, behave like a Roman”.

    The same applies here in India. I say this not offensively, but out of self-respect, because I found few foreigners smoking and partying around Gokarna Temple Near Goa, when I went there. You, might have heard of it being near Goa and has beautiful beaches. So, I really hated that, because we consider temple as something pure and peaceful. I wished there were no visitors in India. :(. But, you seem very different. Be it dressing or behaving, be Indian, or atleast don’t try to be your countrymen. Be conscious about country.

    2) India never requires something from its visitors. It only gives. India never takes, never in history did India wage war except for its defence. So, no visitor need to worry about coming to India, feeling bad for the poor etc. Just enjoy it as you are in your own country. I promise, there is freedom in India like no where else on the planet.

    If you really feel like helping Indians, do it back in your own country. Change your lifestyles, and avoid luxuries, and I promise, that definitely fills some body else’s stomach in the poor countries. Your demand for gadgets and luxuries, creates un necessary markets which divert the money flow. India expects its visitors to learn that fact. Not everybody gets food here in India. You can’t help for it, but don’t waste food there in your country. Automatically you are filling some body’s stomach.

    3) Respect is what every body wants. The first thing to not get deceived in India, is to respect everyone equally. We are Homo sapiens and share the planet and its resources. Differences persist in our minds not out there in the world. Everybody has same red color blood and take in same oxygen. Treat Indians like your own fellow country men, like your brothers or sisters. Then I promise a Remarkable change in people’s behaviour. Most of the times, I find people exhibiting their pride of being a developed nation’s citizen. That’s utterly wrong.

    That’s it… If you follow the above three Rules, then I am sure you will experience the love and taste of Indian Culture like never before. Indian culture is like never ending morning coffee, you sip it and it goes on and on.

  62. Nishant Srivastava September 1, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Indian people love to help travelers and who love India but few sick people ruined the reputation of India in front of the world.
    Nishant Srivastava recently posted..Zanjeer/Thoofan Movie Details,Facts and Box office CollectionsMy Profile

  63. Ram September 12, 2013 at 2:24 am #

    Hello Mariellen,

    I am happy you had a good time in India. One thing that I would like to point to is the Aryan invasion which has no strong evidence to it. Its not at all true

  64. atul September 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    INDIA IS REALLY A GREAT COUNTRY….JAI HIND JAI BHARAT
    atul recently posted..My link with Ireland: NanaMy Profile

  65. Mayank Joshi October 10, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    Hey Mariellen Ward ,

    Kindly explain this line “Rajputs from Rajasthan are about as similar to the Christians of Goa as an English peer is to a Greek fisherman.”

    Didn`t get it completely ?

    Thanks in Advance ….

    • Mariellen Ward January 15, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      It just means that people in different parts of India are very different from one another in many many ways!
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

  66. Vidhi October 14, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    Thank you Mariellen, for portraying my country in such a beautiful manner. :)

  67. Ashwani Thakur December 14, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    Beautifully explained!!!
    Thanks for observing & expressing the positive side of the country which is known for it’s Unity in Diversity.
    God Bless…

  68. AK December 19, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I agree with 4 out of 5 myth that @mariellen stated. The first one, of course – I’m just not convinced if India really is a safe country to travel, where if as a foreigner if you get in some type of trouble or are mistreated, then Indian government officials will take immediate action against the perpetrators, provide protection for the victim, ensure their safe return, yada yada. Knowing my country, I’m ashamed to say, this is not true, yet. I think my govt. officials will most likely help a foreigner because of repercussions that may take place from the top, namely their bosses, New Delhi, Embassy, etc. I believe that foreigners are weirdly loved, worshiped, hated and despised, all at the same time in India, sometimes by the same people too. But I also believe, that India is mostly safe and most likely, God forbid, a foreigner, especially a woman/girl by herself is well treated and respected, from the north to the south. At least, I want that to be true. But, oh boy, do I believe your other 4 points of myth, i do!!!

    • AK December 19, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Mariellen, I would love your response on this? :)

      • Mariellen Ward December 19, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        Hello AK, Thanks for your comment, I appreciate your perspective. I am writing from my own experience. I find that if I am reasonably cautious and also open to people, trusting and respectful, I can usually have very good experiences. I love India, and Indian people, and I think they can tell, they can sense how genuine I am. Most of the time, I meet people and they are disarmed by my attitude, and very kind. Well, that’s me and my experience.
        Mariellen Ward recently posted..First time visitor to Canada, eh?My Profile

        • AK December 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

          That’s been my experience too, but I’m a male, brown and can speak 3 different Indian languages and was born and bread in Indian culture, navigations and resourcefulness. Many foreigners don’t have access to those luxuries, especially if they are new in the country and have not spend anytime grasping Indian cultural presumptions, etc. I do think that your insights and experiences are valuable and thanks for sharing. I know a lot of Caucasians personally who visit India, in teams, and individually, and most of them have no issues at all.

          I would also say this though that after having lived abroad for more than 6 years, I, as a non-white person, will be scared to make any slightest mistake, present myself in any ill-fashion at any of the mostly white areas, states, towns, where diversity is seen as liberal, non-true-Christian, and where everyone (I mean non-whites) is looked with suspicion. I think if I made one small mistake, there will be people lining up outside the towns to make sure I get the harshest punishment possible for that mistake or crime or so called “allegation.”

          So, in a way, I believe India is not as different from US or Canada in that matter, where if you give the opportunity for people to accuse you of something, they will take full advantage and all the presumptions they have about the Foreigner would kick in immediately.

          Again, I hope that our attitudes, our behavior, our spirit and respect shown to another, will be reflected and reciprocated to us on either side!

          Sorry for making this so long.

          • Mariellen Ward December 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

            Have you been to Canada? We are a very tolerant, multicultural country, especially here in my city Toronto — where about one-quarter of the population is Indo-Canadian! I think you would be very welcome :)
            Mariellen Ward recently posted..50 ways to celebrate CanadaMy Profile

  69. alka December 21, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    so very convincing.. really love the post!

  70. woo January 14, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    sab kuch galat hai

  71. dj January 14, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    some and right but some are wrong.

  72. Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) January 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I really love your style of writing and your passion for India!! Your blog is such a find!!! I have recently moved to India from England after marrying an Indian so I am in that adjustment stage.

    Sending you lots of love x
    Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) recently posted..The mysterious case of the ancient tradition of sindoorMy Profile

    • Mariellen Ward January 15, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks so much Lauren, I really like your site too! I started reading and couldn’t stop. I will be looking forward to your wedding pictures in April :)
      Mariellen Ward recently posted..The RiverMy Profile

  73. Pranali (an Indian) January 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    hey mariellen i am very glad that you had a great experience in India and i advise you to visit again you were totally right about India mirroring back what you give it and as an Indian i am finally happy to read a foreigner having a good stay here because all i have read till now contained India’s insanitary ways and other such things but you have not taken it seriously and tried it yourself other than listening to others.You have been a better version of a tourist for my India as most of them have been critics,and never talked about the good things it offered to them…thank you once again and i am looking forward to your visit again and i’ll be waiting for your next blog about my India

  74. Puru January 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have tears in my eyes as I write it, for two reasons:

    1. This article is too beautiful, and is about something which is closest to my heart and am very emotional about. India looks so beautiful when seen through your eyes.

    2. The sheer frustration on how we are ruining everything and making it a nation of brutes.

    About your writing, you are inspirational. You are the Henri Vivian Derozio of today’s travel world and I strive to be at least 10% as good as you.

    Only problem with reading your blog is, it sometimes gets me choked.
    Puru recently posted..Circus Circus – Las VegasMy Profile

  75. Vaibhav February 27, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Hey mariellen you’re an awesome writer & captured my country beautifully, you did not mentioned our crown jewel Taj mahal so guess you’ve never been there & so you should, it’s in Agra city of uttar pradesh & you should also see the Bodhgaya temple in Bihar for it’s the most peaceful places here & for some more beautiful sights i strongly recommend Kashmir valley, trust me you would never want to leave that place ever, it’s also called heaven on earth…will look forward for your next great words on India.

  76. Amrutha March 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful woman!!

    You have given the world of readers the best perspective ever. I was waiting for someone like you to tell the world how beautiful a country like India can be.

    It may have its own flaws, but again its only a perspective.Its more colorful and more exciting as a culture.

    As people from different cultures visit this place, the warmth and the challenges brings out the other side in them. Even as I travel from North to South and East to West, I kind of try to absorb the best teachings of every culture. You feel the balance right away once you have experienced the culture.Tolerance has also been a major value people posses and no doubt so many cultures co-exist so comfortably. People value simplicity more than materialism and I think that makes us the happiest.

    Thanks for such beautiful words and I am certainly getting a lot more attached to this blog. Will love to keep in touch.

    - Amrutha( An unfortunate Indian away from Home)

  77. Dharmender Negi April 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    I have no word to say just wanted to thank you for visiting india.

  78. rahul May 6, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    what is pure salvation ?

    our sant or sadhus found the actual power of universe where it comes from ?
    that is alpa beta and gamma rays from the neutron.

    yet scientist not finding this answer what is inside the neutron..

    yoga is made to find the main source of energy…to peep inside the neutron…
    they knew how to brake it.. they knew how to control it..
    the worlds most magnificent doctor,,brain surgeon is god Shiva,, who did the surgery
    animal head planted to man kind.. he matched the nerves,, its not mirracaly done,,its pure science.. acording to hindusm

    if possible visit to kumbhmela..
    any one can tell you that what is real true salvation..

    we are very rich in this fact.. discovering the truth..
    but whoever and whenever will find this the main source of energy of the universal
    get remained silent after this.. this called Tapsya..

    other things like rich and poor and all belongs to we people not to sants or sadhu,,
    they are always been true rich sants..

  79. Rohan July 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    great writing, From last one and half years I have been writing and reading about Hinduism. As I am a Hindu I would like to add one more point on hinduism that except
    hinduism, every major religion in this world has their own way to convert peoples from
    other religions to their religion. As I am reading I did not found any ritual or any practice
    which will help you to get converted into the Hindu. Nor did I found any incident in the
    history of India that any Hindu religious person forced someone to get converted into
    an Hindu. “Its because Hindus believe that Divine Supreme power is equally divided into an every living atom in this world, and we also believe that living element other than Hindus or their belonging are also a part of gods creation”.

    Thanks & Regars, (keep up writing)
    Rohan

  80. kavita July 8, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    Hi Mariellen

    I dedicate an Urdu ode to u… Mujhko mere rubaru laa, ijaafa kar meri hairaaniyo mein.

    loosely translated it means, make me introspect, and amaze me yet again, many times over.

    That’s wot ur blog did to me. I m an indian and I love my country immensely! I love her with all her faults and filth, because its only here, that one can find the true meaning of happiness, d joy of giving and sharing. The values and responsibilities of a family. U were bang on in ur (mis)understanding of d concept of material poverty vis-à-vis contentment and spiritual well being.

    I was so happy to read your piece coz u saw through the chaos and noise of a ‘confusing’ india and presented the great myth busters in such simple yet hard hitting words. shows that u have really lived and experienced my country and really warmed up to d many gifts and surprises she holds for ones who r really willing to let go of their biases.

    thanks a lot.

    And u r a marvelous writer. keep travelling, keep writing. keep lifting the veils that hide d beauty of so many misunderstood countries.

    Godspeed to you, from kavita, who loves to travel to the hidden nooks and crannies of this magnificent country.

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