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Thank You India

Thank You India

by   Maria Wirth (Author)  
by   Maria Wirth (Author)   (show less)
Sold By:   Garuda Prakashan

Short Description

Maria's Wirth book is an ode to India and its wisdom. Stumbling into India on an accidental layover in 1980, Read more below in the description...

Thank You India: Maria's Wirth book is an ode to India and its wisdom. Stumbling into India on an accidental layover in 1980, she gets drawn into a seeker's journey, searching for truth and encountering the many remarkable men and women, gurus and teachers, who would act as guides for her decades in India. From Sai Baba to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, from Anandamayi Ma to Amma, she records her close personal encounters and experiences.

The journey will take us to secluded and unknown yogis in the Himalayas to the famous celebrity gurus, to colorful festivals and ascetic caves. But her real journey is the inner voyage to Yoga or union, a union with the Self. As we travel with and through her we get to reflect on love and death, rebirth and liberation and the necessity and the limitations of the guru. Finding both inspiration and disillusionment, she returns again to her own self and to the wisdom of India, a treasure for all of humanity in its journey.

More Information

ISBN 13 9781942426097
Book Language English
Binding Paperback
Edition 1st, 2018
Release Year 2018
Publishers Garuda Prakashan  
Category Spiritual   Offers  
Weight 300.00 g
Dimension 14.00 x 2.00 x 22.00

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1. With Osho in Pune and Kriya Yoga

2. In the jungle and Swami Vivekananda

3. Encounter with a 300-year-old Sadhu: Devaraha Baba

4. Nobody there behind those eyes of Anandamayi Ma

5. Atmananda—a woman from Austria

6. Rishikesh and Yamunotri in Himalaya

7. God—who is that?

8. Love in India

9. Abdullah

10. Sri Aurobindo and Auroville, the city of the future

11. A conference on modern science and India’s wisdom

12. The perfect missionary—Swami Chinmayananda

13. A beautiful youth—Babaji of Haidakhan

14. Abdullah’s death

15. Born again and again

16. The Dalai Lama’s home in India

17. In favour of the wandering monk: Kumbh Mela

18. Ramlila in Varanasi

19. Ayodhya—the birthplace of Ram

20. Ramana Maharshi and the most important question

21. Miracles, faith and hope: with Satya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi

22. No proof, yet fully convinced

23. Light and its shadow

24. Murder in the temple

25. Intimate with the Avatar

26. Karunamayi’s motherly advice

27. Shantivanam—a Christian ashram

28. A coffee planter guru in Kodagu

29. “Don’t think!”—Poonja‘s good, difficult advice

30. Life in Kodagu

31. Surrender and testing times

32. Does one need a guru?

33. Mata Amritananda or Amma

34. In Amma’s Ashram

35. Happy through breathing: with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

36. In Gangotri

37. Insights from a VIP sadhu

38. With Eckhart Tolle in Rishikesh

39. Intimations from Beyond

40. Macaulay’s Children

41. English education—a big blunder

42. Mischievous accusations: ‘Hindu terror’ and ‘rape culture’

43. Caste system—stick to beat India with

44. Baba Ramdev—a Yogic powerhouse

45. The world is in need of Indian wisdo


India is a huge country and has many faces. Over 1300 million to be precise. It is natural that opinions concerning India vary vastly. They depend on the faces one meets.

“How did you like India?” I once asked a German woman sitting next to me in the plane to Frankfurt. She was part of a tourist group. I had already noticed this group in the departure hall at Delhi airport, because all members, men as well as women wore the same outfit, different only in colours: shorts and T-shirt.

“What can one expect from such a country?” she asked back without really waiting for an answer. Probably she thought that everyone, like herself, would reply, “Nothing!”

“For me, India is the best country of all, and I have lived there for over thirty years”, I surprised her. She looked astonished, “Really? That long? Can you tell me what you like about this country?”

It had not been love at first sight in my case, too. India hides her positive sides. Whoever expects comfort, will probably be disappointed, even on a luxury tour in five-star hotels. At some point one will be confronted with hawkers, beggars, potholes, dirt, noise, cockroaches or heat and face situations, which are not the way as one would like them to be.

Indians, too, have to face situations that are far from ideal. Life is hard in India. People are much closer in touch with poverty, illness and death than we in the West are. Competition for jobs and seats in colleges are unimaginable. For example, over one million students sat for the screening test for the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in 2018 and only 11,000 are finally accepted. And when the railways started the process of filling up 88,000 posts, over 23 million people applied!

In spite of it, a smile comes easily to Indians, and they are quick to recover even after horrendous catastrophes. They are experts in accepting difficult situations and difficult people. Surely, in this field, if it were part of the Olympic Games, they would win the gold medal. There is comparatively little complaining in India. People seem to realise that complaining and whining serve no purpose except spoiling one’s mood. This wise, accepting attitude gives India a special position in the world, and it shows in daily lifeOnce I visited a friend in Delhi. It was in the peak of summer. “What heat!” I sighed, even before I sat down. I felt that my complaining was the most natural thing to do in that situation; after all, the temperature measured 43 degrees Celsius! “Yes, it is hot”, my friend calmly confirmed. In that moment it struck me that there was a vast difference between his remark and my remark. He just stated a fact while I complained about it. His attitude was definitely preferable to mine, provided I have a choice. Sighing makes neither me nor others happy, on the contrary. And it doesn’t bring down the heat either.

India is traditionally the land of wisdom. This wisdom is a treasure that is spreading more and more to the West and is valued there. It is today the only tradition worldwide that reaches back in an unbroken line for many thousands of years. It was persecuted under Muslim rule and ridiculed and demonised by Christian missionaries under British rule. Nevertheless, it remained intact to a great extent. This shows its power. It still shines from many faces in India.

To be still and look inwards is not considered a waste of time in India. “Inside” is more important. “Outside” is secondary and mirrors the ‘inside’. Questions regarding the meaning of life are not pushed aside. India knows how one can be peaceful and content in life.

This spiritual side of India hides behind the exterior of a developing nation with its negative aspects like poverty and corruption. Yet India is no doubt spiritually more highly developed than other countries. This affects the general atmosphere in the country.

Indians call their country Bharat Mata, ‘Mother India’. For them India is alive, like a mother, who bears and nourishes her children. Even to me India seems to be alive by now, although I grew up in the West where the dividing line between living beings and ‘dead’ matter is considered to be clear and taken as a matter of fact. If India wasn’t alive, how could I love her?

Mother India or Bharat Mata is generous and shares her treasure with all human beings. She shows to everyone, how to make life joyful and worthwhile, provided he is interested in knowing it. But she is not pushy and doesn’t try to convince others of her wisdom. “There are many paths to the peak of a mountain”, she explains, and such tolerant view is unfortunately rather unique in this world. She even allows others to denigrate or misinterpret her. “Truth will be victorious” is her motto. And she seems not in a hurry.

Therefore, it can easily happen that tourists are put off by the exterior appearance of India and do not discover her strength. It happened to the woman who sat next to me in the plane. It happened also to me during my first visit during my studies. “Never again India!” my mother claims I have said when coming back from there after six weeks.

During that visit, the beggar children of Mumbai (former Bombay) were mainly responsible for spoiling my stay. Hardly had I left my small hotel near the sea avenue, they stuck to my heels, kept touching me, patted their naked bellies and whined away. If I wanted to sit down somewhere quietly, I could forget about ‘quiet’. No chance. I simply was no equal to those rascals and did not know how to react. I didn’t get rid of them no matter whether I gave something or pretended to be deaf. They were far more confident than I was. Of course, I felt sometimes pity for them. Yet often I felt weak, in the minority, helpless and was angry with myself, because I allowed them to push me into a corner.

Only years later, when I lived in India, I discovered another way to be with beggar children, whose number has by now come down considerably. There is a big difference, whether I take them to be a nuisance, which I blindly try to escape from, or whether I see them as children whom I wish from my heart all the best. Whether I give money or not is suddenly not that important anymore. The connection is now on another, more humane level.

It was accidental that in spite of my “Never again India!” I flew once more to India five years later. I had finished my studies in psychology and had enough money in my pocket that I had earned by selling Crepes Suzettes on markets in Hamburg. I wanted to go to Australia.

Then I met Juergen, an acquaintance. I told him that I am soon on my way to Australia. “Oh, at the same time I am flying to India” he said surprised. “Come with me to the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala”, he suggested. “India is on your way, and from there you can continue to Australia.”

Juergen had an assignment for a wildlife magazine. We would stay right in the jungle, would trace elephants and tigers, and wildlife guards would accompany us. He painted a colourful, tempting picture. In my imagination I saw us riding on elephants in the thick, inaccessible jungle and sleeping in hammocks next to a protecting bonfire.

I planned a stopover in India.

This stopover lasts now for over 38 years. Juergen flew back to Germany after four months, and I am still in India, and still have not gone to Australia.

On this second visit, India threw a spell on me. The country was vast, bright and warm and the people were helpful, friendly and well meaning. Just a hint of a smile from my side and a big smile would flash back to me.

During this second visit, I also came into contact with India’s wisdom and realised how alive it was in the country. I felt immediately familiar with it and it kept me in India. I delved deep into it and started to write articles about it. Though Indian wisdom is proverbial, and I had read the Bhagavad-Gita while still in school, I had not understood what India’s wisdom was really about. I did not know that self-realisation meant to naturally identify with our divine essence. I also did not know the big role that yoga plays in helping us to consciously unite (yoga means unite) with what we truly are. Like most Westerners, I had wrongly assumed that yoga is only about asanas or postures. Yet when I met sages, who explained yogic wisdom, it made immediately so much sense and it was just what by intuition I had always felt to be true.

For the first seven years, I travelled through the country without a permanent place and with minimal luggage. I was roaming in spiritual India, stayed often in ashrams and met many enlightened or supposedly enlightened masters. When after seven years I made a list of the gurus, whom I had met, 36 names were on it. There were famous names such as Osho, Anandamayi Ma and Haidakhan Baba, and lesser-known gurus who were not less impressive like Devaraha Baba, who, people said, was at least 300 years old. He looked it, yet was present and alert, and I liked him. I also had the opportunity for a long conversation with the Dalai Lama.

It was an intense and inspiring time, and my worldview changed in the light of Indian wisdom and so did my attitude towards God, love, life and death.

Actually, it was a hard life. I travelled in full buses or trains in second class, slept in not so clean beds in Spartan rooms, never ate at home since I did not have a home, got hepatitis and malaria, yet I would not have exchanged my life with anybody.

After seven years, I stayed with a guru—Satya Sai Baba—lived seven years in his ashram and got to know the mentality of a devotee first-hand. I went through the ups and downs of a guru-disciple relationship and was convinced that I was lucky to have such a great guru and nobody and nothing could have changed this conviction.

Yet, one day my strong faith in him suddenly slipped away and I felt relieved.

After that and without any intention I became once more attached to another, though unknown guru. He was a wealthy coffee planter with family. I stayed near his centre for almost five years. Yet one day, my faith in him also fell away and again, I felt relieved and free.

Ever since, I live a ‘normal’ life at the feet of the Himalayas on the outskirts of Dehradun, unconnected to any guru or ashram. I realised only then how many Indians had been weaned away from their valuable tradition due to the English education system. So far I had written articles only in German, but now I also wrote in English as my English had improved over the years. Still, it is not flawless and I hope native English speakers are generous enough to overlook those flaws.

I still travel occasionally and spend the winters often in the ashrams of Sri Aurobindo in Puducherry and of Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai. I still met gurus, for example Amma, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev, and am grateful to these gurus, yet there is no desire to cling to a guru, because that, what is in them and what makes them attractive, compassionate and competent, is also in me and in everyone, always ready to emerge, if only allowed.

The trust, common in India, that all that happens is ultimately for the best, took hold of me, as well. Indians generally live more in the present than Westerners do. This attitude seems to rub off. By now, I am also more likely to be present in the now.

India and her wisdom changed the quality of my life. I do not believe in God anymore, but I know that there is a divine Presence within. Trust in this Presence has grown over the years and is still growing further. Another important change is not dramatic, yet fundamental: I am not intertwined so closely with my thoughts and feelings anymore. They are still there, but have lost their power, and cannot order me around. As a result, I do not ‘have to’ be unhappy or angry or hurt or whatever else, but can be myself, including my inadequacies and shortcomings.

Thank you, India!