Day 2 was another busy day, which started off for me at 6:30am.
I don’t believe in jetlag – except when it I cold cocks me on the back of the head when I least expect it.
Fortunately this morning it let me be.
While the light was still low and interesting, I got a cab to take me down to the Banganga Tank, which is a very old stone structure in south Bombay where people wash and swim and perform all kinds of religious rites.
The tank was built in the 12th century – but according to legend it came into being 5000 years ago when the Hindu god Ram (from the epic Ramayana) asked his brother for some water. His brother, Laxman, shot an arrow into the ground, and up came a stream of water from the sacred Ganges – hence the name of the tank: Ganga (Ganges) + Baan (arrow).
I did some filming there, the first filming of the show in fact – which I should have celebrated in some time honoured way – except that I forgot.
I was probably still asleep.
Jennifer had done the sensible thing and stayed in bed after the long and eventful day yesterday. After breakfast we then headed down to Churchgate – had an early lunch at the Bombay Tea Centre where a pot of First Flush Darjeeling costs $3.
Jennifer had chai in the traditional earthenware cup.
We then headed uptown to Santa Cruz, to meet the head of the Bombay Yoga Institute – said to be the oldest yoga institution in the world.
It was founded in 1918 by Shri Yogendraji –
and is now run by his son, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra. I had a meeting with the doctor at 2pm, but when I arrived I was told that he was asleep, and could see me at 4pm. It had taken over an hour to drive there, and waiting till 4pm was not possible, so I insisted firmly that the appointment had been scheduled for 2pm.
Finally the doctor’s son Hrishi ushered me into an inner room, where I met the Dr.’s wife, and Director of the Institute, Mrs. Hansaji Jayadeva. The doctor was still asleep in the room where we met – yet he was also awake because he communicated with us when he needed to. His son told me that he was not connected to the material world anymore.
Mrs. Hansaji was an articulate and highly intelligent woman who spoke to me at length about the yogic concepts of intuition. And she agreed to be interviewed for the film on Monday.
Jennifer and I were then shown around the institute, which is housed on several acres amongst beautiful gardens. On any given days there are multiple classes teaching people from all around the world how yoga can heal and cure, and can also be the basis of a fully realised balanced life.
The doctor’s son Hrishi took me around the institute, including a small museum which details the history of the institute, and of yoga itself. Hrishi pointed out to me that the yoga poses, called asanas, which most people in the west know to be yoga are only one of eight strands of yogic practise. The asanas in fact only originated so that practitioners of yoga meditation could sit in a relaxed pose for the hours necessary to meditate deeply.
The institute was a fascinating place, which doesn’t seek to make money from its work. There is a small payment for classes, but if someone can’t afford to pay, then they are admitted free. Their reason for being is to spread the word of yoga to the world.
We came back and rested – and now we’re about to go out to dinner with our billionaire friend again. He’s invited us to his house where his chef has been spending all day preparing a Rajasthan banquet for us.
It should be a fascinating evening.
By the way – people who’ve never been to India worry about personal security, theft etc. This morning I put some clothes in to be laundered. About half an hour later there was a knock on the door, and someone from the housekeeping staff handed me $250 in Australian notes, which I’d evidently left in my trouser pockets. It would have been so easy for them to steal that money – but they returned it. This kind of honesty has been demonstrated to me time and time again in India.