Criticism: you are not an ‘authentic Indian’!

About who the ‘authentic Hind’ or ‘the authentic Indian’ is. The greatest strength of our culture lies in the fact that this is a non-question as far as our traditions are concerned. Even though I have now spent nearly as many years outside India as I have spent inside, I do not feel an ‘outsider’. Nor am I considered as one by the members my family, for instance, most of whom have never left India in their lives.

This is not just a question of my family alone. Outside of Bangalore, there is a ‘swamiji’ with an ashram and all that. People from different parts of India come to have his ‘darshan’ and he gives ‘upadesha’ almost every day. Most people do not know his name, and he is simply called ‘the Belgian Swamiji’. He is from Belgium, came to India about two decades ago, and set up his ashram there. The Indians, who come to visit him do not consider him any less of a ‘swamiji’ because he is a Belgian, and me any more of an ‘Indian’ because of my looks. It does not make any sense, in such a context, to ask the questions: who is the ‘authentic’ Indian? Me or the ‘Belgian swamiji’? Both of us are Indians; both to ourselves (I suppose) as well as to the others. It is this strength that we should not sacrifice, when we challenge people from other cultures when they ‘study us’ and write their tracts.