Swami Kriyananda wrote the following letter in 1972 to a friend preparing to leave on a trip to India.
I hope you have a wonderful trip. You will find the poverty, dirt, and inefficiency hard to take. It will drive you up the wall to spend a half an hour to an hour in a bank just to cash a traveler’s check, to wait hours for a phone call to go through, to find people saying things just to please you, rather than to be accurate.
India has become very politically minded and has lost much of her spirituality—though temporarily, I am convinced. But if you can get down underneath all these distractions, and overlook the noise (bedlam is more like it), the crowds, and the confusion, you will find the age-old blessings still there.
India—the real India—is an ancient culture that has survived the disintegrating influences of time, but that has endured many scars in the process. The real India is a land of forest ashrams, simple folk living close to nature, the sound of bhajans sweetening the night.
That India has been disrupted by the turmoil and anguish of foreign conquest and domination, by the religious fanaticism of the Moslems, and by the even more corroding influence of cynicism in the English.
That India is almost hopelessly overcrowded, and unable, with its village attitude, to cope with the crowds. It is aware of its poverty and will have to go through a phase of materialism and of modernization, including urbanization, practical efficiency, and factories.
I think that the real spirit of India will burn more brightly in America, where many Hindu souls are being born—drawn to a country that has passed through the worst of its materialism without losing its innate love of nature and higher values. In an ashram like Ananda, the spirit of India flourishes.
And in time, I am sure that India will recover her balance, and return to the kind of simple living for which our age is geared. India will always be the guru of this planet, but her teaching is better received abroad these days than at home.
In divine friendship