“Being outdoors is only for the odd weekend or during a holiday; we Indians don’t have being outdoors in our culture,” that was an opinion by a man I went on a date with once. Safe to say, that was the first and last date with him.
But seriously, that got me thinking. Yes I am passionate about the outdoors; and I make it a point to go for a run, a swim, a bike ride; or a trek ever so often. But that does not necessarily mean that the entire country is outdoorsy. A debate with a Canada return cousin revealed her perception, “Diipti, you are a part of the minute percentage of Indians who spends time being outdoorsy; most Indians are sedentary; it is not in their nature.”
Here’s a survey that might get us some answers:
Ah, so that brings in more clarity. It is not that being fit and being outdoorsy is not a part of our culture; it just seems to be absent from our current nature. Especially the urban Indian is so engrossed in their sedentary life of convenience that we seem to have forgotten that which is an integral part of our being – being outdoors.
A lot of research led me to see that contrary to this popular opinion, we Indians have always been outdoorsy. And to share how, I came across the most lucid points validating this ethos.
Here is an excerpt from Mr. O.P Singh’s book ‘Say Yes To Sports’:
Physical perfection has been an integral part of Hinduism. One of the means to fully realise one’s Self is defined as the body way or dehvada. Salvation was to be gained through physical perfection or Kaya Sadhana, possible only through perfect understanding of the body and its functions. The capstone of Hatha Yoga is strength, stamina and supreme control of the body functions. The zenith of the whole experience is the fusion of meditation and physical movement. The éight-fold-method’ encompasses techniques associated with breathing control or pranayama, body posture or asanas.
In the 16th century, a Portuguese ambassador who visited Krishnanagar was impressed by the range of sports activity, and the many sports venues in the city. The king, Raja Krishnadev was an ace wrestler and horseman himself.
The Mogul Emperors were keen hunters of wild game and avid patrons of sports especially wrestling. The Agra Fort and the Red Fort were the popular venues of many a wrestling bout, in the times of Emperor Shahjahan.
Chattrapati Shivaji’s guru, Ramdas, built several Hanuman temples all over Maharashtra, for the promotion of physical culture among the youth.
Kerala’s martial art form, Kalari Payattu, is very similar to Karate. Those who practice it have to develop acrobatic capabilities, when using swords or knives to attack their adversaries, and even an unarmed exponent can be a force to reckon with.
With the advent of Buddhism, this art form spread to the Far East countries. Buddhist monks who travelled far and wide, mostly unarmed, to spread the teachings of the Buddha, accepted this form of self defence.
So you see, we were always outdoorsy, so there is no excuse to not be now. So, what’s your excuse?