When we identify too much with a clan, we tend to become clones rather than develop the capacity to think for ourselves

I was invited to speak at the International Yoga Conference. One of the other speakers was Asana Andiappan. He was past his seventies. His speech was interrupted by a couple of people who disagreed with him. Though I could understand why they disagreed with him, I am sure it was not easy for him to be cross-questioned. After his speech, I saw him complaining to his son who was in his mid-twenties.

His son came to the dais, introduced himself and spoke of how his father not only preached yoga but also practiced it. I was glad to see a son vindicate his father. Asana Andiappan had turned to his clan, lineage or kula for support. His son and student was part of the kula. The kula can be of great support in times of need. Whenever we face difficulties, we turn to the kula deivam for support. Modern day kulas are many. They can be the organization one works for, an association, a sports teams or a peer group.

Training ground
The kulas give us a sense of belonging. Looking at our kula will help us see the patterns of behavior we have picked up. It is like looking at someone’s family background. The family or kula is a training ground and can give an indication of the training a person has undergone. This training happens without the child being even conscious of it and it picks up the habits that are part of the kula. A gurukula is a space where training is imparted with awareness so that a student may become aware of the areas where he needs training. His goal is to see the truth behind the training. Though a training ground is important, it can easily foster a herd mentality and hence it is important to individuate. When we identify too much with a clan, be it religious or recreational, we tend to become clones rather than develop the capacity to think for ourselves.

Sense of belonging
We need to constantly create spaces where we feel we belong to ourselves. I find a lot of people feeling alienated from the world or their families. A sense of belonging is important and that is why one has to consciously decide what are the ideals one stands for. We not only find an external place of belonging but can also create internal spaces of belonging. This will happen when we are more in touch with ourselves. Then we have a choice as to how we can train ourselves, be it waking up early, not watching too much television or giving vent to pent up emotions. The word `Guru’ means `dispeller of darkness’. The gurukula starts off as an external space; however, one has to finally find the light and anchor within. Be careful as to what your anchors are. Are you part of a junk food kula or a gossip kula or a couch potato kula? Some kulas, however, may not be so obviously dysfunctional. Find spaces that help you feel the expanse within.