Pablo Cánovas talks about his fascination with India and its culture with Huma Siddiqui Following are excerpts:
He is a 55-year-old Chilean lawyer, who likes to wear many hats. Pablo Cánovas is not only a master’s degree holder in economics and taxation but has also studied defence, with specialization in the European region. He is also developing clean energy projects. He is a yoga practitioner since he was 18, and still does Sadhana, every single day. An Indophile, he has not only studied the Bhagavad Gita deeply but has also been lecturing on it for the past decade in various Yoga centres.
He also participates in a group where they do yagyas (sacred fires), and sing mantras. He is also the president of the Gita Foundation, founded a year back where they are dedicated to disseminating knowledge on India.
Pablo Cánovas talks about his fascination with India and its culture with Huma Siddiqui
Following are excerpts:
When did you realise your passion for India?
My first contact with India was at 18 years old, I am currently 55. My brother brought me the book Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda as a gift. I read it very interestedly, I was fascinated and was especially impressed by his stories of Benares and the Himalayas and his insatiable attempt to search for his spiritual master. Then there was a second decisive book, `The Secret India’ by Paul Brunton, the mother of a friend gave it to me, in that book, Brunton, recounts his itinerary until he met his master Ramana Maharshi, the search for the master also impacted me, and as it finally appears. From that moment on, I wanted to get to know India and verify for myself the experiences that those authors related.
When was the first time you visited India and what attracted you the most?
It was in the year 2000, 20 years ago, following the comment of several people who suggested that I should go to see Sathya Sai Baba from Puttaparthi. So, taking advantage of studies I was doing in Spain, I learned about an offer of air tickets, at a very good price, so I brought the tickets, and travelled to India, to Sathya’s Sai Baba’s Ashram. The place was beautiful and clean, and it was the first time that I came face to face with what the Indians call a master, it was a shocking experience for me as if time had stopped, it was etched in my memory. In that Ashram, they sold different Indian books, so I bought several of them. There I began to read the Ramayana, and I brought the famous Bhagavad Gita. From that moment, I began to get to know Indian literature, a different philosophy from the western one, the one that is more concerned with the logical order of argumentation, this was intuitive and multidimensional, and full of moral teachings, and it impacted me very positively.
Do you practice yoga daily? Are you also training family and friends in Yoga? Which are your favourite Asanas?
Yes, I practice yoga daily, and I have taught friends and relatives, but I am not a Yoga teacher, I encourage the practice whenever I can, since it is very beneficial for all aspects of a person. I practice Surya Namaskar and the Asana that attracts me the most is Sirsasana, which is in my daily Sadhana.
You have a Foundation called `Gita’ – tell us more about it.
The foundation is a project to spread knowledge of India and other ancient cultures. We did it at the end of last year, with a group of friends, and it is just beginning since the pandemic just broke out and we could not continue, and an alternative was the videos about the Rig Veda.
You have come to Indian for Kumbh Mela – what was it like?
I was in Kumbha Mela last year, invited by the Indian government, it was a wonderful experience, and I want to come back later, to stay for several days. I was pleasantly surprised by the organization, as there are millions of people every day. They gave us books, and we toured the site where it was located that year, 2019, in Prayagraj. Then I gave talks about the Kumbha Mela in my country, about its meaning, how old it is, its origin and how it is one of the pillars of Indian culture.
You are translating Rig Veda in Spanish. Please tell more about it.
I have studied the Bhagavad Gita, for about 15 years, even teaching it in study circles. And, five years ago, after reading some comments from Aurobindo, about the Vedas, and how they had been misinterpreted by the western mind, I decided to study the text of the Rig Veda directly. This is how I came across the Rig Veda, commented on by Professor R L Kashyap, a disciple of Aurobindo and Kapali Sastry, where there is an attempt to recover the deep esoteric meaning. They said that in this way, many mantras made sense, that otherwise they did not, and with the advantage that Professor Kashyap has the computer, unlike his predecessors.
So with this version of the complete Rig Veda, I began to study it, and I was surprised, since what I was reading did not coincide with any of the comments that I had read, from different analysts, even Indian commentators. So after five years of study, taking advantage of the pandemic, I felt that I should share it and I began to record it on youtube, with comments from different scholars, and some small contributions that I dared to make.
In translation, I am currently finishing the first Mandala, but in videos there are 6 introductory videos recorded, and of the text of the Rig Veda, we are up to Mandala 1, Shukta 4, since one is released a week, we are just starting, but moving forward, step by step. This is a project which will go on for a long time. The purpose is to share that Indian thought reached unprecedented levels of depth, a text like the Rig Veda is something very big, perhaps the highest form of human thought, and the highest explanation of the relationship of the man with divinity, a relationship of cooperation and brotherhood. There is no punishing God; no terrible sins; nor human sacrifices (according to TV. Kapali Sastry); nor punished in hell; neither are there any renunciations of the world of desires. It is simply a relationship between man and God, and how to advance towards it, step by step, following the mantras, with dedication and healthy intention.