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Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

When I realised that India had profound knowledge and I wanted to stay longer in India, I searched for ways to get visa and income. It came to my mind to write about India’s wisdom for German readers since most people there know nothing about it. My first article, in 1981, was on Vedanta. I tried to make it as good as I could and took full 3 weeks to write it. Then I sent it to a Psychology magazine which I used to buy during my studies and hardly dared to hope that it will be published. I was lucky. It was printed and even reprinted by two other magazines.
From then on, I wrote for several German magazines. One esoteric magazine wanted me as their India correspondent and I wrote mainly on spiritual matters, and also covered events like the Kumbh Mela, etc.
The first introduction was Swami Vivekananda’s book “Jnana Yoga” which I picked up in Kanya Kumari. I was simply stunned when I started reading it. It felt all so familiar. At that time ‘God’ did not figure in my vocabulary. I even was not sure if there was a God. But when I read that pure, all-pervading consciousness (Brahman) is the essence of everything, including our own person, my reaction was “That means there is a God!”, and he/she is even right here, as my own self (Atman).
Meeting Shri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba soon after at the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 1980, helped me to integrate this knowledge into my daily life.
I cannot name one person. There were so many. After travelling through India for seven years, I wrote down the names of gurus, I had met. There were 36 names on my list. There were famous names, like Satya Sai Baba, Osho, Dalai Lama, and less famous names, like Mastaram Baba in Rishikesh or Herakhan Baba. Regarding books, I devoured them in my early years. I read ancient texts, like the main Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita of course, the Brahma Sutras, the Shiva Sutras of Kashmir Shaivism, the Tripura Rahasya, Adi Shankara’s writings and also conversations with modern sages like Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, the earlier Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram. It all felt like true nourishment.
I don’t think it plays a role. To become a real person, one rather needs to access that level from where thoughts and imagination spring – our essence or basis, which is a thought-free state.
At some point I realised that my English had become quite fluent, since I read a lot in English. Though I benefitted from English being spoken in India, I wished India would phase out English medium education, since the language is illogical and so different from Indian languages. I see kids struggling. My English was not bad when I came. I had been with Lufthansa for 3 years in my youth, had worked at JFK airport in New York for some months, and yet, for the first 20 years in India, I did not dare to write in English. I did not have enough words to express myself. Some people claim that there is “no freedom of speech” in India. In English medium education over 90 per cent of students indeed don’t have the freedom of speech. It’s not easy to be fluent in a foreign language unless one is immersed in it. In 1983, I wrote a long article about Swami Chinmayananda and translated it for him into English. After reading it he wagged his finger and said sternly: “Your English is very German”. Then he burst out into laughter.
In my early time I was very shy. But I kept meeting people who took me to meet their guru. When I first met Anandamayi Ma – she had come to Haridwar by train from Varanasi and a small group of people received her at the station – tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was neither sad nor happy, but tears just wouldn’t stop. Often there was this question in my mind: Is he or she really enlightened? What does it mean to be enlightened? Yet whether enlightened or not, they would all try to make us look inwards into our own selves. This had its own reward.
Maria Wirth, a German, came to India 38 years ago on a stopover on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University. By chance she discovered India’s Vedic heritage and realised its great value. She continued to live in India, travelled widely, met many sages, dived into India’s spiritual tradition, and shared her insights with German readers through numerous articles, chapters for anthologies and two books.
In recent years, she also writes in English on the Net and in magazines. Her first English book is slated to come out by November 2018 and is expected to be released at the Valley of Words 2018. The title is not yet decided. It is about spiritual India from a personal angle – and her “thank you” to India.