Sometimes a person is much more than what he actually projects. A bureaucrat by profession, an actor by looks and a philosopher by nature, Carlos A. Irigoyen Forno, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Peru in India, is more than what one would actually make out of him.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête with Sharique N Siddiquie of Zeenews.com at the International Buddhist Convention in Vadodara, he opens up his heart about Indian culture, his guru, yoga and the ‘Inkarri Myth’.
Sharique: Peru’s Ex-President Alberto Fujimori was of Japanese origin and even your wife is of Japanese origin. Peru seems to share a special relationship with Japan.
Carlos: Japan and Peru have a relation since 1873. These two countries share a diplomatic relationship for 127 years. Even with China, Peru shares a very strong and old relationship. Peru was a republic in 1821 when there were not many ‘countries’ in the world. Peru is essentially a confluence of different cultural streams.
Sharique: You are sporting Mouli and a Tilak…
Carlos: As there was a Suryagrahan (Solar eclipse) on 15th of January, I performed a Puja in the local Hanuman temple. Because of the Rahu effect in my Kundali, the puja was performed using jaggery, black Sesame and mustard oil.
I was just 14 years old, when I first read the Mahabharata. It influenced me a lot and I developed interest in Indian culture and traditions. Deep in my heart, that interest in Indian culture is still alive. I have also studied Sanskrit and philosophy. Very soon I am going to start my research on Adi Shankaracharya’s Vedanta. Every morning I do Surya Namaskar and recite Gayatri Mantra.
I and my wife are practicing Buddhists and say Lotus Sutra every morning and evening but at the same time, I must tell you, I started Yoga at the age of 17 years. I was influenced by my Guru, a French gentleman by the name of Serge Raynand de la Ferriere, who converted to Hinduism and was named Mahatma Chandra Bala and wrote a very famous book called “Yug, Yoga, Yoghism”.
So, coming to India was like coming back to my spiritual home. Yeh dil hai Hindustani!
Sharique: How did you find the International Buddhist Convention?
Carlos: Excellent! The level of exposure was really commendable. The kind of exposure that it gave to the archaeological excavations and findings and the way it was presented was really good.
It helped in showing the breach of Gandharva style and Ajanta style of artwork. The convention also showcased the influence of Ashoka in western India, as it is clear that the lions in Ashoka pillars are of Girnar.
Buddhism originated from India and is essentially an Indian link. But in the bigger context, it is India and the Indian culture that makes it interesting. We have to understand that Buddha was essentially a Hindu prince (Siddhartha) like Jesus was born a Jew. So, Buddhism is definitely a product of the great Indian culture.
Sharique: The basic ideals Buddhism are tolerance and non-violence. How do you think these virtues are applicable to the modern world affected by terrorism?
Carlos: Lord Buddha has taught us, “You cannot defeat hate with hate but with love”. The similar idea was later propagated by Mahatma Gandhi in a slightly different context saying, “You cannot defeat violence with violence, but with non-violence”. In my opinion, the best defence against terrorism is education.
The problem of terrorism is there because terrorists think of their rights, but don’t consider other’s rights. They have to understand that the solution to all the problems lies in the virtues of love, tolerance, understanding and knowledge.
Human rights seem too idealistic to a lot of people but experience and history have proved time and again that tolerance and peace are the long term solutions to every problem. Both Buddha and Gandhi showed that you can defeat hate with love and ignorance with education. Darkness can only be killed by light. Its time we light candles!
Sharique: Inca civilization has dominated Peru. The calendar of Inca civilization says that the world will end in the year 2012. What do people in Peru think about it?
Carlos: Yes, it is true that such a myth persists in Peru. But in the vision of Incas, time is not a linear entity but a circular entity. The world is finishing everyday and then starts afresh daily. If somebody dies today, the world ends for him. He doesn’t have to wait till 2012.
This myth is called ‘Inkarri Myth’. According to this myth, when the Spanish conquistadores tortured and executed the last ruler of the Inca people, Atahualpa, he vowed that he would come back one day to avenge his death. According to the legend, the Spaniards buried his body parts in several places around the kingdom: His head is said to rest under the Presidential Palace in Lima, while his arms are said to be under the Waqaypata (Square of tears) in Cuzco and his legs in Ayacucho. Buried under the earth he will grow until one day, when he will rise, take back his kingdom and restore harmony in the relationship between Pachamama (the earth) and her sons.
Since it has been passed on orally for many generations, several different versions of the Inkarri myth exist.
Sharique: Peru was a very stable country under the regime of Alberto Fujimori, who ruled for three terms. Today, he is serving a jail term for human rights abuse. How do people of Peru see his contributions?
Carlos: In terms of economic progress, Fujimori contributed a lot to Peru. In the year 1992, his government took some harsh measures but they were necessary to stabilize the economy. The following governments have continued with the same economic policies. Infact, for the past 50 years, Peru is following the same economic policies and that saved us from the recession.
But, a country needs more than strict and adequate economic policies. A country needs to be developed politically and you need to respect human rights.
Sharique: Peru is a multi ethnic country and has a developing economy. What kind of relations do you seek with India?
Carlos: Peru’s economy is essentially based on its natural resources. Mining of gold, silver, copper, iron and tin are the main source of income. Peru is also a member of APEC. We have Free trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and Singapore.
Peru and India share a lot in terms of culture and natural resources. We can cooperate in the fields of IT, Biotech, mega biodiversity, nanotechnology etc. We can also work on the exchange of students from the two countries which will further strengthen the cultural relations.
Peru is the land of Amazon. Like India, even we have a say in climate change. So, we can really share a good developmental relationship. Indian scientists can find a lot of interesting things to study in Peru. Like India has Ayurveda, Peru has Incas.
Sharique: Indian democracy is a bit different from Peru’s. Do you find any inspiration from Indian democracy?
Carlos: Peru has just four languages, but if you sit in Indian parliament, you will have to face 22 languages that are very different from each other. Also the population of India is very vast. It is incredible to see people of such distinct cultures, regions, religions and languages living in harmony and making a successful democracy.