Meditation and yoga among sausages and cabbage: this is how the arrival of a Hindu community has revitalized a town of 40 inhabitants

Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Manolo are fifth. One is a Hindu teacher of international prestige; the other, a man from Zamora with strong hands for the slaughter. Both are 67 years old and live in Brandilanes (Zamora, 40 inhabitants), a village near the border with Portugal that is doubling its population thanks to dozens of followers of the teachings in yoga and Swami’s spirituality. The group is rehabilitating a shelter on the outskirts of the place to live there in harmony and they have brought economic activity and people, which translate into a heartbeat of life in the face of the economic and demographic heart attack in the area. Both worlds, so disparate in appearance, have many similarities. The two constitute communities based on respect and mutual aid with the same goal: to be happy in Brandilanes. Each in its own way.

It is difficult to think of a better place to embrace spirituality than Brandilanes, where cabbage grows and donkeys graze calmly. A family that is slaughtering prepares the pork in a garage: a task that brings together Manolo Alonso, Ángeles Garzón, 54; Pedro Martín, 55; Rosa Campesino, 63; and Esther Martín, 19. Those present smile when talking about the Hindus, who a year ago arrived in Brandilanes in love with the tranquility that abounds among those oaks and who began to restore a plot, where they have begun to reside and which fills the weekends with almost 40 people. “By speaking they convey peace! Really, huh?” exclaims Ángeles Garzón. The neighbor went with other locals to the presentation of a book by Swami in Zamora, and he was moved when he mentioned them. Manolo Alonso puffs out his chest about his new neighbors: “If I were a Hindu, I would have come too.”

Neighbors of the town do the traditional pig slaughter in a garage.emilio friar

The veteran Rosa Campesino and the young Esther Martín offer to guide visitors to the hostel whose facilities bear the seal of Rosa’s plumber son. He has put the heating on, because the group requires a workforce that leaves money that is appreciated in Brandilanes. The family, before returning to the chorizos, explains that the minors brought by the new inhabitants have rejuvenated the census and the streets, with childish laughter hardly heard this century: “Esther and her cousin were the last girls.”

A library in the stable

The Hinduistas’ farm is located among a raised grove, with views of nothing and everything, of forests with a chromatic range like that of the yellow and orange tunic worn by Mireia Fresno. The 44-year-old from Barcelona moved in two months ago and recounts in a soft voice the changes that have been applied to the land. An old stable converted into a library will house 15,000 books on meditation and philosophy; a forgotten ship where two parishioners fish will house seminaries and houses. The also slow Eduardo González, yoga teacher and exceptional carpenter in the building, summarizes his feelings before giving away a box of Nepali incense: “To those who speak of a sect, read the dictionary. Voluntary work is part of karma yoga.

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“As it has to be!” Rosa Campesino clinches while Esther Martín, who studies Law and Political Science in Granada, hallucinates: in her childhood these buildings bordered on collapse. Fresno and the guests laugh when commenting on the great differences that separate these areas from Brandilanes and, although the Catalan frowns a bit when mentioning the slaughter, she reconciles: “We are vegetarians, but we respect tradition and how others live.”

Prayer and meditation of the Hindu community of Brandilanes.
Prayer and meditation of the Hindu community of Brandilanes. emilio friar

The new Brandilanese, who boasts of finally belonging to the municipal census along with 14 other colleagues -and rising-, has brought happiness to the town: when there are more people, the doctor visits Brandilanes again and the older ones, like Rosa, do not they have to move. Soon the Fonfría school, where the nucleus depends, will have more desks occupied thanks to the babies in the group. The mayor, Sergio López, sentences: “Everything is a good feeling. They are very discreet people, they do not cause problems and they have integrated perfectly”.

The tenants of the house, who chat with the peace that their neighbors praise, agree that before starting their new life in Zamora, their relatives alerted them to the cold. But they don’t think it’s that bad. It compensates, they add, by feeling the stillness that they glimpse through the large windows. The raindrops fall to the ground in a symphony of relaxation, as if worldly stress could not get past that door. The only disturbance to the peace is carried out by one of the bitches on the plot, who steals and hides one of Esther’s sneakers, since you have to take your shoes off before living under that wooden roof.

Mireia Fresno asks other Hindus interested in the advaitavidya project that they wait for it to be operational “in about two months”, thanks to the 90,000 euros raised by crowdfunding. It also states that rural independence does not entail living without progress, something that can be seen in the rooms. A woman works on a modern Mac computer near figures of the goddesses Shiva, Ganesha and Annapurna. She smells of incense until she enters the kitchen, where exotic spices season the succulent creations of the Argentines Maite López and Juliana Biullun, 33 and 37 years old, enchanted in Zamora: “It looks like our land.” The chores continue but they take the floor again: “One last thing! They say that home is where the heart is.

Yoga time comes at one thirty sharp in the afternoon, in a room with thick carpets and an ornate altar. Untrained ears only understand “mantra”, “yoga” and “chakra” in the rhythmic crooning emitted by the parishioners sitting cross-legged and with their eyes closed, accompanied by a kind of small piano. The community has come together perfectly under the figure of his teacher, from whom they credit that he was born in Barcelona, ​​but he embraced the faith and spent 20 years as a hermit in India. Mireia Fresno points out that he “returned in 2009 and people asked him to know more, he went from retirement to teaching” and after creating the association, they ended up moving to Brandilanes. Swami Satyananda Saraswati, with his long beard and venerable figure according to the photos, is admired internationally.

“And can we talk to him to meet him?”

-No, not today. she is teaching on-line of yoga.

Maite López shows Rosa Campesino and Esther Martín, natives of Brandilanes, the food she is cooking for the Hindu community.
Maite López shows Rosa Campesino and Esther Martín, natives of Brandilanes, the food she is cooking for the Hindu community.emilio friar

Meditation and yoga among sausages and cabbage: this is how the arrival of a Hindu community has revitalized a town of 40 inhabitants