Mireille-Josephine Guezennec or Himabindu was born in France, but is an Indian at heart, perhaps since many lives. She was a professor of Philosophy in France, and it is during that time that she developed a deep interest for Indian culture, philosophy and spirituality. For several years, she has been in charge at the Ministry of Agriculture (France), of their ‘Network of India’ national programme, concerned with the training for French students across India. Besides having studied yoga, and having written three books on India, she has also won the ‘Best Foreign Photographer for India’ award by the Ministry of Tourism (Government of India-Delhi). She is also a recipient of a Fellowship from ICCR (India Council For Cultural Relations).
Her present research concerns itself with the Goddess Durga and Kali, and the Durga Puja.
“My first real tryst with India was when I visited the country to study Sanskrit and Indian philosophy at Chennai, where I stayed for two years in order to pursue my research at Chennai University. Thereafter, I travelled extensively in the Himalayas. Last year, for one month, I held an exhibition of my photographs dedicated to Durga Puja at the India Museum (Kolkata); it was titled ‘Homage to the Great Goddess Durga’. I love my role as a kind of ambassador for India in my home country, and also vice versa. It feels like acting like a bridge between two vibrant cultures, and I take pride in the same. This connect that I have felt for almost forty years now is precious to me.”
In the pursuit of her passion for India, did she face any challenges? Himabindu explains with a smile that challenges become invisible to the self in the journey of attaining learning. However, she expresses the need for protecting the rich diversity of India beyond a touristic approach. She feels that the education of youth and empowerment of women could serve as important pillars for a better understanding about the country that India is, its challenges, and its assets. “I feel that the generation of awareness is vital for a great country like India, anchored in its paramount civilization, to explore its unlimited capability and potential, by each and every citizen.”
Himabindu continues to ignite young minds with her journeys, the experiences made therefrom, and her learnings. She feels that this is and will always remain her ‘calling’.
In our day-to-day lives, many women, from different backgrounds, with different stories to tell, inspire us. They need not be founders of corporate houses or lead international organizations, but can be as motivating as the lady next door, who takes care of almost three hundred stray dogs every day; or the young girl, who teaches children from the nearby ‘basti’, in a make-shift school in her garage; or even the mother, who has sacrificed so much in life to make one what one is. Women, in all their diversities, signify the power of nature, of the Almighty, and so much more. It’s time we give them their due – respect and love.
Submitted By: Sarah Berry
(Consultant, specialising in Public diplomacy, outreach and training.
Currently serving at the Indian School of Public Policy.)