“My daily meditation is the secret to get connected directly with the Indian spirit,” says Anton Tönz, a Swiss-born Yoga and meditation practitioner and Carnatic music teacher.
There’s a palpable calmness about Anton Tönz, as he nonchalantly opens his conversation with Namaste Switzerland. His association with India goes back decades – to his teenage. He says, “As a teenager, I felt a strong urge to visit India. At 21, I read an article in the newspaper about the arrival of a Yogi, clothed in white, visiting Seelisberg in Switzerland. I heard he taught meditation. And that was striking to me at once! This is exactly the thing I want to do!
Soon, I found myself learning the same kind of meditation from a young lady in St. Gallen. A year later, I joined the Maharshi Mahesh Yogi Ashrama in Seelisberg. I stayed there for four years and concluded with my meditation teacher’s training.”
Being Swiss and carrying the Indian culture forward
Being Swiss-born and carrying forward a culture alien to his own seemed puzzling. He sensed the question and cast a momentary look back into his childhood, saying, “I grew up as eldest son in a farmer’s family. I love handwork as well as technical challenges. I’m a passionate photographer and an author of spiritual books. So, I really am used to doing several jobs. But Yoga and music are connected with each other… They are the breath of my life.”
“It was always my dream to engage with culture. In my youth I volunteered at the atelier of a well-known painter in St. Gallen. I always wanted to become an artist. When I came in touch with Indian culture I knew: this is it! I felt at home with it, maybe because of my deep insight into Indian spirituality. My daily meditation is the secret to get connected directly with the Indian spirit. Practicing and teaching Carnatic Music, too, has become a part of me.
And what did his friends and family think about his involvement with Indian culture?
He says, “Naturally, whatever you do has an impact on how you are perceived, and vice versa, your perception has an impact on what you aim at. From the beginning of my career as a meditation teacher, my parents and my four brothers had some difficulties understanding my choice. But strangely enough, I received full financial support for my meditation teacher’s training course from my parents! The concern of my parents was more on the practical side: “Is it possible to make a decent living as meditation teacher?” they asked.
Meeting his wife: Bharatanatyam performer Vijaya Rao
With a smile, he says, “Once, during my career as a meditation teacher I was organising a festivity with Indian dance performances for a friend of mine, who, at the time, was away for military service. He had engaged Vijaya as the danceuse. And that’s how we first met.”
He continues, “At home, we live mainly according to Indian traditions. They are the strong upholds of life because in India, religion and spirituality are the guiding milestones in life. At the same time, we always tried to uphold as much Swissness as possible, which is rather hard in a time where we have lost many of our own cultural activities and fixed points of identification. So, essentially, we have tried to take and live with the best of both the cultures. I think that our daughter, Sharmila loved the non-dogmatic way of living Indian culture in midst of the freedom of western life.”
His definition of Success
“Success, I believe, has to do with inner growth. As long as that is going on and we keep learning, there is no reason to regret anything. I believe destiny is inevitable. What matters is how we take it and deal with it. If I would say that in the way I did things, everything was right, I wouldn’t be giving learning a chance, would I now?” He says, smiling as he concludes this interview.
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