Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guru Story - An Inmate's Tale

"There are only selfish or bad moments; there are no bad people in this world. They are ignorant. Inside every culprit is a victim crying for help. Feel compassionate for such people."

--- His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

My name is Veeru and I am 42 years old hailing from Thanjavur District of Tamilnadu. I am undergoing imprisonment for a 10-year term from 2002 and prior to this I was just a misguided youth pursuing the wrong goal.

It was in September 2002, an Art of Living Teacher came to conduct Prison SMART course at this Vellore Prison and I was in the batch of 30 inmates who participated in it. After the course I did my sadhanas and Kriya regularly and was able to realize the positive changes both physically and mentally. I gradually understood the meaning of human values, sense of belonging, love, compassion and care for the World. My anger and negative attitudes were getting erased from my system and I had the awareness about my ego and learnt to control it. My approach towards other inmates drastically changed and I started helping them in whatever possible way that I could. For a long period of more than 6 months there were no Prison SMART courses in Vellore Prison even during this period I was continuing with my daily sadhanas.

With Guruji's blessings and the help of Jail Superintendent Sri.Ramachandran the courses were revived. The Jail Superintendent, who takes keen interest in the welfare of the inmates, encouraged sports, education and of course made it compulsory for everyone to undergo the Prison SMART course. With his efforts courses were conducted continuously for 16 weeks and out of the 2300 inmates nearly 1600 took the course and are enjoying the benefits. The teachers were so humble and affectionate that on the last day of each course they left an indelible impression in the heart of the inmates. They gave us details about Gurudev's mission of bringing inner peace and transformation and his vision of seeing the smile on every face in this World. The various seva projects of the Art of Living and how it has reached people in 142 countries going beyond barriers of religion, caste, color, creed and nationality. The organizer of Vellore Centre was very much instrumental in coordinating with the teachers and the Prison authorities.

He along with the AOL volunteers of Vellore white washed the entire Dhyana Manatap inside the Prison.

At the end of each course all the participants unanimously without exception appreciate the course and share their healing experience with others. Some of the changes that were noticed in the Prison after every SMART Course were.

1. The number of People going to Prison Hospital has decreased.

2. Many of the Inmates who had taken the course and after their term in
prison had not come back again to the prison. We came to know most of them
have taken up good occupation and started living a good life.

3.Petty quarrels and violence inside the prison have drastically come down.

4.The sense of belonging and friendliness between the Inmates has been

5.Most of the inmates have given up smoking and are looking healthy.

6.Creative talents like Artwork, drawing & painting, singing bajans, dancing
and writing poetry have all been developed.

7.Last but not the least everyone seems to be fresh in the morning after the
sadhnas and very energetic throughout the day and sleep well in the night.

Now coming back to myself, I had been attending all the courses without fail and the daily sadhanas and Kriya gave me so much of happiness that I could throw away all my bad habits. A smoker for 21 years I quit the habit effortlessly and I am a now a complete vegetarian. I had a worst enemy inside the prison who has become my best friend now thanks to this wonderful knowledge. Taking responsibility of keeping the course hall clean and helping the teacher with the audio systems etc makes me happy. My hobbies are mainly reading Guruji's books like "Sri Sri as I know him", "God loves fun" "Wisdom for the New millennium" and lots of stories from Pitaji's page in the Rishimukh Magazine.

When I sing "Hari hari hari hari Naryana OM Govinda Naryanan Om" other Inmates join me in singing. I have become a person liked by one and all and they call me Jai Gurudev. I owe this entire new life to Guruji. People visiting me from outside are astounded by my development and that gives me an opportunity to spread the awareness about AOL courses. My wife who used to visit the Prison every week noticed the visible changes in my attitude, which reflected in my smiling face, and it prompted her and her sister to join the AOL course happening near our house. I am fortunate that in spite of my bad deeds and misfortune leading me to prison Guruji has come into my life to liberate me from my negative bondage and show me the light.

Jai Gurudev


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