Monday, January 19, 2009

A Visit to a Remand Home

Last week, E called and asked me to accompany her to a NCS (Nav Chetna Shibir) follow up at a remand home (juvenile home). A few seva warriors who conducted a NCS camp there some time ago, go there every day to conduct a meditation for the kids interned there.

I was totally reluctant given my own woes but was fortunate to remember what Guruji says "Give the Divine your most precious time". Also trying to look at family members for excuses did not work - they all said GO.

OK I said - Guruji this time is yours and off I went.

Walking into the center was an experience itself. E said "We are from Art Of Living" and we were greeted with "aaiye" / "haan haan aap jaa sakte hain" ( Please come / You may go on). Speaks volumes for the kind of respect the work of Art Of Living had generated at this place.

Walking up to the hall was gut wrenching. Young kids, mostly less than 10 years of age were lined up on the staircase. E told me that they had either committed crimes and were too young to be jailed or were put here since both their parents were in jail and there was no one to take care of them. Swallowing this bit of reality I entered the hall.

At the far corner a large group of kids sat - their eyes glued to a television set. Upon seeing us a few kids ran up and greeted us. As an official set up the mic and speakers, one of them espied my helmet. With great fascination he put it on. That attracted the attention of a whole bunch of kids who ran up and took turns putting it on. I began to feel connected to them.

It was time to start. Most kids sat down but a few started creating a ruckus. E asked me to call their "sir", a burly looking man with a stick, whose very look scared the jeepers out of these little ones. They all settled down and E started bhastrika. I was tasked with making sure the kids closed their eyes. In the next few minutes I was witness to so many facets of life. It was a touching and moving experience.

Some closed their eyes tight and followed the instructions. Some merely ignored the process. Others did bhastrika with their eyes open and I went around gently asking them to close their eyes. Some complied, some ignored me, others stared back coldly. Some "little krishnas" were full of masti. They were deliberately making funny sounds to disturb the others :)

For me playing "cop" was quite an exercise (pun intended).

As the bhastrika ended, more eyes were closed and they all chanted OM. Finally as the meditation started, many settled down. It was a touching sight to behold. Some faces peaceful, some contorted, some disturbed, others disinterested, some angry, some confused, some curious, some playful - all striving for the same peace they had been denied at this tender age.

Then satsang started. I mean WOW....7 1/2 years in Art Of Living most fun satsang. Kids singing along to Achutam Keshavam, standing up and dancing, asking for the mic, correcting E when she said "sote nahin" instead of "khate nahin" it was fun. I danced with gay abandon too...mind you this comes from someone with 2 left feet who would not dance if his life depended upon it.

E then asked them to keep faith and told them that they needed to study and listen to elders if they wanted to get ahead in life. She reminded them that Guruji was there for them. It was time to leave. We said our goodbyes saying we would be back next week.

Guruji says that seva is its own reward. That beautiful feeling of love, bliss and gratitude that I was floating in was a stark reminder that life is not always painful, that there are others who have nothing and that if I accept and move through life, giving the highest priority to seva, sadhana, satsang and the pursuit of truth, no sorrow can overcome me.

Deep down a prayer went out for all these kids. Happy that through their troubled times, they had the company of the knowledge and the blessings of a Guru. A reaffirmation that "Having a Guru does NOT mean there will be no storms, just that the boat will NOT sink"

For the next few hours, there was no pain - just bliss.

I pray I can go back there often.

Jai Guru Dev,