Monday, February 27, 2017

How do people quench their social conscience?

It was late Sunday night, had our dinner at kaiyenthi bhavan! My husband and I went for a stroll after a very long time… We didn’t talk much. Both of our minds were occupied with only one thing. How do we counter all the irresponsible baseless allegations thrown at us… Many lakhs of volunteers’ heart wrenching efforts for social and human wellbeing over the last two decades, it hurts – whatever touched us, whatever we realized need to reach every human being on the planet – It is a stupid commitment (sankalp) one can take – but then every time someone comes to us and thanks us, our joy knew no bounds! We exchange tears of joy and bliss!

With all this running in our minds, he broke the silence, “People don’t seem to understand how much they are swayed by the one sided vested propaganda. They don’t seem to see the other side of the picture.” He said in a pensive mood almost on the border of abuse!

I asked him back, “Suppose, you were not part of Isha. You never underwent any transformation. All you know is your job, promotion, your family… That’s all. And you read something wrong about a bearded God man. What would your first instinct be?” He nodded, ‘yeah, I would have believed all that I read’.

See… A few people are waiting for this kind of news. “All Gurus are bad.” That’s what satisfies their ego. Because, they don’t want to believe in anybody. In between the times of Swami Vivekananda and Sadhguru, the choices we had was very minimal and a few troubled news item about the bearded men of those times completely sealed any openness that could be within them.

“I earn well, I take care of my family. I came up to this position on my own. I don’t believe in God. But I love nature. Nature is God!” Most of our people belong to this category. There is something called as social conscience. How do they satisfy that? By expressing their love for environment – “I am a social media activist for environment.” With all their helplessness, all they could do is registering their protest by sharing a meme or an article, against Isha. Two things get satisfied –

  1. He is a Godman, guru, so he should be bad. Perfectly fits their ego.
  2. I stand up for environment. Hence quenching their social conscience. I can’t plant a tree, I can’t water a plant, I can’t stop farmer suicide, I can’t stop anything. Let me atleast share this meme and create awareness. Of course, with all good intentions, they are doing their part.

You know, I was a very pious person during my college days. My dearest friend Anjana and I used to recite ‘Skanda Sashti Kavacham’ every evening in the hostel room. We both liked it. Once I got the job and started earning, I somehow felt the commitment towards God came down. I was confused and told, ‘God, don’t mistake me. There is no time for Friday temple routine’ Jus a few moments before the Pooja room before I start to work was the only interaction with the “Divine”…

Thankfully, this confusion didn’t last long. When I attended the Isha Yoga program in Feb 2003, there was a full stop to all my confoundedness. I stopped going to temples. I was free. For almost 6 years, I cared the least for temples. It was not my interest. 

But then, this man talked of consecration. He brought to life, right in front of my eyes – Bhairavi – what was jus a stone became Divine. My eyes started watering without control. A new dimension – Fire of devotion - opened up within me. No looking back since then.

It took several years for me to take this path of devotion. How do we expect a common netizen, hiding behind a garb of pseudo environment protector to open up and see a perspective bigger than him?


“But what about logic? Can they not see use their logical thinking to conclude who is right and who is wrong?” he retorted. 

People are fed with both sides of information and mostly they choose what suits their ego and belief system.

“But truth??” – Who cares about truth? Who has patience to go through the tons of articles and decide which is true? All they care is jus a meme or a headline of an article. That too, if it is positive headline, they won’t go inside to know the details. “Negative one” yes would read till the last word. Remember, truth is always expensive. We live in a world where no one wants truth but nice breaking news – stories.

Truth will slowly evolve. The western part of the world is fast embracing yoga and turning inward or spiritual. So, our folks would catch up soon! Until then, let them keep sharing the memes and have those "Oh my God!" moments.

And our stroll ended as we reached our apartment gate! :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

I was molested at age 7 and then...

I was molested at the age of 7! It was my trusted neighbour, probably 18 or 19 years of age. He enticed me with a bright coloured balloon. I went behind him for that balloon and ended up in a solitary room, where he forced himself upon me.

I attained puberty at the age of 12. It was a biological change and I was still a child at heart and mind. Yet another known person, a cable operator "uncle" tried to molest me and I had run away from him! Nope! I was not emotionally handicapped till then. I assumed these were one off incidents and carried on with my life. School and studies were my life then.
Happy School days! (An illustrative picture)
At age 15, I had the first hit when a guy actually told me he was in love with me. I didn't know how to handle that. Soon, I realized this was a plain bodily attraction and I struggled to come out of it, when he threatened he would commit suicide if I didn't agree to his proposal. This was the first mental violation I had and I suffered for long. My studies went for a toss! I was a state rank material and I aspired for it. But then, I disappointed everybody with my results. I resolved not to get into contact with any guy. I joined a girls convent and life was back to normal. Again studies became my life.

When I entered the engineering college, survival became my top priority - a job! For I feared living under a drunkard's mercy throughout my life. I didn't give thought to a "nice guy" existence at all.
As I was growing in shape and structure (whatever little I had), I had to go through some sort of violation or molestation. I was turning into a rebel. I hated men. I couldn't stand them. Mere presence of any man in close quarters would send shivers down my spine. I suffered within. Too much identification I had with my body. It was like I had a treasure within and I needed to protect it every minute.

The rebellious character in me found expression in the college at times. I stomped every stalker, teaser on my way. They didn't know my past. I did it effortlessly. It so happened that one of our mischievous class mates, who felt a little high on being a male, passed on a chit to us girls with objectionable content. We, rebellious friends got hold of a moderate guy and lectured him throughout a night journey on how inappropriate it was and how humiliated we felt. If somebody gave me a red rose on Valentine's day, I happily accepted it. I moved on. I knew it didn't mean anything.

I joined work at Chennai. Molestation was a regular thing in crowded buses. I impatiently and helplessly went through it.
One night at 9:30, I was walking alone from the bus stop to my home. A guy came sideways in his two wheeler, slowed down to match my walking speed. He asked, 'Can I fuck you?'. I increased my speed, my heart beat racing up! As luck would have it, that day I was spared. He followed me throughout, till I reached home. Next day, I took an alternate route.

Yet another day, I was traveling in the bus which was not crowded. I even found an empty seat. 'Ok! Today, no suffering' I told myself. Then there was this cool educated guy, standing next to my seat. I held the rail of the seat in front of me, so that I could protect my head till I reach the destination. Our MTC drivers are super cool with their sudden breaks! This man held the same rail and was inching close to my hand. I sensed his desperation. He didn't know my desperation level. I blurted out to him, 'You want to touch my hand? Is that what you want?' He got off immediately in the next stop. I felt victorious!

I had so much anger, resentment for men for I could have easily become a serial killer! Thankfully there were no social media those days. No media continuously hogging on every molestation incident. Sanity prevailed. But my feminist attitude and the freedom I longed for was still boiling inside. Feminism means to me, that women are also as human as men and have every right to live in this world as man does!

Years passed by. I gave birth to a baby girl. What I taught her at the age of 3 was 'Good touch, bad touch'. I established a channel of communication that if somebody showed any sign of violation, she would inform me right away.

With all my past experiences, I could have turned into a utter bitter human being. But thankfully I took the opposite route. With an inner transformation I underwent, I blossomed beautifully. Instead of being a victim, I became part of a solution.
Blossoming...

I realized there is no Utopia for women. No law would protect me. No matter how hard I cry, nobody around would come to help. Only solution is to safe guard myself. I am responsible for my safety. New year means going to temple and not to midnight parties, so I happily stayed safe. However if I had to indulge in these midnight parties because the society in which I live demands, I would probably go prepared! I love celebrations for I am an exuberant ebullient person. I celebrate life!

From the society, there are two solutions to it, in my view. One is stringent laws; fear of punishment that would keep these molesters under control. Second, change in social consciousness through individual transformation. I am a volunteer now. I resigned my high paying corporate job and am a full time volunteer working towards individual transformation. I do my part.

Dear ladies, until we get into a state where even if we walk naked that no man would turn around and ogle at us, please stay safe and be prepared!

Let common sense prevail over audacity!