The stories of Shravani, Tattvamasi & Jyoti

Shravani : Bubbly, Smiling, Meditating!

My journey to cover the story of a special girl, Shravani, brought me to Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The aroma of fresh food reached my nostrils as soon as I stepped into the Art of Living office here. I peeked into the kitchen.

There she stood, in a green floral dress, her delicate hand stirring the curry, a warm welcome smile on her lips. She moved deftly around the kitchen, tending to things with a natural expertise. She glanced at me and asked Madam Maa, if the salwar I was wearing was actually the latest style! Nothing it seemed, escaped her observant eyes.

I was curious to hear her story.

Madam Maa,, the Art of Living volunteer and teacher who takes care of the school spoke to me about this girl, as Shravani sat next to her, old enough now to listen to her own life story. She was brought to Sri Sri Seva Mandir at the age of 11 years, when her parents died of HIV. At the mention of her parents, her eyes dropped from gazing at the birds in the sky to the ground that was filled with mud and ants. When she was brought here, her blood was allergic. But after years of proper care and medical attention, she is in much better health. Like other orphaned children of the school—whose parents have either died of violence in the naxal-affected areas, or of HIV and AIDS, or have simply abandoned their families—Shravani found a loving, caring, nurturing environment in Sri Sri Seva Mandir, Guntur, the first Art of Living free school to have a hostel!

Madam Maa says,Shravani is self-motivated, and has several accomplishments to her credit in the seven years that she has spent in the school so far. She has participated in the Gita recital competitions, and successfully completed 108 Surya Namaskars in the Yogathon event. She has completed nine chapters of Bhagvad Gita, chants Guru Paduka Stotram, Shiv Lingashtakam and has visited all the major pilgrimages of India along with her schoolmates. When she is not studying, she loves to dance, watch movies or meditate!

She aspires to be a lawyer, the aspiration having been planted in her by Madam Maa, who thinks law would be the perfect career option for one who is so logical, sharp and argumentative.

As she bids me goodbye, Madam Maa calls out to Shravani, Cheppandi Shravani... (Please tell) to tell the other children to get ready for the evening prayers.

Her's is one such life among thousands that got transformed due to the dedicated and consistent efforts by the Art of Living volunteers, and, if I ever need a good lawyer in future, I know which door to knock upon.

Tattvamasi: Stubbornness, Anger Dissolves in His Knowledge

Tattvamasi is a young girl who chants, meditates, plays with other children, does all household chores including cooking. Seeing her now, it is almost impossible to believe her aggressive past.

Tattvamasi was handed over to the Art of Living school in Guntur by the police. Her parents, both naxalites, had died in an encounter, the school was told.

Aggression, it seemed, was in her genes. She reacted violently to everything, including food that was offered to her on plate. She would throw the food in the gutter, and eat from there! If a thorn got stuck in her foot, and the hostel warden tried her best to pull it out with care and attention, Tattvamasi would tell her to be ruthless, even if it meant tearing her flesh and spilling more blood. Once she had to be taken to the hospital. The doctors struggled to give her an injection. She reacted so violently that no one dared to touch her.

Was it possible for a child so rigid in her ways and so violent in her tendencies to calm down, be peaceful and happy? After many months of consistent care, love and attention, Tattvamasi began to show her first signs of change. She began to smile and to respond without aggression.
An orphan girl destined to live a life of violence was transformed by the healing touch of the Art of Living volunteers at Guntur and the unconditional goodwill of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Jyoti: Sudarshan Kriya Protected Her!

Jyoti was 14 when she first stepped into the Sri Sri Seva Mandir School. She completed her Masters in Arts (MA) and became a teacher in the same school. All teachers undergo Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP) and various Art of Living courses.

She had a fairly smooth life, and was well-provided for, until it was time for her to get married. Her parents pressurized the school for dowry, which was obviously denied. She loved to be in the school premises, in the hostel but later the parents took her away. Jyoti resigned from the school and went to live with her parents, who tortured her, denying her food and water for two months. For many who observe indefinite fast, the body usually gives up after 10 days. 

Her food pipe got choked and her intestine contracted. Even her saliva had dried up. She was finally taken to a hospital by her parents and left abandoned there. When Jyoti herself asked the doctors, they said that she had to be operated immediately or in this condition she will survive maximum for a week. She informed the Guntur school staff and they immediately rushed to her help. The school staff agreed to pay for her operation and treatment. She recovered completely and is now to be married into a good family.

How did she survive two months without food and water? Jyoti believes it was Sudarshan Kriya and the benevolence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that kept her alive!

Shravani, Tattavamasi and Jyoti are only three of the many girls who were surviving on the edge and were helped to get back to normal life. The volunteers tirelessly work to make it a point to share the vision of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to make a difference to the society, to make every life stress-free, spread knowledge, wisdom and peace! When we join together, we can bring a wave of change against any inhuman actions on women or girls. Join in to contribute and make a difference.

If you like to contribute your time to our education and women empowerment projects, please write to us at webteam.india@artofliving.org or just drop in your comments below.

Writer : Monical Patel

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