“Hey, you’re in the 6th grade and you still herd goats?” asked her friend mockingly. “Yes, I still herd goats. I love herding goats. In fact I’ll herd goats forever,” she replied with a cracked voice and a tear in her eyes, looking away and walking fast with her two favorite goats.
Tarulata loved goats. She still remembers the day she was returning from school. She saw an aged man walking with two goats. From a distance he looked like her grandfather. Eyes squinted, as though trying to recognize someone, she set into a small run towards the man and the goats. A smile stretched into a big one when she saw that it really was her grandfather. She ran and almost crashed into him and the bleating mammals. She went home, threw her bags, came out, took the goats and went off into the fields. She did this every day, until one day after few years her friends starting mocking and laughing at her. Taru - as she was called, loved taking the goats in the fields and in the jungle, humming a tune she would catch from the air. But deep down she felt ashamed too. She was in the 6th grade- a big girl. And that was the last day she herded goats. She went to school for another few years. She wanted to study Arts, but house finances and the sudden death of her father only allowed so much of education.
Growing years were tough. Her father had only inherited a small piece of land. To raise three studying girls with no steady income was not easy. He also had a small ration shop. Together the income of the house was mediocre. Taru didn’t want to quit studies, but had to. She was angry. Angry at life, circumstances, and with her father after he went away to the other world. She grew up doing what other school dropped girls would do. Chores, kitchen and the house porch were her domain. She hated it. She hated her life.
There was a girl, whose mother’s house was in the same village as Taru’s. One day while chatting outside a shop she told Taru about a leadership training program for youth that she had done in Patamda in Jharkhand. She told her about The Art of Living and the amazing experience she had during the workshop, and she told her about this intriguing technique called the Sudarshan Kriya that she learnt and practices. There was a glitter in her eyes as she was telling Taru about her experience. “Take me with you,” she told the girl almost instantly. “Of course,” the girl said smiling in a whisper.
Six hundred rupees was the course fee, which Taru didn’t have, neither did her mom. She went to her cousin and asked him if he could lend her the money. He agreed. Looking at her daughter’s strong desire, Taru’s mom agreed to send her too. This was the first time a girl from the house went so far, that too alone. Her father would never have allowed. Not even in her wildest of dreams. She went with her friend to Patamda and did the YLTP. Right after the course she realized one thing; she had to bring everyone she knew and didn’t know to experience Sudarshan Kriya. It sort of became her mission. She also realized one thing, she didn’t want to stay back at home. She wanted to come and stay at the Ashram in Patamda and work in the villages, with the Naxalites. But there was one thing that kept coming to her mind, “How can I bring people to experience Sudarshan Kriya without bringing my immediate family to experience it first? The people will laugh at me if they know.” She went back home.
After she made her mother and sisters do the course in the year 2006, Taru left home for the Ashram in Patamda. That was where she wanted to be. That was her home now. She loved it there. “Six years in the ashram, I’ve seen times changing,” she reminiscences. “Initially I was scared going around in the village. People met me with hostility, they made me feel like an outsider. And the drunk men couldn’t be trusted. But I had dedicated my life for Gurudev’s work. I knew he’d protect me, he still does. The atmosphere began to change. As we started our work, organizing courses, more and more people participated and transformation began to happen. Lives changed, families changed, the atmosphere in the village changed. People started coming to us. Started sharing their problems, began respecting us. Love and belonging sprang up from within them. Today almost everybody knows the ashram and the people who live in it. Not just this village but several villages all around this district. It is amazing how Gurudev works through us.”
Once, in one of her blues Taru decided to leave everything and go back home. She went, and one day at home during meditation she thought, “why am I here…I’ve dedicated my life for my master’s work…why am I quitting now…” she heard Gurudev’s voice in her mind telling her that a lot of people are waiting for her, and she has to reach the Sudarshan Kriya to them. That’s when she decided to become a teacher.
She remembers and shares an incident. There was a satsang organized in a village. It was night time and there was a group of Naxals who had come to the village from the jungle. When they saw a gathering they inquired and found out that it was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s satsang. They had heard of him, and wanted to meet whoever was in charge. News reached Taru, who was sitting in the front, and she came back and met the group. A lady comrade came up to her and started talking to her. She said that she had heard about Sri Sri and the Sudarshan Kriya. She said that what he was doing was good, and what they were doing was also good, only the medium was different. She said that we have 9mm pistols and that he had the Sudarshan Kriya. She wanted to experience it, and with a changed identity she did the course and she found out that Sudarshan Kriya was more powerful than the 9mm pistol.
“There has been a lot of interactions with the people who’ve lost their way. Many have done the course, many have gone back, but we still continue to urge them to drop their weapons. They are good people, they’ve just not been given a choice by the government. They don’t trust the corrupt voting system. Somehow a bridge has to be built between them and the society. And Sudarshan Kriya is that bridge,” explains Taru in the middle of sips of tea.
“Life is good,” she says. “There are disturbances, but then I have Gurudev. He’s my balm, my friend. I talk to him so much, that sometime I feel that I’m going crazy,” she laughs as she spills tea on her pajamas. “I’ve surrendered my life to him, he decides where I go. There’s a storm brewing,” she says looking at the sky churning itself like a whirlpool, “lets go down…” We go down and drink some more tea.
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Writer: Eben Felix, Graphics: Niladri Dutta