Ravi Meher: From shining shoes to being a sparkling example

Year 2000: Shoe polish, Brush and An Intention

As 17-year old Ravi Meher packed his bags after yet another day in the government school at Sakri, a small village in Bilaspur, the only thought that lingered in his mind was to head towards the little shanty on the footpath where his father sat rubbing his hands black while giving a sparkling touch to the shoes of the many passersby. With a polish and a brush in his hands, Ravi sat looking at the crowd and thought, ”One day I am going to make difference to my life, my home, my village.” And with the intention embedded firmly in his mind he continued deftly his strokes with the brush

Cut to year 2009: Responsibilities, Confidence and a Bigger Intention

As 26-year old Ravi Meher stepped out of his home, he was greeted by the cold December wind, umpteen streams of thoughts came gushing in. With a zing in his step he got ready to take on his new responsibility - for he was now the newly elected Mayor of Sakri, his own village in Bilaspur, in the State of Chattisgarh. The path walked by Ravi Meher from being an unknown cobbler on one of the less visited streets of Sakri to being the Mayor of the same village is strewn with specs of courage, wisdom, knowledge, determination, intention and The Art of living.

Going down the memory lane...

As a local lad from the obscure agriculture dominated village, he had made his family proud. Recalls Ravi as he lets his memory jog back to the year 2006, “My life changed the day I enrolled into the Youth Leadership Training Program.” On a December evening, a group of 4 men entered in to the small dwelling of the Meher’s in the local slum area. They introduced themselves as members of The Art of living. “They asked me to enroll myself in to the Youth leadership Training Program (YLTP) of the organization. YLTP is a program which creates leaders and channelizes their energy to lead service projects in their own areas. I thought when so many good and well-statured people are doing this program, why shouldn't I, though I am a very small insignificant person.”

A Bright Light on the Road Ahead

The 10 days of the program charted a clear way for him to walk ahead carrying along with him his dreams and ambitions. “I always had the desire to do something that would make a difference to my life as well as of others but I didn’t know where to begin. The program ignited the leadership skills in me and made me believe that I could begin from just about anywhere and be a catalyst in bringing about a huge change.”

Thereon, Ravi earnestly began following the spiritual practices. “I did these practices regularly and in just one month I could see a significant change in my situation. The attitude of my friends, family and relatives towards me changed so drastically that I myself couldn't understand what was happening to me. My economic situation started improving, my father used to get sick every year, but slowly things started improving,” he adds. Happy and thrilled with the positive change that had suddenly entered into his life unannounced, Ravi took up the task of bringing about this much needed change in the lives of others in the village.

“I, along with a colleague began reaching out to the other villagers and organized and taught the Breath-Water-Sound workshops to many. Along with that I also completed my BA, then I did my LLB (Law).”

Soon the Gram elections (elections at the village level) came knocking the doors of Sakri. “There was a meeting of the locals in which they were selecting people with good thoughts and intentions, who could do something for the society. Amongst 20 other people my name also came up,” he shares with a smile.

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep...

“There were 5 candidates opposing me in the election and it was due to my faith in God and the benefit of my spiritual practices that I won sweepingly with more than 550 votes to my credit,” shares Mayor Ravi Meher.

Since then, there has been no turning back for him. Armed with zeal and enthusiasm, he began his journey on the path he always wanted to tread. Today Sakri village boasts of better water facilities, water harvesting system, better infrastructure and better education facilities for the school going children.

Lauding Ravi’s efforts for bringing about the much needed change in his village, the Collector of Bilaspur on one of his visit to the village in 2010 said, “When educated youth like Ravi Meher who also are associated with organizations such as the Art of Living come up and take responsibility, the society will definitely get a new direction. We are ready to help you in any way we can.”

“All this was only possible through the power of spirituality which kindled in me the spirit to make my dreams into a reality. My life has become a celebration and it is all thanks to Guruji. I know what a remarkable change spirituality has brought to my life and today I wish the same for everyone else,” he says with deep felt sincerity. A meditation hall will soon stand in the village as a testimony to Ravi’s heart-felt words and sincerity. In the meditation hall, people from all age-groups will have the opportunity to experience similar leadership and meditation programs, which will enrich their lives and lay the blueprint for a beautiful future society.

(The Youth leadership Training Program was established in 1999. Since then more than 11,000 youth leaders have graduated from with Program. YLTP has reached out to more than 40,212 villages in India. Write to us at webteam.india@artofliving.org to know more or participate in this effort to transform rural India.)