The Journey from War to Peace

This is the story of and around Sushanto Singh's life, which can be briefly divided into two eras; Pre-Sudarshan Kriya and Post-Sudarshan Kriya.

Era before Sudarshan Kriya:

It was around the age of 30, that Sushanto realized that life in and around his village was not right, and that something had to be done. Tolerance, rage, aggression, deprivation and youth had harnessed a certain power in him, that which needed to come out, a power that reckoned an audience. He couldn't take the fact that for years the Naxals have been ruling his village, they had taken away the freedom of the villagers forcing them to accept their philosophy, their rules, their way. In the name of peace and coexistence, the villagers were being subjected to violence and terror. Gatherings of any kind except for festivals were prohibited. Conversations among groups were always under the radar. Men, women, children and cattle all were under the danger of being abducted anytime as leverage and food. Youth would drop out of schools and join the Naxals, most of them oblivious about the core principles of the movement; they only thought it was cool. The villagers objected, but only in the confines of their homes and their minds. Anyone who dared to speak up or against would be shown the trigger and the barrel, and sometimes the trigger would be pulled. There were black flags in every corner. It was the way of the gun.

"They have to go out...somehow...if they don't...we'll give them a war..," Sushanto told the elders of the village, his jaws clenched. The elders could see that he was ready to go fight for their land alone, but that would be sheer foolishness, they needed a plan and they needed the whole village to be in it, help from scattered cops would only be a bonus. The word spread, but cautiously, they couldn't afford the ones with guns to know about it. Subtle whispers, slivers of paper with messages on it, small gatherings in homes, everybody was preparing and waiting for the day. Life was anyway hanging on a thread, why not go all in and fight for it. Sushanto was the key motivation and the preparation of the coming revolution. They needed weapons, and guns were an impossible want. 'Let’s go medieval,' they thought, bows and arrows with poisoned tips, catapults, stones and sticks were good enough, at least for resistance if not for a good fight. But the most important weapons were the mindset of the villagers, they had nothing to lose, they decided to give in all they had to protect their land and children. It was decided, 25th of Dec 2009, the day celebrated as a symbol of peace all over the world would be a day of retribution and reclamation in this tribal interior of Jharkhand.

During the day the Naxals would go into the forest, they avoided being confronted by the security forces who would sometimes stray into the village. That Christmas day they went too, not knowing that they would return in the evening to a flight of poisoned arrows and stones, also not knowing about the poisoned food that would mysteriously kill some of their comrades in the jungle. The villagers took guard, and waited for the rebel group to come back from the jungle, Sushanto in command. And as it was supposed to be, the Naxals came and were fired upon with piercing poisonous arrows, rocks and stones crushing onto their faces and skulls, the People's War Group, as they were called didn't know what hit them. They opened fire, but they knew nothing about the strategies and the plans of the villagers. They had to retreat. This unexpected war continued for the next week, the security forces had heard the news and joined the villagers with their guns. The Naxals retreated, and ran into the jungles, in which they hide and operate from till today, appearances in villages are rather seldom. Deaths were seen on both sides, but it was the resilience of the villagers that got them their land back, it was their victory. It was Sushanto's victory. The hot-blooded short statured man was the new hero of the village. But Sushanto had no idea what was coming his way.

One day in early 2010, Sushanto saw few young men roaming around the village talking to people, curious he went to them and found out that they were from some organization called The Art of Living, and were spreading the news of a certain Youth Leadership Training Program. Sushanto, the hero of the village decided to participate on behalf of the villagers. He would decide if this leadership program was good for the people or not, after all he was their chosen leader. He went to the Ashram, where the course was happening. He sat with the other participants; he could feel a different kind of energy around the place. After giving few instructions, the teacher in the front played a tape. Forty five minutes of unfathomable experience, what came after, was a man with the same name 'Sushanto,' but with a different personality. Something had changed, in fact everything had changed. He didn't know how, but whatever it was, he loved it.

Era After Sudarshan Kriya:

The villagers saw Sushanto walk back after a few days, his stride different, his look different, his smile different. There was this air around him that had a certain sense of purity, the purity which doesn't need words to be communicated. The first words that he uttered were, "we have to get rid of the habit of alcohol." It didn't go quite well with the other males. But Sushanto had experienced something beyond himself, he had seen his 'self,' maybe just a glimpse, but it was enough to transform him. There was a shift in his mindset. He felt responsible for his village and his people. The aggression and pangs of anger within him had channelized themselves into a positive outlook, an outlook that needed action. He began talking to all his people, and told them about this course and what he experienced. He told them that all of them had to do it. He organized a ‘YLTP,’ and a ‘Part 1’ course in his village, and made sure that most of the people did it. He started volunteering and working with the other ‘Yuvacharyas’ (youth volunteers) to spread the importance of hygiene and social responsibility. He pledged never to drink alcohol, and urged the villagers to do too. Satsangs, social gatherings, organizing courses and events became the major part of his activity. The hero who had crafted the whole war was working towards a different future. He was faced with resistance, but once the mindset changes, once you've experienced the truth, there's only so much the resistance can take off you. He became a messenger of his guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and his vision of nonviolence and peace. More and more courses were organized in and around the villages and more and more people experienced the Sudarshan Kriya.

In mid 2010 there was a meeting with all the leaders of the villages. It was about the selection of a place for the school ‘Sri Sri Gyan Mandir’. Mohan da brought to the people the proposal of having a school, and he wanted the villagers to decide on the place. There was a discussion and they all decided that Jajradih, Sushanto's village, should be the place where the school would be. Immediately Sushanto knew what he had to do. He donated his land for ‘Sri Sri Gyan Mandir,’ without even thinking twice. The school, in which his children study too, is a place of solace, both for the children and the parents.

It has been two years since Sushanto has been practicing Sudarshan Kriya and has been telling people about the effects of it, physical, emotional and spiritual. He has seen and experienced Sudarshan Kriya heal people mentally and physiologically. He believes that the only thing that can reach the Naxals and transform them is the voice from the tape which says, "So..hum..so..hum..." Life, in and around Sushanto's village has definitely changed, and is changing every day. Spirituality breaks habit, changes mindsets, inculcates responsibility, invokes peace, and spreads love, and spirituality is what Sushanto loves to live.

If you like the story please write to us at webteam.india@artofliving.org.
Writer: Eben Felix, Graphics: Niladri Dutta

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