The Freedom March

Komal Singh

Hands clasped together, united we stood and created a wave of change – the kind that leads to a revolution. It was no longer imagined – but real, in flesh and blood as we walked inside Freedom Park, faintly absorbing the sound of Vande Mataram from a distance – a faint whisper that soon turned into a loud cheer as we walked closer to the crowd, lined next to a busy street in Bangalore City with cars and buses zooming by. The passersby curious and intrigued by the rabble of people – playing the same note and standing in protest for the same cause.

The cause that’s currently being discussed all over the nation, initiated by one man, who truly believes in the voice of peace – Anna Hazare – the 71-year-old hero of our nation who allowed the Jan Lokpal Bill to become active and create a channel to free us from the shackles of corruption.

Soon after he broke his fast, Anna Hazare thanked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living volunteers for their full support throughout his fight. In a similar vein, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been propagating this movement (in every satsang and public gathering for the last few months) – ‘If we can accept corruption as our way of life and carry on with this, we are cheating ourselves and millions of people of this country. Today, we need to come together for a big transformation, a new direction, an awakening amongst our people. Everyone should speak out against corruption. Fight against injustice, but without anger or violence. Fight with a calm and serene mind. The spiritual values of ahimsa (non-violence) and truth transcend time and work everywhere, even today. When you make your mind strong with a conviction not to be corrupt, people will also change.’

This anti-corruption movement is an appeal to bring back the Gandhian principles that have been put on the back burner for years and let the citizens of the country take action against corrupt bureaucrats, judges and politicians.

It is our chance to do something about corruption instead of merely debating over it and concluding it with a defeatist (‘This will not change’) statement.

Esspath Khaleeli, a 38-year-old neo political singer from Bangalore shares her opinion on the matter, amidst piercing cheers in the background, “If you want to eradicate corruption, don’t point fingers at people, hold people’s hands and communicate. The NGOs, the government, the media and the population of the country need to join together. You all learn that in the Art of Living that to be united within yourself will mean that you overflow and when you overflow, you unite everyone around you because you’ve got positive energy. So, really, we are trying to ensure that all our negative feelings that have been suppressed for a long time are being channeled for a peaceful environment. This could be Egypt, Wisconsin or Bahrain, but it is not. It is India – the greatest country in the world.”

Marching together on the streets of Bangalore, signing petitions and sharing words of encouragement, we realized the power of democracy and what happens when even a few kindred souls chant the song of freedom. In this case, of course, it was a bhajan (devotional song), sung together by a mass of Art of Living devotees.

And today’s victory is a testament to a nation-wide anti-corruption movement spreading through the veins of this country, soon… reaching its heart. (A keen writer, Komal Singh participated in the anti-corruption drive in Bangalore, India on April 8, 2011.)