Avinash Tiku: Taking a leap, one step at a time
Mentoring every kind, for he knows what it's like to be angry and frustrated. And he also knows how to transform that anger into love and compassion.
“My house (in Kashmir) was burnt and relatives
were killed because of terrorism. I wanted to kill
at least one terrorist before I die,” shares
Instead of living in that hostile space, Avinash
transformed that anger into love and
compassion after doing the YES+ course.
An absolute riot, whose life took an upswing after his first YES+ course and has been hooked to it ever since. Avinash Tiku, a 28-year-old, proud YES+ teacher, born in Kashmir and brought up in Jammu and Chandigarh, shares his passion and belief in the course and the one who made it all happen, “I was doing my engineering from Bombay University and in the last semester, an acquaintance mentioned the Art of Living course to me, which is the time I was modeling for my college, was the cricket team’s captain, played basketball and had a so-called cool life. So, I ignored it. But then, my roommate who I used to respect a lot came to me and asked me to do the course. I don’t know why they asked me to do it - I was super social, good with friends and at sports, acted in plays and was OK in studies,” laughs Avinash, “Because there was no interest in studies.”
While he was doing his first YES+ course, he’d decided that he was going to teach the course and that thought was especially reinforced after, “Vishwas bhaiya (one of the teachers) came to the course for a session and shared his guru story about how they’ve transformed terrorists in Kashmir and taken courses in Iraq. And that was a shocking thing for me because in 1990, my house (in Kashmir) was burnt and relatives were killed because of terrorism, which is why I carried a lot of anger and vengeance and wanted to kill at guruone terrorist before I died,” but instead of living in that hostile space, he fully immersed himself in volunteering and organizing YES+ courses in Mumbai. Even after he graduated, he never looked for work outside, “My placement was straight away in the Art of Living. And since 2008, after I sat for my Teacher’s Training Course, I’ve taken over 150 courses and taught about 9,000 youngsters in the country,” and has had a blast everywhere he’s gone - Delhi, Ludhiana or even Hyderabad, smiles Avinash, his big, chestnut brown eyes full of enthusiasm and mischief, “Last year, I taught the course to Saina Nehwal and the whole badminton team in Hyderabad,” informs Avinash, who feels totally committed to his work and the vision of this foundation and plans to do this for the rest of his life, explains Avinash, “Earlier, I would do things only if I felt like it. There was nobody who could make me do anything. But now, I am inspired to do this at any given moment of time and am ready for anything.”
Transforming criminals with yoga, meditation, and love
Be it intro talks about the course in front of a big crowd asking difficult questions or taking courses in Tihar Jail, “I thought it’ll be cool to change their lives. But when I went to the prison with another volunteer, I met the jailer, who said, ‘Why are you doing this? These people are hopeless. You are just wasting your time’.
Anyway, I walked into an open ground and thought they’ll be 15 or 20 of them, but I saw 250 inmates and not one of them was handcuffed. And I fell straight in front of Guruji’s picture and meditated in front of him.
Then, I started talking and in half an hour, things were okay.”
The next course was organized for hard core criminals, “And this course was in the barrack - inside the cage. I started with Jai Gurudev and asked them not to smoke for the next six days and they ran outside, smoked and came inside. Then I asked them, ‘How many of you are here because you did something by mistake?’ They all raised their hands except one. And I gently asked him, ‘Aap (you)?’ He said, ‘What mistake - I wanted to come here. I killed two and the cops found their bodies; next time, they won’t even find the bodies’.
(Cut to) Last day of the course, I asked them, ‘How many of you want to quit this path of violence?’ That same guy was the first one to raise his hand and say, ‘Bhaiya, the first day you asked me to quit smokes - now, I’ve quit this path of violence too’,” smiles Avinash and concludes with what he likes to do the most, “I love talking and connecting with people.”