Dara Singh’s Evolution from a Prisoner to a Teacher

A man ready to kill, and a man adored by parents. Two different people, right?


Dara Singh was a simple boy – a farmer’s son growing up in the remote village of Khera in Rajasthan. His turning point came when he had to leave home to attend school. Instead of receiving the right kind of education, he was introduced to highly addictive drugs. Forced into addiction by unscrupulous elements, he became a drug peddler to support his unrelenting habit. 

The addiction became so severe that he was ready to steal or even kill to feed this addiction.

From a promising young boy to a desperate addict, Dara’s descent into darkness seemed inevitable. Yet, in the shadows of addiction and crime, a glimmer of hope emerged, leading to a journey of transformation.

Then, a second turning point came into Dara’s life. He was caught by the local police.

Sentenced to 12 years in 2001 for trying to smuggle 750 grams of heroin into Bihar, the Rajasthan police threw Dara Singh in a prison cell. Little did everyone know that here was a man who would come to be adored by more than 450 children and their parents just a few years later. A man, whose life had been packed with crime, would become a model worth emulating.

All because of a simple breathing technique.

The Sudarshan Kriya opens up a world of positive possibilities

At first, life in prison was no different from the experience outside. Fear continued to gnaw at Dara’s insides. He was also consumed by a burning desire to escape and avenge his imprisonment. 

This changed in 2007 when he attended the Art of Living Prison Program in an Udaipur jail. His first Sudarshan Kriya was a powerful experience, making him confront his traumatized emotions. “I cried,” says Dara. “As the program progressed, I felt calm. I continued to practice the technique, and my thoughts changed, I became more positive,” he adds.

It helped that Dara also completed the Youth Leadership Training (YLTP) and the Advanced Meditation (Silence)Programs. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s simple yet profound teaching propelled him into a decision that would alter the course of his life forever. He wanted to make a difference, and he did.

During the YLTP, Dara was motivated to perform both the Sudarshan Kriya continuously for 41 days. It took Dara two years to complete the 41 days without a break. And during the two years, he grew more focused and more positive. Incidentally, on the 41st day, the High Court issued his release.

Upon his release, Dara faced the daunting task of rebuilding his life and earning the trust of his community. Armed with newfound resilience and a deep sense of purpose, he embarked on a mission to bring about positive change in the lives of others. 

The drastic reform in his behavior, and his regular meditations, enabled him to find a way in his fellow villagers’ hearts. Dara began to organize yoga and meditation programs for the villagers. At the end of the program, people were refreshed and energized and thankful to Dara for the experience. They began to trust him, and his genuine concern for another’s well-being.

In 2011, he became an Art of Living faculty; he, now, had the power to rid people of stress. The breathing techniques were much appreciated, and people started feeling uplifted by the Kriya. In Dara’s words, “People just came forward and started associating with me. I became their hope for a better life.”

Dara was also appointed the administrator of a free school established by the Art of Living. The school takes care of more than 450 children, 55 percent of whom are girls. More than 80 percent of these children are first-generation schoolgoers. Apart from the mainstream curriculum, they are also taught yoga; served free, nutritious meals; given free uniforms; textbooks; and school bags and treated to the daily commute to school. Dara is supported by 12 teachers and another 4 members of staff. The school is approved by the government, and what is more important, thoroughly accepted by the children.

Testimonials of Transformation

The community’s testimonials of Dara reflect the profound impact of Dara’s work,  echoing the sentiment shared by countless others in the village. Children and their parents bear witness to Dara’s unwavering commitment to serving others has touched the lives of generations, leaving an indelible mark on the fabric of his community.

Sulochana, a bright 10-year-old student in Class 4, expresses her immense happiness with attending Dara’s school. With her siblings also enrolled in the same institution, she finds joy in the shared experience, ensuring she never misses a day of class. Sulochana’s enthusiasm for learning shines through in her love for subjects like mathematics, science, and environmental science, where she consistently achieves high scores. Her teachers affirm her intelligence and consider her a standout student.

Sonu, an 11-year-old student in Class 5, highlights the significant change in his education since joining Dara’s school. Previously, he attended his previous school only twice a week, but now he eagerly attends Dara’s school daily, reflecting his newfound commitment to education and learning.

Jeetmal, a parent with three children enrolled in the school, praises Dara’s dedication to education despite his past. Jeetmal trusts Dara’s capabilities and genuine concern for the village children’s education wholeheartedly. He expresses gratitude for the quality of education provided, noting that his children are thriving academically and financially, alleviating any worries about expenses.

Dhanraj, another parent with children in Classes 4, 6, and 8, including Sulochana, expresses pride in his children’s education at Dara’s school. Despite his limited education, having only completed schooling till Class 6, and his wife’s lack of formal education, Dhanraj is grateful that all his children receive a holistic education free of charge. He admires Dara’s commitment to serving the community and finds inspiration in his selfless dedication to providing quality education to children from all backgrounds.

Mirroring the school’s progress, Dara Singh’s journey has been an incredible one. From drug addiction to child education; from imprisonment to reform of prisoners; from cruelty to kindness. But perhaps the most telling commentary on Dara’s character and work comes from the parents. They would rather not send their children to any other school.

It is only Dara they can trust their precious children with.

Only Dara.