Prawin Kumar’s Journey: From Activism to Meaningful Change

In 1974, amid widespread student protests demanding a better India for them. Prawin Kumar was one among them, and emerged as a passionate advocate for change. Raised in Ranchi amidst the post-independence era’s ideals, he became deeply involved in the movement, eventually joining its core organizing committee under the tutelage of the esteemed Jayaprakash Narayan. However, disillusionment soon followed as political realities failed to match lofty aspirations. Recognizing that politics was not his destined path, Prawin redirected his focus towards higher education, temporarily distancing himself from activism.

Despite stepping away from politics, Prawin’s involvement in the student movement imbued him with invaluable skills in community organization and leadership. Little did he know that these formative experiences would shape his future endeavors profoundly.  

A Chance Phone Call

In 1997, a fortuitous phone call altered the course of Prawin’s life. Contacted by an Art of Living trainer, he was tasked with organizing a workshop—an opportunity that would define his future trajectory. Despite initial reservations, Prawin embraced the challenge wholeheartedly, marking the beginning of a transformative journey. As he reflects on this pivotal moment, Prawin attributes his decision to an inexplicable sense of conviction—a belief in possibilities beyond logic.

He jokes, “I am glad the teacher had asked me to organize and not participate; it would never have happened then.”  But Prawin did participate, along with organizing it. And as he revels in the memories with his usual bearded laughter, “there has been no looking back since then.”

Platform for Change

The Art of Living provided Prawin with a platform to enact meaningful change—a platform rooted in holistic social development, a cornerstone of the organization’s ethos. 

Recognizing the transformative potential of these initiatives, Prawin fervently embraced his newfound calling, organizing workshops that introduced participants to the rejuvenating practice of Sudarshan Kriya and the profound wisdom of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. For Prawin, these workshops were more than mere events; they were catalysts for personal growth and societal transformation.

In 1999, Prawin attained certification as an Art of Living teacher, coinciding with the nascent stages of the ‘Youth Leadership Training Program.’ Fuelled by his unwavering commitment, he dedicated himself to nurturing a cadre of young leaders—individuals poised to become change agents in their communities.

A Test of Faith

However, Prawin’s journey was not without its challenges. Operating in Ranchi—a region grappling with identity struggles and rampant militancy—presented formidable obstacles. Undeterred, Prawin remained steadfast in his mission, undaunted by the risks inherent in his work.

In 2003, amid the shadows of uncertainty, Prawin found himself in a precarious situation. Out of the blue, around 4 pm, his car broke down on a deserted street and within moments, armed miscreants surrounded him. Stranded in a remote village plagued by militancy, his life hung in the balance as armed miscreants surrounded him. 

In a moment of divine intervention, recognition dawned upon one of the miscreant who turned out to be a former participant in an Art of Living workshop held within the confines of a prison.This person immediately recognized Prawin as the teacher and ran up to him to pay his respects. 

The others, though somewhat bewildered, followed suit. What began as a perilous encounter ended in mutual respect and solidarity—an affirmation of the profound impact of interpersonal bonds on transformation.

They not only ensured that Prawin returned home safely that day but seeing his commitment to work for their development also pledged their allegiance to his work. 

On that day, Prawin realized the profound generosity of the Guru’s grace.

Change at Grassroots Level

Driven by a steadfast belief in the transformative potential of empowerment, Prawin embarked on a quest to uplift the communities of Jharkhand. 

In 2017, as the Government of Jharkhand entrusted The Art of Living with the responsibility of creating 60 Beacon Panchayats, Prawin was assigned to execute this herculean task within a year’s time. But in less than a year, he successfully built a team of dedicated local youth leaders in seven districts of Jharkhand and mentored them to become agents of change. It was another masterstroke of this genius team builder and mentor. 

Prawin passionately feels that Jharkhand has a robust Panchayati Raj System in place, but when you don’t know how to drive, having a car has no meaning. Thus, these days he is breathing life into the project to empower the panchayat members of Jharkhand.

Through meticulous planning and dedicated mentorship, Prawin empowered local youth to assume ownership of their destinies, thereby catalyzing tangible change at the grassroots level.

Lessons Learned

When enquired about what it takes for a team to be built and sustain it through tough times, Prawin says, “There are three most important things. First is proper planning and guidelines. Second is discipline towards the work and towards the finances and third is the devotion that brings dedication towards work.” 
He mentions that building trust and value-based relationships are the most important things to work in community development. Today, the team is running 22 free schools in Jharkhand for children from the less privileged under the mentorship and guidance of a grassroots change maker, B.B. Chawla.

Inspiring Hope for Generations

Looking back, Prawin says the grace of his Guru and the relationships built over time with the project beneficiaries have been the greatest earnings of his life. 

Prawin Kumar’s story  epitomizes the transformative power of perseverance and service. From the tumultuous streets of Ranchi to the corridors of social change, his journey serves as an inspiration for generations to come – that with the right platform they too can drive positive change in their communities.