Seventeen-year-old Ravi Meher packed his bags after yet another day in the government school at Sakri, a small village in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, and headed towards the little shanty on the footpath where his father sat. His father, a humble cobbler was giving a sparkling touch to shoes of the passer-by. With a polish and a brush in his hands, Ravi sat looking at the crowd and thought that someday, he will be the agent of change. And with the intention of making a difference to his and his family’s life, he continued the deftly strokes with the brush.
As 26-year old Ravi stepped out of his home, he was greeted by the cold December wind. With a zing in his step, he got ready to take on his new responsibility - for he was now the newly-elected Mayor of Sakri. The path walked by Ravi, from being an unknown cobbler on one of the lesser-visited streets of Sakri to being the mayor of the same village, is strewn with specs of courage, wisdom, knowledge, determination, intention and one integral aspect -The Art of Living.
Going down the memory lane
As a local lad from the obscure agriculture dominated village, he had made his family proud. Ravi jogs his memory back to 2006, recollecting how his life changed the day he enrolled in the Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP).
On a December evening, a group of four men entered into the small dwelling of the Mehers in the slum area. They introduced themselves as members of The Art of Living.
“They asked me to enroll myself into the YLTP program, which creates leaders and channelizes their energy to lead service projects in their own areas. I thought when so many good and well-statured people are doing this program, why shouldn't I,” he said.
A bright light on the road ahead
The 10 days of the program charted a clear way for him to walk ahead carrying along with him his dreams and ambitions. “I always had the desire to do something that would make a difference in my life as well as that of others. But I didn’t know where to begin. The program ignited the leadership skills in me and made me believe that I could begin from just about anywhere and be a catalyst in bringing about a huge change,” he shared.
Thereon, Ravi earnestly began following the spiritual practices. “I did these practices regularly and in just a month I could see a significant change. The attitude of my friends, family, and relatives towards me changed so drastically that I myself couldn't understand what was happening to me. My economic situation started improving, my father used to get sick every year, but slowly things started improving,” he added.
Happy and thrilled with the positive change that happened in his life suddenly, Ravi took up the task of bringing about this much-needed change in the lives of others in the village.
“A colleague and I began reaching out to other villagers and organized the Breath-Water-Sound workshops for many. Alongside, I also completed my BA and then did LLB (Law),” he informed.
Soon the gram elections (elections at the village level) came knocking on the doors of Sakri. “There was a meeting of locals where people with good thoughts and intentions who could do something for the society were selected. Amongst 20 other people, my name also came up,” he shared.
Miles to go now
“There were 5 candidates opposing me in the election and it was due to my faith and benefits of my spiritual practices that I swept the polls with over 550 votes to my credit,” shared the now Mayor, Ravi.
Since then, there has been no turning back for him. Armed with zeal and enthusiasm, he began his journey on the path he always wanted to tread. Today Sakri village boasts of better water facilities, water harvesting system, better infrastructure and better education facilities for school going children.
Lauding Ravi’s efforts for bringing about the transformative change, the Collector of Bilaspur on one of his visit to the village in 2010, said, “When educated youth like Ravi, who is also associated with organization such as The Art of Living, come up and take responsibility, the society will definitely get a new direction. We are ready to help you in any way we can.”
Ravi believes that all this was possible only through the power of spirituality, which kindled the spirit to make his dreams come true.
“My life has become a celebration and it is all thanks to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I know what a remarkable change spirituality has brought to my life and today, I wish the same for everyone else,” said Ravi.
A meditation hall will soon be built in the village. In the meditation hall, people from all age groups will have the opportunity to experience similar leadership and meditation programs, which will enrich their lives and lay the blueprint for a beautiful future society.
The Youth leadership Training Program was established in 1999. Since then more than 2,03, 220 youth leaders have graduated from with Program. YLTP has reached out to more than 40,212 villages in India. Write to us at email@example.com to know more or participate in this effort to transform rural India.