Rehabilitating Auto Rickshaw
Drivers in Bangalore

Stuck in rain in the middle of thick traffic, trying every gesture to stop an auto rickshaw… sounds like a familiar scene, isn’t it? Most of us city folks have experienced that helpless feeling when all we want to do is get back to our dry and warm home, yet we don’t want to shell out that extra money to give to the auto rickshaw driver who is overcharging and is not too gentle about it either. But then, five minutes become 25 and we shut that voice in the head that’s asking us to do the right thing and eventually succumb and negotiate a price that’s suitable for both parties.

For most of us, it’s a given that all auto rickshaw drivers are crooks and there’s nothing we can do about it. But the next time you notice a Jai Gurudev! sticker on one of the autos in Bangalore, stop and gauge the difference because they all do the kriya and you may just have something to bond over.

“80 percent of all the auto guys are out there to cheat people,” begins Nataraj, an Art of Living teacher who was nauseated by the way auto rickshaw drivers siphoned money off of travelers outside railway stations, “That’s when I realized that this is not good. They act like beggars, while the reality is that they make close to Rs. 1,200 a day. So, I spoke to the Rajiv Gandhi Auto Association and told them that if they do the course, it will really help them. And it wasn’t easy convincing them, but I told them that this course will help you calm down. Also, before the auto guys did the course, the Road Transport Officer’s did the course with me and then, the auto association was asked to do the course.”

(Cut to) A year later, 484 auto rickshaw drivers have done the course in Bangalore, “And now it’s not just me, but so many other teachers have started taking this course for them. The biggest problem with them is that they don’t give respect because the atmosphere they live in is like that. Most of them live in the slums and spend most of their earnings on alcohol and meat, but The Art of Living gives them a chance to lead a saner and more productive life,” explains Nataraj over the phone, “The main idea is to make the course fun and teach Guruji’s knowledge in a lighthearted and humorous way,” which makes the breakthrough easy.

Agrees Chandrashekhar, General Secretary, Rajiv Gandhi Auto Association, “When I approached Guruji for conducting the course free of cost for auto drivers, he immediately agreed. And after the course, I witnessed a lot of changes in their lives.” Shares Pandyan, an auto rickshaw driver, “This is the second time I did the Sudarshan Kriya. The first time I did it, I was an auto rickshaw driver. Now, I am a taxi driver. And I was addicted to smoking, but after doing the kriya, I have cut down drastically. And now, I also want my friends to do this course and reap the benefits of the kriya. Nobody has showed us the way so far and I am really grateful to Guruji for showing us the right direction. Personally, I have found great changes in my body and mind because of that love. And that’s why I will continue to do the kriya.”