Have you observed what happens when rain falls on parched earth? When the skies open up to a free fall of unbiased, all encompassing, loving, fresh rain?
That is what Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji’s visit was to Assam.
“He did not go to blame, point fingers, take sides, or to be noticed,” says Rajaque, an Art of Living faculty who has been closely working in Assam. “Neither did he go to just distribute food, clothes and medicine. Walking down the riot hit districts of Chirang and Kokrajhar, he only had one intention; to restore peace in this polarized environment, to remove hatred from the minds and the hearts of the people, to dissolve the seeds of violence and animosity from the soil. He listened to the people— the Bodos and the Muslims—to their apprehensions, their concerns, their cries and their prayers. Though there were people who didn’t quite know him, and hadn’t heard about him earlier, there was an unexpected bond and a connection they had with him.”
Gurudev visited the relief camps at Kajalgaon High School and interacted with a large gathering of Bodos—all victims of the riots. He told them to face the tragedy with courage and to prepare themselves to reclaim their life. He urged them to go back to their villages with the feeling of belongingness. He enquired about the safety and the comfort of the Muslim people who were displaced by the riots too, and were in the Basugaon Camp. He assured them to have faith in God, and that things would come back to normalcy.
In a meeting with the representatives of several organizations such as the All Bodo Student Union, Bodo People’s Front and the academicians from Kokrajhar University, Gurudev discussed ways and means to end the conflict and to identify and work on long term solution to the problems of Bodo-land. He also met the representatives of the All Bodo Minority Students Union at Bongaigaon, and listened to their concerns and point of view. He urged them to work for a harmonious and a peaceful coexistence with the communities in the Bodo-land. In a press conference Gurudev urged that the government should settle the matter in Assam politically without playing dirty politics. He said that the issue of illegal immigrants should be the government’s responsibility and not the people’s.
The mistrust and fear amongst the people of Assam will take time to heal, and the main focus of The Art of Living is removing this fear. In addition to immediate relief there have been several reputed Ayurvedic doctors who have been brought to provide holistic health care. Teachers and volunteers of The Art of Living are working tirelessly towards trauma relief, and providing long term sustainable solutions. They are focusing on healing mental wounds and conflicts through meditation, satsang and through several holistic Art of Living workshops.
“Thousands of people from these camps are finding these workshops as an effective outlet to release their trauma,” says Chandra Mohan Rai, a yuvacharya. “It is amazing to hear people share how they have been able to smile for the first time after the clashes.” Swami Divyanand, who is in Assam working with the riot hit families shares, “Gurudev met people of both the communities. They expressed that now that he has come, there will definitely be peace. Infact there is already a shift of energy in the atmosphere.”
“To travel hundreds of miles, meet thousands of people—who’ve lost homes, children and almost all hope in the nation— to interact and personally spend time with them in several relief camps, to meet representatives of various groups—student’s and political—to address the media in an attempt to bridge the gap between the ethnic and the mainstream, a vision for a violence free society and harmonious coexistence, and to instill the realization and power of spirituality in the world is not that easy a mission. But, the teachers and volunteers and the world wide family of The Art of Living is doing exactly that since more than thirty years on this planet. And this is only possible because the founder, mentor and Master, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji leads by example. His unflinching focus, vision, and unconditional love for mankind, his smile, patience, energy and diligence is an eternal source of inspiration for the millions he’s touched,” shares Deepak Sharma, previously a Businessman, now fully dedicated to teaching the Art of Living courses to the youth of Assam.
The world might wonder how spirituality might help lives in trauma. Opening up to a heart that is big enough to engulf all their problems nourishes their spirit, and that is all that is needed to invoke that glimmer of hope
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Writer: Eben Felix, Graphics: Niladri Dutta