Inmates of Khunti jail at an Art of Living workshop. Telegraph picture
Ranchi, Aug. 23: These days, Naxalite-hit Palamau commissionary area can hear more than just gunshots.
A silent revolution is sweeping across the hinterland with disciples of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar criss-crossing the terrain, spreading the message of peace.
Four disciples of Guruji are imparting Art of Living lessons to residents who have been living under the shadow of rebel-sponsored violence, urging them to shun the path of bloodshed and not help the rebels, directly or indirectly.
“In the past six months, we have trained about 1,000 schoolchildren and over 500 villagers of far-flung areas like Pratappur, Patan, Leslieganj, Barwadih among others. And we were successful in our mission. The youths have vowed to never go on the wrong path or resort to violence to press for a cause,” one of the disciples, Kala Alagappan, fondly referred to as Kalaji, told The Telegraph over phone from a remote village of Daltonganj.
Kalaji, who resides in Bangalore, and three of her companions — Ritu Chopra, a businesswoman from Delhi, and Lagun Mahto and Mahesh Kumar Ravi, both hailing from Ranchi, — have been camping in the area for over six months.
The four visit remote places to spread the message of peace and non-violence as preached by Guruji.
At Shajpur village of Palamau, the team is going to train 150 youths from August 25 under a week-long Youth Leadership Training Programme.
The same course was held for 49 youths of Barwadih village, Latehar, a Maoist hotbed that has witnessed many a violent incident.
The new followers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are expected to spread the spiritual guru’s message in their villages.
“We have not directly contacted the Maoists through any source to attend our courses. But we will never know if some of their cadres were among those who were imparted the Art of Living lessons,” Kalaji said.
While Youth Leadership Training Programme is a fully residential programme supposed to infuse positive energy into one’s life, other courses like Bal Chetna and Nav Chetna are aimed at inspiring schoolchildren and commoners.
Art of Living lessons are already popular among jail inmates. In 2009, some disciples of Guruji trained 45 prisoners — some of them Maoists — of Latehar jail. Sources said that once-dreaded Maoist Madanji’s wife and another rebel Satishji had even visited the Bangalore campus of Art of Living Foundation.
At present, Art of Living programmes are conducted at regular intervals at jails across the state, including Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi.
“The Art of Living courses are beneficial in many ways. We have held many sessions for the prisoners and find in them distinct behavioural changes,” said Deepak Vidyarthi, superintendent of Birsa Munda Central Jail.
He added that they had organised similar sessions for inmates of Giridih jail a couple of years ago.