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Transformative Non-Violence and Peace Education

Interview with Krishna Kumar about possibilities of Yoga & Meditation as a transformative tool for Non-Violence and Peace Education

Why did you decide to start a Yoga Centre in Alathur?

Krishna: After leaving collegue I had the strong desire to do something completely different which whould be beneficial for society. But I never knew what I was going to do and how I would do it. In 2002 I had the opportunity to visit a workshop in Pathna, Bihar together with Ekta Parishad. That was a new experience for me in terms of how an organisation can take action for people and their rights in a non violent way. Back then I wasn’t really aware of the method of non-violence, social change and Gandhi. In 2003, as a part of a padhiyatra in Chattisgarh I was able meet Rajghopal R.V. who gave me great inspiration to get to know more about the issues of common people. While being a part of these actions, my own desire was triggered to search for some form of social activism.

We always speak about social change and many institutions are dealing with this question but I was wondering how the transformation of NV can happen?

K: If you speak about NV as a tool to change society, the goal should be for people to internalise the idea of NV and to clarify its meaning. I found this missing in most areas. Politicial transformation in the sense of gandhians is understood by a limited number of people even though tousands of people joined the march. Then I had the chance to join a trainer’s workshop in Nepal with Rajajii for two weeks which gave me the conceptual clearance of NV. That’s how I was able to personally internalise this concept. After that I tried to apply it in Alathur and Bhodi started.

We started Bodhi as a Yoga Center in December 2006 with the help of my close friends and my brothers. Bodhi is connected with Buddha through the symbol of the tree which was his place of enlightment. During that time I was slowly internalising the concept of NV and also the need of internal transformation among the people. So I started to ask myself how we can bring the concept of NV to the people without speaking about it and what possibilities we have to transform the idea to others.

How do you connect Yoga and Meditation with the idea of Nonviolence and peace?

My inner voice was telling me, that Yoga and a strong connection to nature can act as the missing part to transform NV and Peace with the importance of Nature which of which we are a part of. Then I found out that yoga and meditation as a medium helps me to understand more about natural healing methods. Later on I had the opportunity to visit a peace education workshop in Sri Lanka, which helped me to go even deeper. I felt that I don’t want be a leader but my focus should be on the transforming of internal change. With Bodhi I wanted to create a possibility to design instant programms like a variety of meditations and yoga practises as well as workshops on organic and natural food. Now people are coming here, learning and exercising Yoga and also speak about Peace and NV, while doing workshops. I feel that Yoga can be an affective tool to create awarness and confidence in one’s self which is very important in a world which is teaching us to be more and more dependent on others.

What is the current challenge for people nowadays?

There is a big need so sentisie people with alternatives and opportunities to change personal issues and habits. Once you relate to Yoga, Meditation and natural body techniques your health will be in your hands. This helps us to develop an internal process and to realise more about the violence which is going on around us. Twelve times a year we conduct a course with interested people about organic kitchen gardening, Yoga and Meditation but also about risks and issues which follows up through unhealthy food and liquids. That’s why Yoga, organic farming and natural cooking could be a perfect combination which is missing nowadays. There is a big need of developing the capacity of individuals to think about the traps they are stepping into. We try to expand Bodhi as a „people center“ for sharing, experiencing and trying out new ways of living and to connect with the society. Now we are thinking about some modules which help the people to realise the violence they are involved in (direct and indirect).

I can clearly say that the possibilities of treatment are inappropriate nowadays. Once the food culture is lost, everything is lost. People are totally confused about what is useful for them. When we ask people what they are eating and where it is coming from it triggers some part of their mind and body. Revival of a regional food culture is an important area. When we are speaking about food we are speaking about doing farming, planting trees and connecting with nature.

Everyone is stressed, the system forces people into competition against each other, more and more pressure is put upon individuals and it’s a big find alternatives. Yoga and all these methods give relief and relaxation, that’s why we try to give people the opportunity to forget about junkfood and to do something for their health. Food and Health issues is an area where nobody can say no, this is the place where we can break all the sects and fragmentations.

What initiatives do you have planned next?

We initiated a campaign to make people conscious about what and how the food they buy and use is produced. We are adressing the people, not the goverment because the people demand the junkfood so this is the area we have to focus on. Nonviolence education should sensitise the people for this ongoing process. If we can highlight one issue per year people may start thinking about their habits and the food culture will change. Moving towards organic farming is a way to the self and to the nature. Making people think about the society they are living in is the biggest challenge. If we can win a new generation who live a culture of respecting one another and other views then we can erase the judgment and framing in present world. 

The culture of developing dialoge space has not changed – Ekta Parishad is working on this issue. We can nowadays see a lot of social institutions which are highly institutionalised and professional which keeps the common people away. We want to break the frames, break the conditions to make it as accessible for common people. We have the freedom to design and do it our way, we always try to adjust while doing workshops or adressing people. Working with children, working with youth, rawfruit training camp, meditation days – these kind of diversive programms can motivate many different people. In the future I would like to build a library and an office, a herbal fencing project and a permanent fruit and vegetable garden, where people can come an enjoy the food and work in the field. 

 

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