Woman of substance: Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Posted on: Wednesday, October 30, 2013


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She has touched and transformed the lives of countless lesser privileged children through her awe-inspiring initiatives. On the eve of International Day of the girl child, Director of women and Childcare Projects and Chiarperson International Women's Conference, Bhanumathi Narasimhan focuses on the primary need to uplift and educate the girl child to bring about a social transformation and reinforce human values.

1. Today, India seems to be in a cross fire of women issues from domestic violence and rape. What are your views about the condition? How can we change this?
The issue of violence against women should not be looked at merely as a women's rights issue. If women do not feel safe, the very fabric of society is torn apart. It is a human rights issue, and both men and women have to stand up together to fight against this injustice, and come up with solutions.

We also need to know that anxiety and aggression will not lead us to a solution. We need a calm mind and in that space of clarity, decide what we want to fight for and how we want to do it. Long-lasting sustainable solutions will emerge only when we tackle issues with calmness and clarity. We need to rekindle the spirit of compassion in men and women everywhere. This is where meditation, breathing techniques, and other spiritual practices help. They free us from the accumulated stress and allow our mind to be refreshed and re-energized, thus enabling us to take proper decisions.


2. You have been highly instrumental in bringing education to the rural and underprivileged children in India. Can you speak to us about your passion for education?
During the past three decades, we have been committed to bringing education to the rural and underprivileged children in India. The parents of these children send them to the farms or as domestic help. They are illiterate and do not dream of an education for their daughters. They are mostly under-nourished and hardly ever get to eat more than one meal a day. Initially, the mid-day meals provided at the school enthuses the parents to send the children to the school. We give them new uniforms, books, schoolbags and also send school buses to the villages to transport them. When you see the children, how clean and bright they are in comparison to the condition of their homes, it is really amazing! They meditate everyday and practice some yoga and breathing techniques meant for children. This keeps them free from the stresses of poverty and domestic violence they are faced with when they return home everyday. These free schools, 383 in various remote locations across India, provide holistic value-based education and have been successful in shaping the lives of these children into successful pillars of society un-affected nor limited by their backgrounds of poverty, illiteracy or domestic violence. However, there are the innate values of caring and sharing that is abundant in the villages of India. These family values must be emulated and encouraged further.

3. The challenges of female feticide are numerous. What can ordinary women do to meet the challenges and bring about transformation?
We have to educate our people to honour life beyond gender. This is a glaring fact that human values are eroding. It shows the lack of proper education and dip in the evolution. In fact, educated people are engaging in sex selection. This shows the lack of basic values. We need to raise our voice against this heinous crime. It is not in our nature - it is wrong indoctrination. More than blaming anyone else, we need to educate our own women to stand up against this crime.

4. You have been a meditation teacher for many years. What role does spirituality, meditation plan in combating social challenges?
Spirituality is about honouring life, nurturing human values.
it is time for us to recognize that the root cause for societal ills is the erosion of human values. Each one of us needs to come to the forefront and take responsibility to re-establish a caring and sharing attitude, a sense of belongingness, a commitment to serve - the core spiritual values that are the basis for a healthy, happy and harmonious society.

5. Please elaborate on your initiatives to safeguard the initiatives of the girl child.
An ancient Sanskrit adage, 'Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge' says that in this age, there is strength in the union of the hearts and minds of people. The collective energy of thousands, with the intention of reviving human values, can bring about a far greater transformation in society than individual effort.

Our international women's conferences do just this. Women from over 80 countries have come together to share and learn from each another. These conferences are unique in their capacity to tap the source of energy and enthusiasm in the speakers and delegates. They are vibrant and inspire the delegates to serve and catalyze positive change in their respective countries. They go back and work to safeguard and uphold

6. Looking back, how has your journey been? Are you happy with your accomplishments?
I have been teaching meditation all over the world for the past 30 years. I also look after the women and child welfare programmes of the Art of Living.

Wherever you go, people want peace. People want happiness. This search is common and meditation can bring you that peace and help you recognize that you are the source. Wherever I go, when I see the smile on people's faces and the gratitude in their eyes, I know that the power of meditation has touched and transformed their lives for the better and that is enough for me.

7.  What sort of a future do you envision? What are your future plans?
I would like every woman to come to the forefront and take responsibility. I would like them to become the light of leadership with a passion to serve humanity.

Only a lit candle can light another and when the light is of inspiration, it spreads like wildfire. Being the sister and disciple of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, I am inspired and share his vision for creating a stress-free, violence-free society. I want every woman who works with me to share this same vision.

Source: Wonder Women


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