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 Blooming Stars

Limited Freedom

             In my meditation today, a thought that has been with me all these years impinged upon my mind very forcefully. This thought in its germinal form many years ago formed the basis of the dream that gradually impelled me to return to India, whereas continuing to live in the United States would have been materially advantageous and more convenient. While I lived the most important years of my adult life (about 35 years), in the USA, and while I still spend part of every year in my ashram there, my spouse, born and brought up there holding also a lucrative job like myself, followed me to India out of her love and loyalty. In fact she prayed for me to leave a high paying job so I can engage in my God-given mission completely.

            She had to fully uproot herself and come to the opposite side of the globe. She does not speak the language (Malayalam). The cultural shock is enormous. While there in the U. S. I see her driving our Toyota Camry at the speed of 70-75 miles (113-121 kilometers) per hour like a free gazelle, I see her sitting or lying in the back seat of our car frightened by the mad, chaotic, unpredictable, dangerous, self-centered, and self-defeating driving of most of the Kerala drivers who do not take their turn creating a bottle-neck and delaying everyone including themselves. It is not that I cannot do in USA the psychological and spiritual work that I am doing in India. It is not that people there do not need my services as much as or even more than people in India.

            I also felt India, especially Kerala, is at crossroads, and is ready to receive what I would like to offer. Besides, I felt very few Indians want to return to India at least now from the “paradise” (USA). I may also note from my observations that in this age of information marked by instant communication, fast transportation, and considerable travel shrinking the world, India is importing the worst such as capitalistic cut-throat competition, acquiring unbridled wealth through quick and easy money, mindless technology and medical tests that may prolong life without quality while letting go of its best values and traditions such as tolerance, non-violence, cooperative living, self-sufficiency, closeness to earth, growing food, and dying at home among loved ones. Proven Gandhian models of satyagraha (truth force) and ahimsa (non-violence) are more practised in the West than in the East.

            After 50 years of being away from Kerala, I was appalled on my return to see a Kerala where there is less freedom, less safety and security especially for women than when I left. A highly educated woman who worked in a well-known college told me that women in Kerala are considered to be the kalippattangal (play-objects or toys) of men. A principal of the college who was a priest tried to rape her; a faculty member tried to violate her; she had to keep another faculty member away from her away from her with difficulty while she ran for her life. I asked her why she did not report. Her response was that they (college authorities as well as the police) would not believe her since she was a woman and especially since she was an un-married woman, and since bad elements in the college were spreading rumors that she was a prostitute. She also told me that even priests including her close relatives would not believe in her integrity. Interestingly, she only draws a pension of Rs. 10,000 per month from the government upon retirement instead of the usual Rs. 25,000 per month because of her qualification Sheer callousness and possible vindictiveness of the college principal and management did not allow her to receive her due pension.


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