I remember blood pouring from my head and everything going out of focus. The notebook my teacher thought I took from another classmate was discovered to be mine. But the bamboo stick had already punished me unfairly. It scarred more than my body; it hurt my self-esteem, my courage, and my openness to the world surrounding me. It would take a long time to recover from this traumatic experience at the tender age of seven.
My parents changed my school, but this did not stop the abuse that I went through in one form or the other. Moving from one school to another, I changed four schools in the next seven years. Slowly, I started to lag behind in my studies and became an introvert and a lonely child. In the 11th grade, my parents enrolled me in a renowned school 60 kms away from my house. I liked the school initially, but then things that I hesitate to write about happened there, and soon I felt completely excluded and useless.
I decided to end my life. “How else could I handle the madness?” I thought. I gulped 30 sleeping pills at my grandmother’s house, praying to the gods that I should never wake up. What followed that failed suicide attempt were a theft-and-run from home, an almost fatal fall down a well and other difficult family situations. I lived my life on the edge. Anything could make me trip and fall into a dark pit of no return.
And then one day in 2003, a friend introduced me to Isha Yoga.
After practicing the Shakti Chalana Kriya, the bicycle with a deflated tire that I had been riding up an unpaved road, began to fly in the air with powerful wings. The introverted Prabhu, who always felt inferior, started opening up to people, learning with focus, working diligently without distraction for hours, adding value to whatever he did.
This joyful new beginning turned into a lasting love affair. When I became part of Isha Vidhya in 2012, it was the most wonderful turning point in my life. I found myself in a different world, one in which adults respect children. Adults who see children as being closer to inner wisdom than themselves, who see children as being their teachers in many ways. These children would never be beaten or scared to death. I could see enthusiasm filling their happy eyes.
Seeing Isha Vidhya integrate sports and cultural wealth effortlessly with the rigors of modern academics helps me heal from my own childhood pain – my pain of enduring schools where there was no song, no dance, no music – in a nutshell, no life! We just went to class, copied the notes as instructed by the teacher, feared exams at the end of the year, and prayed for high marks. We went through the motions of an education, but we didn’t learn anything that really matters in life.
After being at Isha Vidhya for over five years, life feels truly worthwhile. Offering myself to these rural children who face heartbreaking life situations, has humbled me in a way that I can’t explain. The other day we went to meet Kuyili, a 2nd grade student in Cuddalore, who had her head and fingers heavily injured from a fire accident in her hut. Although she was permanently scarred, she still adorns herself with an everlasting smile. When I casually asked her mother if Kuyili had eaten lunch, the answer was “No.” No lunch was given to her as the school was off for that day. The noon meals at Isha Vidhya schools are often the only substantial meal many of the students receive.
Today, I help children like Kuyili to not only eat but to express their natural gifts, to expand in a supportive setting, to be empowered to dream of a life beyond the drudgery of poverty. I feel that I am living my childhood again, but this time it’s a happy and profound story of growing up blissfully.
I bow down to Sadhguru for making this joy possible in my life and for these children.
With every single action we perform, with every thought and emotion we generate, we can create a better situation around us. – Sadhguru
– Prabhu Loganathan is part of the administrative and fundraising team of Isha Vidhya.