Kiran Bedi has many firsts to her credit—first woman IPS officer in India, first woman head of Tihar, the largest prison in Asia-Pacific, first person to introduce vipassana meditation inside Tihar and turn the conventional attitude towards crime on its head.
VIPASSANA AT TIHARIn the early hours of the day during one of the (vipassana) courses, a sudden storm… resulted in the top and sides of the shamiana collapsing… All the rugs and the cushions were drenched. The stupendous efforts that went into 'setting the stage' were washed out…
Goenkaji and his wife surveyed the scene, which looked as if a rampaging mob had ransacked the place. Both of them, however, maintained their equanimity and they advised to continue the program saying that everything would be all right… The public address system transmitted the guru's instructions to the barracks, together with the soothing strains of music (that) succeeded in restoring a modicum of order and normalcy. The inmates, under the guidance of their teachers, began to concentrate on their meditation.
After breakfast, the weather began to clear, and a massive salvage operation was launched. A large phalanx of inmates, including those not attending the vipassana course, began the daunting task of restoring the devastated site. They carried more than 1,000 cushions outside the tent into the sun and put them to dry; sewed together numerous sections of torn material; reinstalled electric wires as well as the lights and the fans; mopped up areas with standing waters… By 7 p.m., the shamiana was ready again. Goenkaji's discourse was the first item on the agenda, and it was delivered as scheduled.
As each of the ten days of the course passed by, the transformation process was all-pervading. Within these high walls, there was a sense of liberation. There was discipline without fear; there was devotion without coercion…
After the final session of meditation on April 15, 1994, the congregation comprising around 1,100 persons including the inmates, the jail staff and some guests witnessed the momentous inauguration of the new center in Prison No. 4, which Goenkaji named Dhamma Tihar. On this occasion, the erudite Guruji chanted this hymn:
All the beings of this ashram
May their misery be eradicated.
May pure Dharma arise in the minds of all
Making them pure from deep within
Making them serene from deep within.
Excerpted with permission from It's Always Possible
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