Combining spirituality and social work

Shuddananda Brahmachari

Shuddananda Brahmachari  

THIS SPIRITUAL leader better known in West Bengal and the North-East than in Karnataka considers assisting rural women's self-help groups a part of his work.

"Teaching spirituality and active social service are the two main activities of Lokenath Divine Life Mission in Kolkata," says Swami Shuddananda Brahmachari, who is in the city teaching executive and information-technology professionals how to overcome stress.

"I also work among students and teachers of schools, colleges, and universities because I feel today's students are intelligent and energetic but lack proper direction. It is not their failure but that of the curriculum, which is not founded on the principles of one's inner life'' the swami says. This was one reason why students are increasingly stressed out, according to him.

The Lokenath Mission is also active in training spiritual teachers who can teach others the art of meditation and "to anchor oneself in spirituality and not ego," he says. Parents and children often share little in common and this gap has to be bridged, he feels.

The mission's approach towards social work is not through charity but by encouraging and nurturing the dignity of the human spirit, the Swami says. "We already have this model in West Bengal where 1,000 self-help groups have been promoted with success. I talked about it at a presentation in Barcelona earlier this month," he explained.

He wants to bring about a similar change among the rural poor in Karnataka and is saddened by the spate of suicides by impoverished farmers in the State. "We cannot solve this problem by just handing out money to their families. They have to be helped to become self-supporting and, for this, access to funds has to be created. Over a course of time, the farmers and, especially rural women, should have access to a corpus of funds created by themselves."

Rural transformation can come about if educated people spend some time in villages and even join in farm work, he believes. The mission is now looking for student volunteers, especially those studying social work courses.

K. Satyamurty

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