Category Archives: Politics

Kumare changed my life

Sri Kumaré is a revered Yoga Master, often known to his contemporaries as Adarsha or “The Mirror.” He is the current torchbearer of the Kumaré lineage and a respected, charismatic teacher of Yogic Science. Sri Kumaré is known for his youthful energy, transformative philosophy, and divine blessing.

But Kumaré is not real. He is an American filmmaker named Vikram Gandhi, who has transformed himself into Kumaré as the centerpiece of a social experiment designed to explore and test one of the world’s most sacred taboos. Concealing his true identity from all he meets, Kumaré forges profound, spiritual connections with real people from all walks of life. At the same time, in the absurdity of living as an entirely different person, Vikram the filmmaker is forced to confront difficult questions about his own identity. At the height of his popularity he reveals his greatest teaching: his true self. A playful yet genuine and insightful look at belief and spirituality, the film crosses a line few have dared to cross, all to discover: from illusion comes truth.

 

The Men Who Stop Traffic

Oct 22, 2011 via The National by Helena Frith Powell

Parashu ML, left, and Stanly KV started rescuing victims of trafficking more than 20 years ago.
Sitting across a table from these two softly-spoken, unassuming middle-aged men it’s hard to imagine them picking fights with pimps or collecting court summonses with a shrug of the shoulders; but Stanly KV and Parashu ML have been raiding brothels and private homes to rescue girls, boys and women for the past 20 years. Sometimes with the aid of the police, sometimes in spite of the police, these two quiet men of Mysore have kicked in doors and traded blows with traffickers to help free more than 2,000 victims across southern India.

The pair run Odanadi – meaning “soul mate” – an organisation that provides refuge, counselling, education and rehabilitation for up to 85 victims of trafficking at a time. They have taken in scores of domestic slaves and bonded labourers. They’ve raided 60 brothels and secured the convictions of 137 sex traffickers.

Impressive figures. But then the problem is on a massive scale. The Indian government’s own figures put the amount of people in some way involved in human trafficking – the illegal trade in people for the purposes of slavery, commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour – at around 100 million. Of those, 1.2 million are children.

But this fight did not start as a crusade against seemingly insurmountable odds; instead, they were shamed into it.

In the late 1980s, the two young friends worked together as newspaper journalists so closely their byline read simply ‘Stanly Parashu’. It was while conducting interviews for a piece on Dalits – members of India’s strict hierarchical system born below even the lowest caste – that they were challenged by a woman in the street.

 

“Her name was Radhamma,” Stanly says. “She was a prostitute, lower in social standing than even Dalits.

“She asked us: ‘What do you do with the story of these poor people? You write about them, get yourselves a good name, but these people get nothing in return. They think you are a saviour but you don’t come back.’ That really pricked our egos,” says Stanly.

Stung by the criticism, the men turned their attention towards one of India’s greatest taboos – prostitution – starting with Radhamma herself.

“Radhamma had been a housewife,” Stanly says. “But her husband took her to Bombay and sold her to a brothel. When he returned home without her he explained to her family she had run off with another man. He then married his wife’s sister.”

After two years Radhamma managed to escape the brothel and return to her village, now with a child fathered by a client. But her family believed her husband’s story and she was cast out, ending up living on the street working as a prostitute, depending on 10 clients a day to earn enough money to live on and send her son to school.

 

Radhamma had been working the streets for 10 years when Stanly and Parashu met her.

“We wanted to help, to give her financial support, and look after the boy’s education,” says Stanly.

Although they gave her a little cash and arranged for local restaurants to feed her son, Nanjumda, Radhamma found resistance to her change in circumstances too much to bear.

“When we returned a fortnight later, we found her again on the street in the same filthy condition,” Stanly says. “She said: ‘You gave me money but money is not changing my life. No one is accepting me, people are bothering me, police are harassing me.’ ”

Prostitutes coming under the police spotlight are treated with little sympathy.

“Women were dragged by their hair; there were no policewomen in those days,” Parashu says. “The male officers would drag them to the police station half-nude. “No one would ask the authorities about this violation of their human rights. We told the police that these ladies are citizens, human beings. We asked them to treat them humanely.

“We started questioning this ill-treatment and dragged chairs into the offices for the women to sit on instead of being forced to stand in the corner of the police station,” says Parashu. “This started the gap to open between the police and us.” Next page

 

Toms, Tic-Tacs and Pop Tarts – Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Yoga Mat

Foreignpolicy.com’s “A visual history of the West’s misguided attempts to send its hand-me-downs to the developing world.”

Yoga helps addicts, homeless find peace

via Ashtanga Yoga New York

link to video

The Largest School Lunch Program on Earth

From Religion and Ethics Weekly
September 16, 2011
Watch @PBS
Akshaya Patra

 

USA- It is easier to get richer if you already are

NPR: Economy

“Making it in the US: More than just hard work”
September 15, 2011
listen

Put your yoga where your mouth/wallet/etc. is

A couple of well-timed blog posts at Think Body Electric and Tikkun Daily.

An excerpt from “Politics, Spirituality, and Postmodern Malaise“:

Really taking it all in like that, however, is fucking hard. And it poses a challenge that’s utterly absent in the way that these ideas tend to manifest in yoga circles, where there’s an implicit insistence that being properly “spiritual” means staying locked inside some pastel-colored bubble where everything looks beautiful and right and good – PERIOD. No unpleasant issues raised; no difficult questions asked.

And from “Yoga for War:  Politics of the Divine“:

Does any of this upset your yogic sensibilities? Do you think there should be no OM in the office? No bakasana on the battleship? No hero pose in boot camp? Isn’t yoga about peace, compassion and love?

I highlight these examples not because I think yoga doesn’t belong in the army, but rather to question an assumption many yoga and spiritual practitioners make. It’s the belief that spiritual liberation is inherently socially or culturally revolutionary.

Living Yoga: The Life and Teachings of Swami Satchidananda

Watch trailer:

Watch full film online here:

BBC India: Bangalore stops Google Street View

21 June 2011 Last updated at 05:50 ET

India: Bangalore stops Google Street View

Google has stopped collecting images for its Street View service in the southern Indian city of Bangalore after objections from police.

Police in Bangalore said they had security concerns and that Bangalore was a “highly sensitive” area.

Google launched its project to collect high definition images to give Google users 360 degree views of streets only last month in Bangalore.

Google data collection has caused concern in numerous countries.

Cameras mounted on cars and tricycles had been taking pictures in streets across Bangalore.  continue reading at bbc

The Lululemon Manifesto

via yogadork