The town I came from has a strong problem with caste, and there is superstition about women’s education and literacy. I am the first girl to come out of my village this far for an education. When I came to Nagaloka from Orissa it was the first train trip I had ever taken. In the first month I had big problems with language since I couldn’t speak Hindi. But by the sixth month of the program I was enjoying everything. I did very well in my studies, and since I graduated other girls from Orissa have come here.
I feel that meditation has a deep impact on my personality. I feel that just like food is important for the body, meditation is now very important for my mind and my mental satisfaction.
I didn’t know anything at all about Dr. Ambedkar before I came to Nagaloka. There was one day in high school where they talked about the Buddha, but nothing more than that. Nobody in Orissa talks about Dr. Ambedkar – even in the schools. When I came to know about Dr. Ambedkar I was very surprised about how he could do so much work and how he introduced things for people of his background. I was inspired by him.
At Nagaloka a teacher came here and taught us about social work and what we could do in the remote village areas. So when I went back to Orissa I formed an organization with my friends who had been at Nagaloka. We went out and gathered the poor low-caste children that were staying in the forest and the mountains and tried to give them some education. We told them about Dr. Ambedkar and gave them ideas about how they could change their lives.
I have had a wonderful time at Nagaloka. I didn’t know about Buddhism before I came to Nagaloka, and I have learned that the Buddha was against the caste system and denied Hindu rituals and superstition. He emphasized equality, brotherhood, kindness and metta.
I never meditated before I came to Nagaloka, but now I am doing very well with meditation. It is helpful for reducing feelings of envy or bad feelings for friends and other people in society.
Earlier I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to do something better for the life of the people. But then I thought, ‘If I go to the villages and directly interact with the lives of the people, that is not less than being a doctor.’ So I changed the goal of my life and decided to be a social worker. I have completed secondary school and want to do a three-year college degree so I can study sociology and work on social reform.
I would like to tell people in the US, if you want to be happier and see some change in your life, come and visit Nagaloka and it will change your life. Simply after watching things here you will feel that you are in the heaven. This will help you to get a new glimpse of your life.