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 come from a lower caste background in the state of Chhattisgarh. When I was a child at school I experienced a very deep kind of discrimination. The teachers always praised and supported the high-caste students, but they could not accept that I wanted to study biology and take the pre-med tests. In my region the state of education for low-caste people is very bad, and many of the poor students only come to school to get a meal because there is no food at home. The high caste people know that if the lower people get education it will make it harder to rule them, so they never give them a platform to get educated.
When I got older I became a youth leader in the BSP, a major political party representing lower caste people. As a District Vice-President in Chhattisgarh I traveled to many meetings, and at one meeting I met a graduate of Nagaloka who told me about Ambedkar and his social ideas. I had a lot of questions about how the lower caste people could improve their lives with the Dhamma, and after talking to him I decided that I should learn how to spread Buddhism. That’s why I decided to come to Nagaloka.
Before coming to Nagaloka I didn’t know anything about meditation, and I was very aggressive and prone to arguing. After being at Nagaloka I know that the only way to propagate Dr. Ambedkar’s ideas is through the peaceful revolution, the thoughtful revolution. We can establish our strength with the help of our minds, not our weapons. We will have to work peacefully to propagate Buddhism in the world.
I’m very delighted to interact with students from different states in India and find out about how they are working with Dr. Ambedkar’s mission in their area. We share ideas about how they work in their area and I tell them about what I do in my area. It makes me feel that in the future we can work together to spread Buddhism in India.
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.