Self Defense Week for Ladies
8th to 12th October 2013
In the below article by Kriyaban Shri. Atul Bidvai writes about the need for such a program, the challenges faced by the foundation; and summarizes the entire program.
'Self Defense for Women' Week ? A Perspective
Koti Koti Pranaams at the Lotus Feet of Param Pujya Sadguru Yogiraj Sri Sri Mangeshda !
Traditionally, in Indian culture women have always played a very important role in family life be it as a grandmother, mother, sister, wife or daughter. But apart from family life, they have also played an important role in society as a whole. Our rich history is full of examples of the courage and bravery of women right from Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Ahilyabai Holkar, Savitribai Phule, to more contemporary ones like Sarojini Naidu and Indira Gandhi. These women not only fought wars against various external enemies but also the internal enemies, namely social evils. They championed causes like - an end to slavery, untouchability, social injustice, education for women etc. In present times too, women have made a mark for themselves in every field one can think of ? the armed forces, the police force, the corporate world, the aviation industry and they have even gone as far as exploring outer space ? Kalpana Chawla, for example.
Having said this, why is it so that even today, in the 21st century, India as a country still battles with so many atrocities against women ? domestic violence, dowry harassment, female infanticide, chain-snatching while women are walking down the road, attacks on elderly women staying alone at home, eve-teasing, molestation, sexual harassment ?at home, at work and in the society in general. And as if that is not enough, 'Rape' is the one word or act which sadly has become a household name in India post the most inhuman Delhi Gang Rape, shaking the collective conscience of the nation. Just as we were coming to grips with it, another Gang Rape took place at The Shakti Mills in Mumbai. We are speaking more about these two cases because of the extensive media coverage both were given as one crime was committed in the nation's capital and the other in its commercial capital, long considered a very safe city for women. Many more happen every day in all parts of our country and sadly most go unreported. Even girls as young as 4 years or mentally or visually challenged girls are not spared.
And to add to these shocking events, recently a so-called self-styled Spiritual Master was accused of sexually harassing women. The very person expected to offer hope and give solace in these troubled times was the perpetrator of the crime against women. So very disgusting!
Why, suddenly has our society become so atrocious towards women? Not that these crimes didn't happen in the past, but in recent years they are on a dangerously increasing trend. Once upon a time, we used to hear that somewhere someone got molested or raped and such news were few and far between. But today, almost every day the print and television media carries such news so very often. In fact, nowadays every family who has a girl or woman who is studying / working outside the home is worried till the time the girl or woman returns home. It is really shameful that as a society we have come down to this level.
Even our image as a nation and as a respectable society has taken a beating internationally. On a recent tour to propagate and teach Kriya Yoga in the U.S. and Canada, our Param Pujya Sadguru Yogiraj Sri Sri Mangeshda came across an Indian settled there who actually expressed his shame on being an Indian and questioned Sadguruji as to what steps Spiritual Leaders like Him would take to tackle this growing social menace. Being a staunch Indian at heart, Sadguruji was deeply hurt that His beloved country was being maligned by its very own people settled abroad.
How come our women have become so weak and submissive, so as to bear and tolerate all this silently? Who is responsible? Is it only the perpetrators of such crimes or the attitude of our society which has taken the stature of women for granted? Or is it the 'heads-down-mouth-shut' personality projected by most women, responsible?
It is against this backdrop and as a fitting answer to the above questions, Sadguruji decided to conduct the much needed 'Self Defense for Women' program. His sole purpose was to empower women and make them aware of the true power that lies within them. Being a black-belt in Karate Himself and having won the gold medal at Asian Karate Championships in Japan made Him the most ideal person to lead this program. Sadguru Yogiraj Sri Sri Mangeshda is probably the first-ever Spiritual Guru to design and personally conduct such a program for girls and women of all ages and from various strata of society.
Sadguru Mangeshda Kriya Yoga Foundation led by Sadguruji from the front, conducted the first ever 'Self Defense for Women' Week from 08th October to 12th October 2013 across Mumbai. Sadguruji specifically decided to conduct this event during the auspicious Navratri and Durga Puja festival when the most revered Goddesses 'Durga' & 'Kali' which epitomize 'Shakti', are worshipped all over the country.
The grand opening event was held on 08th October at Vivekananda Education Society's Engineering and Polytechnic College in Chembur with hundreds of college students along with the Trustees, Faculty and Staff whole-heartedly participating in the event. Kudos to our organizer Kriyaban Priti Vasudevan for facilitating this event in close co-ordination with Ms. Pia Banerjee, Director of VESLAR (Vivekananda Educations Society's Learning and Research Center), who offered great assistance for conducting this program at the college. Along with Ms. Pia, even the Managing Trustee Mr. Jeswani were highly impressed and praised Sadguruji's immediate connect with the students and the high-energy that He created while conducting the program. It was a very interactive session with active participation from everyone.
This was followed by the program at Mahila Adhaar Ashram (an NGO supporting under-priviledged women) at Poinsur in Kandivali on 09th October which again was attended by hundreds of women from Kandivali and Borivali areas. Kudos to our Kriyaban Hemangi Poojari who facilitated this event by co-ordinating with the BJP's Mahila Morcha and had specially met the local BJP MLA Mr. Gopal Shetty who whole-heartedly supported this event. A number of local women Municipal Corporators participated in the event and thanked Sadguruji for this unique initiative.
The next program on 10th October was at Sadguruji's own college ? Sathaye College in Vile Parle where Sadguruji had done His college education, formerly known as Parle College, during His time there. Once again the program was conducted in a house-full auditorium packed to capacity with hundreds of students, Faculty and Staff. The Women's Development Cell and the NSS teams of the college whole-heartedly supported the event facilitated by Professor Sinha and Professor Bharati, ex-classmates of Sadguruji. Here, in His speech Sadguruji was very nostalgic and shared memories of how, even during His college days, He fought against social evils and anti-social elements thus keeping them away from the college. Mrs. Rege, Principal of Sathaye College was proud that Sadguruji, an ex-student of the college had undertaken such an initiative and she praised Him very highly for the same.
Last but not the least, was the Grand Finale at Asmita Vidyalaya in Jogeshwari East on 12th October facilitated by Kriyaban Nilesh Ambre. The Guest of Honour for this event was Dr. Uday Nirgudkar, Chief Editor & Head of Zee 24 Taas, the premier news channel which was the media partner and had covered all the events of the 'Self Defense for Women' Week and shown them on Zee 24 Taas. What a super finale it was, attended by hundreds of women from all over Mumbai. Dr. Uday showered elaborate praises on Sadguruji saying He is presently the only Spiritual Guru,out of the many whom he has interacted with personally, to have Himself come out on the field and conducted many socially important programs like the 'Eye Pledge ? We Pledge' earlier and now this 'Self defense for Women' Week. Dr. Uday also said that after the great Marathi Saint ? Samarth Ramdas Swami, he felt Sadguru Yogiraj Sri Sri Mangeshda was truly bringing about a great social revolution with the kind of social causes He is leading from the front.
Well, although it is highly improbable for anyone to teach martial arts in a short span of 2-3 hours which was the duration of each event, Sadguruji conducted the program is His own unique way making it very interactive with the participants. He gave practical training and live demonstrations involving the participants themselves, on some very useful techniques based on martial arts, which every woman (no matter what her age) could effectively use to thwart an attack on her, like ? shouting loudly in the attackers ears to shock him, Punching, Kicking and Pushing in the right manner, Concentrating one's force and hitting at certain delicate parts of the attackers body, using chilli powder or safety pins and many more. Sadguruji also stressed how alertness of the mind while using public transport at odd hours and some smart thinking like noting the autorikshaw number and speaking about it loudly over phone (so that the driver can hear) to relatives at home would prevent the autorikshaw driver from doing anything untoward, especially during odd hours. Many more important tips were shared by Sadguruji with one and all to empower them with the tools necessary for self-protection, no matter what the circumstances.
Along with the physical training aspects, Sadguruji encouraged the participants to be mentally bold and brave in order to be able to protect themselves rather than being dependent on anyone else. He focused more on changing the overall mental set-up of the girls and women present by encouraging them to come out of their submissive shells and be aggressive enough to take necessary action when it mattered. Sadguruji asked the participants to contemplate on changing their attitude towards the 'why' and 'how' of sexual harassment of all kinds in all places, so that they can practically and effectively pre-empt and prevent it.
It must be mentioned here, that just a day before the start of this event Sadguruji had suffered damage to one of the nerves of his eye, restricting his vision to a great extent. In fact, the very next day, with the event in full flow, Sadguruji could barely see anything. But even under these trying circumstances, Sadguruji, as always, remained firm on His commitment and conducted every program with great enthusiasm, fervor and super-high energy levels. It is indeed remarkable! We all know the kind of pressure and pain Sadguruji had to endure personally as He did tremendous physical activity even when He was advised complete rest by doctors, to ensure the grand success of this 'Self Defense for Women' Week program.
This program has now become such a huge hit that many schools, colleges, NGOs, Corporates and other social organizations are coming forward requesting Sadguruji and the Sadguru Mangeshda Kriya Yoga Foundation to conduct this program for them. In the near future we will see many such 'Self Defense for Women' programs being conducted all over the country by the Sadguru Mangeshda Kriya Yoga Foundation.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you Sadguruji for conducting this amazing 'Self Defense for Women' program and empowering women to bring out the true 'Shakti' within them. Jai Ho!!!
by Kriyaban Shri.Atul Bidvai