adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Monday, February 22, 2010

suicide in the village

a woman's body was found in the river today. she committed suicide after her husband beat her. she ran from her home and jumped into the river. it made my heart heavy to hear the news. and yet it is what i am here for. or, to be clear, what the yoga is here for. to give these women a sense of goodness and connection to strength in themselves that can with stand the difficult storms.

life can be cruel. spread a little kindness. forgive someone who hurt you in the past. the wheel of dharma and human drama moves on.

i am in a village near benaras shooting the documentary about teaching yoga to lower caste women and children. it is all exactly as i could hope, and so it is terrifying. why is it terrifying when your dreams are coming true? i guess thats why its easier to play small and keep nursing the old wounds. this is like stepping off the edge of a cliff, what is possible, nobody knows. the faces of the children are so strong, the black eyes rimmed in khajol (black eyeliner). i sustain the gaze. even when i am afraid. even when it is all so much bigger than me.

i sat at the communal water pump today in this rural ghetto. the women and childeren are still so beautiful. even with dirty clothes and snotty noses.what constitutes poverty? lack of money and food? how many of us live in poverty of the heart and soul, isolated from what we love most. connection to beauty, to goodness. to a basic feeling that life is good.

i am frightened by the immensity of it. everywhere, the big eyes watching. doesn't it feel as if someone is always watching us? some call this god.

the little girls follow me through the streets calling me "didi", a hindi term of respect and endearment that means big sister. i have family everywhere in the world.

i pray for strength, peace of mind and courage, to look into the soul of the human condition which stirs things up in myself.

and so it is.


  1. Great work.

    But there is also a picture to be had at a more impersonal level.

    Suicide is an endemic part of the impoverishment of the countryside in India, look up Farmer's Suicides on Wikipedia.

    This is part and parcel of the Economic liberalisation policy since 1990. Look up "Republic of Hunger" on Google and the article by Utsa Patnaik.

    Which is not to say that what you are doing is not great, but the issues are indeed huge. One of the great tensions in India is between relgion and politics, and this is something you are involving yourself in, so tread carefully.

    I wonder how many Muslim women will attend your Yoga Sessions?

  2. Sad story Psalm... I hope your teaching gives your students peace and a sense of community...

  3. right now there aren't any muslims in this program, but that's because the village is predominantly hindu. you are right about farmers and suicides, but i think this has more to do with domestic violence...although that is connectred to poverty as well. even though there is domestic violence with wealthy families too, just usually more invisible.