Shakti - an impactful initiative

SHAKTI

an
impactful initiative
by anandmurti gurumaa

to save
to educate
to empower

the girl child

Talks

Talk at Vivekananda College: Don't Call Me Devi!

O Girls! How do you feel when you are addressed as ‘Devi’?
When this question was put to an assembly of girls gathered to listen to Her Holiness Anandmurti Gurumaa, in the auditorium of Vivekananda College for girls, there was a mixed response with a few not knowing what to say. So to make them think, Gurumaa said, “When you are asked a question, you should have the courage to answer or else you will become vulnerable to injustice.” Inspired by this, many spoke up. Thus began the talk…
Well, you should never feel good about being called a devi, because then you are not even considered a human being. Your right to be a human being is taken away from you in the name of devi. Just think! What are the expectations from a devi: You should be a giver; you should sacrifice; you should not speak even when faced with injustice, and everything else that can be termed as exploitation. Such is the upbringing of every girl in India! She is conditioned to see herself as weaker than men and to succumb to this male-dominated society. So don’t feel happy to be called a devi but rather ask for your human rights and avail of them.
Big question for you all: Why do you come to college? What is your purpose? Does it only give you the freedom to step out of the four-walls of your house, or are you really interested in learning and educating yourself? I congratulate all those who are sincere in their studies, but I also know that there are many who come to college to have a good-time and gossip about their favourite topics like fashion, romance etc. Life is more than fashion and romance. Don’t just focus on looking beautiful but also pay attention to evolving your intellect. And do not under-estimate the importance of education in life, especially for girls.
I travel around the world and get to meet several women. I have heard stories of women who are facing adversities in their life just because they are not educated, and hence they end up being dependent on men who then take undue advantage of them. In India it is a normal practice to marry off a girl at the very young age of 20-25yrs. And it is also seen that girls just drop their education mid-way, as soon as they get married; marriage is seen as the only purpose of educating girls! But what is the guarantee that your husband will always be there with you? What if he dies before you? Have you ever thought what will happen to you then? And do you have any idea about the life of a widow? The treatment meted out to widows in India is extremely biased. They are considered a curse, forbidden to socialize, and thus end up becoming a victim of society.
It is this society only that has laid down the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for girls during menstruation. Even today in twenty-first century India, many conservative gurus and pundits propagate such idiosyncrasies as a woman being impure during her periods. The height of superstition in India is that women are told not to touch pickles during their periods as the pickle will spoil! A woman is not allowed to enter temples, to worship god, and what not- the list is endless. To break through this myth, I asked two lady scientists to conduct a research on menstruating women. They not only made six hundred menstruating women from different parts of the country touch pickles for three months, but also made them prepare pickles. The pickles were sealed and kept under observation. Not a single jar of pickle went bad! Menstruation is a sign of a girl’s fertility; if the girl doesn’t menstruate, then she will never become a mother. This is the system nature has given to a woman. How can a system given by nature be impure? Due to her periods, she is able to become a mother and can give birth to a child and bring a new life into the world.
I don’t want you to become victims; I want you all to evolve and secure yourselves physically, mentally and financially. You should learn martial arts to develop the physical ability to protect yourself. Why do you need to depend on any male to save you from any difficult circumstance? Empower yourself and equip yourself such that you become your own protector. You should learn meditation to explore your inherent potential and to be in a state of peace and calm.
When a boy is educated, an individual is educated but rather when a girl is educated, the whole generation is educated as she will further educate the children and girls in her family. Yet girls are given discriminatory treatment by their own parents!
It is this very mindset which is the root cause of the menace of female foeticide and infanticide. The sharp decline in the number of girls per thousand boys indicates that many people resort to such cruel practices. You should be thankful to your parents for they didn’t kill you in the womb, and for giving you an opportunity to acquire knowledge. If you come across any woman who is going in for a sex determination test with the intention of resorting to foeticide, just make her aware of the cruelty of her act, and save the life of the child to be.
A woman is a creator; she is blessed with the ability to give birth. No man can ever match this ability because he doesn’t have a womb to give birth. In an attempt to become creators, men strive to paint, climb mountains and engage in other such activities. It is sad that the creator of life is killed and not given a chance to be born. You can make a difference by setting an example of your own life as well as creating awareness around you.
Now let me share with you about two of the efficacious methods of meditation which are a boon for students. Students often complain about forgetting their studies and not being able to retain for long what they have learnt. The major reason for this is that your mind isn’t integrated. It has too many thoughts regarding several issues in your life. When you study, you not only study but think about so many other things at the same time. To sharpen your memory, you should learn the techniques of Tratak and Yoga Nidra.
Tratak is an ancient technique which helps to improve concentration and integrates the mind. Yoga Nidra is also an ancient technique devised and used by our sages, to activate the dormant areas of the human body and mind. Albert Einstein, the famous scientist is supposed to have used just 8% of his brain’s capacity! This indicates the extent of the capabilities of the human brain. Both the techniques are power-tools to unleash your potential to its optimum.
Swami Vivekananda is often cited for his remarkable intelligence and memory. In one instance, when the loan of a book from a scientist’s library was refused to him, he asked for permission to read it there and then. This instance is amazing in that he not only read the complete book in just three hours, but also understood and shared his understanding with the scientist! The secret of his prodigious memory is Yoga Nidra.
In Yoga Nidra, one is required to move consciousness to different parts of the body, followed by a reverse counting of breaths and then to resolve – resolve is very important as whatever you resolve at that time in Yoga Nidra will definitely become a reality. So always make a creative and constructive resolve to make your life beautiful. Regular practice of this technique can awaken the power of intuition and many other dormant capabilities.
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Shakti in Action

Milestone Achievement of Shakti Udaan

They were overjoyed and thrilled. Their eyes were reflecting their bright future. Their words were ringing with deep gratitude. Their love for the master knew no bounds. These are the girls of Shakti Udaan who were excitedly awaiting the inauguration of their centre’s new building at Kaithal by the auspicious hands of Anandmurti Gurumaa. As the revered master inaugurated the centre and lighted the lamp, it was as if the lives of these girls got brightened with the dawn of talent and training. All of them applauded with zeal and zest welcoming the master who is their inspiration, their confidence, their hope and their guiding source.
marked the milestone achievement for Shakti Udaan which began with just 30 girls and has grown over a period of four years to a family of 325 girls. Where do these girls come from? They are from such families where far from education, mere survival is a big question. In some cases the girls are married off at a young age and their husbands are missing, so they are left to struggle endlessly. But Shakti is enabling them to equip themselves with vocational skills whereby they can earn a decent living for themselves and support their families too. They don’t need to endure any discrimination, or depend on anyone, or feel helpless - rather they can live with dignity and pride.
In the rendezvous with these girls, the master emphatically shared with them the great importance of education and how it brings about financial, emotional and mental independence. And every girl must acquire this independence before thinking about marriage. Her encouraging words instilled immense enthusiasm in these girls to become an idealistic example for the entire nation so that every girl comes to know that she is not weak. She is Shakti, power personified.
Condemning the abhorrent practice of female foeticide, Gurumaa quoted that education and empowerment are the tools through which this menace can be eradicated. In her own words, “When women get empowered the entire society, the nation and in turn the whole world benefits. It will inevitably lead to a more tolerant, peaceful environment giving a better start to the generations to come.”
Giving a new dimension to Shakti Udaan, Gurumaa inspired all the girls to become self-reliant and make the centre self-sufficient by launching the in-house merchandise. This would open up a whole new world of opportunities for these girls who can then unleash their potential optimally. It is indeed a matter of pride that even currently the centre is being run without any private or government aid, and with the introduction of its own branded merchandise, it will further get the wings of freedom to grow and expand.
Let’s celebrate this commendable achievement of Shakti Udaan…
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Shakti Rendezvous

Shakti Rendezvous 2014: Shakti Girls Meet Master

They came with their hearts filled with love and gratitude, expressed their overwhelming feelings, and went back with all the more love and blessings from the beloved master, who told them ‘there is nothing more precious than love and everything else just fades in front of it.’ Such was the unforgettable meeting of Shakti girls with the revered master Anandmurti Gurumaa this year. Having gathered from all corners of the country viz. Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pardesh, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, these girls made their way to Rishi Chaitanya Ashram on the auspicious occasion of Dusshera (3rd October 2014) with the earnest desire to meet their benefactor who has been supporting them to rise and shine in life. For most of them it was their first chance to be in this divine ambiance, the joy of which was so very evidently sparkling in their eyes…
 
It began with the heartening short documentary on Shakti Udaan, the vocational training institutes of Shakti where underprivileged girls are trained with the professional skills to enable them live a dignified life. The interview of Shakti Udaan girls was so uplifting that it created a wave of inspiration amongst all. They shared how Shakti Udaan has helped them walk with head held high, become self-reliant and live with pride. The courses offered in these institutes include stitching, embroidery, mehndi, beautician and computers. Its first flagship institute was established in 2008 at Kaithal and Shakti centers are now also functional in Gurgaon and Mumbai as well. So far over 10,000 girls have been trained through Shakti Udaan institutes.
 
During the meeting, where on one side the inspiring words of Anandmurti Gurumaa pepped them up the girls with confidence, motivation and passion to unleash their potential, their own poignant expressions of gratitude touched everyone present. No matter how often did the master mention that they shouldn’t thank her for they are part of her, but the girls couldn’t restrain themselves from sharing their sentiments. Through a powerful, intensely thought-provoking poem, one of the girls vociferously expressed the challenges faced by women in a male-dominated society. In fact it became a chain reaction wherein one after the other, from youngest to the eldest, everyone wanted to come on the mike and tell the master how very grateful they are for the help from Shakti.
 
On the occasion revered master gave them the key to combat fear by tapping into their innate divine nature and knowing that they are special, unique and above all, to always remember that they are the beloved children of the Lord. She also made them realise the significance of education in life which doesn’t only give financial independence but also expands the horizons and catalyses over-all growth of the individual.
 
These girls are daughters of handicapped parents, widows, divorcee mothers as well as with a certain percentage from the economically poor strata. Shakti’s support means a lot for them – it is their hope, their future, indeed their very life. Their blossoming faces, shining eyes full of hope and last but not least the palpable, tangible energy in the hall, the grace of the master, were a vibrant reminder to one and all to thank the Lord for the ample blessings being showered. All in all, for the Shakti girls, this inspiring, heartfelt encounter with the master was an opportunity to remind themselves of their commitment to strive for excellence, to dream big, to aim for the stars and to know that the very personification of Shakti, Anandmurti Gurumaa, is always there to support and encourage them, every step of the way...
 
Shakti thanks all its patrons for their overwhelming support and their unflinching commitment to the cause of empowering underpriviledged girls through education.
 
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