Wednesday, December 8, 2010


DHAKA ( - At first glance a room filled with a group of people practicing meditation may not look unusual. But the men and women who are sitting calmly and trying to focus their minds are prisoners in the central jail in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, serving sentences for committing violent crimes. It is not their aim to attain bliss - or nirvana - but it is their objective to reduce anxiety and make a new beginning. This is the first time that prison officials in Bangladesh have introduced a meditation program for inmates. As meditation trainers play audio which teaches them how to focus their minds, prisoners follow the instructions dutifully and peacefully. Both male and female inmates have been given a chance to try meditation - not only to lower their stress levels but also to give them a chance to reform and succeed in the outside world.

“Our traditional counseling method to reform prisoners was not fruitful. Many of the prisoners simply reoffend and end up back in jail adding to the prison population,” says prisons inspector Gen Muhammad Ashraful Islam Khan. “So we are now trying this meditation program to help our prisoners.” If the program proves successful, officials say meditation classes will be gradually introduced in jails across the country. The scheme has been embraced by female offenders as well. It is hoped that the meditation course will help inmates eradicate the scars of prison life and give them a platform to launch a new life. The course in Dhaka is organised by the Quantum Foundation - a non-profit organisation.

This meditation programme is the latest in the Bangladesh government’s efforts to improve the quality of life inside the prisons following criticism over bad conditions. Even if the programme may not change the lives of inmates all together, it does at least provide a contemplative break from the monotony of their daily routine, officials say. In the Nrsinha Puranam it is mentioned that meditation of the Two Feet of the Supreme Person of the Godhead normalizes all opposites, such as heat and cold, enjoyments and sufferings, and that if a sinner even casually meditates on the Lord, the Scriptures assert such contemplation to be the source of the highest bliss.

Through prayer, through meditation, through these various spiritual practices we can reconnect with our own essence. Spirituality is meant to awaken the eternal potential to love and to be an instrument of that love in our life. By reconnecting with our own essence and by accessing that empowerment, we could be instruments of positive change in our world. Gratitude is an essential quality to access it. The heart is like a field, all our good qualities are like the seed, a small plant that’s meant to grow in that field. Our morality, our integrity, our spiritual practices, our prayers and meditation are like watering the seed. But the fertility of the soil of our heart is our humility and our gratitude. A person could be happy in any situation if he is grateful, but a person can never be happy in any situation really happy in the heart unless they are grateful. We should be grateful for our failures as much as for our successes ... grateful for the opportunity to grow and to learn from that experience.

Śrīla Radhanath Swami Mahārāja :
“A Grateful Heart”

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