By starting Vatsalya Gram at Vrindavan, where abandoned infants, destitute women and old age people have been brought together forming a ‘family unit’, Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara has revolutionised the concept of a family. Today, over 700 such children, women or older people live there tied in different relations. She was recently in Delhi. Organiser senior correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to her on different issues. She feels that death sentence to rapists will be nothing but liberation for them and they should be punished with sterner punishment if could be than it. She said permanent solution to such problems is to impart good samskars and values to the young generations. Excerpts:
There is huge public protest in Delhi against a rape incident. People are demanding death sentence for rapists. What do you say?
A girl, who is raped, bears this stigma until she lives. I think it proves to be the sternest punishment for her. People in her surroundings look at her as a sinner and her parents too face a very tough time. Some women or their parents, who fail to bear it, even commit suicide. In all such situations the victim dies every moment till she lives. On the other hand if the rapist is hanged at once it will be nothing but liberation for him. I feel a rapist should be punished with the severest punishment than death sentence, which I cannot explain in words. In fact, we have failed to curb this menace. The prime reason of it is that we have failed to impart good samskars and values to the young generation. Until we are weak on this front, we should at least have tough laws, which act as a deterrent. Since ancient times, our society has been disciplined through religious values. The fast these values are eroding, we are facing heinous kinds of crimes like this one.
Do you feel such protests will bring a change in the mindset of the people?
I don’t think the protests of one or two days will bring the lasting change in mentality of the people. This feeling should remain in our heart every moment. Some women MPs were seen crying in the Parliament on this issue. But this is also a fact that the Parliament has so far failed to address such issues effectively. Then who is responsible for their cry? If they had acted timely, neither any girl reached in ICU like this one nor the country repeatedly felt ashamed.
Under the influence of western culture and exposure to new technology the younger generation is afflicted with many kinds of new addictions like pornography, live-in-relationship, etc. In this situation how can we arrest such crimes?
The influence of western culture and the misuse of new technology are leading the society to the suicidal path. It is sheer vulgarity not freedom. But I feel the roots of samskars are still deep in our country and a solution will definitely come out. What we need is to impart good samskars in families, and healthy education with good values in schools. There is a dire need to curb the exposure of sensitive technology to the young minds in early age.
What is the present status of Vatsalya Gram?
The Vatsalya Gram is flourishing every day. The prime objective behind the project has been to generate a feeling of love, care and attachment. I am satisfied that we have been successfull in generating this feeling among the children, women and old age people living there. We feel without a family we cannot provide all necessary samskars to the children. The feelings and values that the children get in a family help them throughout their life.
How many persons are there now?
About 700 children of different age groups, women and old people live there like a family. The experiment of providing shelter to not only the infants but also to the needy women and old people has received applause from world over and many organisations and generous people are coming forward to expand it.
At how many places outside Vrindavan the work of Vatsalya Gram has begun?
The projects in Omkareshwar and Khajurao (Madhya Pradesh) have already started functioning, while the construction work at Dakoreji in Gujarat, Kolkata and Himachal Pradesh is going on. The feeling of vatsalya has the capacity to bridge many gaps at a time. It is wrong and highly inhuman to throw the infants in dustbins labeling them illegal. After all they too have been made by the same god who made all of us. It happens more with the girl child. Secondly, the experiment of Nari Niketans to grant shelter to the destitute women has failed. Similarly, the old age homes too are no solution to the problems of old age. We, in Vatsalya Gram, have brought all these three persons together shaping a family unit. This project has emerged as the remedy of many ills. Apart from physical growth, it also provides a solid foundation for mental and self-growth binding them in relations. I am happy over the results that we have achieved in this project.
The issue of reservation is again hot. Besides appointment, it is also being sought in promotions. How do you look at it?
Granting reservation to uplift those who have been deprived or backward for long is not wrong. It is a temporary solution. It has both benefits and harms. The harms include depriving opportunities to the qualified and suitable talents, which ultimately drain to other countries. Therefore, we need to generate the atmosphere in the country, where everybody including woman or man, poor or rich, forward or backward, lower caste or upper caste, gets equal opportunity.
There are demands for reservation to Muslims and Christians also. Do you support it?
When I talk about equal opportunities, I talk about all Bharatiyas whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or anybody else. I see the people of even so-called forward communities living in very miserable condition in different parts of the country. I don’t think the provisions of reservation have benefited the neediest persons. Mostly the people close to the politicians have garbed most of the benefits and the last man is still deprived.
How will this last person be benefited?
It will be possible only when the entire country stands up against their problems. The problem is that the rulers think only for votes and not for the nation in totality. The change will come with the feeling of oneness (ekatmata) and not with uniformity (ekrupata).
Recently a PIL was filed in Supreme Court highlighting the miserable condition of widows living in Vrindavan. How is their condition?
Definitely majority of such women live in miserable condition. They need help. But there is also a section of the widows who regularly send money to their family members and maintain even bank accounts. There are reports that huge amount of such women is lying unclaimed in different branches of banks, as majority of them died without nominating anyone for withdrawing the amount. Even than we are going to take some initiatives for these women and I hope in coming years Vrindavan will get rid of this problem.
The saints have declared to start construction of Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya next year. Comment.
The matter is sub-judice. We are at least happy that the High Court has accepted it as the birth place of Sri Ram. We are sure that the temple will definitely be built at the birthplace itself.
How do you look at the menace of acquiring temples by state governments?
Government control over our religious activities cannot be justified at all. The whole society should oppose it. At the same time, I feel that the people managing temple institutions should ensure that the money offered to the deity there is transparently utilised only for the uplift of the Hindu society and the devotees visiting there.