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She was a Trailblazer - Kiran Bedi

From being the first IPS officer of India to Magsasay Award, India's no.2 Tennis player to the reformer who is a trailblazer of sorts, Kiran hardly needs any introduction. Deeply influenced by Osho, discourses of Master are a part of her daily life. Full of zest and brimming with energy, she wears a smile in the most troubled of times. Age hasn't caught up with Kiran while she leads a life full of more happenings than her years. A mother of two teenage children, Kiran is consummately involved in working for the downtrodden, the weak, mentally challenged, women and children - you name it and she is probably working for the cause. She leads by example and is the personification of courage and motivation. We caught up with this supercharged, supercop sometime back. In this interview she gave provided us with an insight on criminals, her association with nature and what keeps her going among other things. Excerpts from her interview with Dr. Lovleen Thadani: 



LOVLEEN.  How many people have actually gone into making you and why is that one actually loves being in your company?
KIRAN. I think two persons have gone totally into making me, my mother and my father, because they were my closest friends. The two whom I have respected the most, trusted the most, loved the most. These are the two who went into making me as a child. As an adult, what went into making me were my books. 


LOVLEEN.  When you entered adolescence, as I understand, you were into reading a lot more. What kind of philosophy, who are the authors that influenced you in any way, sharpened your sensitivity, or gave a different dimension to your life.
KIRAN. Home was always my training ground, real training ground. Daddy was the reader in the house who would share. He was a very positive thinking reader, so the development of a positive attitude was instilled by him and the qualities of hard work and the qualities of discipline were being shared by both, Mummy and Daddy. But that inspiration was also directing me to read for myself. I would read the right magazine, the right editorials in the newspapers, the right article in that magazine, The right books, the right chapters in that booKiran. I could straightaway go to what I wanted out of the magazine and I have probably never read a complete magazine. I would never read novels that would dislodge me emotionally, let me lose my control and my balance or tantalize me. I have never spent, wasted a minute on these gossips in the magazines or anything which would not inspire me. I was very selective on what I read. Does it inspire me, does it build me, does it make me, does it enhance me, does it evolve me, does it make me grow, does it educate me, does it make me think better for myself. Does it correct me, does it help me introspect, does it modify me. I was open and I continue to be open to any reading that helps me grow. Correct, guide, learn, inspire, motivate, educate - all that. Its not that I didn't lose my way, it doesn't mean that I didn't make mistakes. I also lost my way, I also diverted but that really initially could come back to say "you did lose your direction, you did lose your way, that wasn't your way, that's not what you were built for" with the result that I could self correct, subsequently the habit of self-building.


LOVLEEN.  When you say you read the right kind of books, the right kind of chapters, how did you know that u have to open this book and go to chapter twelve for example?
KIRAN. It's an amazing question! My taste, my likings had already been sharpened towards what is worthwhile, what is value based, which are the universal principles of living, the universal principles of basic truths - if you hurt someone, you get hurt, that's the basic truth, if you do something wrong, your conscience tells you. It's basic truth. If you waste time, you get wasted, you are disciplined, you achieve more, and it's the basic truth. So these were already my tastes, so therefore I was already sifting through subconsciously whether it is matching my taste. I have a taste for purity. Sometimes the tastes are innate and I think my innate tastes were 100% matching with what my parents were giving me. So it was, without conflict, getting reinforced.


LOVLEEN.  Therefore it was very harmonious...?
KIRAN. Very harmonious! For example, sacrifice was meeting my taste; story of Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekanand, Aurobindo or Rama Krishna or anybody who had sacrificed it met my taste because I loved being a part of that sacrifice. So I think the taste was both inner and external - it was matching in harmony.


LOVLEEN.  How do you understand sacrifice personally? And what is other than giving of yourself totally which you do even today at your work and we all know that but maybe that's not enough for a person like you? If you had a bigger call, what would that be?
KIRAN.  For me its always choices. If I have given up tennis for the service, its not sacrificing Tennis - I chose the Indian Police Service, and I said I don't need to play tennis anymore. Even at that time I was India's number 1 in Tennis. I could have taken tennis as a career, gone to Wimbledon to play. I didn't sacrifice tennis, I chose the Service. I dropped things, sometimes out of realization and sometimes out of maturity. I continued to grow to drop things. 


LOVLEEN.  When you say, you have reached a stage where you can drop things it may not be so necessary to have a company either. It's a part of your evolution but have you really reached a point where you realize that actually you are your best company? 
KIRAN. Absolutely. I am 100 percent comfortable with myself and the more time I have the more time I can use. And that's the time I miss, I don't have so much time to myself when I can quietly be myself. To me today, work is worship, so I am worshipping through work of physical kind. The day I can move away from physical Karma I will move to internal Karma. Saying enough and that I want to get into myself will probably be selfish at this time. So therefore it's a very clear choice that wait for a while so do work as worship and to 100 percent right, for me this is totally another form of renunciation.


LOVLEEN.  When you say that you have made the choice, is it possible that actually your work is feeding your internal and making it grow and a time would come when it will become so ripe that this will automatically drop like other things in your life like a ripe fruit from a tree?
KIRAN. It certainly may and I hope it does. It should drop on its own. At the moment dying at work with He Ram would be more spiritual than individualizing it and withdrawing it to myself and being selfish. 


LOVLEEN. But when the time comes, you actually may not have to make a choice, it will just happen. So the time may come, when you reach that point of convergence, when you will be so complete and so full within yourself, where all your faculties, your complete being is immersed in bliss, then there is only one choice, of a completely beautiful life whichever way you may express it.
KIRAN. It may happen. Each day I am already moving towards that direction but I restrain myself. It has to be restrained because of other duties. But I think the day I let go, if that could then move much faster. At the moment I am getting richer and richer. I have so little time so I am giving every moment to it, even to the extent that I speak fast to save time and say more. (Laughs)


LOVLEEN. Talking about various external influences in your life you talked about Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekanand etc. I'd like to know in what way did Osho influence you?
KIRAN. In a subtle way, a stage comes when it all gets converged and you don't know what really helped you, reading Vedanta or reading Osho or others. It's like a Sagar inside and when you are thirsty you drink a glass of water and another glass of water and you do not know which glass of water actually quenched the most. But they were needed at different time; Osho was another glass of water. He is a fresh glass of water for me on many days in my mornings. There were many Sundays when in the evening I walked, the best evening on a Sunday was to walk with his discourse. And I did it, I finished Jap Jee, Ek Naam Satnaam and I would come back home richer by what I had heard. It's all getting converged. It's like getting dipped in an ocean several times but one cannot say where one got wet more. For me any walk in the evening means a walk with his discourse.


LOVLEEN. Many people say that Osho was ahead of his times. How will you comment on this?
KIRAN. He was. He was a revolutionary of sorts, undoubtedly. He was a trailblazer, amazing trailblazer. I think he was a total innovator of that time, It's after him that we started to get those kinds of books, discourses. The literature that Osho has left is unparalleled. So he certainly was a trailblazer and I think he carved highways out of these mountains. We may have lanes and by-lanes but he carved highways rather freeways of literature, philosophy, knowledge and understanding. The more you listen to him, the more you want to listen to him. The more you read him, the more you want to read him. 


LOVLEEN. Lots of people say he contradicts himself? Do you find any contradictions in his discourses?
KIRAN. I don't think he contradicts; he explains and all the contradiction is situational. If you listen to him and understand him in the context of what he is speaking, that's it. I am never looking for him to find an area of disagreement but looking up to him to educate and whatever has gone with my taste has stayed with me and what I haven't understood is maybe I am not as evolved. So I need to go back and read it again. You need to evolve to understand it more and more. Even if there is contradiction you have to understand in the context of what is he saying. 


LOVLEEN. Osho always lived in present. He was always living moment to moment. Kiran, for you it is work, work and more worKiran. Do you think it's a balanced life or within your spectrum of work, you are doing the balancing act?
KIRAN. My work is not work, it is creativity. I don't work, I only goad into creativity. My everything is creativity and therefore I am enjoying it. I am writing a lot, it's a creative expression, I go and teach - it's a creative expression and it's joyful. I go to walk; it's a creative walk into nature. I listen to discourse, its not work but I am learning and therefore I do as much as I can only because its creativity. When I work in the police, its creative, because its helpful, its problem solving, its innovation, its also experimentation, its touching people, its making the difference - its helluva lot of things. If you go back to my prison work, it was molding peoples' lives; I am training students, its molding students, thinking, and its addressing mindsets. I think its remarkable, its amazing because when I got the Joseph Boyce award…it was for creativity. Germans give this award for creativity. Only three people have received this award. It was given to me for social sculpting. When you are addressing peoples' mind, giving them the right ideas, motivating them - this is where you are sculpting new areas of the human mind. So I think there is not a dull moment in my day. There is no repetition. When your work gives you creative happiness that is grace. And once you have recognized that grace you want to continue it. 


LOVLEEN. Tell us about your relationship with nature.
KIRAN. Well, the association started since the day one of my life. Because Mummy, Daddy were on the Tennis court so I have grown on the green grass. So daddy was great lover of Tennis and mummy would always be a great companion. Till I was a toddler. I would roll on the court, the moment I could hold a racquet we were playing on the lawns. Thereafter it was six hours in school; it was four hours on the court. We went indoors only to sleep. In Amritsar we would sleep on the rooftop because there was no air conditioner or air coolers. We could see the moon, we could see the sky, I would sprinkle water on my bed and sleep on the cool bed just under the sky. All through my teenage till the age of 20 we would sleep under the sky till I joined the Service. The greatest gift that I have now is the walk in the nature - remarkable. 


LOVLEEN. Then you must have talked to the stars?
KIRAN. How did you know? (Laughs) It is so personal. I used to speak to the Dhruv Tara - the star. I would ask it questions about my success, my exams, my matches. It was lovely. I used to count the seven stars and someone told me that if I count them for 40 days without a break, my wishes will be fulfilled. So nature was always a great companion to me. 


LOVLEEN.  Who according to you is a criminal?
KIRAN. Normally who is determined to kill, not someone who did it due to circumstances but one who enjoys killing is a criminal. Who knowingly kills, a sick man is a criminal according to me. One who after killing says, "Hahaha… I have killed and I am happy! One who drinks the blood of others to quench his thrust is according to me a criminal. Not anybody short of that. To me a vampire, a Dracula is a Criminal. People who consider themselves Jehadis are criminals, who blast a bus full of innocent people and in the process they say they have pleased their ideology. This is the real category of criminals. Terrorists of this kind who kill to acquire power, to me are criminals, to name a few.


LOVLEEN. Like Hitler?
KIRAN. Absolutely - like Hitler.


LOVLEEN. Should we not look into society as a whole? It plays an important role in bringing up criminals.
KIRAN. There is a difference between offenders and criminals. Majority of prisoners are offenders and not criminals. Criminals are a very small minority. Majority of people housed in the prisons are offenders, they are not criminals. That's why they change very fast. The hardest group of rehabilitation are the criminals and they are a very small minority. If you ask me it would be probably 1 percent. This one- percent can play havoc that's why America hangs them. Hitler for instance wanted to annihilate the whole world's Jewish population and to capture the entire world. That is criminal. 


LOVLEEN.   What is our Govt. doing in this regard? How does it plan to transform the criminals? 
KIRAN. They need much more intensive rehabilitation. For criminals you need much creative surgery of the mind. Therefore they need a longer stay in the prison; a very intensive programme and they should not be released till a team of psychologists clears them. Even if it takes whole life, they should not be released because they are mad men. 


LOVLEEN.  Tell us about one project close to your heart, The India Vision Foundation. What is the trust doing?
KIRAN. India Vision started on the right platform. It's out of the birth of Magsasay award. It was a major thing, the Magsasay award, something which was gifted to me, a major gift because it made my work public and brought me a lot of International recognition. It put my work on a very high pedestal to be seen and also brought in a lot of acceptance of the work for Kiran. So at the time of the acceptance of the award when I went there I had already founded the India Vision and in my acceptance speech I said that this work shall be carried on by India Vision. India Vision had four five things which have been gone all along me in my life, Prison Reform, crime prevention, women empowerment, sports promotion and mental disability because that is the strength of my younger sister who is one of the best psychological consultants today country has in the field of mental disability. All the things are running simultaneously and doing well. It is expanding.


LOVLEEN.  Tell us about your writing.
KIRAN. I write a weekly column for Punjab KesarL. This is translated into HindL. Then I write a fortnightly column for The Times of India and whatever I write for the two newspapers goes into some highly circulated Magazines and a Tamil newspaper too. I am going to write a monthly piece for Dainik Bhaskar that will appear on Sunday. Another piece I am writing for a magazine, which will again be a monthly. When you write, articles grow on your mind. It is produced and not written. An idea suddenly comes up and I decide I am going to write about this. Its like pregnancy, every minute it grows. Yes, I write only what fascinates me, which actually motivates me. The latest piece I wrote for Punjab Kesari is about a letter I received from a girl who studies in 12th standard. She asks me to save her since she wants to study and does not want to marry. I have written about it and its coming as it is. What is the use of the TV channels DD1 and DD2 if it can't teach them their rights, what's the use of Panchayats if they cannot make sure these girls study and not married prematurely, what's the use of school teachers if they cannot speak to the parents and pursue these things. 


LOVLEEN.  Kiran, who do you think is an Oshoite? 
KIRAN. Oshoite is somebody who is very rich within, rich in internal content, and settled, equanimous and full of joy. And through any presence spreads joy, touches joy, and spreads radiance through the internal fulfillment. One who is internally fulfilled is an Oshoite. Who is happy and spreads and aura of Joy and happiness around him, I think is an Oshoite. 



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