Meditation classes help Tihar inmates

IANS, Dec 15, 2006

New Delhi, India -- After a troubled past, inmates of Tihar Jail here have decided to reform themselves as well as change other jailbirds' lives through Vipassana, Buddhist way of meditation.

"We have around 500 inmates going through 10 different meditation courses of Vipassana in the jail," said Sunil Gupta, law officer Tihar Jail, who was speaking at a seminar organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development.

With a capacity to hold 6,000 inmates, the Tihar Jail - the country's biggest prison - is home to over 13,000 prisoners.

"When the course started in 1993, meditation teachers used to hold classes but these days reformed inmates actively take part and help their teachers to train others," said Gupta, adding that over 10,000 inmates have been trained in mediation in the past 13 years.

"We found it difficult to make them understand initially about the good effects of mediation, so we used to force them to take up the course. But now more and more inmates come forward to take up the course," said Gupta.

Taking note of the reform in the jail, a group of psychology students of Delhi University (DU) conducted a survey in October to find out the impact of meditation on the inmates.

"We took interviews of 42 inmates. We found that that the inmates had more self-esteem, better social relationships and emotional stability," said Divya Patalia, a third-year student of Vivekanand College, DU.

"We were surprised to know that the inmates had not only realised their crime but also managed to accept it in front of the judges," she said.