Former cop-yoga guru takes up pen

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A Selvaraj TNN 

Chennai: He is, in his own words, single-handedly responsible for meditation sessions in Puzhal Central Prison that made “hardened criminals melt like wax and their agitated minds crave for peace”. 

    So too for green-thumb therapy to becalm the senses of the felons, making them one with the earth as they raked furrows in the prison garden, planted, tended and harvested vegetables — and for adding to the skills of the inmates that got them in the slammer by opening a prison bakery and teaching them how to bake. 

    Satish Kumar Dogra was a most unusual policeman. The 1982-batch IPS officer used curious methods to reform the state’s prison system. But they worked, and by the time he retired on December 31 as assistant director general police (prisons), he had brought about more change in jails in Tamil Nadu than any of his predecessors. 

    Dogra made the inmates gather for meditation and yoga sessions within the cold steel and concrete of the prison. During these sessions, Dogra says, he taught the prisoners meditation techniques that opened the Sahasrara chakra, the seventh primary chakra, detaching them from the illusions of the sensory 
world. The sessions, which started in 2011, soon became extremely popular. After all, if one is all and all is one and all is illusion, so too were the prison walls — at least while they meditated. 

    Soon enough, Dogra was taking multiple classes with groups of nearly 300 prisoners each. 

    “The inmates’ attitude with me was no longer that of a prisoner towards a police officer, but of a devotee towards his spiritual guru,” Dogra says of the meditation sessions. “Even a few seconds of meditation redirects the flow of current in the brain. The prisoners’ aggressive tendencies faded away.” 

    “The effect was tremendous and amazed me. I hadn’t expected such dramatic results,” he says. “The deep sense of peace they felt by focusing their consciousness within the chakra made them seek the experience regularly.” 

    The sittings also made Dogra a confidant. “In private conversations with me some prisoners confessed things they would have never dared to divulge to a police officer. They trusted me and knew that I was their well-wisher,” Dogra says. 

    Alongside the meditation sessions, he also started regular workouts and classes for prisoners who wanted to gain an education, a prison official says. The warders became instructors and worked hard to prepare for classes. 
    “Some of them even wore ties and looked like professors,” he says. 
    The former officer’s humility and his beneficence to the prisoners won him the appreciation of several senior police officers. 

    Now that he has been put out to pasture, Dogra, who loves literature and languages, has decided to devote his time to writing books and poems. 

    “Each language has its own beauty. When I’m in the mood to read Tamil, I pick up Kamba Ramayanam, or Thirukkural,” Dogra says. “At other times I may be found reading the Gita in Sanskrit or aShakespeare play.” 

    The former ADGP, who speaks Tamil fluently, has instructional videos on Tamil grammar on YouTube. Dogra also offers Tamil, English and Punjabi translations of the Gita on the video-sharing website, poems he has composed and even — we are not making this up — ‘Stress Management Through Garbage Clearing (Tamil Version)’.

Former IPS officer S K Dogra at his residence


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