My name is Anusuya Kumar and I am a teacher of Sanskrit Literature at Copenhagen University in Denmark where I have taught for the past eight years. Lucy Guest, the founder of ‘Yoga Mission’ in India has been a colleague and friend of mine since our days of Sanskrit learning at ‘Sampurnanand University’ in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. I have felt a very close kinship with her work in educating children in India who have no other means or access to schooling. The vision of ‘Yoga Mission’, as I understand it, is remarkable and quite unique in India – and perhaps anywhere in the world. It is not only to empower children with education, but also with a quality of learning that goes back thousands of years in Indian culture and society. The ancient educational academies of India had a profoundly wholistic and integral approach to education – children studied Sanskrit language and grammar but they also practiced yoga, meditation, and developed their skills in critical inquiry and self-reflection. This was vital in forging young minds to connect with their world in self-confidence and with a sense of inner freedom. I feel this ancient spirit has been revitalized through ‘Yoga Mission’ and brought back to life for many children in India.
I would really like to cooperate with ’Yoga Mission’ in a project that I have recently begun formulating for the rural children of Mussoorie in Uttarkhand, India. The project involves bringing educational opportunities for children who live in the many fringe-villages on the outskirts of Mussoorie in the mountain areas. Sadly, children in these remote mountain villages have very limited access to quality education – indeed, to any educational facilities at all. The closest school may be eight or ten kilometers away. I have initiated a schooling project on the outskirts of Mussoorie on a beautiful forest estate that children of five or six nearby villages can easily access. Here, I hope to offer them a combined education in English language and Sanskrit, as well as to foster a love and passion for nature and environmental care. I feel that the local children could benefit from such an integral pedagogical training. However, I also feel strongly that the children of ‘Yoga Mission’ in Varanasi could benefit from the beauty of the natural surroundings of Mussoorie and have summer-camps or spend a semester or two in the hills. Children from across these states could meet and work together to a building an amazing new future.