Proposition: Being with children is therapeutic. Rebuttal : Kids can also drive you up the wall! Verdict: In the ups and downs of this ebullient former software professional’s life, tiny tots have been one of her ups. Always.
Post a traumatic divorce, Divyaa Doraiswamy moved back from the United States to the Garden City. ‘Regular’ was a rigour, taking quite a toll on her emotional well being. Logging out of a lucrative IT job as a Branch Head in Bengaluru, she turned ‘shlokapreneur’.
There was no dearth of music, dance, art or yoga schools in cosmopolitan Bengaluru. “But we did not have a single Shloka School that aimed at retaining our traditional roots and keeping children abreast of our culture.” Determined to bridge that gap, Divyaa launched ‘Gurukulam’ in 2014 with six kids in her apartment. The initial grind involved forging tie-ups with pre-schools, yoga centres, dance studios and gated communities for an additional activity. But the Bengaluru traffic and her frequent visits to America, ensured that Gurukulam soon morphed into the first of its kind Online Shloka School. “Coaching is only through one on one Skype and Whatsapp sessions.”
The word of ‘mouse’ travelled far and wide. Today, fifty kids from around the globe – USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, Germany and from most metros across India – from Chennai and Bengaluru to Mumbai, Kolkatta and Delhi belt out shlokas with Divya for close to eight hours a day, across different time zones.The youngest student is in kindergarten and the oldest is the CEO of a Company with a few years to retire!
For the kids, the benefits are tangible. “Many parents and grand parents tell me that barely a few months after signing up, the little ones have been evincing interest in reading and that their memory and concentration have improved, almost obviating the need for phonics classes!” Regular chanting has done wonders for special kids too, “possibly more than the regular therapy”. Unassuming to the core, Divyaa attributes these positive changes to “divine power.”
Shlokas have been an integral part of Divyaa’s Tamil Brahmin upbringing. “During my most trying times, I ended up learning more shlokas to extricate myself from negativity that I found myself getting entangled in. Shlokas have been magical for me, personally.”
Not content with being a solitary reaper, Divyaa is keen to explore the Franchise model for Gurukulam. Hitching her wagon to the stars, she has written to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking help to take shlokas to “a zillion school children.”
As slokas like “bhadram bhadram krtam maunam kokilairjaladagame. Dardurah yatra vaktarah tatra maunam hi sobhate” (meaning the cuckoo does not sing during the rainy season because there are frogs croaking) waft through the room, Divya Doraiswamy, whose days begin and end with kids, is firm in her belief that life is about nodding to your own chants.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, TV Political Analyst, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)