When he is not involved in forklift operations at Cummins India Limited where he has been working as an ‘associate’ for the last 25 years, 44-year-old yoga teacher Dr Datta Kohinkar Patil prefers to spend his time teaching vipassana to school children, policemen and bureaucrats, and even jail inmates. Over the years, he has been able to train several such yoga and vipassana teachers and is now the chief trustee at Pune Vipassana Centre near Swargate.
“During my early days as a worker at Cummins India, I too had the habit of chewing tobacco. I had also got involved in several activities and was a member of the Pune Municipal Transport’s advisory committee. I dabbled a bit in politics and at the end of the day was totally stressed out. I needed some peace of mind,” recalls Patil.
It was in 2000 that he was introduced to vipassana that virtually transformed his lifestyle. “It was an eye-opener. I gave up tobacco, totally. The meditation process had such a calming effect that I felt like sharing it with others,” he says.
Patil soon started taking yoga sessions for co-workers at Cummins India and then started teaching children the ‘anapana’ meditation. He also gave free lectures on how to have a healthy body and mind. “This was when I got involved with the Pune Vipassana centre. Practising the technique even for an hour daily is so refreshing,” he points out.
Vipassana—a form of meditation that can be traced back to Buddha himself-was introduced to India by SN Goenka. “I was fortunate to interact with Goenkaji and am now involved in the functioning of the centres,” Patil says. With two centres now at Swargate and Alandi, almost 400-500 people from various parts of the world apply for the 10-day vipassana course every month.
The waiting list is nothing less than 300 and while Patil admits that he got involved in the administration, he makes it a point to ensure that courses are arranged for the deprived sections. “We have arranged at least six to seven courses for jail inmates and have planned more,” said Patil, who was recently awarded the state’s Mahatma Gandhi Vyasan Mukti award.