From life of crime to finding religion: Prisoners experience a ‘spiritual awakening’


Under-trials at the Varanasi district jail have ‘created’ their own version of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, where they not only worship every day, but also often meditate. This ‘shrine’ is a life-size portrait of the actual temple on a wall.

Not just the temple, the inmates’ attempts have also gone into painting Kashi’s prominent landmarks, including Goswami Tulsidas Ghat, Sant Ravidas Smarak Park and the birthplace of saint Kabir Das, on the prison walls.

The prisoners’ ‘spiritual awakening’ began three months ago when three of them approached the jail management with the idea of turning a corridor into a place of worship. “Prisoners Bacchan Dravid, Bholaram and Manish Sharma, all artists, gave us a list of items they needed for their project. It included cement and sand sacks, oil colour and paintbrushes. We decided to give them what they wanted,” said Arun Kumar, the jail superintendent, adding that other inmates were asked to help the trio.

The group, at first, levelled the wall, making it fit for the paint job. Their project began to take shape in 15 days, and, in three months, they had given a makeover to the entire corridor, transforming it into a place of worship and meditation, Kumar added.

“The inmates have painted a life-size portrait of the Kashi Vishwanath temple with the intention that regular praying will help inmates gain mental peace,” he said.

The jail management said the inmates now spent most of their time worshipping and meditating.

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