Neeraja Capirala

Neeraja has been closely associated with Bhavya as a parent since 2004 when her son, Surya, joined Bhavya. She volunteers time in Bhavya as and when her help is required, and has been a strong support for the Bhavya program, reaching out to parents to help them understand Bhavya’s approach to education and growth.

August 28, 2016

  • We, as a family, are indebted to the Universe for having created Bhavya, that has come out of one individual’s deep love for children. Her entire life’s energy has gone into making a space like this a reality in today’s increasingly bewildering world.

  • I am sure that all parents in Bhavya have their own stories to tell because each child is unique and, hence, the challenges faced by each family in our world today are also unique. A space which deals with all these complexities of parenting that we face, today, will naturally have to be unique, too. Bhavya, in my experience, has been, and continues to be this child-centric space – unique in the simplicity and truthfulness with which it approaches the subject of children.

  • Before my Bhavya experience, my greatest disadvantage, perhaps, had been that I was a trained Special Educator and this had, sadly, coloured the way I saw my son. My professional knowledge, in a major way, had come in the way of my understanding Surya. I did not see him as the already ‘complete’ person that he was. I felt he had to be ‘worked on’. In my over-enthusiasm, I loaded him with stimulation, exposing him to too much, too early in his life. We enrolled him in schools one after the other, in our efforts to find the right place for him, and worse, in after-school activities such as Swimming, Little Gym, Kindermusic, and Baseball – all this before he had turned five! I found myself constantly trying to make him come up to the teachers’/trainers’ expectations of him, behaviorally. I had no way of knowing then, what I know now in hindsight, that everything I was doing, far from benefitting him, was actually creating more dissonance within his little body and mind. In short, with the best of intentions, I was trying to change him in order to fit him into the existing system, and now I can honestly say that in all that I was doing, Surya, the child’s, wishes and needs featured nowhere. My needs and fears were the only triggers. I was merely torturing myself and my child with my confused ideas on ‘effective parenting’.

  • I had already done more than enough ‘interfering‘ in the first five years of my son’s life in my role as a ‘caring’ and ‘loving’ mother. By this time, Surya was already exhibiting a strong resentment towards being placed in structured environments where he had to, at the drop of a hat, stop doing what he had been focusing on with great interest, just to do what the teacher wanted him to do. His insistence on completing the activity in which he was so deeply involved, troubled his teachers so much that they concluded that he had a behavior problem. Pressured by this feedback from the teachers all the time, I found myself constantly trying to correct him at every stage to fit him into the already existing system, thinking that this would make his life easier and, eventually, mine. I was struggling to find a way to build what I then believed, was a strong foundation in my son’s life, on which he could build his future.

  • All this time, however, there was a thought which played repeatedly somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind - one that I could not ignore completely - that there was already something very precious in my child that I had to preserve at any cost, and that no additional exposure could make him any more special.

  • Fortunately, Surya, being the spirited child that he was, refused to ‘fit in’ anywhere. I am truly thankful for this today, because it was precisely this quality of Surya’s which inspired me to step back far enough, so that I could give him the space he needed, to be the person he wanted to be. I had searched high and low for a place which would help him find his inner peace – a place which would accept him, and not expect him to conform all the time, while ignoring his own needs.

  • I almost gave up my search for the ‘right’ space for my child after my experience at a school, described in its Prospectus as child-centred. Here, they flatly rejected my request that I be permitted to stay with my child in the school during his first few days of attendance. I was feeling totally dejected at this point, certain that I had reached the end of the road.

  • It was by some happy twist of fate that I came across Bhavya. My son’s life, and mine, have not been the same since. Finding Bhavya was like finding an oasis in a desert – a breath of cool, fresh air soothing my frazzled nerves. It was my Utopia, a space which respected children more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It was everything that I had wanted for Surya…and more. We dropped anchor here. My search had ended. A new journey had begun.

  • I had found the place which would support the willing parent who was ready to look inwards to get to the root of every “problem”. I had found the place which would provide an opportunity for each parent to learn what he/she needed to do to help his/her child. Here, the parent was not merely dismissed with the observation that the child was the problem and that we as parents will need to teach him to ‘conform’ to the school’s standards so that their routine is not disturbed.

  • The ‘Natural Consequence’ approach used in Bhavya helped my son to learn that his actions had a bearing on other people’s lives and their rights, and made him aware that there were limits to his freedom – an understanding which seemed to have eluded him until then. He realised then that every action of his had a natural consequence for which he would have to take responsibility.

  • I, personally, learned an important lesson – I needed to do nothing more than just let Surya be – the simplest, yet toughest process I had ever gone through in my life.

  • Bhavya, for me, is like an ocean and the deeper we dive into it, the more precious are the lessons we can learn on how to be with children so that we can let them be.

  • Bhavya’s philosophy may seem overwhelming to a newcomer, because of its depth and intensity. However, if we are eager to learn and willing to change, there is tremendous support and encouragement given to each one of us in this space.