After formally training as a psychologist from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU), Trupti Pandya from Gujarat, India started working with special needs children. She noticed, among professionally trained psychologists, a tendency to label such kids has having mental disorders, technically within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
. Categorizing special needs children under DSM would have a bearing on the treatment approach.
This did not feel right to Trupti. “I could not articulate the dissonance, but I felt suffocated looking at the limited lens of diagnosis with a surface level treatment plan. I could clearly sense that [the key to] their healing was beyond the text – especially after observing children whose family had accepted the child unconditionally versus children who were looked upon as a liability. What reaches a mind which is labeled as mentally challenged and what would heal the roots of the cause was my question that I started exploring.”
After feeling that western psychology was limiting in many ways, she met a Buddhist monk
and asked him what brings healing. She asked him, “I feel love and compassion are key to healing of children; however this is dismissed by some of the well-known and experienced professionals. How to bring the two together?” The monk advised her on the importance of being skillful in professional work and shared that, “You need to be thorough with all the classifications and the current knowledge that is used. Once you are perceived as the master of that you can then share with your experienced colleagues that – however classified DSM is, there is something more that works manifold in healing and that is love and compassion. If you want to work on the way of Dhamma you work harder.”
This seeded in Trupti the quest for seeking the middle path. At that same time she came in contact with elders who lived their lives following Gandhi and Vinoba values which reinstated her belief in kindness, nonviolence and compassion. Soon she found the convergence between her structured studies and the values that she held.
“The attempt now is to build friendship, see wholeness within the brokenness and heal in a wholesome manner with love, acceptance and dignity,” she says. Trupti now designs her work using the wisdom of circles, expressive arts, prayer, silence and psychology to work with groups and individuals who have experienced severe trauma
, abuse and emotional challenges. She brings grace, simplicity
and unwavering inner strength
in her work with women rescued from prostitution, victims of trafficking
, children in detention centers, parents of children with disability and other individuals.
Beyond her regular work in detention homes and prisons, Trupti is full of life and creates and anchors spaces for service, deeper engagement and inner transformation. She brings a sweet sense of wonder and connection into small things
in life like tending to her plants, keeping food and water for birds in her balcony and doing random acts of kindness
in her everyday life. Those who have been around are surely inspired by her effort in the pursuit of truth. Her journey has led her to a walking pilgrimage without the two M’s (money and mobile), taking part in a 30-day “In-Turn-ship
” at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad where she engaged in daily practices like meditation and sweeping
, holding circles with servant ladders from all walks of life, serving with Moved by Love
in Ahmedabad, hosting HeArt circles
and Awakin circles
in Vadodara and volunteering with the Laddership
project. And, when Trupti is not doing all of this, she is grounding herself in meditation
, learning new songs to sing and traveling to open up both inside and outside.
Join us for an inspiring conversation with this remarkable spirit!
Five Questions with Trupti Pandya
What Makes You Come Alive?
Prayers make me feel alive. Hearing wisdom stories from elders and being around children and learning how to learn and unlearn, forgive and forget, smile and love pumps up my energy. Travelling, as it unfolds so many stories inside-out, observing nature's intelligence and lastly experiencing the power of circles through various form of art makes me feel alive.
Pivotal turning point in your life?
Event wise, I feel a conscious turning point for me was my first Moved by Love retreat in November 2013 from where I feel my inner journey started too. It was only after the retreat I started actively participating in the Awakin circle which was being hosted in my home since 2011 which again has played a very vital role in bringing transformation at all levels. In December 2013, the walking pilgrimage happened, in January 2014, I sat my first 10-day silence retreat. In March, I said yes for the 30 day inturnship program and in May, I went to the Himalayas for two months totally surrendering to my inner calling where I served at the Vipassana center, volunteered at a home based school, trekked few pilgrim places but most importantly I started overcoming deep layers of fear which were hampering my growth and my connection to my inner voice and intuition. Since then, I feel there is no looking back. Person wise, I feel both my sisters have played a very important role in introducing me to people and spaces that have catalyzed my journey of being a better human.
An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?
I with three of my friends had gone for a walking pilgrimage without carrying any food, money or cell phone. The night before our walk, I had all kind of questions/doubts like will I get food or will I get a place to sleep and most importantly will I be able to walk. One afternoon, we entered a small ashram where a monk who was in silence from last 14 years served us food that they had cooked for themselves. With each bite of food, tears kept rolling just thinking of all the times when I had shut door to strangers or did not share food with the ones known to me just out of insecurity despite of having more then I needed.
One Thing On Your Bucket List?
To go to Mt. Fuji and experience the power of prayers.
One-line Message for the World?
"The wound is the place where the Light enters you." Jalaluddin Rumi