Equally together -We Move Forward
It was at the tender age of eight that Rama Arya discovered the lesson of the Bullocks cart. Although there is nothing tender about being born into the Dalits in North-Central India. The Dalits are the lowest caste in the pervasive, yet outlawed Hindu caste system. Dubbed “untouchables”, the Dalits are relegated to a life of menial jobs; scavenging through waste, skinning animals, and cleaning streets and sewage systems. They are identified by their dress, denied access to services and better jobs, and are frequently disparaged by those in India’s upper-caste society.
As an intelligent and curious young boy, Rama struggled to understand why the people in his village were so poor. Why the caste system existed – why all were not equal.
In India, bulls have been used to pull heavy wooden carts for over 5,000 years. Rama remembers the Bullocks cart that belonged to a family friend in his small village of Mauranipur, in the Jhansi district state of Uttar Pradesh.
The skilled neighbor handled the Bullocks cart effortlessly, it looked like fun. Young Rama asked for an opportunity to drive the cart. The owner agreed. But try as he may, Rama was not able to coax the bulls forward, not even an inch. As he pleaded and prodded the team, the bulls stood staunchly together in defiance of the small stranger holding the reins. This made the neighbor laugh. It was an embarrassment for young Rama, but a teaching moment too – a gift from the universe.
Rama asked the owner why the bulls refused to carry him. The man explained that Rama was a stranger to his experienced team. For the bulls to trust Rama and choose to help him, he would have to win each of them over. He had to earn their trust, equally together.
Rama eagerly committed to connecting with the bulls; to build a relationship of support and love. It took several weeks. The boy would come every day and bring the bulls food and water. He spoke to them in a soft joyful tone, as if he were telling secrets to his best friend. The result of his dedication to the bulls was astounding. Over several weeks, the team learned to obediently respond to Rama’s gentle direction.