The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 19, 2014

Pandits private -- but not prisoners

OTTUMWA — Quiet meditation is a way of life for the Pandits in Jefferson County, not something they are doing against their will.

That's the word from leaders at The Country of World Peace, which hires the dedicated Vedic scholars to come from India. As they do in their home country, they perform Vedic techniques here that, according to their web page, are scientifically researched to increase world peace.

A spokesman for the Global Country of World Peace says the adherents' campus was designed to be comfortable, modern and furthermore, to reflect the prayer villages they live in at home in India as they practice their Vedic meditation techniques.

"The Pandits are used to being in a closed campus as that is the life they have committed to live in the 'Ashrams' in India, where they engage in their spiritual vocation and study," said Bill Goldstein, a project official. "The campus here is designed to mirror and support that same lifestyle of complete dedication to Vedic study, meditation and Vedic performances."

But can they leave if they do want to go outside the campus?

"Yes," acknowledged Goldstein in a separate press release, "and they do. There is a security fence around the perimeter of the campus with several gates, but it is quite 'porous' and the Pandits come and go for walks outside the perimeter every day, weather permitting, as they please."

But he later said they usually don't go too far. Typically, they are supposed to be focused on world peace. If they really need to go somewhere, staff will take them, Goldstein said. And most of their needs are met on campus. But they can walk off of the campus.

About the security fence, he said, the fence is actually more to "keep outsiders out than the insiders in" so as to reduce distractions.

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