Saturday, May 13, 2017

How to live conscious in today’s times?

Well, who in today's world would not like the world to be happy and peaceful place? 
Except really some nasty destructive unconscious minds, average population of the world would like it to be a happy and peaceful place. At least I believe so.

When I believe so, obviously I indirectly pass the judgment that the world today is not a peaceful place. Along with my day to day interactions with people, influx of news from various sources makes me believe that - ISIS, Syria, Religious terrorism, rapes, murders, various serious health issues, are order of the day in today’s world. On a slightly milder scale, decline of democratic values, income inequality, inferior treatment on the basis of gender, decline of value systems etc are experienced.

Environmental damage has become a matter of serious concern in today’s times. During my spiritual walk and journeys all over India and to other countries, the news and observation I have faced most commonly is damage to the environment. From death of rivers, deforestation, cutting of mountains, industrial toxic emissions, vehicular pollution, animal extinction, piling of plastic garbage, pollution of oceans, e-waste and so on…
These issues have posed serious problems before us in terms of polluted air, rise in temperature, water scarcity, scanty rainfall, change in the weather pattern, rise in various deceases, and loss of overall ecological balance.
I think many will agree with the above observation about my world-view.

I have excessively indulged into materialistic aspects of life, in desires, in acquisition, in consumerism. I have traveled barefoot for years, I have meditated, contemplated, isolated, tried to be not part of any religious, social, economic system as a part of my spiritual experimentation. I have tried to believe only in the first hand source of information. 

Yogi Arwind walking barefoot in the Himalayas in the Manali-Leh region during his Bharat Bhraman 2010

Based on my yogic experimentation, I have come to the conclusion that because of various impressions of exercise of political power in last couple of centuries - persistent onslaught on the local cultures and lifestyles has been carried out. Beautiful tiny social, economic & cultural models have been destroyed in the process. From Amazons to a big ‘crop pattern’ change in my native village in Central India, there would be ample evidences. From Coorg, to Bhutan, to Sikkim to every single village in the mountains, in Western ghats, there are tiny independent socio-economic systems which have beautifully interlinked the enterprise, politics, economics, religion, & personal peace. Since economics is the major force emerged in previous century, concept of modern money has devalued the real value that formed basis of economic activity. Hence populations have illusion-ed to go for paper money over real value in the form of production of crops, fruits, handicrafts. Indirectly the journey from real value to notional value has happened ruining various integrated models of value creation.

Since ‘fast’ is a driving force behind today’s economic activity, the long term planning about farm activity has been fast fading away. Planting trees for future generations was a spiritual guidance for farmers. This is being missing because of the greed of cash crops. Division of land into smaller plots is resulting into cutting of trees. Governments of the yesteryears have blindly followed the policy of uniform plantation of British rulers which has resulted in millions of hectors of forests of non-indigenous plants that literally don’t give any production. And this is against the general advise our forefathers had given to plant Panch-Pallav – five types of trees – Mango, Jamun, Neem, Banyan and Peepal. And Gullar and Amla alongside. So this overall fall in consciousness about plantation of trees, crop pattern has resulted in drastically reducing the subject matter expertise in the form of farmers knowing the lifecycle of plant, maintenance of the plantation and utility of the plant. Certain aspects of research of lifecycle of the plant that will range over few lives of the plant are vanished. This is the loss we have incurred due to our greed for ‘fast’ results and money.

It’s not only the trees, plants and farms that are affected by the disease of ‘fast’ but also lifestyle solutions like yoga and meditation too. In its greed of making money from these disciplines, various stakeholders are so in rat race of appropriation that the very essence of these practices is getting lost. Instead of deriving beautiful results from these disciplines in the form of peace, harmony and balance, the practitioners and teachers have reduced it to a few hundred hours certification and resultant money making from it.

Instead of simply putting it as a capitalist manifestation, I would try to project it as an outcome of various complex power systems that shape human consciousness in today’s world to try make the world appear uniform in appearance, in its delivery of value and in governance. 

Empirical evidence would suggest that this endeavor of uniformity has weakened the spirit of human existence by establishing disharmony with nature.

As various agencies that are in charge, appear helpless in bringing peace in the world today, in my opinion, going back to the basics on individual level is the effective solution. Nurturing independent functional ecosystems based on deep harmonious relationship between humans and the nature - as they existed for ages - is the solution. 

Yogi Arwind performing daily Havan at his Ashram in Rishikesh 2010

For this we will have to change the narrative. Our thoughts, speech, & actions need to be synchronized - from controlling resources to nurturing resources. The uninterrupted chain of gross, subtle & unknown needs to be established.  By removing anomalies, the chain of human, nature & divine needs to be re-corrected.

Yogi Arwind collecting garbage from the river Manadakini at Gaurikund, Kedarnath as a part of Clean Ganga campaign 2011

Particular institutions gain importance in particular phase of time. Now is the time of collective endeavor. The lethargic thought of governments will carry the welfare and we will vote them for a term of office is not going to work. The hidden agenda of religion, economic gain, invasive policy, coercion, is not going to bear fruits. 

Now the change has to start from one's own self! We have to change our lifestyle from making money to shaping consciousness. from acquiring resources to nurturing natural resources. From accumulation of resources to sharing resources. We have to build our consciousness by designing every single small aspect of our life. By making conscious decisions and choices about what we wear, what we consume, what we eat and drink, what we exploit, what we do and not do, how we behave in society and in seclusion, how we speak, what actions we carry.... we have to bring in that consciousness factor in all these above considerations. And we have to ultimately relate it with a conscious, harmonious, peaceful relationship with the nature.

Yogi Arwind planting a tree in Bangalore -2013

We have to wake up every morning with the thought that the nature is mine and I am for the nature. We have to think of sharing with the nature and not exploiting the nature. We have to live the yam-niyams of yogic lifestyle with utmost commitment. We have to sleep in gratitude that the nature is showering its blessings and abundance on us. And we have to sleep with the firm resolution that with the new dawn I will embrace the nature with my pure intentions. I will preserve and protect it.

Do it. And the joy and peace is at your door-steps.

Shubham Bhavatu.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Million Trees Plantation : An account

This year (2016) is the third year of my Ayurvedic plantation at Gandhora in Tuljapur Taluka of Maharashtra, India. In 2014 we started with token plantation do Amla & Bael plants. It was just for the purpose of creating awareness among people and to understand how they take care of the plants.

Palash tree at the Bhavani Yoga Kshetra plantation site at Gandhora
In 2015, our approach was little more bold and wider in terms of impact. We planted about 500 trees n shrubs. It included variety of Ayurvedic species. I myself spent about two months in collecting the saplings from various places, getting the pits dug, actually planting the saplings, putting some protection around the plants, and building the water tank for ensured water supply for the plants. Last year was a year of drought in this region and all plants required watering right from the beginning of the season except couple of months when it rained scanty. Couple of all time attendants for these plants had to be recruited.

Rest of the year I spent most of my time in convincing local people about importance of plantation. I utilised my travel & lectures n Satsangs to convince my friends to donate for the cause of tree plantation. Utilised social media to a great extent for the purpose of canvasing.

In the year 2016, I was more vocal about my campaign of planting 10 million trees. Evehry single Satsang, retreat that I organised, the income was diverted for the cause of tree plantation.

As my approach is to bring in the maximum Vedic concepts and Ayurveda principles in this plantation exercise, we organised Ganesha Yaag on the occasion of Ganesh Jayanti on Feb 11, 2016. Main sankalpa during the Ganesh Yaag was for the abundant rainfall in the region and receiving the blessings of Ganesha for the mission of planting 10 million trees. During my address to the villagers, they committed to plant 15000 plants in June 2016 drive.

I utilised the period from Feb to June to campaign for the tree plantation drive that was planned in the last week of June. Main focus during this period was to raise maximum funds for the drive. My friends & students in India and from various parts of the world responded really well to my appeal and donated generously. In all, donations useful for plantation of 2000 trees (and protection of them) were collected. We received donations from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune etc in India. Foreign funding was received from England, US, Canada, France, Norway, Denmark, & Russia.

In July we started plantation. One program was organised where villagers gathered together. Plants, that were brought from Nashik were distributed to them with written commitment that they will take care of them for minimum three years. During the program and later on approximate 700 plants were distributed. We later on did digging the pits with the help of JCB machines. And ourselves planted about 600 plants. 200 more saplings need to be planted after the pits drain the stored rainwater. 

Following species were planted:

Amaltas, Arjun, Ashok (Sita), Bael, Bakul, Behda, Bhadraksha, Bhokar, Guggal, Hirda, Kadamb, Karanj, Kanchan, Indrajav (Kuda), Moha, Muchkunda, Nevar, Pimpal, Raktrohida, Raktchandan, Saptaparni, Gambhari, Sonchafa, Shyonak, Audumbar, Vat, Amba (Mango), Phanas (Jackfruit), Chiku, Jamun, Peru (Guava), Amla, Brahmi, Chitrak, Gudmaar, Guduchi, Pippali, Kanher, Mogra, Chafa (3 varieties), Tulsi, Ashwagandha, Coconut, Shevga, Hadga, Henna, Shikakai, Gajga, Gunj, Reetha, Ramphal, Sitaphal, Ber, Bamboo, Nirgundi, Parijaat, Adulsa, Punarnava, dhatura.

(All names are in Marathi & Hindi language)

Some of these species with different varieties were planted. I may have missed any names.

Additionally we have planted thousands of seeds of Arjun, Reetha, Shikakai, Ramphal & Sitaphal.
We also have thrown hundreds of thousands of seeds of Ayurvedic plants which fall in the category of grass and shrubs. 

Our intention is to plant maximum plants this year (minimum 25000). As you plant early, you reap the benefits early. For this reason I have been conducting meetings with the villagers of the adjoining villages.

My purpose is to take various varieties to this one single location. Later on the birds, through crowdung, the seeds get spread and automatically more plants grow. This year we witnessed that hundreds of Ashwagandha & Tulsi plants have grown on their own. 

To create good vibe for the plantation, to invoke blessings of the caring goddess,  we performed the Nav Chandi Yajna at the plantation site, to bring benefits of Ayurveda to the villagers, Free health check up & treatment camp was organised where Ayurveda experts treated the patients. And on the same day (Guru Purnima) we felicitated my mother on the occasion of her 75th birthday. She is the one who made the land owned by her available for our plantation.

As far as public support is concerned, it is really herculean task to convince people and get saplings planted by them. Protecting the plants requires continuous guidance sessions for people. As I have mentioned in one of my FB post, More than advise, jealousy works. Some educated souls have got jealous and have been planting more plants out of jealousy. Good for the cause.

Lot of hurdles have been created by some who resort to deceitful means to derail the plantation drive. But my moral is high as I believe it is divine responsibility and the Supreme Mother Bhavani is channelising good energies to overcome any obstacles. My satisfaction comes from the fact that the people associated with this project come from various religious, social backgrounds, from different geographical locations. And already the plantation is useful in giving medicine to the people and they are getting cured.

This is the account of our plantation drive of July 2016, which is part of our 10 million Ayurvedic trees plantation mission.

In the end I thank all the donors, well wishers, volunteers for their kind support to this noble humanitarian cause. If I appeared arrogant, unreasonable during my interactions with you any time, kindly forgive me.

And I make a sincere appeal to donate more for this cause of planting 10 million trees. 
It's not about only planting trees, but creating the monument of our shared consciousness.
I beg you a jungle.

Lots of love.
Shubham Bhavatu.

Yogi Arwind 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I want to plant ten million Ayurvedic Trees - Yogi Arwind

Its been about four years that I am planting trees (Ayurvedic saplings). As a part of my yogic journey, I have traveled extensively in different parts of India and various other countries. Everywhere apart from teaching yoga and philosophy of yoga, important messages I have given are cleaning the rivers, reducing / eliminating use of plastic and planting trees - especially Ayurvedic plants. 

During my travel I realized that India though one country has different weather patterns. There is a confirmed co-relation between trees and rainfall. Wherever more trees / deep forest are, rainfall in these areas is better than the regions which are deforested. Western Ghats, regions of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, North Eastern India, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand are good examples of this phenomenon. So idea came to my mind - why not plant trees where there is scarcity of rain. Parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP, Odisha, MP, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh really need drastic measures and huge drives of forestation so that the green cover & resultant rainfall could be improved.

I started my plantation in Kashmir through some unique encounter. A Muslim lady visited me calling Pir sahab and wanted some remedy from me for the problem of a soul possessing her. I advised her to plant five Chinar saplings and miraculously she said her problem got over. Then I planted trees in Rajasthan, Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. As a matter of faith when people visit me for some divine remedy to their problems, I do advise to plant trees. Increasing number of people give me the feedback that their problems get solved. I call it as divine grace and blessing of Vriksha Devata (Tree God). 

Aamla tree plantation near Bangalore at Kanyaka Parameshwari Temple
I do have a theory regarding this. Human life day by day is becoming superficial by bringing a disconnect between humans and the nature. Modernization, Urbanization have created new employment opportunities and people are moving away from farming. City population is swelling and villages are drying up. Impact of this city ward movement of population is making the village population lazy. Best example is Kerala where people spend their month by waiting for remittance coming from abroad. Same scene is observed in many parts of India. So the villagers are not farming seriously. the lands under cultivation are becoming arid. There is no guidance to these villagers about new methods of farming, fruits plantation etc. Such vast idle manpower in India needs to be tapped for forestation, mass plantation drives. I am exactly trying that.

Farming is predominantly done by our farmers with commercial motive. Which is not wrong. But some measures of common gain, like forestation need to be advised to the farmers. Forestation will improve rainfall in the region and will benefit all. When I share this simple idea with the farmers, they like it and wish to participate.

While doing plantation, choice of plants is very important. Government agencies do forestation too. But they mainly plant the trees which are non-local (foreign), which can grow fast with less water, and which normally don't bear fruits. Such forestation drives help in reporting increased forest area. But all plants don't suit the given region. So I suggest to plant Ayurvedic saplings. General trees useful in Ayurvedic medicines are Aamla, Vat, Peepal, Arjun, Harad, Behad, Bael, Audumbar, Jamun, Neem, etc. These grow into big trees and generally grow in any part of India. And then we have list of other trees which can grow in specific regions. I advise on that too. 

Ayurvedic Saplings distribution at Nashik, Maharashtra
 Another reason to go for Ayurvedic plantation is, increasing demand for Ayurvedic medicine. World over the demand for Ayurvedic medicine has drastically gone up. Many new companies in India are producing Ayurvedic medicine. General worry you would find with the raw material procurement department of these companies is - unavailability of enough raw material. Parts of Himalayas, Cchattisgarh, Odisha, Western Ghats etc are the few regions where you procure raw material from. With increasing demand, the plants are depleting fast. In few years, or may be today itself we may come with the news of ayurvedic products not meeting the specifications as advised in the old scriptures. So planting Ayurvedic sapling is a must. If we wish to give good medicine to ourselves and future generations, we should plant more and more Ayurvedic plants. 

Not only big Ayurvedic trees, but encouraging Ayurvedic farming is important in this regard.

This plantation drive is for the benefit of humanity. So larger participation in this is expected.Everyone may not own farmland, but one may have ability to help buy the sapling, one may have ability to help nourish the plant for two years, one may help protecting the plant. My idea is to develop a big garden for each village where basic medicine for the village could be procured from. 

Sapling plantation at Sao Paulo, Brazil
Cities are cutting trees for making space for constructing new houses, some are cutting trees for making wood available for the housing and industrial purpose, villages are mindlessly cutting trees for source of energy (for cooking fire). During my journey I have seen, if not less, thousands of hands cutting trees. Unfortunately I seldom came across the sight of tree plantations. 

Though I have not kept record, by now, I must have planted between 8000 to 9000 plants. I wish to plant one Crore (ten million) Ayurvedic plants in my lifetime. Directly or indirectly. I am sure I will get necessary help from the conscious souls who think of common welfare. I am sure the divine will complete the Sankalpa.


Shubham Bhavatu.

Yogi Arwind