Thursday, December 22, 2011

An auspicious beginning

Perhaps it was inevitable that our paths would cross. We share a name ('Raju'), and a Quaker faith (my wife's). But there are differences in our life experience. Most of my knowledge is book driven (Slow Money being the latest read), which eventually led me to Fukuoka. And Raju Titus is a man of experience, who has been  walking on Fukuoka's path for almost a quarter century. I was surprised to ring him up and actually talk to him in person. I was even more surprised when I asked him to visit Ranchi, and he agreed on the spot.

Bhart Sevashram School garden and hall
The invitation was extend to Raju Ji on behalf of Bharat Sevashram. Our family has been involved with them, for spiritual sustenance and helping out in their social activities. One of their recent projects is a school, about 30 km from Ranchi. Nestled between hills and Saal forests, the school started through the generous donation of land from a local couple. There are about 150 children who stay and learn here, and this seemed like fertile ground for Natural Farming. We recently purchased an adjacent land, and we would like to make the school self-sufficient in terms of their food needs. I spoke to the monk in charge, and he was eager to meet Raju Ji. And Raju Ji was equally eager, and took a long train ride to Ranchi from his hometown of Hoshangabad.

Raju Ji talking with Charan Maharaj

We had a chance to meet with a couple of senior monks from the neighboring Ashrams, one of whom in particular, Charan Maharaj, had very fruitful discussions with Raju Ji. We watched his engaging presentation, which comes alive when he talks about his personal experience, backed up by photographs. Charan Maharaj was a convert, and he called up his Ashram in Gumla and asked them to start preparing portions of the land to start practicing what Raju Ji was teaching.

Digging up termite dirt in the woods behind the school
The next day, we went to the school. Raju Ji is a natural teacher, and we started out with a trip to the nearby woods in search of termite hills. After digging up a couple of buckets of the dirt, Pintu (Raju Ji's able helper and companion) lead the kids in kneading the dirt into a dough like form. We then had all the kids roll the clay into balls, and embedding seeds in them.

Pintu leading the children in making clay seed balls.
Raju ji then got in front of the group, and wrote down the importance of the health of soil: healthy soil produces healthy food which supports healthy lives. With a little help from a couple of the teachers, Raju Ji's easy interaction was translated to Mundari, and the exchange was lively. 

It was then time for lunch, and after lunch, it was time for a presentation. Raju Ji walked us through his set of slides. For many of the children, it was probably the first time they had seen an LCD projector, and they were visibly excited. There were some interesting questions from one of the teachers: if digging the soil is violence, how do we grow potatoes?

Raju Ji covering up the seed balls with rice straw
After the presentation, Raju Ji lead us to the garden, and we planted the seed balls and covered them in straw. He had to leave the next day, but not before another set of meetings with the Bharat Sevashram monks and also a very inquisitive monk from the nearby Ramakrishna Mission TB Sanatorium.

It has been a pleasure to be in Raju Ji's presence for the last couple of days. We talked at length about farming, about life, about why Natural Farming is not catching on. I admire his sense of ease. He cares deeply about Natural Farming, but he is not frustrated that others do not seem to share his enthusiasm. He is generous with his time, his knowledge, and every resource he has at his disposal. I hope that the seeds that he has sown in this corner of Jharkhand will blossom into something significant. There are serious, dedicated people who have been moved by his vision, and want to follow his path.

More pictures from his trip.


Raju said...

इस कार्य शाला का सबसे उत्तम अनुभव ये रहा की छोटे छोटे बच्चे मात्र कुछ समय में बीज गोलियां बनाना सीख गए और उन्होंने उन्हें बिना जुताई खाद और दवाई कैसे बोते हैं सीख लिया और जोर से चिल्ला कर कहा की हाँ अब हम अपने खाने के लिए कुदरती आहार उगा सकते और खुद पका कर खा सकते हैं. हम किसान बन सकते हैं. मित्रों हम जो अपना आहार खुद उगा कर नहीं खाते हैं तो इस से हमारे किसान गरीब होते हैं और वे आत्म हत्या कर रहे हैं. जबकि अपना कुदरती आहार हम आसानी से छुट्टियों में उगा सकते हैं.
हम सब किसान थे और आसानी से हम अपना खोया सम्मान किसान बन पा सकते हैं. हम कोसिक्जी के आभारी हैं की उन्होंने हमें इस अनुभव को प्राप्त करवाया. धन्यवाद -राजू .

Harley Dobbs said...

what were you doing that to the termites for?

Sushil Badani said...

आपको आपके प्रयास के लिये साधुवाद ।

Sushil Badani said...

आपको आपके प्रयास के लिये साधुवाद ।