It Could Happen to You

Yogic farming for 118.9 million farmers? God bless

You never know Union agriculture minister Shri Radha Mohan might set a record.

 |  It Could Happen to You  |  3-minute read |   16-09-2015
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I remember a neighbour, since deceased, who had tried to turn our building into a "yogic apartment". He used to go up and down the stairs, all seven floors, with a Tibetan singing bowl in hand and "Om" on his lips. The combined noise was always a mind-altering, "Oooooooooohhhh".

I was reminded of him by Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union agriculture minister, who wants to introduce "yogic farming" in India. At a function attended by agricultural scientists and farmers in Delhi on September 13, he said: "With the help of Raja Yoga, we should enhance fertility of the soil… Every day, farmers should give vibrations of peace, love and divinity to seeds and his farm land… Such exercise is accepted by my ministry, essentially to enhance Indian farmers' confidence."

It's an excellent idea. Across the country farmers are in distress. Over 3,000 have committed suicide in the last three years. But no minister finds the time to visit distressed farmers or grieving families. In fact, no minister finds the time to even talk about them. Oh, no, sorry: Shri Radha Mohan is probably the only one who does talk about them. In July this year, in response to a question raised by Rajya Sabha members, he had given 12 reasons behind farmer suicides, including "professional/career problems", love affairs, barrenness/ impotency and "unknown causes". Rajya Sabha members were not happy.

But farmers will be. No, not with his list, but with his appearance, if he does - puja ghanti in hand and "Om" on his lips - amidst them, to boost their confidence. I am sure, farmers will be delighted with such vibrations of concern. And Shri Radha Mohan will be able to set a record, too. Not even emperors Ashoka or Akbar, who had the reputation of wandering incognito among their subjects, had been able to do this.

For all Doubting Thomases, here's some advice: Please understand that Shri Radha Mohan was not speaking in a vacuum. For the last few years, the Goa chapter of Indian Council of Agricultural Research has been mulling over such a scheme, inspired by Prajapita Brahmakumari Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya, which practices something called the SYA (or sustainable yogic agriculture). Instead of chemical fertilisers, manipulated seeds and harmful pesticides, here farmers have to practise meditation, before and during the seed-sowing process and then at frequent intervals, till harvest. It is claimed that pumped up with positive energy, happy seeds produce happy crops.

Everything, of course, goes back to the vedic era, 1500-500 BC. And the text at the centre of all this is Krishi Parashara, one of our oldest texts, meant for the benefit of farmers, tentatively dated between the first and fourth century AD. Surprisingly, the 1999 translation by Nalini Sadhale does not mention meditation as the mainstay of farming. Rather, the 249 verses are dedicated to good farm management - from rainfall, clouds, wind direction, cattle, manure, sowing and planting, water retention, weeding and plant protection, harvesting, yield measurement to storage of grains.

One last word: Raja Yoga is the prince of yoga. Its ultimate aim is the attainment of a higher states of consciousness through eight-fold practices, which include strict vegetarianism, relentless honesty, truthfulness, absolute freedom from all material desires and abstention from sex.

According to Census 2011, there are 118.9 million farmers across the country. How long will it take to turn them all - ok, at least, some of them - into Raja Yogis? That's like asking: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

We wish Shri Radha Mohan best of luck.

Also read: Maharashtra must wake up: Kill bans and save farmers


Damayanti Datta Damayanti Datta @dattadamayanti

The writer is Executive Editor, India Today.

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