We – the Idiots

This blog post is from Factory of the Mind blog written by Shantanu

I read a few blog posts about how our march to modernity is ruining life, depleting values and causing massive exploitation. People like me, who’ve ‘stepped out’ of the mainstream regularly express themselves on such issues. Based on such articles and on my experience during the last few years, I’ve realised that we’ve come to belong to a category of idiots – absolute idiots.

We are able to see and very clearly articulate the follies of the system – the education system, the economic system, the governance system, the social system. We are able to see clearly and articulate the exploitation of the human resources, the natural resources, animals and birds. We are also able to articulate solutions, at least a direction in which the exploitation can be avoided, the follies can be overcome. But we are naive enough to believe that others cannot see them. We offer talks and discourses thinking that we’re the prophets. People listen to our rambling and agree wholeheartedly, but also ignore it. Neither the ruling party is interested nor the opposition. Neither the industrialist is interested nor the consumer. Neither the media is interested nor its audience. Neither is the exploiter bothered nor the exploited. That is the ultimate proof of our idiocy. The farmer, for whose cause we are prepared to take on the government does all he can to ensure that his children don’t have to get into farming. The unskilled worker, whose life we thought is better off in the village, is willing to grab half a chance to run to the city and live in miserable conditions. The parent, whose children are being ill-educated by the system isn’t interested in any ‘real’ education. He wants his child to pass the system and make a life for himself. Aren’t we idiots – fighting someone else’s battle, when that someone else himself is on the ‘other’ side.

We think of ourselves as brave pioneers of a new way of life. We think we’re an inspiration and hope for people, who want to take a plunge into bravery. Indeed, we’re idiots – for we are nothing more than a source of entertainment for them. They never call on us. When we repeatedly invite them, organise events for them, they oblige us by coming over. They enjoy the romantic side of our lives and make us feel good about it. To make us feel better, they even share a desire of living a life like ours, but soon forget all about it. Then we’re not expected to disturb them – this chapter is over for them. We, the idiots, tell ourselves that we must go on…one in a thousand or ten thousand will be moved to act!

All this is still not the true representation of our idiocy. There are very few idiots like us, who walk out of a system, without insurance. But all of us want to live independently. We aren’t inclined to collaborate in order to improve our own lives. We hold the flags of our ideologies high, make small compromise every day, but to approach someone with another flag will be to lose identity.

God save us.


Civilisation Why ?

In a R Tagore story, a married young woman finds herself getting attracted towards her husband’s brother, who’s teaching her music. Betrayal is the subject.

But betrayal appears in the dictionary of the civilised not the naturalists or the artistic type. “प्यार किया नही जाता, हो जाता है।” They say. Even the civilised would say the same, if the lady was not married.

The norms of civilisation don’t warrant a frown if she’s equally attracted or spends more time with another lady or an older person or a child or a pet or in the garden.

Children enter the world ignorant of these norms, but the natural instincts are preloaded. We educate them by introducing धर्म – अधर्म, a very tailored version of respect, patriotism and  a whole world of the constitutional framework of a civilised society.

Everything natural is acceptable, but within the confines of civilisation. We even teach them how to become insensitive to their natures.

They do the same to their children.

‘This education is important’, you’d say, right? Otherwise, there would by anarchy. Men wouldn’t coexist peacefully. If might is right, there would be rampant injustice.

Close your eyes for 30 seconds and think. Anarchy, war and injustice exist despite education. If you would agree with me, they exist because of this narrowedversion of education.

You agree with me? But putting it to action is very different. If you amend the education, you might have to accept betrayal as part of life, those who respect you may not, you may get stranded in the vacuum left by the outgoing societal order, you may not be able to cope with the empowerment. Also the scorn of people around you! Will you be able to bear it?

It may be better to disagree.


(Posted from original Shantanu’s Blog http://factoryofmind.blogspot.in/ ) 


Love and hate for animals

Before moving to farm, I had a very rosy picture about cows, goats, dogs, snakes etc.. perhaps just like most city dwellers. But farm exposes one to all kinds of reality.

Here, I’ve been exposed to the good side of animals which makes me love them and also the bad side which makes me yell at them.

Cows, for instance when move about in farm – really make it complete, look so beautiful – and ofcourse all the manuring benefits. Their charm is amazing. But these same animals have damaged most of our plants. We take care of a plant for months and just one day is enough for them to totally ruin the plant forever. This has happened to many of our plants.

Dogs, again – are so damn cute and friendly. But some of them, can go inside your kitchen, steal few packets of food and just runaway.

Wild boars, deers ruin a lot of crop.

Even birds, are so adorable. Just the sight of a flying bird is so relaxing and mesmerizing. But there are times when hundreds of birds (like parrots) eat away your crops in large quantity.

Ofcourse, a lot of (so called) destructive behavior of animals is due to Human interventions in first place – like cutting down forests -their natural habitats.

So my rosy picture has finally met reality. I now know that everything is equally good and bad. Everything has two sides and we need to slowly learn ways to live together – happily !


Can we really change something ?

We are trying to create a food forest, a sustainable farm – a simple life at the farm. Every morning, as I wake up the first thing I hear after the early morning bird songs, is the sound of the axe. Almost everday, I can hear the “thudd” strokes of axe from the nearby forest. Villagers carrying logs of wood to sell in nearby town is also a common sight. So are the news of higher level tree felling done by some private contractors or powerful individuals.

Though, I try to ignore and move on – continuing whatever we are doing. But – subliminally, the frustration and hopelessness is stregthened with every thudd. It makes me wonder, what if in due years to come – entire forest is being cut ! What good is a small green patch in midst of desert ? What good is a small natural, organic farm in midst of hundreds of acres of chemical farms ? And the ultimate culmination of it is at the question – “Can we really change something ? ”

Yes, I’ve heard all the inspiring stories about starfish and importance of “our own tiny act of goodness”. I am exposed to the philosophy of doing good things inspite of everything. But, the question in picture is more to do with larger change. Can all these small initiatives across the world, really bring a change ?

Ofcourse, this is a very subjective discussion and one can go on any side that suits us. But, I am talking of a real fundamental change that can change our direction of future. Will it happen ?

Perhaps not ! The world will move on in the direction it is on. Things will continue to get worse. The strength and momentum of destruction is far too strong than all the jazz of “green” ecological friendly attempts. I must accept this and still find a deeper motivation to do what I want to do.

World will not change if few leaders become honest.
World will not change if some of us become responsible citizens.
World will not change if some of us retort to better greener lifestyles.
However, world will also not be the same.

Thus, I do see the meaning in doing our own things but I do want to get out of the dream of changing the world – which got me here in the first place. If something really changes in the due course time, it will only be incidental and a gift from above. It is difficult to accept the insignificance of our existence and impact of our absence or presence. But then, there is something called the reality.


The prophecies of Tarabich : Are we the doer ?

Somehow, I happen to stumble upon The Prophecies of Tarabich and I am awestruck. His prophecies are definately more than intelligent guesses and far simpler and straightforward than many other famous prophecies.

While, I wonder if there is much meaning in believing, pursuing such future telling. Personally, I am not a reader of horoscope or tarots. However, when someone like Tarabich predicts a lot of events so accurately, it does bring goosebumps. More interestingly, it makes one reflect on the sayings of Bhagvat Geeta – “You are just a medium, not the doer”.

We might think we are exploiting the nature, we might think we are saving the planet, we might think that we – the humans are supreme being in control of our and other’s destinies. That might be merely our thinking. While the truth might yet not be revealed to us.

Anyways you may google and read in detail about the prophecies of Tarabich. Here is a link to Tarabich’s Prophecies.

However, there are couple of prophecies which I’d like to mention here –

Tarabich said,

When the world starts to live in peace and abundance after The Second Big War…Men will build a box and within will be some kind of gadget with images. With it’s help, man will be able to see everything that is happening all over the world.

Clearly, this came true with television. Similarly, he very accurately pointed our current culture –

It will not be possible to distinguish a man from a woman. Everyone will dress the same….


a strange disease will plague the whole world for which no-one will know the cure..

People will drill well deep in the ground and dig out black gold which will give them light, speed and power, and the Earth will shed tears of sorrow because there will be much more gold and light on its surface than it’s interior. Earth will suffer because of these open wounds..

Like these there are many prophecies that he made which totally convinces one that he was indeed gifted. Once you’ve let Tarabich pass on your “suspicion test”, you get curious on what he said about present and future…Here are some of his prophecies which speak to me at some level   –

People will be lost and more and more senseless day by day..Everybody will say, I know, I Know because I am learned and smart, but nobody will know anything.

People will think and think, but they will not be able to find the right cure (of plague disease mentioned earlier), which will be God’s help, all around them and in themselves.

It gets so accurate that it’s scary :

The more people know , the less they will love and care for each other. Hatred will so great between them that they will care more for their different gadgets than for their relatives. Man will trust his gadget more than his first neighbour….

I’ve been wondering if this moving back to villages from cities is also part of some bigger movement, perhaps…

and men will start to die in great numbers. Then people will run away from cities to country and look for mountains with three crosses, and there, inside they will be able to breathe and drink water. Those who will escape will save themselves and their families, but not for long because a great famine will appear. There will be plenty of food in towns and villages, but it will be poisoned. Many will eat and die immediately. Those who fast to end will survive…”

And here comes the end…

The greatest and the angriest will strike against the mightiest and the most furious !…Only one country at the end of the world, surrounded by great seas …will live in peace, without any troubles….Those who run and hide in the mountains with three crosses (?) will find shelter and will be saved, to live after in abundance, happiness and love, because there will be no more wars…”

Tarabich reminds me that after all the darkness there is light at the end..and the darkness is also with a purpose. He re-enforces Yin-Yang, words of Sri Krishna. He elucidates on words on Gurdjieff, Osho, Buddha…Tarabich hints at me that what I am doing is not my fancies or personal vision but is somewhere linked to a greater movement of events.

I don’t know if I will be alive to see a day of no wars on earth but just that statement gives me hope and relief.


Are we missing the root ?

I just returned from National Permaculture Convergence in Hyderabad. It was a lovely event and clearly a milestone in non-chemical farming events. It saw several wonderful speakers from all over the nation from various disciplines. As I sat in the auditorium listening to amazing talks of various speakers, a thought kept crawling in my mind all the while.

Like any other similar forum, a lot was said about green revolution and it’s harmful affect, about chemicals, pesticides and their ill affect, about corporate conspiracy and insensitive government.  A picture emerges in such gatherings, a world view is formed which looks like “the truth”. However, there was constant unrest in me saying – this is not it. There is something more to it. The story doesn’t end or start where we are ending or starting it. It goes deeper, it goes further.

I feel we are still not working at the roots of the problem. I feel that we still haven’t really understood the issues. I feel we are still caught up in the same turmoil with an illusion that “we are out of it”. It’s very difficult for me at this moment to really express what is the root and what’s the story further. However, this gut feeling is very strong that “this is not it”.

This is not just about farming but about many things. Say, education. We talk of the narrative how Britisher’s English education system destroyed our traditional education system (pretty much like modern farming destroying traditional systems). We can really analyze it very well, present a very strong and well sounding critique. However, that’s just one part of the picture. There are more parts to it for it to be truth. We must find it all before we label it “truth”, else we need to maintain our tentativeness in thought and action. If we have this agreement that we need to further understand the issues and we have more layers to uncover – we will end up doing it. However, can anyone help us if we assume that we know the truth, when we are far away from it ?



Winter Gathering 2015

What a lovely end of 2015 with Winter gathering. It couldn’t have been better. A dozen strangers coming together to live in harmony with nature. Accepting differences within each other, celebrating individuality and cherishing togetherness.

You may read Shantanu’s blog on winter gathering here.

Here is a little video with pictures and videos of the gathering :-

The Madmans Farm : Winter Gathering 2015 from Shashi Bhushan Singh on Vimeo.

Once again thank you Binal, Deepti, Manvendra, Vineet, Pradeep Ji, Charnita, Ikrav, Priyamvada, Sandeep, Ritika and Gulrez for making the winter gathering  – an event that we will cherish for long.


Food Forests

Over last few years of our work with land, few things are becoming clearer :-
1.) Agriculture as it is carried out today is becoming increasingly difficult with every year. Primarily, due to changing weather patterns and increase in Human greed.
2.) Trees are not only more tolerant to weather changes, they offer many additional benefits to human beings and environment.
3.) Fruits are more nutritious and healing that grains/cereals.
4.) Agriculture (crops) are labour intensive – and it is becoming a problem everywhere.(The only other way to go about is complete mechanization – which has it’s own implications). Trees on the other hand require care only for first few years.
5.) Generally, most of the fruits have more or less a stable market and market price whereas the crops market is heavily fluctuating.

Once we look at reasons above, the natural curiosity is “If it’s so simple and straightforward to grow trees, why don’t we all focus more on food forest and tree plantation* instead of grappling with crop issues ?”

(*Natural Forest like plantation with mix of fruit and native wild trees is what we are calling food forest while tree plantation is being referred to plantation of only useful trees arranged in rows and columns)

Broadly, here are few possible reasons –

1.) Trees require a gestation period of 3-5 years, thus farmer’s immediate needs are better met with 90-120 days crops.
2.) The patience, the vision / planning of tomorrow is a scarce quality in farmers.
3.) Lack of awareness, guidance, system support, living examples – discourages any move on that front.
4.) Mass scale crop farming encourages everyone to be safely part of majority and follow the rat race.
5.) While it’s true that trees are more tolerant but even their production can be damaged by changing weather patterns.
6.) Traditionally, in the psyche of Indian farmers – fruits were always fetched from forest or few trees commonly found in the village. The idea of growing forest is alien to most.

As we move forward, however trees are our only saviours. Most of the problems that we face today; be it global warming, food security or financial stability – can be all mitigated with help of trees. There is need to create to set up living examples and inspire farmers to set up food forests.

At Madman’s farm, this is the direction that we wish to move towards. We have already grown food forest in half an acre of land and done tree plantation in 4 plots but slowly we wish to expand it further and become a primarily a food forest. Nothing beats the company of a tree :-).


How little do we know about Farming !

It comes as a surprise to me to know that we know so little about farming in spite of immense advancements in science and technology.

With absolutely no idea of farming, I started farming. All I knew was – we put a seed, it sprouts and if taken care of, it turns into a tree. It was not that simple. A lot of things need to be considered, I learnt as I experienced farming. The impact of soil, stars, time, rains, water, species, weather, location – all needs to be factored in.

As my hunger to learn more and more about farming increased, the more I found myself in grey zones. There were no authoritative texts on even the most fundamental questions of farming. For instance,

Why do we till ? Is it necessary ?  If no, how do we go about it. If yes, how much and how to do it ?

I Googled, I read books, I watched documentaries, I talked to local farmers and to old men of the villages. None of them could give a satisfactory answer. The old man, came closest to my satisfaction.

Why and how do pests/insects come up during a crop cycle ?

There is ample information on both chemical and organic treatments of pests and disease but no good reading on why do pests come up in the first place ? Vague answers do exists but they all have their exceptions right in the garden of the answerer.

Of-course we know a lot about a lot of things in farming but that information overload is perhaps what keeps us away from real questions. We might have technology to grow exotic varieties of rice, to grow crops without soil, to transfer a 100 year old tree. Yet, we know so little about what really happens when we grow paddy, what is life web in the soil and how an old tree communicates to cosmic energy !

There is need of sincere enquiry into farming and it’s practices. Perhaps each farmer has to carry out his/her own individual research. May be, we as community can find answers to some of the most important questions. For finding answers, or even simply pursuing fundamental questions such as these will open up a world before us.