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.


Embracing Agnihotra from Vedas

According to Vedas and Hindu Mythology, Yagya and Havan were two very essential rituals for every aspect of life. Marriage, Death Ceremony, Celebrations, Festival, Farming activities, Spiritual Ceremonies – they all revolved around some form of Yagya or Havan. According to Vedas, Yagya and Havan are vedic rituals to communicate with cosmic energy, to send messages to Gods. It usually involves a fire cermony where offerings are made to the fire. God is believed to have “Agnimukh” i.e. Fire as his mouth, so we make offerings to fire with the faith that it’ll go to God.

While a Yagya is more elaborate ritual, Havan can be a very simple and small ritual. Yagyas may go on for days, months, year and may involve various other aspects like Satsang, Dana, Bhoj etc..While Havans are usually simple. Further it can be said that Havans are primarily for personal and worldly benefits, a Yagya is often for world’s welfare.

Agnihotra is a very simple form of Havan prescribed to be done right at Sunrise and Sunset. The offering of Desi Cow’s ghee and unbroken rice (Akshat) is made to fire of cow dung cakes. It is suggested to do it in a pyramid shape container called Dasangula patra. It is believed to purify the environment, attract positive cosmic energy and ensure general well-being of all living beings in its vicinity.

Courtesy Homafarming.org

Courtesy Homatherapy.org

Personally, I had heard of this in my childhood when my mother used to perform it.I had vague memories of the calmness that I used to enjoy and the fun of racing with time of sunset and sunrise.

Recently, me and Priyamvada decided to start Agnihotra again at the farm. While there is an entire farming technique and philosophy called “Homafarming” that goes along with Agnihotra, – we were more interested in only Agnihotra. We were simply interested in starting something sacred together.

So, we started Agnihotra few months ago. We are in love with it now. The calm it induces, the fun of it, the simplicity of it, the mystery of it – we like it all. Whether it is because of Agnihotra or something else, that debate is quite meaningless for us.

We feel good performing Agnihotra and hence also believe that our crops, plants and fellow living beings will also benefit. We use it’s ash in various ways in our everyday life and natural farming. I think we have found a lovely companion for our natural farming and spiritual journey. It certainly introduces positivity and peacefulness in our lives and we would certainly recommend it.

Agnihotra need not be a life-long process and that’s the beauty of it. It’s really like a friend. No hard rigid rules, no punishments -it only shared whatever lovely things it has to offer. It’s just like a sacred moment of prayer where we get an opportunity to be grateful to nature’s elements, to earth, to sun, to soil, to God for everything that they bestow us with.

(For more details, please web-search “Agnihotra” or “Homafarming”.)