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Ideas For India

Dec 07, 2003
Holistic farming

If you are still here reading, it is not hard to make the leap to ‘homa farming’. The veneration of fire or agni was not due to any terror it held but because people believed it was central to clear minds, healthy bodies, cleaner environment—and profitable farming. The practice of ‘agnihotra’, is a simple but precise ritual; it has adherents across the world. Claims of benefit are somewhat staggering: “Anyone in any walk of life can do Agnihotra and heal the atmosphere in his/her own home. Thousands of people all over the world have experienced that Agnihotra reduces stress, leads to greater clarity of thought, improves overall health, gives one increased energy, and makes the mind more full of love. It is a great aid to drug and alcohol de-addiction. Agnihotra also nourishes plant life and neutralizes harmful radiation and pathogenic bacteria”. Here are precise instructions for practising Agnihotra.

Indians have genuinely believed music is auspicious, healing and can even bring down rain. They also believed animals and plants throve on music. Here’s an amusing American site that has taken the idea forward and is marketing it with panache.

American verve has been brought to bear on holistic agriculture on another front. Hugh Lovel was struck by the deplorable quality of food everyone ate. He wondered why there was “an intimate connection between fertilisers and pesticides”. Instead of dissolving fertilisers and applying them to the soil, if one caused living organisms to hold and release them as required, soil fertility would be sustained. Lovel was influenced by the Steiner thesis, but he felt there needed to be an easy-to-use applicator for soil ‘remedies’ developed by Steiner followers. His starting point was Galen Hieronymus’s Cosmic Pipe. Lovel’s Field Broadcaster is worth evaluating as an idea for Indians who wish to explore holistic agriculture. There is even a downloadable pdf file with construction details.

Exaggerated claims have often affected ideas originating in India. Theories couched in spirited poetry need to be evaluated rigourously if people would find then credible. The West is very good at clinical evaluation. Remember Benson’s work on meditation? For holistic farming, the Rodale Institute has run some definitive trials on over 300 acres for over 20 years. You can read its report here.

An Indian who has silently practised the Vedic way of holistic farming is Mohan Shankar Deshpande on his farm between Kolhapur and Belgaum. A mathematics graduate, Deshpande was inspired by a Sanskrit sloka in ‘Krishiparashara’. He took to ‘total’ or ‘Vedic’ or ‘holistic’ farming. After 30 years he is still at it quietly ploughing a lonely furrow. In Rajasthan Royina Grewal (author of “The Sacred Virgin”, a loving tribute to the river, Narmada) and her husband have been working on 30 acres of sand dunes in Rajasthan. They are holistic farmers too. You can read their story here.

V Lakshmi Narayanan longs to see more and more educated Indians take after Deshpande and the Grewals. He is a GoodNewsIndia enthusiast and has over time sent every one of the leads featured in this article. He beseeched GNI to carry these as ideas that a rapidly changing India needs. Narayanan is in fact a 35 year old, techno living in the US. Having had a great upbringing in India he is concerned that we are departing from our knowledge systems whereas the West is more aware. ‘I am fortunate to be in the US, where it is easy to buy organic produce.  In India.. ?,’ he asks. You can contact him at

Other useful India oriented links:

Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems


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