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“The Smell of Farmers Vitalizes The Leaf.” Said Tarun’s great grandfather, an enlightened farmer and leader of the community. Let’s explore this thought that’s profound in its implications, pragmatic and spiritual.
The Price of Not Listening: Let’s start before us humans arrived: A world where nature flourishes… of great Forests, wild scrubland, steppes, or marsh… each are living dynamic entities, where soil, climate, billions of species unite, and trillions of creatures are enriched. But as mankind’s influence grew. Nature’s innate wisdom had to flow through another channel. The Farmer. Wise farmers are the backbone of life. While foolish short-sighted agriculturists can denude and impoverish. What can be cradles of life can quickly turn into deserts, literally.
Say Deserts and what comes to mind is the sprawling inhospitable, Sahara. But did you know that just 6000 years ago it was a verdant grassland, with rainfall galore, and life teeming. So what happened? According to Archaeologist David Wright*, nature’s balance was upset by goat herders, and nomadic practices of setting land on fire. Now we see this happening before our eyes in The Gobi Desert.
Because this relation between Farmer and land is so precious it must valued. Proclaims The Atharva Veda in a glorious prayer to Prithvi, the Mother Earth: “Let what I dig from thee, O Earth, rapidly spring and grow again. O Purifier, let me not pierce through thy vitals or thy Heart.” Real Forest Dwellers, True Farmers, Enlightened Naturalists all innately hold this prayer dear. And all listen deeply truly, magnificently, sensitively.
Introducing You To Earth Whisperers: We had once taken Estate Owner, Amita Palat, into a deep embrace with the earth spirits in her flourishing estate. “I was within and without… I heard, smelt, felt.. it was alive.” Or as another student, Ajith A, respected lawyer, from an estate family said “When you listen really listen, even leaf speaks.”
So what can come between the enlightened farmer and land, Nature’s bounty and mankind. In one word – Shortsightedness. Blinkered human activity. Economic pressures born out of shortsightedness. What makes this even worse is today our economic system, is distorted, debased, perverted. One that because of its limited definitions and weightages has lead us to a point where in just decades we face catastrophic environmental collapse.
The Heavy Price of ShortSighted Reform: Because economics is heavily weighted in favour of tech and industrial companies the knowledge that rests in agriculture, and especially enlightened naturalists is often devalued, discarded, and even violated. But whereas in the IT sector a mistake can be undone with a CtrlZ with nature it is not so easy. A shift can have terrible consequences. For example one of India’s most respected prime ministers, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, decided to energise India’s fortunes with Big Dams. The terrible effects are being reaped today. Something like 50 million Farmers were disempowered, exacerbating the problem of poverty, driven into India’s horrific urban slums. Also in retrospect, dams that cause riverine damage, with problems of silting, destruction of thousands of areas of acreage are now increasingly seen as ugly solutions that seemed attractive in the mid 1950’s.
The green revolutions of the late 20th C in India has lead to cropping patterns shifts, and practices like stubble burning that has terrible effects on air quality in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP…
Or take South and North Dakota USA. The attempt to increase land productivity, without respecting farm culture has been disastrous. With massive flooding and farms increasingly susceptible to pest attack: Says The Agronomy Journal**, USA: “The current trends are focused on maximizing provisioning services (i.e., food and fuel) at the expense of regulating, cultural, and supporting services. The decline of regulating services can be seen in increased peak river flow (up to 100% and 200% increases in South and North Dakota, respectively), as well as by the 100% increase in area treated by chemicals, partially due to diminished bioregulation of pests and weeds.”
With growing populations across the world, there are enormous pressures on Governments to improve agriculture. These result sometimes in the attempt to reform. But often these reforms are done by bureaucrats who have not smelled the soil, have not listened to leaf, have not walked in a farmer’s shoes… In France a few years ago, massive protests wrenched the country. More recently in India, 3 critical farm bills were passed, without the debate and examination such shifts require… Now we are not going to get into the maze that such laws represent. The issues behind any such actions are obviously economically complex… With big business, trade pressures, geo-political considerations… But the truth is simple, if we do not talk to Farmers who listen to Life… mankind may face Saharan deserts where once was dancing field…
Dreamy Psychics and Rural Reality:
Yes, we should listen to farmers. But which farmers do we listen to?
There are 'Fertiliser' Farmers.
And there are Life Farmers.
The first are manufacturers.
The second are those who know Life must be nurtured.
Now it is not easy to listen to whispers of the inner Life.To trust oneself when every passing science graduate and engineer sneers with heads closed in 18th C scientific blinkers. And you have seen the joy and beauty underlying all creation. Yes, you have seen it... And you know it is true. And it is true. The world beneath the world is magical. And so many spirituialists and well-meaning urbanites
will make a beeline to rural areas thinking they will be able to transform it.
But what many of us do not see is that
it is one thing, sitting in an urban park, and talking to plants. One thing going on an inspiring trek into the jungle. But 5 days later one is back to running hot water, fridges and comfy beds. Our ideas of Life however are not earth's ideas of life. Few of us are capable of being Green when nature throws us her challenge.
Deepak*, one of our finest astral travellers, and gifted psychic decided the corporate world was not for him, and thought he would retreat to the pastoral world of nature. Yes, he'd like to become a farmer or estate man. ok, we used contacts and organised a job for him, a good job as assistant manager at one of India's largest coffee estates. He'd have to wake at 5.00 am, work hard till 9.30-10.00 am, then the rest of the day would be his. Oh, but he couldn't wake up so early he said. And walk around the estate for 5 hours. he turned the job down. Sometimes the dreaminess that is at the heart of psychics can't muck around in the cowdung.
But it isn't just hard work that challenges psychics who dream of returning to the pastoral.
It is Nature. A friend of Celia, has a farm in Coorg. And but recently, she had news. In the neighbourhood a posse of tigers had taken seat. Marvellous news for us armchair naturalists, but worrying to someone with young kids, 2 dogs, and cattle.
Dealing with the roughness of life, sometimes breeds difficult social challenges. At one time Nishi & Vinod had a farm near electronic city. Seeing city swellers with dogs. The neigbouring farmers would throw chicken into their farm. When the dogs killed them, the neighbours would demand 20 times the price of a chicken, claiming they were special breeders. This is exacerbated with social and religeous pressures. It is one thing to go for a holiday to one's Grandpa's house, but another thing to deal with power, inequality, injustice...
Money and Moral Questions. The other great challenge is of course that farming can be difficult financially.
And that pushes farmers immensely, and into difficult moral questions. Let's take a simple one. Now all rubber plantations live by draining some of the trees sap, everyday. But there reaches a time when the trees reach a certain age and no longer yield sufficiently. So what does one do? Some cut the trees down and sell the wood. Others go one step furthur. They do a process called slaughter tapping. In it the trees are bled dry, before being cut down. Here a tree has given its life-blood for decades, surely in death there should be mercy. Now the trees themselves slaughter-tapped do not really find it too different from being cut down. But to the land this last indignity matters. And it can express its displeasure. Of course since the land takes years and decades to react, it takes sometimes 10 years after a plantation has been slaughter-tapped for the land to lash back.
Money, Selling, Systems, Trauma. The hard truth is that 80% of Indian farmers are so deeply in debt one could say many are in debt prisons. Which means that many are like flies in a web. But is this unique to India. Across the world, the profitability of the most vital economic activity, agriculture has declined. Never has it been so unprofitable to be a farmer. With money troubles come support with strings attached. And vultures.
Around the farmer are complex meshes of social, financial and govermnmental networks.... these are integral, supportive, sensitive and imprisoning, all simultaneously. Think of a chain mesh that a tree has grown over. So attempting to shift such networks, can have estraordinarily traumatic effects... Also is one moving from the frying pan to the fire? The introduction of mega buyers into a rural network while potentially empowering to some can just change who holds the farmers chain. The entire furore over the recent farm laws in India is over the issue, of purchase, agreements, finance and quality. The simple truth is that agricultural laws are like uprooting a tree and transplanting it elsewhere. A noble idea. Except many transplanted trees die along the way.
Who listens to Baychertan? Now there are land owners and farmers. And very few land owners have a real intimacy with the trees. Many just sublet it to farmers who share profits. For example, Tarun's Grandmother's right hand man on the farm was a man called Baychertan. In village hierarchy, he was just a labourer, a respected labourer, with sons who got Govt jobs, but a labourer. Would he be listened to? Would a tenth class pass man be listened to? Should he be listened to? While he was extremely hard-working, he was much more than hands. He had a deep psychic prowess. Years after my Grandmother passed away, he could see her ghostly form, and with great accuracy, as we confirmed his sighting at least twice. He had a deep connect with trees able to sense soil quality and tree messages. Now it is not that Tarun's Grandmother did not have a deep love for her farm. She spent two hours everyday, walking its length and breadth. And remember she walked across the estate barefeeet, without shoes... thorns and all... But did she have the depth of psychic connect Baychertan did? Nowhere as close.
The truth is we need to listen to The Baychertans. Because they truly listen to The Land, Speak for it.
But how find them? How value them?
Listening to Ma Prithvi & Gaia...
We stand at a most dangerous moment in Human History. Just decades before a weakened environment begins to gasp, and we humans face challenges on a scale we have not encountered for hundreds of years. With groundwater depleting, flooding reaching epic scales across the world, wildfires no longer in control, locust clouds approaching the darkness seen only in ancient curses...
As we stand here, it is clear we need to shift the way we approach Ma Prithvi.
And while as Healers and Spiritual Whisperers we have been doing precisely this for decades... Healing will be like rain on stony soil if we do not listen to farmers, tribalists, forest dwellers, earth shamans... Many among us like Zahid speak for the environment, Kapil has a wild acreage where the land is given back to nature, friends like Gerard have vast estates that are earth friendly, spiritualists Nishi seeks to create a farm that respects nature... many others turn concrete terraces and balconies into mini orchards... It is time to listen... and act...
-- Celia & Tarun Cherian