Simple living in Rural India
By Caitanya dasa (BVKS)
Srila Prabhupada had such great love for all of us. He felt such powerful compassion for all of us when he saw how much we were all suffering. He felt such pure love for us and simply wanted to give up a better life so that we could be happy. By Srila Prabhupada’s infinite mercy, I was able to taste a small glimpse of what that better life might be like.
I recently had the great pleasure to visit the 100 acre farm owned by ISKCON near Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. I will first give a description of the farm, then second of the various services I performed there, and third I will speak about how I feel this affected my consciousness.
The 100 acre property is large, with rice as its main crop. A few local village families are maintaining different areas of the farm, and there is one 3 acre plot where the devotees stay, consisting of two small buildings. It is being maintained by three brahmacaris. The 3-acre plot where the devotees live is special, because they themselves, without any outside assistance, are maintaining two crops, rice and dahl, which are being grown on the 3 acre plot.
If you take a walk down the dusty path for about five minutes, you will come to the farm’s goshal. I believe 150 cows are being maintained. During the day, I would regularly see the cowherd men taking the cows out to the grazing field, which was a very auspicious sight. They are producing a large quantity of pure milk.
If you continue on down the dusty path trail, you’ll come to an area of more thick vegetation. There is also a very large and long dried river bed about half a kilometer away. I noticed a few wild deer out there one early morning. At the devotee section of the farm, we don’t use electricity, except for one small light. In the early morning and night, we use castor oil lamps. There is a natural water tap from a very deep well, which provided us with plenty of clean and fresh water for bathing and cooking.
During my two week visit to the farm, I had the opportunity to help cut the grass by hand, and then use this grass to make a compost, or natural fertilizer. To create fertilizer involved taking cow dung and pouring it onto the cut grass, which will soon turn into compost. When we use this compost on the fields, it will nourish the land and keep the soil healthy, so that we can continue to use the same land for growing crops. It is a scientifically proven fact that chemical and pesticides destroy the soil, making it barren.
I also met some of the local villagers. I was attracted by their innocence and simplicity. I could intuitively understand that living in the rural country or village breeds these qualities, whereas living in the city breeds qualities like anger, lust, and greed. How is preaching at the farm? Well, they have recruited one local village boy, probably 15 years old, to become a watchman for the property. The boy wears tilak and now chants 20 rounds a day.
How did I feel during my stay at the farm? I began to understand why Srila Prabhupada wanted us to develop rural farm communities, because the mode of goodness is easily experienced in the country, while the big modern cities are filled with passion and ignorance. My consciousness felt peaceful, content, and happy. I found it easy to trade the comforts and conveniences of the city for the simple and natural joys of the rural country. As I walked through the dusty roads in this small part of India, I felt such a joyous happiness in my heart. Watching the cowherd men guide the cows through the fields, I felt as if I was glimpsing a scene from some ancient civilization long ago.
Being in that sattvic environment, I felt that I was able to naturally transcend a lot of the negative conditioning that I have, having been born and raised in the materialistic modern society. It made me re-evaluate my inherit belief systems, beliefs such as “City life is mor advanced than village life”. Most, if not all, people who live in the city do not know how to grow their own food, something that even a small village boy knows how to do. Therefore, if the big computer systems in the city crash, all the people living in the city are dead, because they are dependent on the computer systems to supply their food, and you cannot eat computers. Who is actually more advanced? The simple and innocent villagers, or the sophisticated and intellectual city-dwellers?
All in all, I feel that my consciousness improved greatly during my short stay here on the farm, and am thus eager to try to develop this rural farming varnasrama mission. My conclusion is that to live a truly mode of goodness life focused on spiritual advancement, living in the rural country is definitely the best option.
Imagine it! You wake up before dawn and climb out of your small mud house. You go to the local well and bathe. Then you go to the nearby temple for mangala-arati. After, you take a japa-walk through the lush green fields, with the sun shining down on you, feeling such joy in your heart because you know that at the end of this lifetime, you will be performing the same activities in Goloka Vrindavana.
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