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The Blooming Kash Phool of Hurlung Riverside Beckons Durga Puja – Help us save village Hurlung

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Madhubani Folk Art Style Durga Ma painted by Babu – a NEEV CIL Member

(Do you think we can sell paintings like these to help make NEEV CIL Community sustainable? Please let me know)

Maa aschhen (Maa Durga is coming home) is the expression that reverberates on the lips of every Bengali as Durga Puja approaches. Every festival of India is inextricably woven with nature. Urban folk have lost this connection but those who have the rare privilege to stay in the rural areas can participate in the wondrous harmony of Indian festivals and nature. At the slightest hint of a clear blue sky, pleasant cool breeze, and scattered white clouds, a Bengali villager will announce to the world Maa aschhen( Maa Durga is coming home). It has now become sort of a ritual, clear blue sky, cool breeze and scattered clouds equate to Durga Puja. Doesn’t really matter if it rains the next day but as soon as the sun rises again and there’s this blue sky with scattered clouds, the villager will again reassure himself “Maa aschhen.”

But there is an even more spectacular occurrence that predates the Durga Pooja. It is the blossoming of the Kash Phool. Kaash Phool or the Kans grass (Saccharum Spontaneum) is something every Bengali will identify Durga Puja with. Kaash Phool is a type of grass that grows during this season and is mainly found along the banks of the rivers. The sight of Kash Phool will send any Bengali into a nostalgic frenzy. However, one doesn’t need to be only a Bengali to be enraptured by the beauty of this grass. Adorning the riverside like a tuft of snow against a crystal clear blue sky and fluffy clouds, the sight is magical to behold. One has to see it in order to appreciate it. Words and photographs cannot even begin to do justice to it.

However our advancing materialistic and technological ambitions are wiping out such sights. Where are the riversides where the Kans grasses can grow and beckon Durga Ma, the one who slays the evil. When we have finished with polluting the last river on our earth with toxic chemicals and destroyed our riversides, the Kans grasses will stop growing and there would be no one to beckon Durga Ma to help us from the Mahishasura of technology. Already the riverside of Village Hurlung is prey to indiscriminate sand mining. On a few fortunate days – when the greedy tractors have not scraped every last grain of sand for constructing concrete jungles – we are greeted by a sand bank; on which we can lay down and watch the night sky bejeweled with stars.

I am pasting a few photographs of the Kans Grass adorning the riverside of Hurlung. Several visitors have come to NEEV and have been mesmerized by the sight. You can help us save these natural wonders in a small village by supporting the NEEV CIL School construction. The NEEV CIL school will be the centre for a different kind of education for the village kids, an education that would help them appreciate and conserve nature, an education that will help them adopt a sustainable and ecological lifestyle, an education that would raise an army of children who can redress the wrongs we have done to the earth, an education that would seed a new civilization based on Integral Living – a life without conflict. We spend thousands of rupees buying dresses, making pandals and eating food; none of which is going to save the earth from environmental destruction. If we grasp the real essence of Durga Puja, then we shall join hands with an endeavor that can help save the earth. That would be the real Durga Puja.

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The Kans Grass adorning the Swarnarekha Riverside silhouetted by the Dalma Mountains and clear blue sky

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The silver splendour of Kans Grass shining in the balmy autumn light

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 The Kans Grass shining against a threatening monsoon sky

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 The Kans Grass growing along the Swarnarekha riverside

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The Kans Grass in warm sunny weather bordering the paddy fields of Hurlung

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 The Kans Grass shooting like a white flame besides a Hurlung Village house

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 A dragon fly clutching a straw of Kans Grass against an evening sky

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Picture of our friend Manjeet and NEEV Intern from Germany Eva against the sea of Kans Grass

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Our friend Vinita with the CIL members with the background of Kans Grass

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The Speechless Beauty of Village Hurlung where Dream of NEEV began : The Need to Protect our Villages

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A corn field of a small farmer against the backdrop of the majestic Dalma Mountains in Hurlung Village

 

Village Hurlung is a stone’s throw away from my house in River View Enclave, Jamshedpur. It is the village where the NEEV Herbal Handmade Cosmetics Unit is located. This little hamlet exists, rather sleepily, anonymously, benignly just three kms away from my house. In the sixteen years of childhood I had spent in Jamshedpur, I never came to know about it’s existence. This speaks of how tremendously insulated we urban dwellers are from the villages.

Like a Columbus, I discovered Village Hurlung ten years back when I just let my instincts take over and I followed a dirt track road to wherever it would lead me. Of course I did not have any nefarious designs of colonization as Columbus had. In fact I was so enthralled by the beauty of this village that then and there I vowed to start NEEV and come to this village to protect it. It took us ten years to fulfill this dream. This road to Village Hurlung, again, lies on a bend, barely a few hundred metres from my house. Ten years back when I went on that road, there were barely any shops, traffic or signs of civilization. Today the road has become a thoroughfare for trucks, tractors, cars and all sundry vehicles. The ugly scars of civilization have pock marked both sides of the road. Shops have come up, residential complexes have arisen and now there is even a big warehouse. Fortunately, these are still hugging the city precincts. Our herbal cosmetics soap unit is tucked away, 3 kms deep. But I don’t know how long is it before the grasping, clawing hands of civilization shall devour this amazing Hurlung Village. Before they do, I wanted to post a few pics of the speechless beauty of this village.

Environmental science is taught in schools; almost every day we have newspaper articles on degradation of environment and effects of environmental pollution, and all of us nod in agreement that something must be done to save the environment. But let us admit that these are all peripheral concerns in our life. What matters to all of us is to make careers, make money, fill our lives with gadgets of every conceivable variety, go on expensive vacations………………..all of which create a big carbon footprint on earth. Talk about down-scaling our needs to live sustainable lives and we all start humming and hawing. We are in love with our gadgets, our huge carbon footprint lifestyles.

The impact of our lifestyles are borne by villages like Hurlung, where nature in her resplendence was otherwise ruling supreme. Open skies, vast swathes of green, thundering stillness and rolling fields get swamped and devoured by artificial neon lights, snarling jungles of concrete and the blaring noise of vehicles. Even when the city has not physically moved into the village, it’s pollution reaches through all the sewage and debris collected by the rivers.

Being a sentimental fool that I am, I thought that I can save my beautiful Hurlung village by doing what I am best at – writing and educating young minds. The children are more gullible, more innocent. They buy into my sense of poetry, my love for nature, for trees, fields and stars. The elders are more hard nosed. They want facts and figures, data and statistics and power point presentations on how the environment is being damaged. They would spend aeons of time researching and piling data about how and how much the environment is being damaged. Since I have joined the ranks of uneducated, foolish and unscientific villagers, I prefer the simple way of knowing nature – just take a walk in the village fields, breathe the village air, wet one’s feet in the water collected in the fields and get oneself muddy with the slush. But amidst all this, I carry a deep pain in my heart. Someday this beautiful village is going to vanish. Can I save this village? How I can save it? Is there anyone interested in saving this village?

My Hurlung village does not add to the GDP of India. What can farmers with small fields, and a few ducks, goats and chickens add to the GDP. Perhaps they rightly need to be extinguished from the face of the earth. I write this article and post the pictures of my beloved village with a vain and sentimental hope that there may be a few souls in our NEEV family of supporters who still love poetry of nature, who can put the calculations of GDP aside and dance with the butterflies in the fields and the unworded music of their souls. We are opening NEEV CIL School in Hurlung Village so that I can collect around me more children who see the enormous beauty of their village and protect it. Supporting the school is the way you can help protect nature and a way of living that is in harmony with it.

In our vanity, we protect the creations of man, by declaring monuments of man as heritage sites and investing all our time, energy and resources in them. For me Hurlung Village is a heritage site – a place of everlasting and living beauty……a place where I find God. Would any of you like to help me in this endeavour ?……………

You may decide after seeing these pics of raw nature which were taken with my mobile phone taken in a single day during an early morning walk amidst the fields of Hurlung Village

 

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Harvested Cobs of Corn lying in a farmer’s field

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This single cob of corn was lying like a jewel in the field

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Water lilies growing in a small village pond

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Lush green paddy growing in a farmer’s field. I set this as my mobile screen background and my mobile became like a paddy field 🙂

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I don’t know the name of this plant but it’s large leaves fascinated me. These were growing opposite to the village pond

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The fascinating geometry of a patch of ladies finger field blossoming with yellow flowers

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Bundles of paddy waiting to be transplanted in the fields

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A farmer cultivating his field with hand plough and ox, the way it has been happening for five thousand years

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A paddy field flooded with water

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The shimmering paddy fields of Hurlung

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Villagers making their way through the paddy fields for work – photo taken by zooming the mobile camera so there is an unexpected, beautiful painting like effect

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Another flooded paddy field with amazing colours reflected on it’s glassy surface

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A butterfly posing for the camera

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Since the butterfly obliged us with a photo portrait, the brilliant red dragon fly did it too 🙂

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The road on which we take a walk and from where all the pictures have been taken : a road less traveled 🙂

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That’s Shikha – all smiles : nothing gives her more happiness in the world than a silent walk through the fields of Hurlung

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That’s me with a foolish grin plastered on my face

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And that is Babu – one of the five NEEV CIL Members : Aspiring to be a farmer, holding aloft the green flame of revolution

NEEV as an Integral Living Enterprise

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Dear Friends,

NEEV’s journey has approximately tallied eight years. In these eight years NEEV has been constantly transforming itself on the basis of new insights it has gained with time. NEEV started as a Charitable Enterprise in 2006. After a couple of years, we realized that just charity is not a sustainable practice and not a structural solution to inequitable development and poverty of the world. With this realization, NEEV became one of the first organizations to talk about Social Entrepreneurship. This was the time when NEEV Herbal Cosmetics was born and I also took classes in several MBA institutions like Symbiosis and BIMTECH etc. to help youngsters understand the dynamics of a Social Enterprise.

The next big realization that dawned on us was that there is a further and deeper root to the world problems, and this has to do with man’s greed and divisiveness. This is when we realized that the problems have to be tackled at a much deeper level. Social Entrepreneurship was still an outer, systems level intervention that was not addressing the ethics, value systems and fundamental viewpoints of man. This could be done only by understanding man, not just as a body – mind organism, but as a body-mind-intellect-soul-spirit. This leap in understanding gave birth to a new thinking, a new way of looking at life and a new way of living on earth. This last shift gave birth to NEEV Forum for Integral Living and the final avatar of NEEV as an Integral Enterprise.

As an Integral Enterprise NEEV does not divide work, business and spirituality. It sees each of them as in interrelated whole. The divide between the spirit and matter is the basic reason for all the conflicts and lop sided emphasis on material values which also perils our environmental and social systems. So NEEV is pioneering a new concept of Integral Living which is an embodies spiritual way of living that does not deny mind and matter but includes, uplifts and integrates them with a spiritual existence. This is a movement from fragmentation to oneness, from the divisive and conflict ridden ways of the ego to a harmonious and loving existence on earth based on soul and spirit. It is a tall vision and by no means easy, in many ways, a work of several lifetimes. So NEEV Herbal Cosmetics, NEEV School and NEEV Forum for Integral Living become a means to take forward the vision of Integral Living. In times to come, I am hoping that NEEV will create newer ways of communicating and engaging with this vision with individuals and organizations.

I have been blessed to have the support of all of you which has made it possible for us to keep taking the journey into the unknown and discover new vistas and frontiers of human knowledge and growth. I hope to continue receiving your warm support and participation to make this world a better place.

I am including a brief write-up on what is Integral Living. In case any of you would like to know more about this concept or wish to hold dialogue or offer some suggestions, you are most welcome.

Love,

Anurag

 

What is Integral Living?

Integral Living is a life lived for evolution of consciousness; both, for oneself, and for the entire creation. Perhaps unconscious to us – nonetheless – all life is actually an evolution of consciousness to discover the true Self – Godhead, Immortality, Infinite Freedom and Bliss. In our lives which seem to be a obscure mix of transitory satisfactions, besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering, governed by mechanical necessities, and a body subjected to death and constant mutation : there lies hidden – immortality, freedom and bliss.

Ensnared as we are, in the bewildering complexity and diversity of life, our lives are riddled with conflict. All problems of life are essentially that of lack of harmony and Integral Knowledge/Philosophy. They arise from the perception of undiscovered unity of life. The recognition and appreciation of the true nature of life is the most profound experience for man because it addresses the ultimate questions like – “Who Am I”, “What is Life” and “What is the Purpose of Life”. So Integral Living is a holistic system of knowledge/philosophy to help us appreciate and recognize not only the evolutionary purpose and summit of individual life but also the inherent unity and evolutionary potential of all life despite its apparent diversity.

But Integral Living is not merely a metaphysical treatise that seeks to create a philosophy or system for theoretical study. Its ultimate aim is a transformation of consciousness of man through a revelation of his true nature which is pure self existent truth and bliss. And this bliss is not a supreme pleasure of the heart and sensations with the experience of pain and sorrow as its background. It is, but a delight that is independent of objects and particular experiences, a self delight which is the very nature, the very stuff, as it were of a transcendent and infinite existence.

“So dazzling is even a glimpse of this supreme existence and so absorbing its attraction that, once seen, we feel readily justified in neglecting all else for its pursuit “, says Aurobindo.

These possibilities dwell – as of now – as potential super conscious planes, and to which we may ascend through the practice of Integral Yoga and Integral Psychotherapy. While evolution is an impulse of Life and Nature in general, Integral Yoga and Integral Psychotherapy are kind of evolutionary highways where the gradual – often wasteful – evolution carried by Nature is replaced by conscious evolution through specialized tools of Yoga and Psychotherapy. These tools which have been collated from the wisdom of all ancient traditions (particularly Vedas, which are the oldest records of Man) as well as modern science, psychology and philosophy, help in compressing the evolution of man to a super conscious, super man in a single lifetime; what would actually take several lifetimes, if left merely to the march of Nature.

In the past, such a life was deemed to be the province of religious ascetics or ivory tower philosophers; reflecting on such questions necessitated a withdrawal from the life of work and family. A schism was created between the active life of a man of action and the contemplative life of a man of meditation. But as more and more people wake up to the evolutionary potential of consciousness, there has arisen a need for a fresh revaluation of living for evolution of consciousness: Integral Living is such an attempt. Not only does it seek to blend in the rough and artificial edges of action and meditation but it also strives to create a new language, more suited to the needs and temperaments of modern man for his evolution. It is a paradigm in which evolution of consciousness is carried out in the midst of an active daily life of work and family and for all. So the effort of Integral Living is not just restricted to Integral Knowledge/Philosophy, Integral Yoga and Integral Psychotherapy but it overflows into all of life; igniting evolutionary potentials in all aspects of human endeavor. So we have Integral Education, Integral Science, Integral Health, Integral Ecology, Integral Business, Integral Politics, Integral Economics, Integral Arts………………………………..the list can go on !

There are three main philosophers/seers to whom I owe a considerable debt for helping me create my journey of Integral Living – Aurobindo, Ken Wilber and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Each helped me in their own way to discover different aspects of my Integral journey, and continue to do so. All three of them have differing accents in their Integral view of life and employ significantly different language and teachings, but in their core, retain an affiliation to the principles of Integral Living.