Wish you all, my readers a very Happy Vruskshmandir Din, Madhav Vrund Din and Yuva Din.
All 3 days celebrated by the Swadhyay Pariwaar, across the globe.
These 3 days also coincide with the birthday of the current head or the Elder Sister of Swadhyay Pariwaar, Revered Dhanashree Athavale – Talwalkar. She happens to be my mentor and guide too. Will write about the parivaar and its founder Revered Pandurang Shashtriji Athavale (Dadaji – elder brother in Marathi) in another blog some day.
Today wanna talk about the outlook that they both have inculcated into thousands of lives in India and abroad. The Vedic philosophy believes in the 4 basic principles
Reverence for self,
Reverence for others,
Reverence for Nature; and
Reverence for the Creator.
The Creator himself resides within me as He, Himself said so in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta.
“सर्वस्यचाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो ।”
श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 15 श्लोक 15
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
(I reside in every heart)
So am divine.
In the same way, He resides in every heart. So there is no question of looking down upon others too.
And goes a step forward to say,
“अश्वत्थ सर्ववृक्षाणाम् ।“
Ashwatha sarva vrukshaanaam
श्री मद्भग्वदगीता – अध्याय 10 श्लोक 26
(Am the Banyan among the trees)
So if the Creator Himself says so, the Nature is divine too. Then how can I even think of harming it!
But Human mind based on reasoning and scientific attitude talks about the need of tree or a cow once it loses it sheen as an object of utility. And slowly loses the feeling of reverence for everything, that has been inculcated in his or her childhood. I need to clarify that am not against the usage of things and objects in our lives, but at the same time it is distressing to see Humans become so emotionless towards fellow human beings, fellow living creatures and nature.
At such a time of distress, comes a Great Man (Human history is full of such great people) who takes us back to our roots and makes us understand to water them, and not bereave them from water. They come out of Law of Universal Necessity, and not out of Law of Attraction and Repulsion or Law of Karma. They teach the Universe about the morals and ethics of life and show the right path to tread on.
Pandurang Shashtriji, Dadaji, is one such person. He explains that people, that is we, look towards nature with a sense of Utility or a sense of objectivity (being beautiful). But He further explains that we Humans who can think and reason and feel, should move a step ahead and try to find and see the divinity within everything. It is based on this thought that He has given an experiment called Vrukhsmandir (A temple of forests).
A barren land is taken up. Barren to the extent that the society at large has started looking towards it as so. And Swadhyayees from 20 villages around that piece of land plant trees in that barren land. Take care of them as family members and grow them. As it is a community work, no one is the owner of the produce. It’s rightful owner is God, Himself. In this way, these 20 villages develop a sense of unity amongst themselves. They help each other and mutually grow. It may sound like some social experiment, but my readers I should draw your attention to the fact that it is purely divine. Everyone who participates here is learning to see God, even in the trees. To some extent, I feel, that Sashtriji has revived the feeling of Reverence towards Nature. There are more than 25 such Veukshmandirs in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
It is an experiment which does have social impact, but Shashtriji explains and propounds that, we do plant trees and take care of them, but we are not environmentalist, we are ‘Bhakts’ (devotees). There are so many instances where lives of people going to Vruskhmandirs have changed and this is the basic idea of what Shashtriji wants to do. He further explains, that if we see changes in the mindset of the society or a positive attitude develops towards nature, for society as a whole, then it is the ‘side effect’ of this experiment. The Vrukshmandir is basically for a human to look into himself and change. This is Swadhyay.
Similarly, the people living in metro cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru or Kolkatta and Delhi and in town and cities have been encouraged to plant a small shrub at home to develop a healthy and a divine attitude towards Nature. Everyday morning, the family members get together and water the plant and utter the ‘Narayanopanishad’ while watering. Two small changes can happen. One is that the family comes closer and their bonding collectively with nature too increases. Singing the Narayanopanishad helps develop the understanding of seeing Narayan, ie God in the tree or sapling planted at home.
This understanding based on the thoughts of Bhakti has transformed lives of people and families. Created a sense of unity amongst society. And yes, indirectly helped in environment conservation too.
Shastriji has also asked upon Swadhyayees to conserve water at home, in fields and in lakes around their villages. Swadhyay parivaar has built thousands of lakes and check dams across many states in India. They call them ‘Nirmal Neer’. Also many Swadhyayees have taken upto rain water harvesting in their individual houses and many villagers have started helping in recharging the ground water levels through an experiment of “Shosh Khadda” (a pit that helps absorb kitchen water into the ground).
My readers might have a question that even after doing all this, we have never heard about it. Because both, Shashtriji and His daughter are of the firm belief that we have to go and share such ideas with people personally. First develop a relationship and then share. It is not a system but their conviction that changes are desirable in the minds of the people. The moment they realise and develop a bond with their God within, then a small Human can do big things. It is this firm belief that has kept the Parivaar together. And so they keep away from Media. There has been no such media propaganda of the ground work that they have done.
Today also happens to be the birthday of Dhanashree Didi (Didi – elder sister). She has been nurturing the Parivaar with lots of love, warmth and affection. The way She connects with people through Her talks and action is just unbelievable. For people who dont know Her, they would feel that am just exaggerating. So even I would say that Seeing is believing. I have seen it and I believe it.
She has taken a lot of efforts to gather all the different pearls into a single thread. The youth, in particular, will remain indebted to Her for generations to come. According to the wishes of Dadaji, She has organised the youth and given them dynamic activities through which the generation of today understand the morals, ethics and more importantly, the nearness of God. So the youth on Her birthday, celebrate Yuva Din (Youth Day). It is a way of expressing their Gratitude to both these ‘ Mahamaanavs.’
At the end, I pray to God that
May He, help us develop the understanding of oneness with Nature and the Universe as a whole.
May He, help us to develop strong bondings amongst Humans that these binds transcend faith and uplift Humanity.
May He, take us closure to Himself and bless us with whatever is needed and right for us.