INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY
The two decades corresponding to the period from 1975 to 1995 can be considered a watershed in the Indian History. Reports reveal that the absolute number of poors peoples fell from 1.15 billion in 1975 to 825 million in 1995. All this was the outcome of Green revolution of 1960s which witnessed India transforming from a ‘begging bowl’ to a ‘bread basket’. Since the Green revolution of 1960s, India has never looked back. After seven decades, today we have developed many high yielding and hybrid varieties of different crops with superior genotypes, latest technologies and have established a network of irrigation infrastructure which allows multiple cropping sequences. The revolution was backed by chemical fertilizers and plant protection chemicals.
The chemical led green revolution might be a necessity at that time, but of late it has been realized that we are on a wrong trajectory. The result after five decades of green revolution is that ground water has been rendered poisonous and contaminated with harmful chemicals, air has become toxic, and soil has become unfit and barren for cultivation. Such is the spread of infestation that vast stretches of land extending up to kilometers is now not fit for any drinking water. The Cancer train running from Bathinda in Punjab to Ganganagar in Rajasthan is a glaring example of how we have lost so many lives to the excessive and indiscriminate use of chemicals in our lust to increase the yields. No one can deny the fact that to feed the overgrowing population, the earth has to produce more. This has to be done with limited resources. The only way out is to practice farming that makes the best use of our natural resources and do not interferes with the nature and its processes and which does not comes with any associated health hazards. One such way is the application of Yoga practices in Farming.
Yoga in Farming: Yoga in Farming means applying power of thought. Power of thought is believed to be a new fertilizer that leads to food security. It is a unique form of farming that combines thought-based meditative practices with methods of organic agriculture and is bringing clear economic and social benefits to smallholder agrarian communities in India. It is based on the principle that in the same way as people can feel good or bad vibrations from one another; seeds will also react to thoughts exposed to them. The practice of Yoga, when taken seriously in one’s life sponsors attachment with plants. Yoga nurtures a person in the finest manner when one practices it in a serene environment. In the same way, a plant grows in the finest fashion when supplied with all the necessary ingredients. Mantra Yoga is said to benefit both the farmer and his crops. Plants respond to Mantras vibration that creates a tranquil atmosphere to help these green creatures harmonize. Apart from these, love and respect affect the dynamics of a plant’s growth in the same way as they do humans. Yoga practices like Pranayama, Surya Namaskar, Pranamasana, Meditation, etc. makes us humble and respectful. When we show modesty towards your crops, they return us back with the maximum productivity.
Power of Thought: Farmers have to give seeds the power of positive thoughts through a higher state of consciousness through meditation. This is done through practiced meditators which focus thoughts of peace, non-violence, love, strength and resilience on the seeds for up to a month before sowing. Regular meditations are conducted remotely and in the fields with specific thought practices designed to support each phase of the crop growth cycle from empowering seeds and seed germination, through sowing, irrigation and growth, to harvest and soil replenishment. Plants are as sensitive as humans and animals are. When they are given ideal conditions, plants tend to grow smoothly. The development of a plant is largely affected by the conditions around it. For example, when you nurture a plant with kindness and love, it flourishes but when you neglect it or fail to provide the required attention, it dies. That is the result of a harmonious environment.
Positive thoughts have an impact on nature and even livestock and peoples’ around. Nature reads our minds and power of thoughts can be effectively used in farm sector. Presently, nearly one thousand farmers throughout India are combining organic farming with meditation, which is showing remarkable results. It has also improved farmers' emotional well-being and enhanced community resilience. The meditative practices have been designed for each phase of the agrarian cycle, from seed to harvest.
The Evidence from the Ground: While the concept of Yoga farming originated in India, it has now spread to Europe and other countries where it is practiced in a big way. In the country, ‘Yoga Farming’ is being revived by the Raja Yoga Education and Research Foundation, a sister organization of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, a non-governmental organization headquartered at Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The organization has been teaching methods of personal empowerment based on Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Meditation (BKRYM) techniques for the last 77 years. In this regards, a bonafide research was conducted at the G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GBPUAT), Pantnagar, Uttarakhand in 2012-13 and on a farmer's field in Gagsina village of Karnal, Haryana (2011-12) and at the SD University of Agriculture and Technology (SDUAT), Dantewada in the state of Gujarat from 2009 to 2012 to see the effects of yogic farming through BKRYM on the different aspects of seed and crops as well as its feasibility in agricultural transformation. Results revealed that seeds exposed to BKRYM enhanced germination, seedling growth, and vigor. The quality of groundnut and wheat improved, along with increased soil microbial population. After three years of experimentation, the yield of wheat and groundnut obtained with organics + BKRYM was found to be comparable to that obtained with chemical inputs. BKRYM works best under organic farming. The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) of the UN, in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council. It is also affiliated to the UN Department of Public Information and has Observer Status with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
The Social Aspect: Yoga farming utilizes a systems-wide approach, recognizing all elements of farming: humans, animals and bird, flying and crawling insects, micro-organisms, seed, vegetation and surrounding ecosystems, and the natural elements of sun, soil, air, water and space so as to make viable farming communities. Farming through Yoga comes with a social aspect too. The increasing income further increases farmers' self-esteem reducing the frequency of farmer suicides and lessens the social violence in families and villages. The country’s leading agricultural universities including Govind Vallabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pant Nagar and Sardar Krushi Nagar Dantewada Agricultural University Gujarat are working on sustainable yogic farming practices. A scientist in Annamalai University has found that there is impact of music on plant growth and foreign scientists have found proof of thoughts on seed germination. On Yogic farming Sunita Pande from the division of Agronomy in GBPUAT Agronomist also told of the positive results obtained by the research work being carried out on wheat that showed higher protein content.
Yoga and Farmer: To a layman, there might not be any relation between yoga and farmer or any natural symbiosis between both of them, but world over a movement is growing where farms now open their fields and barns for periodic yoga sessions. Yoga practitioners offer yoga as a therapy with healing powers where yoga is used as a balm for achey bones and sore muscles earned in the field. In the fields, certain works are quite physically demanding, with a lot of bending over, a lot of squatting. Yoga helps teach how to access our core and support ourselves when we are working in these postures. Yogic farming has also been reported to reduce health hazards by providing highly nutritious food which controls the diseases.
International Day of Yoga: Every year, on June 21, the world comes together to celebrate the International Day of Yoga. The day aims to spread awareness about the benefits of the spiritual and physical practice that had first started in ancient India. June 21 was suggested to be the date to celebrate yoga as it is also the day of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. The summer solstice holds significance across many cultures. International Day of Yoga was first recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. The proposal was submitted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the General Assembly about setting a day for the celebration of Yoga and its benefits for all. The resolution found 175 other co-sponsors, the highest ever for a resolution in the United Nations. As a result, the proposal was passed within 90 days of submitting it. With the passing of the resolution, the first International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 21, 2015. Every Year, the day is celebrated with a theme. This year United Nations has set ‘Yoga for humanity’ as the theme. This year's theme aims to focus discussions on the importance of yoga in serving better mental health practices in our lives.
In fact, Yoga and farming both are ancient practices that share a deep connection with nature. Yoga helps people to nurture their true ‘self’ whereas farming nurtures the soil which in turn blesses the plants so that they grow and flourish. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now, official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of yoga to the entire world, a quote of Sri. Sri. Ravi Shankar of ‘The Art of Living’
(Dr. Kumar is a Scientist at SKUAST-K, can be reached at email@example.com)