Radhika often talks about one of the Sri Sri’s articles where Guru says that all-round exposure to life can be achieved in as few days as just 5 days. He says, spend a day with a farmer, another day @ jail (without committing crime), a day at psychiatric hospital, spend a day as a school teacher, and finally spend a day at funeral home. Sounds different ad interesting? Do read the article mentioned in this blog at the bottom. Today, I spent a day with only farmer that I know closely, Venky Talla as “Venky”, who is my classmate from JNTU days, and who also spent good time in US, and moved back to Hyderabad almost at the same time as me.
Venky calls himself as an IT Farmer and has always been a worried man, like most of us, about food pollution, use of pesticides in farming, and dozen more environment issues plaguing our home planet today etc. However, Venky has decided to do something about his worry. He actually started his own 13-acre farm a decade ago, evangelizing Organic Farming via Hyderabad Green Acres, and positively influencing ecosytem (land, villages, other organic enthusiasts, and more) around Bhongir. If you take a look at his farm via Google Earth, I have been told, that only patch that shows green around his farm vicinity is his Hyderabad Green Acres.
After a decade of venture into farming, I finally got a chance to visit his farm today, along with Aniketh Chintala, and my niece Shreya Chintala and Akshaya Chintala. Since weekend is pretty much over, my brief blog and a 10-minute video of my visit to Organic Farm, with Manav Talla (Venky’s 10th grader son) as the tour guide, is released for your viewing pleasure.
I remember Venky going to farm every weekend for last 12 years, and today I felt it is well worth and satisfying effort, after visiting the farm. It was also quite endearing to see Venky’s 10th grader (who is also US born kid) talking so fluently and passionately about Organic Farming. It was a great experience to kids, to see first hand, how a farm is run, and and effort that is required to truly make it organic. I loved his statement, “There is NO trash can in the farm. Everything here is recycled”. So after we ate fresh mangoes in the firm, we did not look for a trash can for throwing our food residue 🙂
Hyderabad GreenAcres is a rustic wildnerness that helps urbanites connect with nature. It is an organic farm and an outdoor camping site too. Check out website and FB page. Venky says, his farm is an attempt at simple, alternate and “Sustainable Living” in a natural setting and explore ways to tread more lightly on the planet. It gives one an opportunity one to observe nature, introspect and reflect upon our lifestyles and also our role in this natural world, how we are spoiling it, and what we can do to avoid it. While one can enjoy the farm stay in the idyllic countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city life and come to appreciate nature, it provides food for thought about sustainability and a transition plan to life beyond cheap fossil fuels.
Radhika and I have been enjoying the bi-products of this farm for a long time. Source of mangoes for pickles this summer is also Venky’s farm. I mentioned to Radhika that now the farm is being equipped with separate wash rooms for boys and girls, basket ball court, small pool, and more. She is now planning to arrange for 3-day AOL camp at the farm, to get kids and class participants to experience satvik style of living.
Venky hopes that this model will inspire and motivate people to channel some of their actions towards, what we can call as, individual social responsibility. The farm is located close to Yadagirigutta – Raigiri junction on the Mothkur road past Bhongir Fort about 65 kms from Hyderabad city. If you are interested in knowing more about Venky’s initiative, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Highlight of Venky’s Journey:
Awesome Article from Sri Sri (from blog @ http://srisriravishankar.org/different-faces-of-life/) which allows one to get a true introspection of our LIFE, before it is too late.
The ancient scriptures say that we are all floating like shells in a vast ocean of life. Even though everybody is born out of the same consciousness, no two lives are the same. As diverse as our lives are, they are inter-dependent on each other and there is something to learn from everyone. To get an all-round exposure to life, take out not too many but just five days.
Spend one day with a farmer. Go with him to the farm early in the morning and see whatever he does throughout the day. You will become sensitive towards the environment, towards food. One third of the food in the world is wasted and thrown. Spending the day watching the farmer will let us know the hard work and resources that go into producing food. And then we will think twice before wasting it.
Spend one day in jail (but without committing a crime). You will realise that the people we label as criminals and put in prisons landed there due to circumstances, due to ignorance. When anger grips a person, he is not in control of his actions. If you ask the most hardened criminal, they will say, “I didn’t do it. Something came over me and it just happened.” It will become evident that inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. Compassion will arise in your heart. If you have hatred in your heart towards anybody, that hatred will vanish.
On the third day, become a school teacher. You will understand why a guru is needed. Wherever you are in life, there are so many people whom you can help and guide. It brings a deep satisfaction within. It’s not that only those with long hair and beard can be gurus. Everybody can play the role for at least some people. You don’t really need a special skill to be a guru, you need compassion. Being a teacher, you can channel that compassion to people. “I want nothing but my student should progress.” Such unconditional love comes to our life.
Spend the fourth day in a mental institution. Whatever anybody in a mental hospital says to you, whatever names they call you, you won’t take it to heart. After spending a day when anybody can say anything to you, you will develop the strength to face criticism without being shaken. Not only will you be strong enough to accept all criticism, you will have compassion for those who criticise you. We get anxious over small matters. “What does he/she think about me?” We are shaken and then we react to these things. You should have the courage to give criticism and the courage to receive criticism as well. If we teach our children this, they will grow into strong and stable members of society.
Spend one day in the cemetery or funeral home. You will have a very close and intense experience of the impermanence of life. Whatever complaints you have will vanish. Having the experience that death can come anytime will change your perspective on life for good. Just a formal education is not enough. It is important to explore different dimensions of life to get a holistic education. When we keenly see the different facets of life unfolding around us, it makes us centered and established in our self.