The Navadarshanam Workshop

Towards Ecological and Spiritual Ways of Thinking and Living

August 14 – 21, 2004

organised by

The Navadarshanam Trust

Ours will only then be a truly spiritual nation when we shall show more truth than gold, greater fearlessness than then pomp of power and wealth, greater charity than love of self. If we will but clean our houses, our palaces and temples of the attributes of wealth and show in them the attributes of morality, we can offer battle to any combinations of hostile forces without having to carry the burden of a heavy militia. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the irrevocable promise is that everything will be added unto us.

Mahatma Gandhi

(from a lecture entitled “Does economic progress clash with real progress?” delivered on 22 December 1916)

My conviction is deeper today than ever. I feel that if India will discard ‘modern civilization’, she can only gain by doing so.

Mahatma Gandhi

(January 1921)

Oh No, not one more workshop!

Wait a second! Do you feel that there is something terribly wrong with the world today? Does the daily news about political, social and environmental problems disturb you? You sense the coming of greater social disorder and environmental disaster? Or you have a vague feeling of disquiet, of being out of sync with your own lifestyle? You want to work out an alternative path, perhaps you have even tried to be different, but a satisfying answer eludes you?

If you wish to share such concerns with others, who are equally perplexed and are wrestling with similar questions and if you want to explore together possible solutions, come to the Navadarshanam Workshop!

Navadarshanam? What is it?

Sure you have some immediate questions: What is Navadarshanam and who are behind it? What is their real agenda? Are they to the right, left or centre?

In 1990, T.S.Ananthu, Jyoti Ananthu, Om Bagaria, Pushpa Bagaria, Pratap Aggarwal, Rama Pai and a few others were brought together by their concern with the crisis of modern civilization. Inspired by thinkers like Gandhi, Schumacher and Fukuoka, the group set up the Navadarshanam Trust to explore ecological and spiritual ways of thinking and living.

Navadarshanam (or New Vision) is an attempt at

  • Exploring and adopting wholistic and natural ways of fulfilling our outer and inner needs
  • Rediscovering our relationship with the creation and the Creative Power
  • Giving up a path of development which fans consumerism, profiteering and growth measured purely in material terms
  • Striving towards the transformation of self by reaching out to that Creative Energy which give rise to all physical and mental phenomena

Lofty aims, you would say. But what did the group actually do, you may ask. Well, they first bought an expanse of 110 acres of hilly land bordering the Thally Reserve Forest, 50 km south of Bangalore along the Tamil Nadu – Karnataka border. In 1990, it was scrubland with just three trees. Over the last decade, however, the process of eco-restoration has changed the landscape to thick vegetation with thousands of trees, bushes and grasses.

Over the years, Navdarshanam has been experimenting with organic farming, eco-friendly housing and community living, alternative energy, and promotion of health food. It also conducts Study Circle Meetings in Bangalore and encourages individual and group visits to its campus. There are over 500 friends of Navdarshanam in Bangalore alone. On Republic Day every year, Navadarshanam organises a gathering around an appropriate theme.

Why a workshop and what is it all about?

The trouble is that, if you have a vision and you have done something about it, you also want to spread the gospel. In its experiments, Navadarshanam has experienced both successes and failures and, through the Workshop, it seeks to share its 12-year experience in the path towards an ecological and spiritual way of thinking and living. The group would like to make the Workshop a dialogue through which both the participants and the organisers find new insights into the state of the world and the dilemmas of the individual.

The participants can witness the experiments made in eco-restoration, water and soil management, organic farming, renewable energy, appropriate building technologies and preparation of health foods. They will also find out how these practices are implemented and integrated within a small community.

The workshop topics could include global crises in environment, agriculture, water, energy, habitat, medicine, etc.; possible solutions to the crises; emerging ideas in science, technology and ecology; the unsustainability of the dominant approach and the need for an alternative lifestyle; importance of inner work, etc.

The workshop will be a mix of presentations, discussions, field visits and explorations. There will be also practical sessions in which participant-groups will make in-depth studies of specific themes. In the evenings, the whole group will explore together deeper issues concerning the integration of ecology and spirituality, inner work, etc.

If you are a practical person and want to learn any one technique in depth, the Workshop will disappoint you. It is not a specialised workshop on any of the methods and technologies implemented in Navadarshanam.

Who will be with us in the Workshop?

A decade is enough time for the original promoters of any idea to quarrel and split! Surprisingly, the group named above is still together and you will meet them at the workshop. You will also encounter other characters like Atma Ram Saroagi and R.Rajagopalan.

All this sounds interesting, but you want to know more about them, before committing yourself to the workshop? How dangerous are they?

  • With his flowing beard and sparkling eyes, Partap Aggrawal (Ph.D. in Anthropology, Cornell) is the resident philosopher. Convinced that the kind of ‘progress’ that has taken place in the West was not the ideal way, he became the Coordinator of the Friends Rural Centre at Rasulia, Hoshangabad, where he pioneered the idea of natural farming and brought out the Indian edition of the Fukuoka classic “The One-Straw Revolution”. He can also transport you to higher planes through his bhajans.
  • T.S.Ananthu (B.Tech., IIT Madras and M.S., Stanford) worked for 15 years with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. His small book on Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj triggered the birth of Navadarshanam. Ask him to speak on Kabir and you will always remember it.
  • Jyoti Ananthu (Ph.D. in Sociology) has taught at IIT Delhi and has explored the emerging Gandhian and holistic worldview. Jyoti and Ananthu have been anchoring the Navadarshanam efforts since 1991. She is a natural counsellor and you may end up telling her all your problems!
  • Om Prakash Bagaria (B.Tech., IIT Kharagpur) is a restless industrialist whose life was changed by the Moral Rearmament Movement. He is the only genuine engineer in the campus (the rest are fake!) and is equally at home with appropriate technologies and spiritual movements.
  • Pushpa Bagaria (M.A., Allahabad) has many creative talents including playing the sitar, gardening and preparing health food.
  • Atmaram Saraogi (AMP, Harvard and LL.B., Calcutta) is a different kind of corporate consultant. He has been actively involved with a number of Gandhian groups and voluntary organisations across the country.
  • R.Rajagopalan (B.E., Madras and Ph.D. IIT Kanpur) has worked in industry and taught at IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras. His interests are so wide that you cannot trust him on any particular topic. He mistakenly thinks that he is a veteran of workshops and is coordinating this one! You have to first approach him!

In addition, you will meet other trustees, staff of Navadarshanam and outside resource persons. The Workshop will be conducted in Indian English.

I am dying to join! Do I qualify?

If you are confused and in the age group 25 to 45, please apply. If you can bring your spouse along (as a serious participant, we mean!), we will be delighted. We encourage women to apply. We cannot handle more than 25 participants and so please rush!

Will it be at least 3-star accommodation?

We can only provide modest shared accommodation with plenty of mosquitoes (nets given). If you want to bring your family and pets for a holiday, please do it later. Healthy and simple vegetarian food will be given. Pizzas and burgers are out, but the landscape will make up for everything!

What if I do not want to leave after the workshop?

If you want to stay on for some more days at Navadarshanam, please inform Ananthu in advance (Keep some cash!). If you are so impressed that you want to spend the rest of your life there, talk to Ananthu again and he will try to dissuade you. That is a trick, because Navadarshanam is looking for young persons to join its quest (the right type, of course!).

Come to the point! How much will be the damage?

We are not rich and to cover the costs, there is an all-inclusive fee of Rs.2500. (Don’t ask us to pay the taxi when you reach Navadarshanam!) If your parents have cut you off and you are broke, please let us know.

When is it?

The brainwashing will start in the evening of Saturday, August 14 and end on the morning of Sunday, August 21, 2004.

I am curious, but I want more information (say, about the daily menu)

Call or send email to: 

Prof. R.Rajagopalan                                  

292, 1st Cross, 6th Block, BEL Layout

Vidyaranyapura, Bangalore 560 097

Phone: (080) 2364 5178

Email: rrgopalan@vsnl.net

Any format for the app?

Send your C.V. (short, please) giving name, age, education, job history, address, telephone numbers with area code, and email address. Please tell us also

  • How much are you concerned, confused or perplexed?
  • What do you expect from the Workshop (apart from a quiet holiday)?

If you cannot afford the fees, tell us why. (If you are rich, sponsor one more participant.)

Do I have to hurry?

We will close on July 1,2004, but be early. Like all workshop organisers, we expect a rush!