People Resident at Nd
Those who will welcome you at Navadarshanam are T.S.Ananthu and his mother P. Seethalakshmi, Gopalan and his wife Shoba as well as Gopalan's monther, Nagarajan and his wife Padmini, Prof Rajagopalan and his wife Malathi, Murthy and his wife Veena, Gopi, and Pradeep and his wife Shamala, Swami and his wife Lata, Gopal and his wife Kalpana, Kanta and his wife Vasantha, Parvattama, Laxmiamma, Devamma, Puttiah, Beeranna, Manja, and other villagers who have become part of the Navadarshanam team. Sometimes, these Nd team members will also be joined by our other Trustees who are not resident all the time - Partap Aggarwal and his wife Sudesh, Om Bagaria and his wife Pushpa, Atmaram Saraogi and his wife Asha, and Rama Pai and her husband Nannu...
The Nd Story
Once upon a time, the Navadarshanam team members were young and idealistic. Read more about how Navadarshanam was founded...
Founders and Trustees
With his flowing beard and sparkling eyes, Partap Aggarwal (Ph.D. in Anthropology, Cornell) is the Navadarshanam 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.
Sudesh Aggarwal, mother of three children and home-maker; full participant in all the adventures of Partapji; founding member and first landholder of Navadarshanam.
Pushpa Bagaria (M.A., Allahabad) has many creative talents including playing the sitar, gardening, painting on glass and preparing health food.
Atmaram Saraogi (AMP, Harvard and LL.B., Calcutta) is a Gandhian activist and a trustee of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. He is also the Honorary Director, International Centre, Kolkata. He had earlier been a corporate CEO and President, All India Management Association.
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! He prepares these brochures and that should tell you a lot about him.
Rama Pai is a botanist who taught for a while in a college, and later on became a farmer herself. Settled on the outskirts of Delhi, she became disillusioned with chemical methods of farming when she came across the book ‘One Straw Revolution’ by Masanobu Fukuoka. As Fukuoka was then visiting Delhi (in 1988) as the guest of Gandhi Peace Foundation, she met him through Jyoti and Ananthu who were the hosts, and since then has been part of this team in their explorations of the alternatives to the modern style of living and thinking.
And, finally, the three who currently spend the maximum time on the land:
Om P. Bagaria
Om P. Bagaria got his B.Tech. in Mech. Engg. from IITKharagpur way back in 1963, and was immediately seized by his uncle who recognized the value of his design skills for the family business. Energetic and creative, he immersed himself in R&D work, leaving the running of the business to other family members – until a big strike jolted him into taking an active role in management-labour relations. During this phase, he was attracted to the Moral ReArmament movement, where he learnt that the union leaders who were traditionally seen as foes could actually become fellow-fighters for a bigger cause. When he turned the searchlight inwards, he began to see where he needed to change (‘remember, when you point a finger at others, there are three pointing at you’). Since then, he has divided his considerable energies between R&D work, which he still loves, and social causes. Apart from MRA, he has given a lot of his time to other organizations and campaigns (such as campaigning actively for Rajmohan Gandhi against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi). He has also been an active spiritual seeker, learning skills in yoga and meditation from different sources. One spiritual teacher who gained his admiration was Swami Sahajananda, and at one of his visit to this Swamiji’s ashram, he heard a lecture on “The Tao of Physics” by Ananthu, from which time onwards the two have become very good friends.
T. S. Ananthu
Ananthu’s degree is not in Physics but Electrical Engg., obtained from Madras IIT in 1965. Unlike Om, he is not a born engineer, and prefers to live in the world of ideas, ideals, equations, thoughts (and worries!). Rather than being immersed in work involving electrical apparatus, he was bothered by the fundamental question ‘what is electricity?’ (as distinct from the effects of electricity that we are all so familiar with) – a question to which his teachers could not give any satisfactory answer. He was also bothered by the state of affairs in the world, and so when he went to do his M.S. at Stanford Univ., he spent less time in studies and more in social change movements – he was a founder member of FREA India, and the India-Pakistan Peace Corps. He returned to India in 1969, and was active in the J.P. movement and other such social causes. But he did not have the guts to leave his job until his marriage to Jyoti in 1976, who encouraged him to give up his career and join the Gandhi Peace Foundation
Jyoti’s background is in Sociology – she studied, then later taught, it at St.Xavier’s College in Mumbai. But her passion was not so much the theory aspect of the subject, but the actual application of it in relationships. She was active in the Social Service League, and loved to relate to people – including students – at a human level. She was doing her Ph.D. at TISS under Dr,Gore when she met and married Ananthu, then she shifted to Delhi. Later, she joined the Humanities dept. of IITDelhi, and together with Ananthu started a Study Circle which delved deep into the fundamental questions bothering us – why are social change movements not able to bring about the desired results? What is the way out of the rat race we are caught up in? Many concerned individuals, most of them professionals, including faculty members of IITD and Delhi Univ., were part of this exercise. It is this Study Circle that eventually gave birth to Navadarshanam.
Update - March 8, 2008. Jyoti Ananthu, one of the Founders of Navadarshanam, breathed her last on March 8, 2008. Even though she was suffering from a rare lung disease for several years, she continued to play an active role in running Navadarshanam till the very last day. On 22nd March, 2008, a fellowship meeting was held in her memory at Navadarshanam - about 150 persons came from Bangalore to pay homage to her. On the next day, all the villagers were given a feast in her memory, with handmade wooden toys (Jyoti's favourite) being gifted to each child in the village.
Gopalan and Shobha
Gopalan and his wife Shobha joined Navadarshanam as Resident Trustees on 2nd April, 2008. Both of them have been teaching at the Krishnamurti Foundation schools for the last 25 years. Gopalan is a Chartered Accountant by background, and was the Controller of a Company in Hyderabad but preferred to opt for a life of service and dedication to spiritual values along with Shobha, who specializes in and enjoys teaching little children.
Swami Sahajananda was a Textile Engineer by background, but soon gave up that career in his native Coimbatore to become a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda. But his dynamism, independence, constant seeking and fantastic creativity did not allow him to remain a member of any organization for long, and soon he set up his own Atheetha Ashram in the Thally region of Tamilnadu’s Krishnagiri district. It is this Ashram which acted as the base for the initial launch of Navadarshanam, hence the land was acquired in nerby Gumalapuram. Swamiji passed away in August, 1993.