Aranyaani- Philosophy, and other methods : Fukuoka, Permaculture, Miyawaki, Organic, Borloug
I have written a great deal about Borloug's methods, and most other practices have tried to find an answer to it. These industrial techniques that involve deep tilling, GM or hybrid seeds, chemicals and mono-cropping started coming into popularity from 1930 onwards.
Devoid of any other detailed methods, and due to dilution of voices like Mahatma Gandhi, E.Kant and Albert Einstein, Borloug's model got hold of agriculturists and governments, riding on massive investments from likes of Dupont and Monsanto.
Despite being in India and blessed with 6 different seasons, Aranyaani was not even considered though the verses were 2000+ years old. Probable reason was it seemed irrelevant or cryptic then and difficult to relate to.
I tried Borloug's farming earnestly first for about 2 years, only to realize how it destroyed soil and its linkages to other life. Around 1960s, many were realizing the same thing.
Organic movement also came along as a result of consumer worries, but it never addressed (even Now) the Deep tilling and mono-cropping problem and associated harms for ecology and food quality. It also remained silent on seeds, until recently.
I suspected for long that it was just a way for making hybrid or GM seeds popular as they need less chemicals and more water. That suspicion remains as many of its promoters in US were the erstwhile beneficiary of Borloug's model.
My journey passed the Organic stage too quickly as I was bent upon not paying any cost. This path automatically meant no machine tilling and GM/hydrid seeds. But I still faced the problem of water and soil destruction caused earlier. So had to graduate to more diverse farm model.
Coming back to 1950s and 60s, many earnest ones came out with their experiences, prominent being methods of Fukuoka, Miyawaki and Permaculture.
I tried Miyawaki but it had an innate aggression in it- though it was for making a forest like cover quickly. Whether Nature understood this human need for speed or not was my doubt. It took some time to solve that when plantations started failing in a severe drought. I observed that in that speed, we had not allowed for two things- formation of all layers appropriately like in a forest, and linked to it, the water channels and porosity had not come. So the dried small forest did not revert back to life after drying up.
Parallel, I had experimented with Permaculture and Fukuoka.
Permaculture, (with Bill Morrison having been to India and seen bio-diversity) had lots of influence of building synergy between various elements from plants to birds and climates. So in that sense, it is a good sustainable model. However, there were a few questions : How do I know its working and won't collapse one day. How do I know they all are collaborating? Why do humans have to interfere and design so much if they are collaborating?
Fortunately, even while I had those questions, I never got influenced by preferential bias towards fruit trees, etc. I had same respect and love for forest trees, and grasses and thorns and poisonous plants, and wanted them all on the farm.
Coming to Fukuoka, I found to be most pristine of human effort. There was the patience of a monk, a joy to see a small plant interacting with its soil and no scope for humans to be very interfering. Fukuoka came close to a Philosophy where all methods (I think its all about one- No Tilling) are in sync with nature and themselves. The questions there were more technical :
How do I incorporate this Indian bio-diversity in it e.g How do I plant turmeric without tilling?
How do we plant trees that won't go with Seed ball well or its too difficult e.g. Mulberry etc.
I wont answer them here as many such questions for me were answered by Raju Bhai (Raju Titus). He had practiced Fukuoka since 1970s and had answer to my many questions.
Where I found all above methods lacking was about how to integrate animal life. Probably, these had evolved in Japan and higher latitudes of North America. But out here, we had cows -the best natural connect between agricultural waste and soil fertility. Also, we were creating a lot of biomass. So there had to be animals in it with plant diversity to preserve their health.
Another thing I found not easily handled was the effect of monsoons and then summer, the water flows and how water is stored. Permaculture has an element of ponds. But being in Narmada belt, I realized that best storage or moisture controllers are trees.
By 2012, the forest I was trying to grow/ regrow had evolved a lot. In that process, I had first hand experience of many processes. In my search and readings, I came across this in RigVeda, and read and re-read as I found an inspiration or a message hidden here:
कथाग्रामं न पर्छसि न तवा भीरिव विन्दती.अ.अ.अन ||
वर्षारवाय वदते यदुपावति चिच्चिकः |
उत गाव इवादन्त्युत वेश्मेव दर्श्यते |
उतो अरण्यानिःसायं शकटीरिव सर्जति ||
गामङगैष आ हवयति दार्वङगैषो अपावधीत |
वसन्नरण्यान्यां सायमक्रुक्षदिति मन्यते ||
न वा अरण्यानिर्हन्त्यन्यश्चेन नाभिगछति |
सवादोःफलस्य जग्ध्वाय यथाकामं नि पद्यते ||
आञ्जनगन्धिं सुरभिं बह्वन्नामक्र्षीवलाम |
पराहम्म्र्गाणां मातरमरण्यानिमशंसिषम ||
GODDESS of wild and forest who seemest to vanish from the sight.
How is it that thou seekest not the village? Art thou not afraid?.
What time the grasshopper replies and swells the shrill cicala’s voice,
Seeming to sound with tinkling bells, the Lady of the Wood exults.
And, yonder, cattle seem to graze, what seems a dwelling-place appears:
Or else at eve the Lady of the Forest seems to free the wains.
Here one is calling to his cow, another there hath felled a tree:
At eve the dweller in the wood fancies that somebody hath screamed.
The Goddess never slays, unless some murderous enemy approach.
Man eats of savoury fruit and then takes, even as he wills, his rest.
Now have I praised the Forest Queen, sweet-scented, redolent of balm, The Mother of all sylvan things, who tills not but hath stores of food."
On the other hand, even a thin layer of grass and wild shrubs with tons of life beneath is also a thriving forest.
I thought, here is the answer hidden in those verses:
" The sounds of forest, the scents of plants - trees, lemons, mahua, etc, the animals and their sustainability, the humming of bees on trees, these all will tell us whether the system has come alive or not. "
To that I have remained true. Life was where forest was (Jee-v-an) and vice versa. It is a satisfying understanding of forest.