Over three weeks at Jiva Institute in Vrindavan India in the Fall of 2013 we began implementation of Rico Zook’s permaculture design for the garden there. The goal is to grow as much food and flowers as possible for the institute’s students, residents and visitors from around the world. Obtaining a yield is important to Jiva Institute’s founder and acharya, Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa (aka Babaji), an Indian Gaudiya Vaisnava scholar and practitioner who holds a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and a degree in Indian law as well as degree in Mechanical engineering and a Masters of Technology in Industrial Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He has published numerous books and original papers in the field of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and he received an award from the President of India in 2012 for his work. This project is an example of how Babaji cares about the earth and people by taking the steps for Jiva Institute to be self-sustainable.
The permaculture garden project involved installing an irrigation pipe, 14 spigots, creating a new entrance stairway, laying out new pathways, building an herb spiral, mulching, and planting seeds and seedlings and. We implemented the design working from patterns to details. We carved out paths around the existing beds that led throughout the entire garden using organic curves and having them meander naturally. Miraculously things fell into place and we were graced with help from across the globe.
Looking forward, a water catchment and storage system should be put in place at Jiva Institute. Currently all of Vrindavan is in a vulnerable position but Jiva particularly so having to purchase water, trucked it in and pumped it up to the roof. There is a well on the institute’s farm several miles away, but it would be very costly to transport the water to the ashram.
On the plane ride over to India I read Ranchor Prime’s book Vedic Ecology. He mentions Sanatana Dharma; the “eternal essence of life”, a way of life that lasts forever, self perpetuating and regenerating; “eternal order” or “natural law” the eternal essence of life.
On my last day in Vrindavan, I saw the sadhus gathering flowers and herbs in the soft morning light for their pujas and sensed this garden would be a place of solace and nourishment for many years to come.
Babaji walking me around, introducing me to all the fruit trees and creepers. Mangoes, Lemon, orange, papaya, bael fruit, bananas …….
Showing me the two olive trees and grape vines he had just brought back from Italy.
Large Black Indian Bumble Bees, the current residents of the garden.
Riding on the back of Pandit’s motorcycle through Vraj to a “hardware store” in Mathura seeing the Yamuna flowing and sparkling, though looking tired and weak.