To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. Ghandi

“Since we are used to thinking and acting within certain limits only, we are unable to perceive the limitless expanse and depth of consciousness”

                                                                                                 Quote from Anantvan

Arriving at this camp in the forest, you walk through a vegetable patch of great health and vitality that surrounds the living quarters. Local villagers supplement their income from agriculture by being employed to assist in the running of the camp. Anant Van takes small numbers of paying visitors who come to share in the experience of life and work at this “Ashram” and enjoy the wild – life experience of the local area, tending the gardens and interacting with the local community.

The whole place is suffused with a profound reverence and sense of the importance of spirituality as being at the heart of our emotional life and our relationship to the natural world. Much of the food in the camp is produced within feet of where it is eaten and the shared meals of the camp become a kind of sacrament that charts the journey through each day.

Anant Van (which means endless forest) is a sign of how it is possible to overcome the drive towards limiting the mind that sometimes threatens to sweep our world away in a tidal wave of mono-cultural thinking. All things are connected and we cannot begin to explore the limitless expanse of the human mind unless we recognise the connections between each other, our world, our food and all the plants and animals with whom we share life. Suddenly, tourism is returned to the kind of experience it was always meant to be, not an exercise in consumerism, but a pilgrimage, a journey into the life of the world and the lives of other peoples and cultures.

Dhruv Singh has witnessed the dramatic decline of the tiger population. This king of the jungle turns out to be the most vulnerable species of all. The cow not the tiger is sacred in Hinduism because it needs so little and yet gives so much. The cow, the cheif of animals, takes so little, just grass and hay, yet gives its milk, manure (when mixed with lime it makes excellent plaster for walls and floors and has antiseptic qualities), and in due time its skin and horn, all useful to humanity. The cow can, and does, live almost anywhere. The great tiger, by contrast is losing ground year by year. Its loss to the eco-system is a barometer of the health of the environment. As Dhruv puts it when talking about the loss of India’s most vulnerable creature, the tiger, “it is not the tiger that we will lose, but the better nature of our selves to live in harmony”.

Too much inappropriate development will only serve to apply further pressure to the already threatened eco-system that sustains the Indian tiger and the rural communities around the park. Dhruv has developed an organic farm, growing a variety of crops that are common to the local diet. What was once a barren and blighted area has been utterly transformed into a rich, green and productive mixture of farm and woodland.

At the heart of the Anant Van project is a deep awareness of the central role that our relationship to the land and the food system plays in the shaping of a meaningful and sustainable community.


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