Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 314
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314 Jain /Worldviews 13 (2009) 305-320
group took care of their assigned bala taru, so they became puja (worship-
ping devotee) for that bala taru. Just as a priest maintains and cleans a tem-
ple, people did the same for these small plants.
I met another Swadhyayi, Rajeshbhai, on June 5th, 2007, who narrated a
similar incident to me about the Buddha Vrksamandira built in Junagarh
This piece of land was certified by an agriculture officer as a barren land
unsuitable for farming. Earlier when the local administration wanted to
donate the land to poor people, they rejected the offer, noting its uselessness.
Swadhyayis have turned this land into a green oasis in the form of Buddha
Vrksamandira spread over 42 acres. It has 1200 fruit trees, 200 herb trees,
and 150 trees of 30 diverse species. To water these plants, a 700-meter canal
was also built. The entire orchard also has an underground water drop sys-
tem about 18 inches under the land, supplying one-liter water to every plant.
This leads to 70% reduction in the wastage of water and 800 plants can be
watered simultaneously. This Vrksamandira also has a prarthana mandir, a
prayer temple, where approximately 15 pujaris pray and discuss every eve-
ning. A charity trust was established and the land was registered in its name.
Tree-temple's products are sold in its name and the money thus generated,
called Mahalaksmi, divine money, is distributed to the needy families as
prasada, divine gift. People are constandy vigilant never to let these temples
be used for any selfish use whatsoever. Swadhyaya thoughts are important to
maintain the sanctity of the temples.
Below I quote a report from the Times of India about Patanjali Vrksaman-
dira in Vadodara district (February 27, 2002):
It is a temple with a difference. Huge, spread over 30 acres of land and with-
out deities or idols. Bells do not toll and mantras are not chanted. Yet some
60 pujaris busy themselves in unique prayers every day. About 1,500 trees
in Vrksamandira campus are looked upon as deities and are cared for with
great diligence by 'devotees'. Seventeen years after sage Pandurang Athavale
founded the Vrksamandira, life for thousands of people in 16 villages sur-
rounding the mandir campus and those living in 12 talukas ofVadodara, has
changed. Vrksamandira boasts of the following species of trees: 640 mango,
126 chiku, 125 drumsticks, 118 lemons, 110 awla, 84 coconuts, 70 berries,
25 papaya and 100 other common trees besides several species of medicinal
herbs and vegetables. About 700 people from Chhani, Dhumal, Vemali,
Sankarda, Virod, Dashrath, Koyali, Ranoli, Ankodia, Sokhda, Ajod, Bajwa,
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/10/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.