Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners Page: 316
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316 Jain /Worldviews 13 (2009) 305-320
bank; when the bank balance crosses Rupees 10,000, it is sent to the cen-
tral office. On the recommendation of the local workers, any proposal for
expenditure from the account of the Vrksamandira is forwarded to the
central office; the amount is then received and spent for the purpose.
Above descriptions about different Vrksamandiras demonstrate the suc-
cess of Swadhyaya in convincing the villagers to transcend their reverence
from Hindu gods and goddesses to revere plants and trees. Swadhyayis
also do not claim that these sites are their efforts to save biodiversity. It is
questionable whether the farmers have any such awareness and yet these
new "sacred groves" built by Swadhyayis are a small but promising trend
to capitalize on the popular devotional attitudes in the service of greater
In July 1993, Athavale's followers participated in another prayog called
Madhava Vnda (Krsna orchard). Swadhyayis everywhere planted tree sap-
lings and jointly nurtured their plants for 100 days with daily chanting of
Srisuktam and Narayanopanisadverses from Hindu texts. On October 19,
1993, it was announced that 7 million saplings had survived (Hinduism
Today, July 1995). The tenth anniversary of this devotional undertaking
was celebrated in the year 2002 as Madhava Vnda Dasabdi (Krsna
Orchard Decade). These celebrations were held at various places and
3.5 million new plants were planted in the same manner all over India
and abroad. The intent for this prayog was to strengthen the feeling that
trees and plants are also family members. According to Swadhyayis, by
periodically chanting Sanskrit verses near plants by the entire family, not
only love for plants is manifested but the family-members also develop
harmony and love among themselves. In some years, the celebration is in
the form of Vrdhisu Utsava when the focus is not planting new trees but
taking care of the older ones. According to an estimate by a senior Swad-
hyayi, there are at least ten million trees planted so far as part of this
prayog. In this way, Swadhyaya's dharmic ecology has helped give rise to
several grass-root projects to connect local people with ecology. In 1987,
Athavale was awarded the "Indira Priyadarshini Award" by the National
Wasteland Development Board for tree-temples created under the banner
of Vaijnath Bhavdariana Trust. Giving an example of transformation
occurring from such prayogs, a Swadhyayi told me that after the Gujarat
riots in 2002, in Dhunadra village in Kheda district, they planted trees in
Muslim graveyards and Muslims planted in Hindu cremation areas. Simi-
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Jain, Pankaj. Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners, article, 2009; [Leiden, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38896/m1/12/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.