Sanjeev Kumar Patro

He needs no introduction. 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam', thy name is Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It's only Sadhguru, who said, "You cannot exist without the universe. You are not a separate existence."  A practitioner of transcendental science, Sadhguru often says "Unless you do the right things, the right things will not happen to you."

Being a transcendental scientist, he keeps exploring the innate elements of nature. The Guinness Book of World Record holder - Project GreenHands - had been a majestic initiative by his holiness that saw plantation of over 8.5 lakh saplings in just 72 hours. 

An incubator of the world's largest farmer-driven ecological movement 'Cauvery Calling Model' (where tree-based agriculture promoted on private farm lands), Sadguru in 2017 had criss-crossed the country in a light green Mercedes SUV steering the "Rally for Rivers" movement.

Come March 21, 65-year old Sadguru will be alone trekking 30,000 km traversing 27 nations on a bike. Calling it as an expression of the will of the citizens, he will ride all the way from London to India with the motto - Save Soil.

Biking is not a start-up activity for Sadhguru. Young Jaggi Vasudev had toured the country on his motorbike – often at a furious speed and taking extreme risk.

In a riveting discussion with OTV MD Jaggi Mangat Panda, Sadhguru (SG) sheds more light on his upcoming 'Save Soil' Movement and interprets the myriad shades of the 'New World Order' that has emerged on the global horizon post the takeover of the globe by a goliath - SARS CoV-2.

JP: I am so happy that you gave us time to talk to us today. although we'd have been ecstatic, if you were here physically.

SG: I am planning to come to Odisha and do the Baliyatra (celebrated in Odisha to commemorate State's rich maritime history). The ancient Kalinga had ports as early as 4-5th century BC and had trade relations with countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia physically. Not the paper boat, but with the real boat. I want to do that yatra, and thinking about it seriously.

After Trekking 30000 Km & 27 Nations, Sadhguru Will Take Baliyatra Voyage From OdishaThat will be fantastic. Do let us know, if we can help you succeed in that process. Because, I think that will be another innovative initiative.

Q: From saving rivers, water to planting trees, and now this new initiative of 'save Soil', your focus has always been to increase the consciousness among people across the globe on the environment we live in. What is overwhelming this time for us is the scale of the initiative - travelling 30000 km alone from London to India covering almost 26 countries in 4-months is at all harder, I must say, on a motorcycle... I understand that it is important that such an important initiative like 'Save Soil; requires a big effort and to get the desired traction. But my question is not why. What  made you choose this path or should I say what made you choose this back-breaking journey?

SG: Laughs... and said well I hope it doesn't break my back, (and then breaks into a long laugh again). This initiative is not a new one.

Though people think water, air, soil are different things, that's not how nature works. It's one cycle of things. In mid-90s, some UN agencies had predicted that 60 percent of Tamil Nadu could become desert by 2025. I didn't like predictions, so drove myself to see if this is for real. I then find, it may not go till 2025, but will happen sooner as three perennial rivers had gone dry, ground water level had sunken to a great depths (from 200 ft to 11000ft), palm trees were dropping their crowns. 

So, I saw this is definitely coming and had started 'Project GreenHands'- when millions of living trees were planted on farm lands and farmers took all care of the trees. It had also been an economic process for the farmers. The movement had significantly increased the green cover of Tamil Nadu. The Google maps/images show an increase of 10-11 percent. Even then, it was about Soil. 

But we spoke about trees, farming and Rally for Rivers (RfR). It is so because, only 4 percent of water in India comes from melting glaciers.

96 percent is just monsoon rain. Monsoon rain comes between 72-110 days  in a year. This must flow for 365 days. For that, soil must have a certain amount of organic content to retain the water to impede the faster run off. 

In Kerala, people wondered how is it that two months after such a devastating deluge (July-Aug 2018), drought conditions dominated. After all, deluge and drought are naturally connected. When water comes in the form of rain, it must percolate down. Heavy run-off, all in a span of 2-3 months, then drought is inevitable. Because, a faster run-off will knock out the topsoil and the water will not be permeating into the ground. 

However, if we do proper soil management, we can store 800 percent more than all the river water in planet taken cumulatively and put into the soil - that is the potential of soil management.  

Take the instance of rain forests, where the organic content in soil is 60-70 percent more, a scratch on the ground in fingers, anytime in the year, you will find water oozing out. 

Likewise, if you increase the organic content of agricultural land by 8-10 percent, then the irrigation requirement in the country and world will tumble down by 70 percent. With only 30 percent irrigated water, you can manage the same level of crops. Similarly, if the level of soil organic content is raised to 80 percent, the irrigation requirement will plummet to only 10 percent.

So, soil, water and air are not separate parcels. This is only a viewing of the environment through urban prism. They all are part and parcel of the one environment. Trees don't grow because they take nutrients from the soil, they also capture carbon from the atmosphere (hinting at photosynthesis by plants use sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce their food).

Therefore, it is the same initiative. This time we are just enhancing the scale. What was once a local programme or a national agenda like the RfR and Cauvery calling, and based on the successes, we have forged with some UN agencies and decided to go global this time.

After all, ecology doesn't recognise national boundaries. Microbial life and biodiversity is not respecting the national boundaries. Earth is earth, so too soil is. We cannot address ecological situation in terms of nationalities. Geography is broken in minds, not in reality.

About my back-breaking, well this is also a test for the Yogic sciences (he then breaks into a rapturous laugh). And then whispered to say, let's see whether yoga is working or not. I am 65 years and shouldn't be doing anything like this.. I could live comfortably by myself.. but doing so because as a generation, we are in a cusp of time. Right now, if we act, in 10-20 years time, we could bring a turnaround.

Because, as per FAO scientists, 27000 species are going extinct per year. If we pass it for another 30-40 years, and then think about bringing a turnaround in soil ecology, then at this rate it will take 150-200 years - which then will be disastrous for the human civilisation on the planet.

We as a generation can bring the change now, if passed on to the next generation, it would be irreversible then. Therefore, I am trying to do my bit, before will not be good for anything (with a smile of satisfaction on his face). 

JP: No you are always be good for something. 

SG: Laughing heartily.

JP: Those are really alarming facts. I am sure, many of us even are not aware of the information you shared with us. But I must say we are very much fortunate to have someone of your stature who is leading this initiative. It is a great beginning to this great initiative.

Q: But my question is what next? Because, people have short memories. Once you move on, they will move on too. Since we all are creatures of habit, we will be back to our mindless living, unless this new order becomes a habit. I am sure, you will agree with that.

SG: This movement is just trying to achieve this (means habit change). It is trying to bring a policy change in 192 democracies in the world. People keep asking me what can we do? Shall I fix my garden? I say don't do anything.

In a democracy, two things are very powerful - your vote and voice. Regarding vote (sporting a sneering smile), I don't know you'r casting it, but your voice is important. For the technology and social media, today everybody has a voice. We want you to use your voice. What we want you to do is from March 21 to next 100 days, everybody should speak about soil, at least for 5-10 minutes a day. If 3.5 billion people speak so, then I think 60 percent of the electorate have spoken.

We are already in the process of writing to all the heads of the state. We are sending soil policy documents detailing hundreds of ways to regenerate soil health in different regions, soil types, latitudes, economic conditions and farming traditions. For each country, we are writing a recommendatory policy and will hand it over to them through UN agencies. Besides, we are also writing to 730 political parties on the planet urging them to make soil and ecology a part of their election manifesto.

For parties and governments to act, people have to speak. They never have spoken on soil ecology. So, if 60 percent of electorates or 3-3,5 bn people say atleast once - 'Save Soil', then political parties and governments cannot ignore.

So, the next thing is we are signing MoUs with 9 nations in the Caribbean Islands. More to be signed with other small nations. The big nations are knowing what to do. Some have started doing, we will urge them to go further.

I will be spending a month in South America meeting all the heads of the state, another month in Africa, Australia and Asia. We are for handholding smaller countries. A G-25 comprising experts in the field will be constituted for handholding the smaller nations. This will happen in a big way if governments and UN agencies contribute in a large way.

But soil management must go into the policy. Because, policy will only ensure uniformity and sustainability through the generations. Our objective is once it becomes a policy, every nation is bound to act, though the scale of speed will differ.

JP: I think you have done a lot of ground work and that is excellent. May I shift the focus to the topic of the 'Foresight today - The New World Order - Winners and the Disadvantaged'. So, just a little bit from the Covid-19 experience. Not the virus. But about how our evolved lifestyle has failed to cope up with the pandemic. What is happening now is predictable. A lot of experts, infact, have predicted in the past. So, I think, fortunately, we people today have realised that if we don't make a conscious choice to change our course of action, whether individually or collectively, we will get more of the same.

Q: Has Covid-19 given us an opportunity to build a conscious planet that we want to do and build so now as the momentum is not going to last long.

SG: Every situation is an opportunity to change (said so with a folded hand). If you'r conscious, every situation - pleasant or unpleasant- you can use that. Unfortunately, people have lost lives. Nearly 6 million lives were lost across the globe. Everyone has lost someone to the virus - be it family or friend (With folded hands).

But those of who are alive (a heavy laugh with closed eyes), and who lived through this, are crying about our lifestyle. 

We should stop crying about our lifestyle. All that will happen. Well, anyway, once again the Indian economy is surging. Because, people strive harder when things go bad. So, I think the striving is paying off. And I also think the administrations are doing right things. A nation of 1.3 bn people have come out of this spectacularly well compared to many developed and economically much more capable nations.

The way we have produced vaccines and administered to  the whole of population, it's a miracle for the rest of the world. Because, you don't see that type of medical infra on the ground. But somehow people have done it. Everybody (from base to the top of pyramid) has stood up and made it possible (with folded hands). We need to hugely appreciate that. Because, as we were working on ground and we find everyone, including humble police constable to village accountant, suddenly all of them have become  transformed human beings.

They all were serving with such sense of service that we have never seen in them and that is really great.

When real difficulties came, their humanity became the most important quality in them. So that's great.

But at the same time, one thing Covid-19 has done is it hung mortality in our face. Though mortality is always hanging in front of us, most people think they are immortal. But SARS-CoV2 has made mortality more obvious, as people around us started dying.

When mortality comes into your awareness, means when you understand your mortal self could end right now - today or later, at this stage of mind one will then start seeking what is beyond the self - means the physical body, social engagements.

When such a question nags one's state of mind, one then turns spiritual.

Spiritual process is always relevant, only because somebody realises that they're mortal. So mortality is the fundamental fact of our life - when an individual human being realises that definitely there will be evolution of seeking within oneself.

I think in many ways that has happened. We did our best in those times to reach out to the world and offer these possibilities and millions of people have taken to this.

Just to give you some sense of the seeking that has happened in the world, in the year 2020, our video views (my videos alone) had over 2.7 billion views.

The seeking of something profound by people is a good thing. But it need not come this way, (with a sneering laugh) disasters need not strike for us to come to our senses. 

I hope (with folded hands) people come to senses without inviting disasters.  

JP: So, well it happens. We must make the best of it. I suppose we must find the silver linning.

SG: What life throws at us is not our choice, but what we make out of it is our choice. So we must make 100 percent choice about that.

JP: I think your new initiative comes at the opportune time. 

SG: No no, you shouldn't say new initiative. It's the same  initiative

JP:  Same initiative, but on a larger scale.

SG: we are changing gears, that's all.

JP: Wonderful initiative, I should say. I come from a business background, when I see such initiative, I constantly think how we as a business community can contribute to this cause, not the CSR mode. And the idea of investing is, it will be a long term investment in such (climate) ventures. 

Q: In order to make any change in the key area of soil health, is it possible for us to make it a compelling business case. So that the issue can be taken up in a very large scale, especially when the numbers you have spelt are absolutely mindboggling.

SG: Well, it's very much possible.I could articulate this for hours to you. But right now I would request all businesses to focus on 'enhancing the message'. You don't need to support me. All you could do is from March 21, in a concerted way all of us should speak about soil. Just make the message as big as possible. 

Only then you will have the needed policies. And when the policies come, then business communities can see how to participate. We have a whole plan on how individual businesses or as a group/confederations can participate. But individual businesses can make a business case out of this. And it will be very profitable too.   

Though I cannot say anything now without working out the necessary details, this makes a sound business case for industry and businesses. This will offer a long term business well being, a long term investment and extraordinarily good returns, and above all ecologically enriching.

JP: It is wonderful to keep talking on this issue. Because, it is a very vital and large topic. But I must invite you once again to Odisha. The rivers in Odisha are also drying up. Perhaps, a little focus on Odisha will help. Before I end I Thank you one more time. This initiative will be very successful for the efforts your putting in. I do wish you all the best.

SG:  Thank you very much (with folded hands) I have been planning to come to Odisha. Apart from work, Odisha has Konark, Bhubaneswar (the city of temples). I am very interested ( with a hearty laugh). 

In the 100-days of my programme, every day I will broadcast a video and audio. So every day you can air some 2-3 minutes for the people in Odisha, I think we can activate the whole state.

Definitely, it is my pleasure to participate in this programme. I will learn a few words of Odia language. You must translate for me.