Sanford, A. Whitney: Growing stories from India: religion and the fate of agriculture.


When small farm agriculture became big industrial it was thought that the transformation would solve all problems, and humanity would soon have plenty of grains to feed its growing numbers. But, as with all technology, far from solving our problems, industrial agriculture had led to other major problems. Books and articles have been written on this sad situation. In this book the author explores the related issues in an unusually original way: Now there is an ancient Hindu narrative on the epic hero Balaram who pursued the River Goddess Yamuna. On being rejected he Balaram used the plow to pull her in his direction. Using this as symbolic of human intrusion into nature for self-serving purposes, the author examines the consequences of human behavior, and suggests ecologically more sound approaches, based on reciprocity and responsibilities. The reader comes to know about a time-honored story from sacred history, is made aware of deeper meanings in ancient tales, and of the joyous Hindu festival of holy: All this while being informed of ominous aspects of modern agriculture of which one may not know much. Whether the formulation of the problems through this  metaphor will help change the mindset of the managers or solve the problems, one can’t be sure. But the book is certainly interesting and illuminating in this context.

March 12, 2012

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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