Q: Welcome to Kanha Shanti Vanam. What are your first impressions of this place?
I am absolutely fascinated by my surroundings. Before I arrived here I didn’t know the scale of Kanha Shanti Vanam. It has been an incredible experience not just because of the infrastructure, which is obviously still coming up, but even what is there is world-class. More importantly, I think what is fascinating is just the amazing environment that you have created.
Well, I think one of the problems in today’s world is that we don’t teach youngsters to cope with failure. And I think failure is a very important learning tool. And I think what we need to understand is how do we motivate ourselves to keep plodding on. When a child falls down while he is learning to walk, he doesn’t think, “Well, maybe this is not for me.” He just gets up and walks. He makes an attempt to walk and finally, he learns how to walk. But we don’t do that in later life; we seem to get affected every time we fall down.
I am told that you have planted something like 300,000 trees and plants in this place, which was a barren land. That the water-table is changing because of the number of reservoirs and the rainwater harvesting that is being done here. The fact that this place is energy self-sufficient because of the number of solar panels that are used. And of course, the fact that there have been so many trees that have been translocated, or transplanted, here from other road-widening projects, etc.
So when you add all of it up, it makes for a fascinating place. And then of course when you factor in Daaji and his vibrations, and the vibrations of all those people who happen to be here meditating, it’s a magical experience. So to sum up: it’s a magical place.
Q: Ashwin, I read that when you first started writing, you faced almost 40 rejections for your work, and then you decided to self-publish. Now most of us have a terrible time handling rejection. How did you handle that phase?
In front of my desk I had this bulletin board, which had a series of numbers: 12, 18, 30, 34, 38, so on and so forth. When people would come to my study they would wonder what those numbers were.
Well, 12 was the number of times that the first book in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling was rejected by publishers. 18 was the number of times that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected. 30 was the number of times that the first novel by Stephen King, Carrie, was rejected. 34 was the number of times that Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected. 38 was the number of times that Gone with the Wind was rejected.
So I used to psyche myself into believing that I would be a better author than all of them because I was getting rejected more. It’s almost a way of psyching yourself to plod on, and I think that is a very important skill that we need to be imparting to our youngsters.
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Katara McCarty – Exhale
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The Ber Tree
V. RAMAKANTHA, Ph.D., is a former Indian Forest Service officer and member of the Green Initiative at the international Heartfulness Center, Kanha Shanti Vanam, India. Having spent most of his working life living in forests and jungles, in tune with the natural world, he shares his knowledge about some of the amazing medicinal plants of India, in this case the Ber Tree.
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ROS PEARMAIN, Ph.D., has been integrating the fields of psychology, psychotherapy and spirituality, through both practical and philosophical approaches, for over 40 years. Here she explores the way a spiritual practice opens up the levels of feeling and sensitivity, as we expand into deeper and deeper levels of consciousness, and how our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies are integrated through the heart.
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Suhail Ahanger, one of the two cops who were killed in a hit-and-run attack by militants in Baghat, was orphaned when he was seven months old. His father, Mushtaq, was gone missing during the early days of militancy in October 1990 much before Suhail was born.
BISCOE'S KASHMIR 1935
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ENVOYS IN SRINAGAR
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The small community of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits feels isolated with no hope for a future in its homeland