Navadarshanam: An Experiment in Alternative Living

September 04, 2008
Anuradha Goyal

Navadarshanam is a 120 acre self sustained settlement, 50 km south of Bangalore. It is an experiment in alternative living, living in a way that does not disturb the balance of the nature around you, unlike what most city dwellers end up doing intentionally or unintentionally.

The Navadarshanam (ND) campus is something that probably many of us would wish to be in, but may not have the necessary courage to create something like this. In its 120 acres, it has few cottages made with eco-friendly construction methods, a small space to process, manufacture and sell health foods, a common kitchen that cooks on health food principles, a gobar (cow dung) gas plant that supplies cooking gas to the kitchen, a wind mill and a few solar panels that generate the electricity for the campus, a cow shed that houses a few cows, some fruit trees and tons of self generated greenery. Anathu, founder member and permanent resident of ND, explains how the barren land regenerated itself, and lakhs of trees germinated out of nowhere, including thousands of sandalwood trees. There are interesting exercising devices that generate electricity and water plants as you exercise. The periphery of the campus is a cool 4km walking track, ideal for a morning and evening walk. You can buy health foods from their simple store, these foods are also available through select Namdhari outlets and a couple of other outlets in Bangalore.

There is an interesting story behind the origin of ND, how some people who were all very highly educated, lived across geographies and were a part of a study circle, came together to create ND. As you listen about this story from Ananthu, you see the elements of destiny, some good intentions and most importantly the intent of actually doing something that people usually keep talking about. And the fact that an external agent in the form of a Swamiji came and put the action into what was being studied, was being spoken about, discussed and written about. Swamiji in a way threw a challenge at this brilliant young team to actually create a space that lived by these principals that this team was inclined to explore. The story of the initial years, of being cheated for the land price and dealing with working on an absolutely new concept in an absolutely ambiguous situation. After all what do you do with so much of barren land, and nothing as your support system. I would like to sit with Ananthu again and explore their journey, because their ND journey is documented, but I want to know about the personal journeys that they have to tread, to create such a concept.

Team at ND is working primarily in five key areas:

1. Eco-restoration: Allowing the earth to create a cover for itself, with a belief that earth is alive just like us and has the power to regenerate for itself.
2. Natural farming: Farming without using any artificial chemicals and without destroying the ecosystem of the surroundings.
3. Health & Food: Research and production of foods that do not disturb the ecology of the body, by way of undigested food.
4. Energy: Generation of energy using wind power, solar energy, animal waste and Honge seeds, all of which are available in abundance.
5. Eco-housing: Construction of houses using the local material and labor, designed in such a way that need for energy is minimal.

ND is a completely Saatvik place, where a conscious effort is made to keep the Rajsik and Tamsik elements away. In that kind of an environment you feel one with nature and one with yourself. This is an environment that makes you question a lot of things that you are doing without questioning. It forces you to think about your purpose of existence. The biggest question that I had in mind was, why we complicate our lives so much, when everything we need is available right there with the nature, why we keep running after all the gadgets and collecting all that we really do not need. I got reminded of my Bhutan visit, where there were no garment stores and people weaved their own clothes, and everyone there was as well dressed as people in any other part of the world.

Though Navadarshanam does not encourage more people visiting it, at least not more than what it can handle, but if this post rings a bell somewhere, it is definitely a place to visit while you are in Bangalore.

Anuradha is an independent Innovation Consultant based out of Bangalore. You can see her profile at
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September 4, 2008
10:29 AM

Very very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

Ayan Roy
September 4, 2008
10:57 AM

Gotta check this one out!

A few days back I was discussing with some colleagues in my office that we have too much technology, machines, gadgets, noise and worries in our life and to keep our sanity, we may need a "technological de-toxification" program, to reconnect back with nature. Like living in a place with a lot of greenery, chirping birds and flowing brooks and without electricity (conventional), telephones, internet, TV, washing machines, iPODs, etc.

I'll plan my next long distance cycle trip here.

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