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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Beautiful morning in Rajasthan

Some of the local wildlife. Special to watch especially early in the morning. This is about 20km from our ashram. One of the boys from school has put together some history about the blackbuck pictured and the trees which are in the scenes. Environmentalists from a different era with a tradition that continues.

In the year 1451 AD during the reign of Rao Jodhaji, one of the bravest of the Rathore kings, an extraordinary child was born in the village of Pipasar. His father was the headman Thakur Lohat and his mother was Hamsadevi. The boy was called Jambaji. As a little boy, he was given the task of looking after his father’s large herd of cattle and sheep. It was great fun to take the animals out grazing, lie in the shade of blackbuck. Jambaji was fascinated by the lithe grace of this handsome antelope, and tought seat there was no sight more enthralling than a fight between two well- grown stags.

When Jambaji twenty-five years old, a great disaster overtook the whole region. The small quantity of rain that used to come regularly ceased altogether. The worst sufferers were the cattle. In the first year of drought, they could eat the bajra straw scored in the houses. The second year was very bad. There was not a blade of grass left standing any where. People hacked at any trees they could find and fed the animals on the leaves, but even so there was not enough browse for all the hungry animals. And the drought continued for eight consecutive years.

The people had hacked and hacked the last bit of foliage from all the trees, which finally began to dry up. When the stored grain was exhausted people ate khejdi pods and the flour of dried ber seeds. When this too was exhausted, they tore the bark off the sangri trees and powdered and cooked it. They hunted every one of the starving blackbucks, and finally they abandoned all hope and migrated in masses. Tens of thousands of cattle perished on the way. By now the whole country was barren. There was not a tree in sight for miles together, nor a single cow, or a blackbuck. The only people to hold on were big landlords like Jambaji’s father with huge stores of bajra that somehow lasted through the difficult times.

Jambaji was much affected by this drought. Many were the nights he spent in wakefulness because of the suffering he saw around him. The dying cattle, the starving children : they haunted him day and night. And finally, at the age of thirty-four, he had a vision. He saw man intoxicated with his own power, destroying the world around him. And he decided to change it all. If life was to flourish again in this desolate land, Jambaji saw that man would have to live in a different way, and according to different tenets and beliefs. Jambaji wanted the earth to be covered once again by an abundance of khejdi, ber, ker and sangria trees, he wanted herds of blackbuck to frolic again, and he wanted men to work for this. Jambaji knew the way to achieve this, and he began to broadcast his message in the year 1485.

His message included twenty nine basic tenets. Its two major commandments were a prohibition against the cutting down of any green tree or the killing of the animal, Jambaji’s message of humanity and respect for all living things was eagerly accepted. His teachings prompted the inhabitants of hundreds of hundreds of villages to reclothe the earth with its green cover.

Jambaji’s followers were called Bishnois or twenty-niners (bis= twenty, nou= nine) because they adhered to Jambaji’s twenty-nine precepts. They preserved the trees around their villages and protected blackbuck, chinkaras, peafowl and all other birds and animals. Gradually their territory became covered by trees, their cattle had abundant browse, their land recovered its fertility and the Bishnois became a prosperous people.

But out side their territory, all continue as before. The land was still being stripped of its green cover and the desert was spreading. The ninth descendant of Jambaji’s contemporary Rao Jodhaji now occupied the throne of Jodhpur.

Two and a half centuries have passed since this episode. Bishnois have now been guarding the trees, giving succour to the wild animals of Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh for nearly five centuries. Everywhere else, green cover of the Indian subcontinent has been ravaged and continues to be destroyed at an ever accelerating pace. The thousands upon thousands of blackbuck that coce roamed the Indian plains have all vanished without a trace. But near the few Bishnoi village the greenery not only persist, but also is ever on the increase and around their villages the blackbuck roam as freely as in Kalidasa’s time near the ashram of sage Kanva. Akbar was so amazed to see these herds of fearless blackbuck near Bishnoi temples that he personally recorded his wonder at witnessing a scene from satyayuga, the age of truth, in this kaliyuga, the corrupt present.

The sight is even more astonishing for us today than it was for the emperor Akbar four centuries ago, for the Bishnois continue to hold on to their magnificent obsession to this day.

Researched by Dinesh Tiwari, 8th class

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Progress report

As of today the number of seats sold for the bus has reached 27. All of the passengers so far are from Perth. Thanks to everyone there who have put together more than 4500aud towards the purchasing of a second bus.

On the first of November 60 of the students went on tour for five days around Rajasthan visiting Udaipur and Mount Abu. We took our buses, a cook and his helpers and hit the road. The students had a ball, when you consider that some had never left their local area it was a pretty big adventure. The highlight was boating on paddleboats, when you live in the desert you don't have a lot of opportunities to go out on the water!!!

Sorry that there are no photos. Some of the teachers took photos but they haven't had them processed yet. It will come.

Thanks again and get your tickets for the bus.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Opening of the new school building

Finally the school is opened!!! It isn't really fully ready, some finishing will be done between classes but the time had come to take the plunge. The opening ceremony was attended by Swamiji and a lot of parents. There were some great performances of plays, singing, dancing, yoga and speeches. In short it was a lot of fun. The building is great, the classrooms are spacious, airy and light, the atmosphere is peaceful, pretty much a perfect place for learning.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sports "stars"

Some of our students going for competition. The two girls are going to the state athletics tournament having between them won the district titles in triple jump, long jump and hurdles.

The second picture is some of the students with their trophies for athletics, judo and singing.
The third picture is the team that went to the state judo championships, 23 in total of which 13 were from our school. They had a great adventure, didn't win much but didn't lose in the first rounds either and one of our boys got a bronze medal in his division.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Morning prayers

It is so beautiful to hear the morning singing of prayer and the national anthem come floating across the breeze at 0830.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


For all those who were a part of raising money for the purchase of the school bus congratulations as according to our calculations last week we past the amount required. Until date we have received 511, 250 rupees which is approxiamately 15492 aud or 9300 euros. The cost of the bus and it's initial repairing came to 505, 000 rupees.

Thanks to everyone for their support which when far beyond our expectations and hoping that you will enjoy being a part of our school in the future.

We are now continuing with raising money for another bus as enrollments have far exceeded our expectations and it is pushing the limits of how many people can fit in our current vehicles. So please share our site with others and keep in touch.

Once again thanks and congratulations to all particularly everyone at YIDL Perth, the friends of Gay and David McKinley in Sydney and those who helped from Luxembourg, Japan, Czech Republic and the US.

Swami Jasraj Puri

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Classroom

Our classrooms are simple. The teaching should be excellent.

Making the most of the opportunity

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The new school building

It is well overdue but the final touches are being added to our new school building at least half of which should open by the end of September. It is simple, spacious, well ventilated and full of light. Although it is not an architectural marvel it is so practical that it will be heaven to teach there. We are so much looking forward to getting the students inside and out of the current building where they are literally sitting in the doorways.

It is planned that the building will have a double use, in the morning acting as a school and in the afternoon there will be College classes (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science). In that way we can offer our students the chance to have quality education not just until Secondary level but right through until they have a degree.

There are 22 classrooms, 3 science labs (physics, chemistry and biology), a library, a computer lab and a multi purpose hall in the building.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Independence Day 2007

August 15th is Independence Day in India, the day when British Rule ended in 1945. It is celebrated in all schools throughout the country and ours is no exception. Always there is a march past, raising of the flag and speeches remembering the sacrifice of the freedom fighters. Our celebrations also include a yoga display, traditional dances and a volleyball match between the staff of the school and a team made up of our foreign volunteers (we count it as an "International Match"). It was a lot of fun and a great atmosphere all day.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007


On the day of Gurupurnima some of the boys took the initiation of Gurukul Pravesh - entrance into the years of education. It is an ancient tradition going back thousands of years that when the boy reaches the age of seven they are sent to the Gurukul to study. The ceremony involves shaving of the head, fire ceremony and the giving of unsewn cloth to the new initiate. It is a beautiful ceremony that goes for the whole morning. At the end of it the freshly initiated student comes to their Guru and is given a mantra which they should use throughout their studies.
When the head is shaved a tuft of hair is left on the crown of the head which is tied in a knot. This is to stimulate the brain, help maintain concentration and improve memory.
It is not compulsory for the students to take the initiation and is given only with the wish of the parents and the student.
In the photo you can see the boys sitting at the fire during the ceremony.
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School Function in Jadan 04th August

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Function with Swamiji 04th August

Today Swamiji gave a lecture and the students were singing bhajans in Jadan.
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