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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Traditional solutions, modern problems

Our school hall suffered from the most severe echo issues, having a tin roof and large bare walls. We looked at many soundproofing options but they were all beyond our budget. Then Swamiji came up with the insipiration to use traditional grass thatched roofing inside the tin sheet roofing that already exists. What a success! It reduced the sound completely, the hall is noticeably warmer in winter and will also be cooler in summer. It was all done by local labour and materials and within a week!

Our meditation hall is made with the same grass and even when exposed directly to the elements it lasts 12 years before needing any repairing. The vibration inside is also completely different to under a cement or steel roof.
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Whilst Swamiji was in Jadan this month He gave blessing to our college girls who won the University Badminton championships. Comsider that our college has 90 students, of which 45 are girls and the College they beat in the final who haven't lost in 10 years have 1800 girls studying there. Great stuff, the whole college was in celebration mode for two days and welcomed the team back at the main road, escorting them into the Ashram. As you can see the trophy is big and although it is a perpetual trophy Swamiji's mood seemed to be that it should find a permanent home in our College!
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

College tour

Our College students spent three days on tour going to Mount Abu and other tourist places in southern Rajasthan. A lot of fun had by all.
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Aids Awareness Lectures

Our college was having an aids awareness day this week, with expert guest lecturers.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Drought relief

Hari Om,

You may know that Swamiji has started a rather large project to support the villages during the current drought in Rajasthan. To stay in touch with what is happening please see

Thanks for the support

Durgastau and Chapra

These photos were taken in early November on a trip to the places in Nagaur District, about 20km from Khatu Ashram, where we are delivering water. On this day I visited the villages of Durgastau, Chapra,Rotoo, Dhanani and Setudau. The area where these villages are located has severe problems with the groundwater. It is so salty that animals that drink it immediately get sick. The tankers are putting in various places in and around the mentioned villages in the pre constructed watering troughs.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oh dear

Oh no, it can't be true. In Rajasthan the English text books are not famous for the quality of proof reading. There are usually a lot of spelling mistakes inside. But the first word! On the cover. Of an English Grammar textbook! That is the work of a GENIOUS!
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Swamiji with Swetmani

Whilst in Jadan in October Gurudeva was checking the new addition to the horse stable, Swetmani (the white jewel). Swetmani is 7 months old and has a temperament that has won many hearts.
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It is a little after the event (it was in September) but I didn't get time to update the blog. Janmasthmi is the joyous celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday. It is celebrated with a lot of dancing and acting out lovingly the events of Krishna's notoriously naughty childhood.

The little boy who played the infant Krishna won everybody's hearts as he patiently sat as the girls danced for him.

The celebration culminated with the making of a huge pyramid to help "our Krishna" (the boy at the top of the third photo get to a pitcher of butter hanging from the roof (also in the photo). The story is that Krishna was extremely fond of butter and whatever butter his mother made he would find and eat. To try to save it she hung it from the roof where he couldn't reach. However in order to reach it Krishna would get all of his friends to "help him up" to the butter and then bring it all down so that they could eat it.

Lots of fun.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ganesh Chaturti

The boys from the hostel were celebrating today the special day of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. They are a great bunch of kids this year. Really really special.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Starting young and enjoying it

For some of these kids it is probably the first time they actually saw a computer, let alone used one. It is awesome to watch the computer world unfold before them.

Riding school

The boys who are staying in our Ashram get to go for horse riding in the mornings. Last Sunday they received some extra knowledge about horses, how to handle them and how to treat their ailments from Dr Naveen Parihar, who is a well known vetinary doctor in our area who specialises in horses.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Year Chaos

We started the new school year on July the first and it has been quite chaotic since. The building works did not get finished as planned and we have been stuck with a few more classes than classrooms (maybe more than a few). There are classes going on in the verandhas, in the hall there are two classes and in some rooms we put two classes inside and faced them in opposite directions. All in all we now have around 1400 students in the school! A fantastic response. Similar to last year it has been very hard to refuse people admission as we are just too full. I think we must have turned away more than 800 people this time.

Now slowly we have adjusted the timings of the school so that we can fit everyone comfortably until the rooms are ready. The school has been split into two shorter school days, one for senior classes and one for primary classes. It isn't a perfect solution but it will do for now.

Meanwhile construction work is going on for the building of the extra rooms. We have had a lot of visitors from overseas here in the last weeks and they have been helping get things going by transporting the bricks on the site. It's inspiring to get such help especially in the heat of the monsoon.

Swami Jasraj Puri

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mother nature's power

This morning a severe storm blew through the Ashram. The photo shows what happened to our parking shed which is about 50 m away from the scene of the photo. With the storm came rain meaning that today may be the first day with a temperature below 40 since 23rd of April.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

12th Class Results

Today we received the results from our 12th class science students. They did excellently, all but one have passed and one girl has come in the top 14 students in the District. It was the first "batch" to sit the 12th class science examinations and they have outshone all expectations.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thanks to Greygum Software

A few weeks ago I was looking for educational software for installing in our school computers. We have some good programs and one of my favorites was called Maths Circus from Greygum Software. I was looking on their site and wishing that we could get everything what they offer was out of our budget. The Maths Circus which we had originally was sent over by my Mum. Of course Mum is great and always supporting the school but this time I thought it isn't really appropriate to ask her to send over 1000 dollars worth of games software.

What to do? I thought we might try our luck and write to the company . The response was immediate and wonderful. Greygum sent over our order charging only the cost of the blank CDs and the postage, at the same time apologising that normally they would pay the postage themselves but due to the economic downturn things were too tight to offer that.

To Steve and all the team at Greygum thanks a lot. The programs were already installed last week and our students are joyfully discussing the best way to land a hot air balloon, mow the lawn and creating their own worlds in the Land of Um.

The fleet

As it is now holidays for the first time all of the buses in our fleet are together for some weeks. Once again thanks to all who helped us get them.

The long hot summer

School finished for the 2008-09 session on Saturday and the students now have 6 weeks break. It was anyhow getting to hot to expect them to think. We haven’t had a summer like this one for a few years. The last time that the temperature was less than 40 was a month ago and the last five days have been 45 degrees and above. What a corker! The average temperature in the last month is above 43!

We finished the year for our hostel boys with an ice cream party and a game of night volleyball (there wasn’t much light but it’s cooler than playing in the day!)

The enthusiasm of the public continues towards getting admission. In the last two weeks we have had more than 500 applications. Considering that the real “season” for admissions will be in late June it has been surprising to have so many people come so early.

Having purchased two new buses this year we are able to add some more villages on our routes. So far we have added two isolated villages called Surayata and Talka. It takes some planning to take on a village and depends on the enthusiasm of the people, the distances involved and the roads. A big issue is whether the buses will be able to go to the village during the 3 months of the monsoon rains as some roads are not sealed or cut by watercourses in heavy rains.

At present we have a list of 19 villages that have requested that they be included in the Ashram school all within a radius of 20km from the Ashram. For each village that we consider we go first and talk to the villagers, check the roads, get an idea of how many students are interested and explain to the villagers our expectations regarding the studies of the students. It’s a beautiful process involving a lot of sitting, talking, drinking chai and taking in the unique scene that is life in the small Indian village.


Friday, April 17, 2009

It is a long way from home

I was driving along the other day on the way to purchase the buses and saw this sign on a country road. As a Sydneyiite it was appreciated fully.
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School Building Progress Report

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Great Results

Today the board examination results for 8th class were announced. All of the students did well with a lot of them suprising themselves. In total in our District 37176 8th class students sat the examination from more than 5000 schools (it's not a typo - thirty seven thousand students). From our 43 students who sat the examination 5 of them have come in the top 100 students in the district!! I think that they can all take a bow. Really really awesome. We are looking forward to seeing them when they come for their report cards tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nice thought

I read this quote today and enjoyed;

"Do your work where your greatest joy and the world's greatest hunger meet"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Animations on the net

Previously i have blogged about the program of Twin Vision team in our school in January. The animations that the students made during their visit are now up on the web at on the Twin Vision page. There are four animations and the links and names of all four are given below. Enjoy.

Lila Amrit

Cravat Story

Indian in London

Water is Life

Two gems

Two great stories for the week.

There is one small boy in the hostel studying in 3rd class, Yogesh. As quite a few students have now finished their exams and gone for holidays we were moving the remaining students together to make it easier to watch. We moved young Yogesh from his room three times but he kept moving back to his old room each evening even though there was noone else in that area. Finally we called him and asked why did he keep moving back.

He replied that he wanted to stay in his room because it is the room that faces towards the Bhakti Sagar and as a result when Swamiji is in Jadan and giving satsang it is the best room for listening to what Swamiji is saying. What an awesome reply!

The second story came to me via the husband of one of the ladies who is a cleaner/helper in our school. His wife is illiterate. She can (could) only understand the local Marwari dialect and subsequently can't understand the Hindi that is spoken on the radio etc. He was suprised when she started discussing with him the program that was just on the radio and asked how did she understand the Hindi. She had picked up Hindi from the classes going on in school as she is always working in the hallways outside as the classes are going on. Next day he was suprised that she had got up at three oclock and was sitting with the light on. He checked what she was doing ..........homework! One of our teachers had given her a book and taught her how to write the Hindi alphabet after school and she was "secretly" practicing. Last news she was starting to practice reading. I find that simply beautiful.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Buses and new enrolments

Hari Om to all,

yesterday I was in a place called Nathdwara about 150kms from Jadan, searching for new school buses. A couple of members of the Ashram were already there since the day before exploring the area which houses the biggest bus industry in the state. It was a great day and we came back from there having purchased two buses for the school. They are in excellent condition and were quite a bargain. All in all it seemed that Guruji's blessings were with us throughout the day as it all went so smoothly. Awesome.

Spare a thought for our young students in Primary School who are doing their examinations this week.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Harvesting time

In the past week we have been harvesting our wheat crop. In the Ashram we grow organic wheat which is used throughout the year in our kitchen and in the school hostel.


Happy New Year

Today is New Years Day in India. So our students are wishing everyone a happy new year for the year 2066 in the Vikram Samvat calendar.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Independence Day Celebrations 2009



This year the school celebrated Independence Day with Swamiji in the Ashram's garden area. It was a beautiful setting on a winter's day. Preparations had been going on for weeks with the students preparing dramas, dances, speeches, bhajans, patriotic songs, pyramids, march pasts, yoga displays and a comedy. There was even a special camel race with the students dressing themselves up as camels. It was a beautiful function full of emotion, passion and humour which was topped off by Swamiji giving a beautiful discourse about Indian culture and the importance of the youth maintaining their contact with the wonderful heritage of India.

There are a lot of photos uploaded onto the web album at the following link:

Enjoy, we did!
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Wedding in the Ashram


In December the school played host to a wedding of epic proportions. In order to let the poorer members of their community get married in style the "Soni Samaj" (goldsmith community) of Pali got together and organised a group wedding for people from all over India. There were 22 couples married on the day and they all had gifts donated by the community (for everyone of them exactly the same- ie if you wanted to give something you had to give 22 pieces). The wealthy members of the community paid for the eating expenses and for the arrangements such as the elephants which brought the brides to the wedding area. All in all the heroes pictured from the kitchen produced 16000 meals for the guests which each had at least 10 different items (that is a lot of work!! especially in a kitchen put up in a tent in the middle of our fields). At the height of the function there was probably about 10000 people there at one time. It was...........epic. More photos will be put up in an album onto the net if people want to see, these are just a sample.

To see more see the webalbum at the following link:

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Animation part 4

In the last phase of production of the animations the filming and editing was done, all coming together to make 4 short animations of 3-5 minutes each.

See below in the blog for the other steps in the animation process. Enjoy

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