YAVATMAL,VIDARBHA: Nearly 200,000 farmers from six suicide-prone districts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra gathered at Yavatmal on Monday to seek solace from His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri is in a two-day visit to the Vidarabha region to interact with the farmers directly.
The farmers, who have successfully come out of depression and suicidal tendencies they thanks to the comprehensive programme launched by the Art of Living, interacted with Sri Sri and expressed their gratitude for giving them a new leash of life. Sri Sri also offered solace to several widows whose husbands have committed suicides.
Addressing the Kisan Sneha Sandhya, he said,
“None of you should commit suicide or let anyone else do that.” Saying suicide is no solutions to the problems of life, he said the country has survived much more hard times in the past.
“We have faced severe floods, droughts and other calamities, but we never lost courage and resorted to suicide. We have forgotten the inner strength that all of us have.”
Stressing the need to adopt natural, zero-budget farming, he said,
“Excessive use of chemicals has poisoned soil and is hurting yields. Grow alternative crops. If you are reaping only losses in cotton cultivation, grow groundnut or vegetables which fetch you more income.”
He urged the villagers to dedicate one day a week to working for the village and construct percolation ponds so that farmers with no irrigation facility don’t have to depend on the vagaries of monsoon.
Lauding the work done by Art of Living youth leaders or Yuvacharyas, he said,
“Our responsibilities have increased as we have to replicate what we have achieved in 507 villages to thousands of villages in the region. It’s a bitter-sweet experience for me. At the one hand, we have been able to stop suicides in 507 villages at a time when the region was witnessing one suicide every eight hours. On the other hand, there are thousands of villages here people are still in distress.”
During the visit Sri Sri also visited two of the worst-affected villages of Bodhbodan and Brahmi. Riding a bullock cart, Sri Sri went around Brahmi villages, interacting with villagers. On Tuesday, he addressed the officials of the six districts of the Amravati division including collectors, deputy collectors, chief executives of Zilla Parishads, irrigation, health and agricultural officials.
The Art of Living stepped in the Vidharbha region in August 2006 to stop the spade of suicides by launching a multi-fold action plan - Swavalamban (Self-Reliance) Programme. Narrating the transformation following the intervention, Sanjay Manikdarkar, said,
“I own 200 acres of land, but I was not interested in cultivating it. There was no motivation. I was tired of life and on the verge of committing suicide. The Art of Living programme changed my life. Now I have found a new direction in life and motivation to cultivate my own land.”