By Didi Aradhana
Starting, planning, working…
It has been almost 2 years since the beginning of our new master unit in Brazil; starting from scratch, creating a vision, and developing the Master Unit. In this article I would like to share some things from this process with you.
Ananda Vasundhara (the blissful land that provides for all), is situated in the centre of Brazil (Federal District), 50 km from Brasilia the capitol city. We are not only in the centre of Brazil but also in the middle of the South America tectonic plate more than 1200 km above sea level. It seems to be an ideal spot to start a Master Unit in the middle of the governmental, political and alternative climate of the capitol, in a backward rural area, with people suffering from poverty and slow development of the area.
Nature is beautiful in the Cerrado (tropical savanna) and we are seated above the water reserve of Brasilia, a partly protected area. In the MU we have a water spring and 2 streams with various small waterfalls. We have an extreme climate; a long dry season (winter) when it doesn’t rain for more than 6 months where days are warm and very dry and nights are cool and we have a rainy season (summer) where it rains a lot with hot days and cool nights as well. There are a lot of crystal layers in the earth below which at times attract amazing thunder and lightning storms. The wildlife is very diverse; there are parrots, toucans, owls, woodpeckers, armadillos, toads, frogs, snakes, small monkeys, and plenty of other amazing insects and animals which I’ve never seen before.
The MU land is 37 hectares, of which 17 hectares are inside preserved area with limited utilization and 20 hectares for real development. Out of this 20 hectare little less than 15 have been cultivated in the past for agriculture but at the moment nearly all is grassland which we rent out to farmers who put their cows to graze. About 2 hectare forms a base inside the MU with 2 small houses, lots of fruit trees (2 types tangerine, orange, 6 types of mango, 3 types avocado, jocote, guava, banana, plum, pomegranate, black mulberry and lemon), flower trees, a garden, and a well.
To be able to live at the MU I had to first renovate the houses, because one of the houses was abandoned for more than 10 years, and the other very old. We started to clear some of the areas where the weeds had overgrown, starting a garden and planting an experimental food-forest. A big cleanup is still going on to remove accumulated garbage all around. In this way, slowly the MU is getting ready for its future activities.
Master units embody PROUT, they should give all-round service and have at their base the five minimum requirements: food (all year round production), clothes (fibre production, weaving etc), education (schools), healthcare (alternative medical centres) and houses (cheap housing schemes for the pour). Below you will find a complete list of MU components incorporating the above mentioned requirements. P.R. Sarkar gave a very clear idea about how these different plots should fit in and how roads should connect them, even to the extent of what trees should be planted all around. With all this in mind, and getting to know the place and community a plan for Ananda Vasundhara came into being.
Below the elements as can be found in the book Cakranemii:
1. Main complex: office (administration), school, homes (children, handicapped and aged people), dispensary, hostel, medical/health centre, children’s park. (Located in less useful land, near the road)
2. Industry: cottage, agro and agrico industries
Commerce: coop-store, bakery etc.
Research: renewable energy, agriculture, biology (zoology and botany), chemistry
Miscellaneous: adult library and education
(Located on the side of plot number one)
3. Horticulture: fruit trees, apiculture
(Located in different plots or behind plot number 1)
4. Sanctuary: preservation area for animals and plants, botanical and zoological garden, planting different forest plants and trees with medicinal value.
(Located at the backside of the MU)
(Located near water)
6. Water preservation: lakes for preserving the surface (rain) water
7. Sericulture: production of silk, plantation of mulberry trees, silk weaving centre
8. Dairy farm: production milk, compost, biogas plant etc.
9. Herbal complex
10. Plant nursery and seed bank
To include facilities for a retreat centre the following items are included:
A. Meditation Hall
B. Guest houses and Facilities
C. Facilities (kitchen, laundry, dining hall etc.) and ayurvedic treatment centre
D. Residential area
Here a list of various elements that appeared throughout the literature of P.R. Sarkar about MU:
Environment for spiritual development
Ideal farming training centre
Alternative energy production (solar, wind, biogas, biodiesel, alcohol)
Roads between the plots
Centre for Cultural activities (amphitheatre)
And some miscellaneous items that would be of interest to MU Ananda Vasundhara:
Educational centre Cerrado
Erosion control and prevention
In the drawing above you can find all the numbered items inside of Ananda Vasundhara’s boundaries.
At first it was a bit of a puzzle, but somehow all seemed to fit in, maybe some small adjustments maybe necessary, but the main idea is there. Below you can read the explanation of the allocation of the various plots.
Plot number one, the principal complex, finds itself near the road, in a part of the land that has less agricultural value and is located on the side of our entrance road. In this way the future projects, like school and healthcare centre will be easily accessible for the community. Plot number two, with its industries and commerce, should also be well accessible and it is located on the opposite side of plot nr 1 on the other side of the entrance road. This will include a bakery, wheat grinding mill, coop store and also a research centre for alternative energy, as well as a research centre for Bio-construction, where ecological building materials can be produced and cheap housing schemes for the poor will be developed. Plot number 3, horticulture, should be behind plot nr 1, and is more or less already established with the existing developed 2 hectare area within the MU which already includes a variety of fruit trees. But in the future surely there might develop other small subplots to produce more fruits. The sanctuary, plot number 4 is also already a done deal, as Sarkar suggest it being in the back, this is our already preserved area with its original Cerrado habitat. Of course we may add some parts where we create a botanical garden, planting necessary medicinal plants and trees, as well as an animal sanctuary. Then comes plot number 5, agriculture.
This plot after allocating all the others is what remains available, and can be combined with floriculture plot number 11 and with grassland for the cows of the dairy farm. P.R. Sarkar says the plot should be located near water. The only obstacle we have is that at the main road the land is at its highest point, and the land slopes down to the back, so we may have to invent a system for example with windmills which will pump water to the highest point, but there are several places to create small lakes for water catchment which we also can use for irrigation. Plot number 6, are the water catchment areas, they are scattered throughout the MU in strategic places. Sericulture, plot number 7, seems one of the plots less known, implemented in MU, needs to have some research on how to produce silk without killing the insects. We already have a good number of mulberry trees in our compound, as they are also fruit trees. Plot nr. 7 will be initially part of nr. 3. Plot number 8 is the dairy farm and will be located more or less centrally, on the side of plot number 3 which generates waste material for the biogas plant and connected with the agricultural land for distributing the manure. As well as connected with the industry plot to produce milk related products like yogurt and cheese. It has a central function in the self sustainability of the MU. The herbal complex, plot number 9, could be a more flexible location, but as the processing of the herbs is related with the industry plot it will be close by, or integrated in number two. Number 10 includes the plant nursery and seed bank. Distributing small trees for reforestation and selling cheap seeds to the community will help in the development of this area. The plot will be located behind number 1, as this plot needs to have easy access to the public. Then the last mentioned numbered item is plot number 11, floriculture. This plot can be combined with number 5, rotating the crops. Flowers are part of creating a more beautiful environment and also could be used to produce fragrant oils.
All these plots will be connected with roads, some main, and some secondary roads. P.R. Sarkar mentions there should be a road all around the MU boundary too. In our case it cannot reach all the boundaries, because of the physical appearances of the land, but will go around all the plots and where possible along the boundary.
As Master Unit should also be a place for spiritual development, a spiritual centre, a retreat centre will also be included. A meditation hall will be build in the centre/ heart of the land (plot A), where there will be less interferences of the other social activities which are situated at the front of the MU. Here one can also enjoy beautiful views towards the canyon ridges. To accommodate the guests and participants of our spiritual programmes we will build guest accommodations (plot B) and guest facilities (plot C) like kitchen laundry etc. An ayurvedic treatment centre will be part of this plot, where patients can enjoy the tranquillity of this area. Then there is also plot D, which is the residence area. Here persons and families involved in the projects can live. A house to accommodate the temporary volunteers of the projects will also be included here.
So now you have an idea of the MU elements and how they are planned in Ananda Vasundhara. There are still the last 2 lists to be included, but they could be connected and placed in various ways. Roads could be fire barriers for example. Beauty spots are as well of great importance. To create a super aesthetic vibration in the MU, everything should be taken care of neatly and beautifully through design, flower gardens etc. This will be a general rule for all construction and development. Another project is erosion prevention; there are some parts within the MU that need urgent attention.
So now that the plan has been made, the work is starting to pile up. I said before that we are still in the process of preparing the MU for its future projects (cleaning, clearing, structuring), but now in a more structured way. Amazingly though how powerful a planning is really, as already the structuring of the roads has started, and 3 water preservation areas are already dug!!! Right now for example we don’t have any structure to start a service project but already a design is on the way and people are getting excited to help, and this creates a strong flow to get things realized.
The short term plans are: to develop the infrastructure to access different plots for development, improve boundary, erosion prevention plan, build facilities like a communal, professional kitchen (to produce food items, give courses, and work cooperatively with the local women producing items), a multifunctional room (to start giving for example English classes to the young people), an educational building (for a before and after school programme for the local children), a day care centre for the little ones, and a housing scheme for poor people. For hosting small retreats until the bigger meditation hall and facilities are built, a small meditation hall and bathroom facilities can be integrated in plot number 3 as here the environment is already developed.
All in all lots of work to do! If you are inspired and want to take part in the development of this MU, please contact me. Volunteers are welcome to stay for any period of time, and donations will be gratefully accepted to develop this MU as soon as possible. Like P.R. Sarkar said more than 20 years ago: “TIME WILL NOT WAIT FOR US”, “This moment is the MOST OPPORTUNE MOMENT – there is no need to look at the calendar. For this we need MASTER UNITS everywhere in the world where there was capitalism or communism. WE SHOULD NOT WASTE A SINGLE MOMENT.”
Ananda Vasundhara Master Unit, DF 220, km 5,
CP 212, CEP 72.770.990, Morrada dos Pássaros, Brazlândia, DF, Brazil
Cellular: +55 61 9908 6899 – – Skype: didiaradhana
Time for spiritual practices, work with volunteers