Ashram attempts to wean tribals away from Maoists

Ashram attempts to wean tribals away from Maoists

For many, Chhattisgarh is a mineral-rich tribal state and it is deeply infested with Maoists. Beyond the obvious profile lie elusive and untold stories about the unexplored forested state and entrepreneurial effort of socio-spiritual organisation Sri Sarveshwari Samooh’s Baba Bhagwan Ram Trust has put in the quiet and desolated Sogra village of Jashpur district.

Baba Gurupad Sambhava Ram, disciple and heir to Aghoreshwar Bhagwan Ram, began tea plantation experiment in 2010 in an acre inside his Sogra ashram as a challenge. He confronted impediments like barren, rocky and unconventional area, water paucity and lack of knowledge and skilled manpower.

The relentless effort put in by the ashram, aided by technical knowhow from renowned tea expert ID Singh, realised the dream of Baba Gurupad Sambhava Ram. Not only the tea estate has blossomed spreading from one acre to 10 acres in a short span of four years but also the quality of tea leaves is as good as those grown in Assam and West Bengal, says Aghor Tea Estate manager Sameer Sahay.

Interestingly, a seed and mother plant nurseries have also come up to overcome time-consuming and money-spending exercise of ferrying them from more than 800 km in Assam or West Bengal.

Having nurseries would also help other farmers to get saplings grown in their own climate of Chhattisgarh. Regular and green tea are cultivated and processed in the ashram's mini plant to ensure the quality and make the venture economical. The institution offers fresh green tea, that has medicinal properties, at affordable prices since similar quality leaves are very expensive in the open market, claims Sahay. The tea plants are tended by professionally trained people.

For baba, Sahay stresses, growing tea is a means to provide inclusive and
comprehensive growth of the tribal region, offer employment to innocent and gullible youth to wean them away from Maoists, propelled by organisation’s philosophy to run programmes that “touches lives of the far-off millions of people who are still untouched by flourishing India that we all know”.

He emphasised that tea is meant for followers only since Sri Sarveshwari Samooh is a non-profit institution that functions through voluntary public donations and is not dependent on government aid for carrying out its welfare activities.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Singh, who is also advisor to Tea Board of India, Tea Plantation of India and Tea Research Institute, recalled being approached by a person who was common link between him and the ashram seeking his expertise for tea cultivation.


“I prepared a professional report giving a nod for tea cultivation after surveying the area and collecting government data, rainfall and soil. The climate was the harbinger of hope for tea cultivation,” Siliguri-based Singh recollected.

He said that he had arranged a truckload of tea plants from Siliguri nurseries which were planted by Baba Sambhava Ram and others in the Ashram in May 2010.

The ashram’s effort was inspiring enough for Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to launch tea cultivation on government land in Jashpur itself. Chhattisgarh is now doing commercial plantation in the earmarked 50 acres in Jashpur, adding the state on the tea map.

The government, felt Singh who had encouraged the chief minister to opt for cultivation, should come forward to spread tea industry in the state since plantation can be done at least Jashpur and Amibikapur. The tea expert initially visited the ashram as a professional but subsequently developed affiliation for the ashram influenced by its social work.

Among the welfare programmes the charitable institution follows are promoting and organising dowry-free marriages, remarriage of widows and it is against performance of elaborate and complicated death rites for they are not only expensive but also create confusion in the minds of the bereaved family members, argues ashram.
The charitable organisation, headquartered in Varanasi, has done pioneering social work. Guided by its strong elief that “God does not reside in temple, mosque or church but he can be traced in the tears of poor and hungry”,  samooh’s founder Saint Aghoreshwar Bhagwan Ram established Kustha Seva Ashram in Varanasi in 1961 for treating the condemned section of society – leprosy patients.

A 50-bed hospital offers free medici­nes and full care to leprosy patients and later they are rehabilitated. It also has an in-house research and development
department for preparing Ayurvedic medicines. The Avadhoot Bhagwan Ram Kustha Seva Ashram figures in the Guinness World Records and Limca Book of Records for treating maximum number of patients in the world through Ayurvedic and Fakiri treatment.

The samooh has doctors at its headquarters offering free consultation to
patients looking for treatment in allopathy as well as through Ayurveda and Fakiri medicines.

It has a team of professional doctors who take break from their duties to serve the people. Such doctors, specialising in various disciplines, conduct regularly medical camps to offer free consultations and medicines, and carry out operations on poor patients not in a position to even buy medical insurance which secures cash-less treatment in highly commercialised hospitals. Besides, the ashram provides education to children of tribals.

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