Karuna Farm: Compassion on Earth

We’re moving to a farm in India. It is a place of abundance and compassion, where the water springs from the rock and the energy is solar. Terraces unfold down to a sweeping view of the neighbouring mountains and over the plains, out to Madurai on a clear day.

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We will buy a plot and build a simple earthen hut to start, just something with a warm hearth to keep us cozy at 2000m. It’ll have an outdoor kitchen where we’ll have to protect our food from thieving monkeys, and a loo with a view just outside. We’ll spend our days building a sustainable system and nurturing its growth. When the sun is too hot we’ll head inside and brainstorm workshops to offer the travelers and seekers who pass through.

My step will become more certain by the day as I skip along the trails, crossing streams and drinking in the cool shade beneath the fruit trees. Sometimes we will climb up to the top of the  ridge in the eucalyptus grove and take in the view of the Earthship and the collage of homes and gardens that make up Karuna Farm. I may even have an encounter with a bison grazing in the forest. My feet will get tough and my arms will grow firm and freckled from working with the land. On hot days I’ll cool off in the rock pool.

We will start the day with meditation and a good stretch, and end it with a cup of tea and wool socks under endless stars. Sometimes we’ll have campfire jam sessions and the village lights will twinkle in the valley.

Eventually we’ll build another hut with a broad patio. It will be a cafe and I’ll call it Bison’s Pantry and serve produce from the garden, eggs from the chickens and spice from around India. The workshop menu will grow to include the art of fermentation – I’ll make the best kosher dills in Tamil Nadu! Travelers will sit and share their stories over a steaming chai.

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This is no utopia – it really exists. And after spending just five days at Karuna Farm, near Kodaikanal, we began to wonder: could this be our life? Land is cheap and the soil is fertile. The climate is delicious and the view…oh, the view! Karuna was started over 20 years ago by an Indian named Neville who left cosmopolitan Delhi in the heady hippie days. He travelled the world, joined the Hare Krishnas, and bought this property – a former potato farm – seeking a quiet place to live and meditate. He immediately set to work planting and shaping the land, and today it is a forest full of fruit trees.

His hermitage attracted like minded friends, and over the years it became a sort of unintentional uncommunity. An international group of families and singles, nestled in their own little slices of paradise, supporting themselves through independent small enterprises and meeting up for weekly Bhajans and sporadic gatherings.

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Karuna’s vision is continually evolving  and, with their first two workshops behind them and a steady trickle of guests eager to get involved, it seems like a promising time to jump in. For us, it’s just a vision at this point. But as we search for a lifestyle that fulfills and sustains us, Karuna or a similar setup feels pretty right. 

We’re not moving to a farm in India just yet. But if we do – want to come along?

Visit Karuna and check out Scotty Ze’s thoughts on Karuna as a model of sustainable living.

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