The definition of India is nine hundred thousand villages. Most people here either live in villages or come from villages. I came from a village. Many among you might also have come from a village even if you don’t live there now. It is possible that two generations ago your ancestors migrated to a city, but essentially you belong to a village.

Basically, India is a nation of villages. There used to be only seven cities here, the rest of the country was rural. The villages produce the most important thing: food. The world can run without computers, television, tables and silk, but no one can stay alive without food and water. And this is what the villages have produced from the ancient times. It is the villages that give you life.

In the twenty-first century, the villages of India are handicapped. A villager who owns five acres of land cannot provide for his children. And there are countries where a person who owns a similar area of land is a millionaire! To farm five acres of land you need infrastructure: electricity, pumps to provide water, and at least two bulls to plough the land. The government does not provide these basic facilities, so how will a villager earn? Where will he get money from? He could have these facilities if there was an industry close to the village where members of the family worked and contributed their earnings into farming. This option does not exist here.

In Switzerland, a single village has just ten houses, some even have just two or three houses, but all facilities are available to them. During winter when the grazing period is over, the cows are taken to higher plateaus with the help of helicopters. Does this happen in India? Until the villages are uplifted, this country will not rise. A country cannot rise by ignoring one hundred million of its population. If the current trend continues, poverty and prosperity will both go up where they are. People in the cities have immense wealth, but that wealth does not get distributed. This needs to be given serious thought.

Swamiji, the people of the West are very hard working; here they are lazy.

There is a reason behind this. People here will work hard if they received an income corresponding to the hard work. After all, one needs an incentive to work hard. If I spend twenty rupees and earn one hundred rupees in exchange, I will certainly work hard.

The government should assist those who produce food in every way possible. That does not happen here, and that is why this country remains poor and backward. The educated and the wealthy should think about this. You will have to reduce the pressure on cities. The number of cities that have developed in India is enough. There should be no more industries and no more construction in the cities of India hereafter. Stop building houses in the cities. If you want to build a house, build it in Rikhia. Come to the small villages. Small industries should also come to villages, and watch my word, in ten years India will move ahead of the US. The need in villages is not development, but employment. The villages do not want your charity; they require a means of earning.

The biggest gap between cities and villages is that those who live in the cities receive too many modern services and those in the villages receive none. They do not have any means of mass communication so they may learn the latest technology in farming, cattle keeping or poultry. They continue to follow the old methods. The villages of India do not move and most people migrate to cities.

In the next twenty or thirty years all the cities of India will be filled to the brim and the villages will become empty. All able villagers will migrate to cities and they will visit their native villages only occasionally. However, there will come a time when they will return to the villages with money, for only the rich can live in villages. Then the old villages will all vanish.

Natural religion

The Sanatana dharma of India is a village religion. It is not a city religion. A religion that is created in a pure environment under clear skies and chirping birds is the religion that is eternal, sanatana, true. The religion that is born of temples and churches is not religion, but sectarianism.

Religion is born in the most suitable environment in nature of its own. How can religion be born of a temple or taught? Religion is a gift of nature; it is not a gift of schools, churches, temples or mosques. You receive religion naturally. Even if your mother had not told you that there was a governor of the world, even if your father had not told you that there is a god called Rama, you would have still known of God. To believe in God, to worship and have faith in God, you do not need a school. Kabir and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa were not educated. To have an enduring faith in God you do not need to be literate. All that is needed is an environment that is pure, where the eating habits are pure and the air and water are clean. This is Indian culture.

In India we consider the rivers as forms of Devi and worship them. All rivers have been accorded a form that can be worshipped. They are perceived as goddesses seated on a crocodile, fish, etc. Now this is a religious concept. It is a religious thought. If you were to today join this religious thought with the science of environmental technology, what will you find? What is the significance of the Ganga or the Yamuna in the minds of scientists? What is the significance of rivers in the eyes of ecologists, environmentalists, agriculturists and the wise? It is more or less the same as that in worship. A scientist holds rivers in the same esteem as a religious Hindu.

In the next twenty or thirty years there will be greater control over human pollution of rivers. We will not be allowed to dump all our waste in rivers, for rivers control rain cycles, influence the water table and bring down many precious metals and minerals from the mountains. This is the significance of rivers; we have always known this in India and thus worshipped them. The future generations will agree with us.

We have also always worshipped trees in India, whether ashoka, peepal, tulasi, neem, amla, bel, etc. I am not talking about their use in ayurveda, only worship. We believe that different gods and goddesses live in trees. Shiva is believed to live in the bel tree, so we worship it to fulfil a desire or remove an obstacle. We worship and water the tulasi; we do not think of her as a plant. We call her Tulasi Devi. A Hindu looks upon a tree from the religious point of view, but how do scientists worship trees? Why do we undertake afforestation? So that the air is purified, there is ample rainfall, enough oxygen, better assimilation of carbon, and the cycle of oxygen and carbon are held in balance. Scientists speak the same thing as Sanatana dharma, but use a different language, that is all.

Village life and health

In the village environment you do not need pranayama. You need pranayama in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Munger and Patna. Here, in the village environment, the level of oxygen and purity of air is very high; prana tattwa, number of ions, in the air is very high and the level of carbon is very low. If there is grass, open water or ponds, then the air is pure and has a higher ionic count, and you do not need to practise pranayama there.

Pranayama is the need of a person whose mind is restless. When the mind is restless, the lungs and the heart are also disturbed. A villager’s mind is not restless. What will he stress about? At the most, children and marriage. They do not know a third thing. They do not have a lot of thinking in their syllabus. The city dwellers need to think a lot; they have a lot of worry in their syllabus, but not villagers.

Apart from the air, there is another thing: vibration. If a crow crows, it creates a vibration. If a child screams, that creates a vibration. If someone rides past on a bicycle, that creates a vibration. When there is an excess of such vibrations, there is noise pollution. There is no noise pollution in a village; therefore, the stress of noise on the nerves does not exist. When you go to a silent place you like it because there is no pressure or stress on your nerves.

Every wise person should consider another thing, especially those who live in the cities: stress. Stress means something is pressing on something else. You may be stressing a point or the same thought appears in the mind again and again creating stress. Stress causes high BP and high BP creates stress on the heart. In the villages, they plough the fields the whole day long and don’t need a sleeping pill to fall asleep. Life here is natural, so they do not need any pranayama or asana. Only when life becomes unnatural you need naturopathy to correct it. You need to practise asana and pranayama, and watch what you eat because you are carrying damaged material. Therefore, I have made only one rule for those who live here: work the whole day long, work so hard that you fall asleep the moment you hit the bed. Such tiredness is bliss; it is ananda.