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“Well Begun is half done”


I remember Maharishi Mahesh Yogi often repeating this phrase back in the early 1970’s,

as I was beginning to become familiar with the Vedic culture. He was talking about the science of ‘muhurta’

or auspicious moments in time, a highly sophisticated and often used practice in the Vedic tradition.

Any action, to be successful, needs to be started at the ‘right’ or auspicious time.

If this occurred, the success of that action was considered to be, ‘half done.’ 


‘Auspicious’ comes from the latin word - ‘auspices’ meaning signs and omens.

In Roman times,  such ‘signs’ were divined from the flight of birds, thunder and lightning,

the appearance of four-footed animals and other random events that were spontaneously observed.

These were not the signs sought for in a ritua, rather these omens were thought to be the revelation

of the will of the Gods.


Yesterday, Friday, May 6, 2011, was Akshaya Tritiya in the Vedic Calendar.

It is one of the most auspicious days of the Vedic year. It's a day that occurs once a year

when both the sun and the moon are in exaltation and all the activities

ruled by or influenced by these ‘planets’ are powerfully increased. The word, ‘akshaya’ means’

not or never diminishing’, (‘a’ means ‘not’  and ‘kshaya’- diminish or decay). 

Tritiya, refers to the third day of the waxing moon in this month in which this occasion always occurs.


For thousands of years in India, it has been thought that anything done or begun on this day would be blessed with good luck and success that would only increase over time. For this reason, throughout India, gold sellers and jewelers are mobbed, as people flock to buy the expensive metals and stones hoping to see that gold and jewels and what they represent, increase in their lives.


Akshaya Tritiya is mentioned in the Vedas as a good day to get married, start a new business,

begin writing, plant crops, give to charity, dig a foundation or plow and sow the land.

Ganesh began listening to Vyasa and scribing the Mahabharata on this day and this was the day

that the Ganges descended to earth from heaven. 


In farming communities all over India, a farmer will go out to his field early in the morning

with a shovel or a hoe. On the way, he will consider the weather, birds, animals and people he sees,

all as omens for the success or failure of his crops for that year. 


On Akshaya Tritiya, May 6, 2011, we started Ancient Organics Lakshmi-Kamadhenu Organic Dairy and Creamery in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India. Here is the story of how that came to pass:


Peter at the Gates

Well Begun


It was the hot and dry season here in Tiruvannamalai and that means very hot,

over 100deg every day and very dry. Even so, we planned to break ground and sow the first seeds

for a new pasture on Akshaya Tritiya for our 2-acre organic dairy farm and creamery.


To till the soil and sow the seeds we needed some moisture in the ground, preferably rain.

We thought that we would have to put the whole thing off for a while. But the evening before the auspicious day, rainclouds began to build up and the sky became dark. Then high winds came up, thunder boomed

and lightning flashed. It rained only a little here where I live in town.

However later that evening, Govinda, my partner in this enterprise, called me excitedly and said

that it had 'poured' at the farm where we planned to begin our dairy. It was a good omen. 


The site of the farm is several miles outside of Tiruvannamalai

on the western side of the sacred Arunachala mountain. The mountain, Arunachala, has been around

for millions of years and is considered to be a living deity, the literal form of Lord Siva

where he long ago manifested in a limitless column of light or fire

Arunachala as seen from Farm

All rocks here are lingams: this is the realm of Shiva

The trees here are celestial plants

Water here is the Ganges flowing from Shiva’s matted hair

All food here is nothing but ambrosia

To walk one step here is to go round the whole world.

Any utterance here is the Word of the Veda.

Even slumber here is samadhi

Can any other place equal this sacred Arunachala?


– Arunachala Mahatmyam/ Skanda Purana



The next morning, at 6am, Govinda and I drove out to the farm on his small motorbike.


 The air was fresh with the rains and there was a hint of coolness for the first time

since I arrived in India earlier that year. It was extremely pleasurable,

the air blowing past us in the early morning on his slow-moving motorbike. 


As we cruised along, we saw many orange-robed sadhus who sleep and live along the road

at the foot of the holy mountain, where they can visit temples and partake of the regular meals

offered to them daily, from the many ashrams here.

Sadhus on Pradhakshina Road

We saw marriages being performed at the small temples

of which there are literally hundreds around the mountain.

The brides, grooms and their families were all dressed in their Tamil finery.

Small Temple on Pradakshina Road

We were on Pradakshina Road, the ‘outer path' or road

on which one can circumambulate Arunachala,

keeping the holy peak always on your right- 'Dakshina.'


People do this every day of the year, with millions coming from all over India on full moon nights

and especially on one full moon night in November/December for the Karttikeya Festival

when a fire is lit on top of the 2600ft peak that can be seen for miles in all directions.

The mountain has an overwhelmingly powerful and meaningful presence in the area and is

covered with caves in which it is said that ancient rishis and modern saints still live. 

Govinda had arranged for a tractor to plow the land that day. When we arrived at 6:30am, 

he had already started.



Tat Sundaram. It is and was beautiful. The air was fresh with the rains and the trees and plants seemed thankful for the moisture.  The holy mountain glowed in the morning light as the sun began its time-determining wheel cross the sky.

As we walked in the gate, we noticed that the whole place was alive with birds and birdsong.

There was a flock of small white cranes, crows and many varieties of smaller birds.

There were so many and they were so loud, that I was reminded of the ‘Conference of the Birds’,

the book by Farid ud-din Attar, a Persian Sufi. I had read it as a young boy and remembered the story.

It uses the allegory of a 'COnference' or meeting of birds, telling of their trials and tribulations as they journeyed the world in search of a Realized Master.

"The Concourse of the Birds" painted by Habib Allah.

The tractor turned the earth and the soil revealed a rich reddish-brown.

We were told that this particular land had some of the very best soil in the whole area.

Arunachala means Aruna or red and Achala, which means not moving or going, immovable.

The tractor plowing the red-brown earth of Tiruvannamalai

The tractor that accomplished the plowing was called a Mahindra-Bhoomiputra.

Mahindra was the name of the company that made the tractor. It meant, “The Great-Maha, Indra”,

who was the king of the demigods.

Mahindra Bhoomiputra

But, what intrigued me was the 'model' of the tractor

which was written prominently on the body of the machine- Bhoomiputra.

I knew that Bhoomidevi is the Goddess of the earth and that ‘putra’ meant ‘son’.

Thus, the name of the tractor was the ‘son of Bhoomi’ or the son of the Goddess Earth.

Then, I remembered that this ‘son’ was the great asura or demon, Narakasura.

This tractor was named after a famous demon!

Here is how the story goes:

Vishnu in his Boar Avatar killing Hiranyaksha while holding the earth on his tusks

The great demon Hiranyaksha, through intense tapas or spiritual practice, had gained immunity

from the gods, demons, animals and men. He quickly conquered all the worlds and

submerged the earth (Bhudevi or Bhoomi) along with all the Vedas in the cosmic ocean.

Vishnu realized that this demon had not received immunity from a boar and he incarnated

as one to slay him. They fought for a thousand years and finally, Vishnu in his Boar-Avatar,

slew the demon and lifted Bhoomidevi (the earth) from the great watery ‘pralaya’ or absorption,

holding it with his tusks.

After he had done this, Vishnu married Bhoomidevi and she bore their son- ‘putra’ (Bhoomiputra).

This son was called, Narakasura.

Vishnu in the Boar Avatar  holding  Bhoomidevi-Rock Carving Mammallapuram



Like any Mother, Bhoomidevi wanted the very best for her son and asked Lord Vishnu for a long life for him and that he would be invincible against any man or God who would oppose him. Vishnu granted that boon. As Narakasura grew up, he did great austerities or Tapasya. He sought immortality, but, not being able to attain that, as it could not be given to anyone although everybody hopes they are the exception, Narakasura asked that he could only be killed by his own Mother. That boon was also granted. As he became more and more powerful, he kept the company of Banasura, an evil demon. Because of the bad company that Narakasura kept, he became corrupted and arrogant, possessed of his own power and invincibility. He attacked and conquered all the kings on earth, even overcoming Indra and the demi-gods in the heavenly realms. The gods fled and went to Vishnu and told him of their plight and their inability to prevail against this demon. Vishnu told them to wait, that Narakasura would be killed in his Krishna avatar. 


Lord Krishna and Satyabhama


Vishnu incarnated as Lord Krishna and his third wife was Satyabhama, who was the incarnation of the earth- Bhoomidevi. When Satyabhama heard that Narakasura had captured 16,100 young women and forced them, one after another to have sex with him, she wanted to immediately kill him. Krishna joined Satyabhama in her desire and together they gave battle to Narkasura who was finally killed by his own Mother

in the form of Satyabhama.

Lord Krishna and Satyabhama in battle with Narakasura

It was ‘Bhoomi’ who killed her ‘putra’ or son Narakasura and this was the model of the tractor plowing our land that morning!


It is like this in India; everything is linked to something else and if you dig down, very quickly you find a religious myth filled with Gods, Demons and Teachings. These Teachings and stories contain moral and ethical principles that have guided a great civilization for thousands of years. They are a kind of history of the way things were and a drama of the principles on which they continue to exist. It used to be this way all over the world, but now, with the growing predominance of science and industry, most cultures no longer know how to understand mythology and have forgotten the archetypal and religious depths of the eternal truths they carry and how they guide their lives. Now, we have a Ford F-250, not a Bhoomiputra. Now, we have a 'law', not the LAW or Dharma. Now, when an event happens, it is not considered as an ‘auspice’ or omen, needing to be understood, it is just ‘shit happening’.


So What?


What could be part of the ‘deeper story’ in the tale of Narakasura. Well, let me offer up a possibility:

Narakasura was born of Divine parents- Vishnu, the supreme Lord of the Universe and Mother Earth. If you ask me, it can’t get any better than that when it comes to genealogy. But, he turned out to be a demon that needed to be killed. Now, that is pretty interesting and it opens a door to an eternal principle.


The story brings up an ancient and thoroughly modern question: What determines the outcome of a thing or a person . . . ‘nature or nurture’, ‘heredity or environment’? What is it that plays a crucial role in the development of a child or any undertaking of man? Is it the qualities a person was born with or the environment that he lives in? The story of Narakasura seems to come out pretty strongly in favor of nurture or the environment. It is said that because of Narakasura’s association with Banasura, a corrupt and evil demon, what should of been blessings (the boons that he had been given by his Mother) turned into curses. Even with his amazingly good lineage, both good and bad seeds lay within the boy, as they do for everyone and everything, according to the Indian Tradition. This points to the importance of Satsang or the company we keep. When Narakasura was young, he had been lovingly brought up by his Mother who only wanted the best for him, after all, it was she who had requested the initial boons for him, long life and invincibility. It was precisely these boons, that enabled him to become such a terrible demon on earth and heaven.


As Narakasura grew up with these ‘god-given’ boons, he left the company of his Mother and associated with Banasura the demon. Exposed to his company, Narakasura's evil seeds were watered and the powerful and wondrous boons only helped him become 'great' in evil. Otherwise, he would have been quickly stopped.


Now again you might say, ‘Well, that's nice, but so what? What does that have to do with anything in my life?” Actually, a whole lot. On a ‘deeper level’ this has to do with how the law of karma works and how we stand on the issue of the law of karma, makes a huge, massive difference with how we live your life in every way that I can think of. Of course, this also has a lot to do with our whole society.


The Difference it makes


Let's take an example: According to the American Medical Association, treatment by a doctor or ‘iatrogenic’ disease, is the third leading cause of death in America today. If we think about this, we can see clearly that something is wrong. I suggested that it all goes back to the law of karma and how we 'stand' regarding it. It goes back to nature or nurture, heredity or environment, the seed or the soil. To explain this, let's take a brief look at some of the history of western medicine. Here, deep in the foundations, underneath the present edifice, are fundamental assumptions about how the world works or the law of karma. 


The Debate of the Seed and the Soil


For much of the 19th century , a great debate took place between two famous Frenchmen. It was called the debate of the 'Seed and the Soil.' On one side of the debate was Louis Pasteur, the chemist and microbiologist. On the other side was his opponent, who had worked with Pasteur on the first experiments in ‘pasteurization’ and was also his friend. His name was Claude Bernard, widely recognized today as the ‘Father of Physiology’. Pasteur held that the cause of disease was the microbe, the germ or the ‘seed.’ Bernard said that the primary cause of disease was the ‘milieu intérieur’ the condition of the environment, the body or the ‘soil’. Bernard held that without the proper soil, the seed, even if present, will not grow. 


The debate went on for decades. Finally, on his death bed, Pasteur recanted his point of view,

admitting that, “Bernard was right. It is the soil, not the seed”.


In spite of his recantation, much of Western thinking, medical science and medical practice has followed in the footsteps of Pasteur. The name of Bernard, as well as his argument, is lost to the common man and our  consideration. 


Now, what difference does this make? Well, if the causative agent of disease is in the body, the ‘milieu intérieur’, not the seed, germ or microbe, then the general approach to disease that is employed by the 'Western' Medical profession throughout America and much of the world is not correct. Of course there are many things that Western medicine excels at, especially when things have gone too far and you need a heart transplant or a hip replacement, or there has been a terrible accident. Western Medical Science can be fantastic for this. But, when it comes to the vast majority of diseases suffered by people in the West today, when it comes to the arthritis, colitis, obesity, IBS, acne, herpes, allergies, headaches and the overwhelming number of diseases that people suffer from in America, then, the attempt to control the symptoms (which is assumed to be caused by the 'seeds') instead of removing or changing the cause (the 'milieu interieure' the underlying health of the body, or the 'soil')  has shown itself to be harmful in its results - western medicine is now the 3rd leading cause of death as well as being unsustainable relative to its cost.


Ultimately, how we stand on the argument of the seed and the soil, goes back to our understanding of the law of karma, or nature and nurturance. Western medicine usually focuses the attempt to destroy the bacteria or the 'seed' instead of changing the condition of the body or the 'soil.' Western medicine does not concern itself much with creating health in the body. It concerns itself primarily with removing the symptoms of disease, through suppression of symptoms or surgical removal. Killing bacteria with drugs is where the money is. If it worked, that would be fine and there is no doubt that in certain situations it can be a life-saver. But, in everyday usage, and as part of an overall philosophy or way of thinking that places the cause of disease in the seed as opposed to the soil, the use of anti-bacterials and anti-virals often produce a superficial and temporary result and lead to terrible side effects- Do not forget that the AMA says that treatment by a doctor is the third leading cause of death in the United States today! Imagine all the side effects that do not kill the person. One way or the other, there is something horribly wrong with their methodology and that means there is something wrong with the way they are thinking. Such treatment does not go to the root, it does not change the condition of the soil or create health in the body. But, money is not in good food or in creating health and prevention. The money is not in the 'roots' and the soil. The money or 'green' is in treating the leaves. The money is in disease and its treatment. Not many have ever heard about Narakasura.

Live Oak Tree in California

Sudden Oak Death in California- An Incredible and Timely Example of Where We Stand Regarding the Law of Karma and the Debate of the Seed and the Soil


Today, in Marin County and throughout California we can witness a re-enactment of the debate of the Seed or the Soil in the phenomenon of Sudden Oak Death (SOD). From Big Sur to Mt Tamalpais, if you look at the forests, you will notice many grey and dying trees. Although mainly showing itself amongst the oak trees, it also occurs with Laurel, Maple, Manzanita, Doug Fir and even Redwoods. According to,  “Sudden Oak Death SOD may develop into one of the most devastating diseases to hit North American forests.”

Sudden Oak Death on Mount Tamalpais- The brown trees are dead

Dr. David Rizzo, a scientist at The University of California, Berkeley is heading up the fight against SOD. Dr. Rizzo says that SOD is caused by a fungus -Phytopthera ramorum that kills off the trees. Rizzo and his colleagues are currently involved in research to find a treatment to kill off the fungus. So far, Dr. Rizzo and his team of scientists have been able to kill the fungus but unable to determine how the disease is transmitted. Among other things, he has warned homeowners and hikers to be careful not to spread the disease by washing their shoes, not transporting wood and cleaning their hands after touching the trees. As of this date (2011) he says that no cure has been found. 


In the last decade, most of the Oak trees of Hearst San Simeon were found to show the symptoms of SOD. Not willing to accept the inability of mainstream Western science to deal with this disease, this wealthy estate-museum called in Dr. Lee Klinger, an ecologist and scientist who had a record of outstanding success with SOD all over the state. Dr. Klinger proceeded to treat these oaks with minerals, lime, ground-up seashells and organic compost placed around the base of each tree to offer nutrients and to kill off the moss. In one year, 80% of Hearst castle’s trees had been saved.


Dr. Klinger and his methods are not accepted by the dominant thinking and science of today. In fact, his successful work has been nearly totally dismissed. According to Dr. Klinger, the fungus-Phytophthora ramorum is not the cause of the disease. The oozing of sap is not the cause of the disease. The beetles that invade the sick trees and ‘girdle’ them are not the cause of disease. All of these are symptoms of underlying poor nutrition. 


Klinger says that the cause of SOD is the acidification of the soil around the base of the trees. This acidification is primarily the result of years of fire suppression that allowed moss and lichen to grow and acidify the soil. In addition, the trees have been affected by acid rain and pollution which further increased the acidity of the soil. The increased acidity reduces the capability of the tree to absorb nutrients. When the trees are deficient in nutrients, they are more susceptible to disease. 

Sudden Oak Death is a modern version of the debate of the seed (here, the fungus) and the soil. As you can see, this consideration or where you stand on the law of cause and effect, is not just a theoretical question. It is utterly practical, critical and relevant. It makes a huge difference, in the forests, in your life, health and the life of everyone and everything. The dominant paradigm on which the Western world is now based has oriented itself to killing the germs or fungus or disease and not attending to the soil which allows these ‘seeds’ to grow or not. This paradigm shows itself in the prevalent treatment methodologies for SOD as well as in the modus operandi of Western medicine. Wrongly identifying symptoms as cause, they seek to remove these symptoms or the effects and do not approach the cause. There is an ancient parable that says that if a tree is sick, do not treat the leaves, treat the root. It holds true in approaching SOD and in any illness occurring in our own bodies. 


The World View Behind Omens and Auspices-The Emphasis on the Environment


To attend to the environment, to the soil, to nurture, is one of the principles that is demonstrated in the story of Narakasura.  'Living things' or the health of 'living things' have to do with the condition of the ‘soil’, with nurturance, food or environment; thus we can see how important it is to read, understand, nurture, make healthy and thereby gain the support of our environment. This is the principle behind omens and the noticing of auspices and the determination of auspicious days. 


Such an approach was particularly important to people who utterly depended on doing things right and having the support of nature. Without it, they would die. They noticed that all time is not the same and all conditions are not the same. In India, the ancient practice of Jyotish or Vedic Astrology was used to determine the different qualities of time so that one could plan ones life accordingly. Ayurveda was used to determine the different qualities of the elements so that one could be healthy. Vastu, the Vedic science of architecture and placement noticed and capitalized on, took advantage of the different qualities of space so that one could live in accord with the physical environment. These were not silly belief systems. These were sophisticated sciences of ancient cultures used to understand and make maximum use of their environment. It was stories like the one about Narakasura that reminded them of the necessity of this truth and the way that truth 'worked'. Perhaps that why the tractor was called the Bhoomiputra; it was a reminder of the importance of the soil to the production of a even the best of seeds.



By the way, after Lord Krishna and Satyabhama had killed Narakasura, they freed the 16,100 women who he had captured. After being raped by Narakasura, these women would not be able to live honorably in their families, cities and villages and so Lord Krishna married them all and that is how he wound up with so many wives.


Seeds, True Wealth and the Ancient Principles of all Things

It was good to till the earth and scatter the seeds.

Seed for the Pasture that grows a very lush grass for the cows

Govinda and I felt the ancient and primal necessity for the rains to come. We were performing an ancient ritual fundamental to survival. We were engaged with elemental forces, beyond our control. This made me think of the hundreds of temples that surrounded the mountain. Indian culture, is rooted in the recognition of immense forces. Just so, our farming enterprise was largely beyond our control. We could not bring the rains, sprout the seeds, make the grass grow or the cows give milk. These things were all 'miracles' in and of themselves. Everything was at the mercy or the will of the Gods. 


One could see how this world view and 'situation' was described by the Buddha in his more 'reasonable' languaging using a consideration of the law of karma.  Buddha taught that all things were co-dependently arising-pratityasamutpada. No one thing was the cause of any other thing, but, everything was arising together. No one person or thing was the cause of something. Everything had to be noticed and attended to.

It was an environmental concern.


As we stood out in the fields, plowing and seeding at the foot of Arunachala, engaged in our small enterprise we recognized that any success depended on the gifts of nature and of the earth, of what some cultures call the Gods or the devas. It does not matter what you call it, whatever it is, there are forces and qualities in nature that are not us and we need them. All the ancient cultures of the world recognized this. At our farm, we had set out to harvest the True Wealth of the world- sunlight, rain, water, grass, the milk of cows, butter, ghee, fruits and vegetables. This 'Wealth' is given as gifts to mankind, all day and every day for millions of years. If it was not for these gifts, we would have all ceased to live. This is the real 'Economy.' Not the stock market, bank or a hedge fund. Growing food is much more important and involves ‘real’ involvement in life than ‘making money’. If all the money in the world disappeared overnight, the world could go on. If, on the other hand, the sun, rains, grass, fruits, vegetables, cows, bees and fish all disappeared, we would die in a very short time. This is why I call it, 'True Wealth.' It belongs to no one. It is a gift and it is this 'gifted' wealth that supports the whole world and, True Wealth is a gift that we must put ourselves in a position to receive. 


We do so by creating the proper conditions at the proper time. We must create the proper soil, sow after the rains and observe and work in harmony with the ever-changing environment. We must work and create to the best of our ability. We must seek to give the right nurturance. We hold up our empty hands to nature and to God. We pray to be showered with gifts. We do as farmers have done for tens of thousands of years. We realize that we are in a vulnerable situation. What could we be, but in awe . . . thankful and in wonder? What else could we do but thank the Gods and nature?


 Ancient Organics Lakshmi Kamadhenu Organic Dairy and Creamery 


The idea for the Ancient Organics Lakshmi Kamadhenu Organic Dairy and Creamery came to my door. . . Literally. It began when I hired my houseboy, chef and friend, Govinda. 


For 12 yearsm Govinda had been the personal attendant, chef and houseboy to the elderly Annamalai Swami, the intimate attendant and devotee of Ramana Maharshi.

Annamalai Swami

It was Annamalai Swami who directed and participated in the construction of all the original buildings that still stand today at the Ramana Maharshi Ashram. When I asked Govinda about his life, I found out that he still lives at the Annamalai Swami Ashram. Govinda told me, “I have a wife, a child and a cow at my house. I replied, “You have a cow in your house?” “Yes,” Govinda replied. “I have kept this cow in my house since it was a baby and this is that same cow. She is now about to give birth.”  


Govinda is a member of the Yadava clan, the same caste that Lord Krishna was a member of. They were cowherds. The word ‘Govinda’ is composed of two parts- ‘Go’ which means cow and Vinda, which means ‘he who gives pleasure.’ Together, it means ‘He who gives pleasure to cows.’  It fits him perfectly. I have found that Govinda brings pleasure to most beings. Dogs absolutely love him and he loves them. Govinda is an epithet of Lord Krishna and the name is used in the Mahamantra devotional chanting of the Hari Krishna devotees and all over India for thousands of years. Govinda's wife's name is 'Bhoomidevi'.

A few days after he began in my employ, Govinda wanted to show me ‘His land’. I was intrigued and that day we took the 15 minute trip by motorbike to the farm. When we got there and he opened the gate, he came alive with happiness.

He showed me all over the property and talked of everything that was there. He told me how he wanted to turn the place into a dairy where he could keep cows and fulfill the callings of his dharma and caste.

He pointed out where the tank for watering the cows should be and where the goshala (barn for the cows) should be built.

There was a fallen-down house on the property that he wanted to fix up and put on a new roof.

I suggested that it would make a great creamery for using and processing milk into butter, buttermilk, yogurt, and ghee.

There are two ‘borehole’ wells on the property. One is deep and the other is very deep.

He told me that this will serve us well through any extended drought.

There is electricity on the property and a large electric water pump to bring the water up from the wells.

Piping has already been laid up and down the whole property on each side.

The whole place was extremely beautiful with a striking view of Arunachala.

There was an abundance of birds and birdsong filled the air.

There were many Neem Trees and there were beehives in the trees.

There was a very strong, stone and barbed wire fence that ran around the property.

There was a well-built entry with a heavy steel gate.

There was a great sense of peace on the land.

After showing me the land, we drove back to my house. 

That evening, as I lay on my bed, waiting for the cooling breezes to come down off the mountain, I realized that Govinda’s vision of a dairy would be a graceful enterprise to participate in. One of the things that I had planned to do in India was to write a book about Ghee for the company I founded- Ancient Organics Ghee out of Berkeley, Ca ( In a flash, I saw that this dairy could provide for cows, offer work to many people, produce high-quality milk, butter, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, paneer and ghee.  And, this should be a very good way to research Ghee in India  . . . Make Ghee in India. I knew I would run into many people who know a lot of things about it. After all, they have been making it here for thousands of years.


Akshaya Tritiya was coming up in a few days and it seemed like the perfect time to start. Fate or the Gods or God had brought it to my door and I was a fool to not accept it. Of course, I was also a fool to accept it. I decided to accept it.

The next day, after I decided to do it,  I wanted to see if I could afford it. I asked Govinda questions about the cost of everything and many others about whether they thought it was a good idea. As to the cost, here is what I determined: The land was already paid for and had been given to Govinda ‘to do with what he wanted’ by two good-hearted Westerners. They had owned the land for over 20 years, had never done anything with it and did not want it to go to waste. They had employed Govinda before and like me were impressed with his integrity, intelligence and helpfulness. 


Going over the situation: 


The electricity was already in with a pump house already constructed and a pump in place. There were two wells on the property, one far deeper than the other to be a reserve in case of drought or other circumstances. The piping for the water was laid up and down the property on both sides. There was already a ‘house’ on the property with a good foundation whose roof and walls had collapsed over the years. The house could be built again with stone walls and smooth plaster sides. The property was fenced in with a stone and barbed wire fence. There was a large and well-built iron gate at the front of the property.


All we needed were cows, a cowshed and to set up a creamery in the to-be rebuilt house. At first glance, it seemed doable. We could start rustically, like everyone else around here and go forward from there, taking on a project as we got the funds for it. Govinda was very excited that I was interested

and now ‘we’ decided to 'go for it' together. 


I told him I wanted to break ground and sow the first seeds for our pasture on Akshaya Tritiya

and that is what we have done.


Need and Desire


There is a tremendous need for organic, high quality dairy products here, at least among the foreigners in Tiruvannamalai. Organic milk, takra-buttermilk, paneer, curd and Ghee would be much appreciated by the thousands of Westerners who come to Arunachala on a seasonal timetable, every year, during the winter 4 months 'cool' season and for the hundreds of them who live here year-round. In addition, there are several high-end hotels in the area that might be interested. Finally, there was a possibility that Organic India, which is establishing ‘Health food stores’ in the major cities of India, might be interested as well. 


Here is a look at some of our competition. As you can see,

out here, the diet of the cows leaves much to be desired:

We would make our dairy products using the same principles and techniques that we used in our operation in the United States, the ancient technologies of Vedic India. Desi Cows. High-quality raw materials, good pasture and diet for the cows, making our ghee only on the full or waxing moons and doing so in the sattvic, positive atmosphere of the Mahamrtunjaya Mantra or what we might call a 'big-time' healing vibrational atmosphere. This is good for those who eat the food and for those who make it.


The Indian offerings of dairy that were available in the stores around town are pretty bad, with fresh buttermilk simply not available. The paneer was not fresh and I could not find any cream or high-quality butter. You can get milk and some of these things from various farmers who have their own cows, but, that has been few and far between and it is difficult to determine the quality of what you are getting; in other words . . . what do the cows eat? (hay, silage or grass) How is the milk processed? (cleanliness, pasteurization) and a wide variety of other issues. It seemed a ‘must’ to produce our own food around here

I was not looking for this, but it all just ‘came to my door’ and it will not take much money to start it up or to keep it running. As I write this last sentence, I know that I have said this before and been wrong. But, if I am wrong, the cost of failure compared to the United States are very very low. For instance, I had to pay the tractor driver who worked with his tractor for about 4 hours only $21.


I will have little to do on the practical level as Govinda and his large family wants to and will do all of it. He knows people throughout the area, how to take care of cows, what they need, where to get things, who to contact, who to watch out for and  how to work in the 105 degree heat. As for myself, I don’t know if I will ever get used to this heat. I have a vision of what we should do on the farm and, God willing, the ability to find a market for our ghee and to share what we learn with the larger world.

In addition to our dairy,  we want to start a vegetable garden on the same plot of land where we can grow greens and other vegetables, which are also in very short supply and even when available, the quality available to purchase is as poor as that of dairy products which are really bad. With the exception of spinach, you simply cannot get any green leafy vegetables out here at all, absolutely none, really! Every westerner I talked to would love to purchase good quality, organic greens, root vegetables and fruits.

So, if anyone wants to invest and get pure Desi Ghee made by real living sadhus and Govinda that would be great and much appreciated. Please tell me of your interest. I am working on a program of how you can be part of and will figure out how to make it all work so that everyone is recognized and rewarded for their contribution. You can be part of the first joint Indian/ Western enterprise to make top quality ghee in India with an auspicious view of Arunachala for every cow! I will, of course, photograph, document and write about all of it. It should be a real adventure.


One way or the other, we are doing it, if the creek don’t rise and God be Willing.


As Maharishi used to say, “Well begun is half done”. If we have the support of nature then we are already halfway assured of success. It seemed to me that the omens were good and God and/or the Gods were pleased. Labor is inexpensive here. Most things are. But, I have been around the block enough times to know that I don’t know what will come up.

I suppose, like everything, its in the hands of God. 


The Gift of a Cow-Godaan

Seven years ago I graduated from Kalidas Sanskrit University with a degree in Ayurveda. After that, I traveled to Benaras where I bought a cow and her calf as a gift for a poor man who lived there. I thought that this was the very best gift I could give, as it was a gift that would continue to grow as the cows had baby calves. It gave him income and food and work for his family and the promise of a never-ending increase (Akshaya) of true wealth.

It placed a cow and her calf in the hands of a good man.  


You can read that story here:

I feel much the same about this enterprise. 


“The winds of grace are always blowing. You only need put up your sails”

– Brahmananda Saraswati, Sankaracharya of Jyotir Math

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