“Gandhi’s Agrarian Legacy: Practicing Food, Justice, and Sustainability in India”
By A. Whitney Sanford
Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
Vol. 7, No. 1 (2013): 65-87.
Abstract: M.K. Gandhi’s social and environmental thought continues to shape the contemporary practices of Brahma Vidya Mandir, an intentional community in Paunar, Maharashtra. Since its founding in 1959, members have wrestled with the practical implications of translating Gandhian values such as self-sufficiency, non-violence, voluntary simplicity, and public service into specific practices of food production and consumption. Members of Brahma Vidya Mandir and associated farmers imagine and enact their responses to contemporary agrarian failures in religiously inflected language drawn from the Bhagavad-Gita, a central Hindu text, and they use this text as a guide to develop agricultural practices that they deem non-violent. Brahma Vidya Mandir’s existence and the counternarrative prompt our imaginings of what it means to enact alternative agricultural and social practices and help us envision new possibilities of adapting and applying these ideas to other social and geographic contexts.
We gratefully acknowledge A. Whitney Sanford’s permission to post this article on the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology website.