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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: The foundations of the community  | Growing food  | Eating  | Self-sufficiency  | The community  | The Hare Krishna community’s relationship with the outside

The Hare Krishna community’s relationship with the outside

In terms of the outside, the relationship varies because each individual has a relationship with different outside. But speaking about the community, that relationship has varied, and will vary; it was really sour at some point. It can get sour because if you don’t pay your bills, or if you act in a way that you’re superior to everyone else that’s not going to fly very well, either. And due to immaturity that went down also. There is always that kind of pioneer mood and you are going to conquer the world and this and that; and then you tend to forget that other people are there also.

But due to maturity, we’ve learned those things. And um, we’ve learnt also that we are not, you know, liberated beings. And therefore we have to deal with people in a certain way by rectifying that. The community has also seen that we are part of the community, integral part and willing to help and participate, in many ways. So therefore, as I mentioned to you before, that’s one of the ways; apart from, also, financial exchanges, because we do buy a lot of things outside. So that re-established quite a good, um, you know, a good…, they know that we are a good support as well. If the community needs something, or whatever, they um…. Actually one of the devotees told me yesterday that in Sydney someone approached him in the street and he was totally distressed, he was saying “the Hare Krishnas have got to come and chant in the street again because the world is going to hell! Why aren’t you…”, so before you used to hear where have you guys been for twenty years? But this particular person seemed to be very, you know very, agitated by the fact that the Hare Krishnas were not performing the sacrifice of the age, now, and therefore the planet is undergoing a lot of stress. So we’ve got to do that. But people do see that there is a certain amount of support, spiritual support, social support, that can be had here even if, people just come here and eat here for free. Sometimes they stay for a few days because they totally zonked out, with society. So they get a bit of ah, you know respite. And ah, that’s the relationship, ah with the outside, which is obviously taking bigger, has bigger bearing, bigger impact.

Really speaking, there was our downfall that we didn’t have this, this fourth item in the section of society. We had a lot of people that thought, you know, too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, basically. We had some administrators, there was very little or no money. And there was no-one to do anything, basically. And when everyone is happy doing their thing you get a nice arrangement, it’s respectful, we look after each other, and it’s a nice community. But is one element is missing, it’s like being on a wheelchair, or being with no head, it’s like, inconvenient. At best.

Have you observed a change since the ‘90s in a way that this community is perceived and the role that it plays more broadly in the region?

There’s more respect; because we’re acting as normal people we’re growing food. And also we’re producing milk. Ah, I think from next week on they will see probably 100 litres a day. And it is a production which is done without killing the animals. The animals can live for the rest of their lives, even though they don’t, you know produce. And we are producing food and, most of all because we are producing, but most of all we are developing an understanding and experience, how to grow food. So if anything was to go wrong out there we actually know how to utilise a farm. Which kind of gives us a certain amount of respect; in this community, that’s one thing. The other thing is that we pay all our bills.

I tell you, it’s item number one, and that wasn’t done somehow or other even if you talk about self-sufficiency, if you talk about growing your food, but you’re linked with the financial institutions. People aren’t going to, I mean the people that are aware, they just can’t figure that as being a very, very natural way of living. So, yeah, we do a little business with them. So obviously there’s a greater amount…; we are actually one of the, main business partners amongst the community here. We spend large amounts of money on various things, on infrastructure and therefore the community, it has high respect for us. But we are still following these five steps, that I mentioned about, so.

We just connected with the government because (was about two months ago) and there’s three different departments, government departments that want to come here and have a look at what we are doing, because this project, that infrastructure that we have down the bottom there, the government will give millions dollars of grant to have something like to look after the youth. There’s a type of youth in this region that is called, ah, like displace, displaced. It’s not like they’re delinquent but they are just still at a time where, you know “Dad’s an idiot” and “I don’t wanna listen to mum”, and “I’ll do something else”, so there’s room for them to come here work, not become delinquent and at the same time learn higher values. We don’t preach to them or anything, but we teach them essential values in life. Which they absorb, and with that in mind they have self-respect. They, …we’ve seen so many people come here and they were quite, I’d say emotionally destitute, and they came out with a sense of self-worth; they’ve done something, they’ve grown some vegetables, they’ve taken care of cows etcetera. and developed a sense of worth with which, they enter the society, with, on better terms. And then they become more productive. So therefore we approached the government then we showed them what we have there and they said this is exactly what they are looking for. So in that sense, with all the infrastructure, we probably spend like $250, 000 establishing this whole system. And the government can benefit from it, so at the moment we are in discussion, to see how we can help them; and how they can assist this, this, this project.

So, the problem with the current educational system is that it, quote/unquote forces people, a round peg into a square hole and the other way around. And it forces people to sit on school benches when really they shouldn’t be there. Because first they don’t have the thinking power; and second they have zero enthusiasm to be there, so they create havoc in schools, they sell drugs, pull guns, you know bash up the weaker ones. But instead of them being there, put them in action, get them to learn some simple skills and they will be much more productive, much more happy for society.

This is only one aspect of what we are trying to create. We’ve started what’s called Govardhan College; and with the college we are trying to actually develop the educational system as continuing from the school. If someone cannot perform at school, it has direct activities that he can perform here on the farm, but they are imbued with a spiritual value in the sense that, er, it’s not religious but they understand why for example we don’t put chemical on planet earth, because it’s a living entity. You know everything has a purpose, you know, there’s karmic reactions in everything you do. These are common understanding, that unfortunately the youth is lacking. And it’s not taught in school, maybe its taught in some areas of education, but not, not in terms of a practical application. And when you ask about the future how we getting involved with it, this is how we want to get involved; by educating, the, certain sections of society, to develop themselves so that they can face the society at large with better equipped, let’s say. Because it’s not easy, and one of the main hurdle for youth to enter the society is that fear: “I’m going to fail” this is great in Japan and in Switzerland, I’ve had friends in both, I lived in both places and you can see that, you know they’re, the youth over there, this is quite common knowledge in that they climb up to the eighth flow, they jump off, …

I had a friend in Switzerland, she failed her licence three times. She was an assistant dental surgeon, she failed her driver’s licence three times, she committed suicide because, it seems like you’re… It’s not so much in Australia, because in Australia if you don’t have a job and you looking for purpose of life, it’s kinda acceptable that you are marginal but you are not a bum. But if you go to places like France, Switzerland, Japan, if you step out of the cogs, for one minute, you’re immediately classified as a bum, or hippie; and either you have a very strong self-esteem, or otherwise, you’re, you tend to resort to drugs, smoking drinking or some kind of delinquent life because you can’t face what the society is demanding of you. So that, that intermediate phase is where we try to come in to tell people, “look you know, I know you’re not going to become a Hare Krishna, you don’t have to, but at least we can educate you in a sense, we can give you values, we can give you self-esteem, that you can do things. You can see you can achieve things, you’re worth something. And then with that in mind, armed with this knowledge, that you can go to society and face the music, but with a philosophy behind. it’s temporary etc, don’t take it too seriously. Do your thing rightly, but don’t get mental about it.” So these things are taught at this level simply by association also. Because they can see when they come here, they get association of the residents, and you can see that it’s just not just “oh wow if I fail out there that’s it, I’m done”.

In Australia there is such a good welfare system, that for the youth to fail, well its neither here nor there I can Austudy, I can go on the dole, I can go…, the weather is warm. But if you go to Europe, just the sheer climate forces you to step up in your technological performance, because if you don’t have the good car, the good boots for winter, heater, somewhere to live, you’re gone, you’re dead. Cause you’re in the cold. But here it like you can live 365 days of the year, you go to friend’s place. [laughs].

I remember getting a ride from Saint-Malo to Paris with a friend of my brother, my brother used to be in the Army a fighter pilot and when he, when he retired he became like a counsellor for people like that.  There was this lady that was driving us and she was, crying literally the whole way from Saint-Malo to Paris, it’s like a four hour ride, because she lost her job, she was a pharmaceutical something. And I was thinking, geez the Australians don’t think like that, when they lose a job they go “you hoo”, or something like that [laughs], not everyone, but it’s kinda more relaxed, but in France they, the government makes it so that if you are not in the cogs of 9 to 5, of pay your taxes, go on holidays etcetera. etcetera. you’re just basically a reject. And that mentality has been induced, from education. This is from the education, so therefore it is important that whatever education we give, like this, like in this programme or education level of school or university has to be that people acquire values and they can understand that with those values they can face the difficulties of the world. Otherwise it’s only technical stuff, its only technical stuff. They don’t tell you, you talk to people, “why don’t you read a book, or …”. “Well, I’ve gotta work, if I don’t work how am I going to eat”, it’s like….; which is true, but at the same time if you know how. Like nowadays they have devised these things, they sell you cars and you don’t know how to fix the cars; what do you do you got to the mechanic and the mechanic charges you $500 and what can you do? Because that kinda science, taking care of your own things locally, has been lost. Purposely of course; and because of that loss then you depend on some other entity or basically who’ll just stick the boots in and the knife in and try to extort as much money, or whatever goods he can from you.

So that reflects also for food growing, especially for food growing because it’s the bare survival. But you can have the same principal in other aspects of life also. We don’t expect to be successful overnight, but we’re pushing the boat in that direction and; hopefully even the generations to come will, will pursue that. Basically to help the society.



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