New Delhi: How can one talk about climate change without addressing soil when nearly 40% of climate change and global warming happens due to soil degradation, asserted spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, as he talked about his ‘save soil’ movement, for which he completed a 100-day solo bike journey through 27 nations earlier this month.
In conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Senior Associate Editor Neelam Pandey, during a special session of ‘Off The Cuff’, the 65-year-old spiritual guru discussed a range of issues including individual liberty and rights, the controversies surrounding remarks against Prophet Muhammad, wearing of hijab and Kashi among others.
Explaining the impact of the ‘save soil’ campaign, he underlined the significance of taking care of the soil and the necessity of considering it as ‘a unifying factor’.
“We have found hundreds of ways to divide ourselves. And unfortunately, as human beings we are super-empowered to a point, we can destroy this planet many times over. When we have this power, finding some common factor is very important.”
“Soil is definitely that common factor… that we all come from it, we all thrive on it, when we die at least we go back at it. The only choice we have is to understand that we are all part of the soil, either we get it now, or we get it when we are buried, that’s the choice,” the yogi emphasised.
He cited numbers given by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) to explain how soil life had deteriorated and the need to replenish it.
He warned that 27% of species are going extinct per year on an average, according to UNFAO. The spiritual leader also stated that 82% of the biomass insects have been destroyed in the last 7 years as a consequence of microorganisms dying.
‘We think planet is a cake we can cut into pieces’
Noting that national borders ‘mean nothing’ when it comes to social and ecology, Sadhguru further said that the planet can’t be ‘cut into pieces’.
“When it comes to soil and ecology our national borders mean nothing. This is a human problem, this is a very human issue that we think the planet is a cake and we can cut it into pieces and take it for ourselves. We can cut it into pieces for administrative and political purposes, but we can’t absolutely cut it into pieces. Right now that’s what we are trying to do and it’s not going to work,” he stated.
‘Kashi means a tower of light’
Without delving into the controversy surrounding the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque case, the spiritual guru spoke on the etymological meaning of Kashi to explain the significance of the place.
“You should come to Kashi, we will sit down and talk about it. Talk what is Kashi, why Kashi is important. It’s not about this religion, that religion. It is about why a place like that is important for the nation, culture and the world. I am saying it for the world because the word Kashi means a tower of light. Let me talk about it, not the controversy. A tower of light means, we found a way,” he began.
He then said: “Tower of light means there is a whole methodology or science with which you can create a certain amount of light. Light means not physical light as you are thinking. Light means something that brings clarity to you. Something that shows the way in your life. So that’s what the word Guru also means. ‘Gu’ means darkness, ‘ru’ means dispeller — somebody who dispels your darkness is your light. In that sense, we created such spaces which led millions of people through generations towards their well-being. It’s not just the question of belief because this is a land of seeking and this has never been a land of belief.”
Gulf nations’ reaction to remark against Prophet
Towards the end of the conversation, he also talked about individual liberty and addressed the controversy surrounding controversial statements made against Prophet Muhammad by now-suspended BJP leaders.
“When we are talking about individual liberty being sacred; if I want to be left alone, please leave me alone — why do you want to do anything with me when I’m not willing,” he said.
Sadhguru went on to say that the Gulf nations are reacting to the remarks, but they will “calm down”.
“People have deep trust in India in the Gulf countries. They don’t believe India will go that way as people are projecting it.”
“Whatever (statement) was made, if it’s hurting somebody we just have to withdraw that statement and say that we’re sorry about it, that’s all. You don’t have a right to offend,” he added.
On wearing of hijab
When asked about the row around hijab that sparked in Karnataka in March, Sadhguru refused to term it as controversy, saying “let us not misrepresent these things”.
He said: “There was no controversy over hijab in this country. It was in a school…If there also you want to practice things it’s up to you. Let us not misrepresent these things. There was no controversy over hijab. You can dress the way you want in this country, nobody will ask you about how you’re dressed. But in a school, an institution decides. By the time you’re 14 you’re saying I have my rights. No, even the parents control 14 years olds, right?”
On accusations of land acquisitions
Sadhguru also answered questions about charges of land acquisition against his foundation, the founder of Isha Foundation clarified: “The Tamil Nadu government’s forest department says we have not occupied, and court 2-3 times says we have not occupied, World Wildlife Fund comes and surveys and says we have not occupied.”