Integrated Rural Development: Guidelines from Sri Sathya Sai - Part 1


Life in Indian Villages
The surroundings and the environment in villages are fresh and unpolluted when compared to urban areas. The villagers (ought to) have unpolluted air, clean drinking water and simple life conducive for peaceful living unlike the urban areas. The urbanites are prone to all kinds of diseases because of congested living conditions, which seldom happen in rural areas. However, it has to be noted with regret that the Government (Central and State in India) is not providing the required facilities and amenities in rural areas. The drinking water facilities, sanitation, and cleanliness are very poor in rural areas. The villagers are not aware of the importance of hygiene, sanitation and safe drinking water. They do not know what kind of water they should or should not drink. Though the urban people are aware of good and bad, they are also exposed to unfavourable living conditions. But the educated people (in rural as well as urban areas) have to put into practice various aspects of hygienic living and thus become role models to others for emulation.


In the sacred land of Bharat, there is no real dearth of natural resources. In ancient India, people cultivated their own lands but in current times, they are not depending on cultivation to eke out a living. The villagers found cultivation uneconomical and there was a structural shift to other forms of livelihood such as business and industry. They converted the agricultural lands into housing and industrial sites and thus gradually migrated to urban areas. They are now fascinated by real-estate business as they are lured by higher financial gains. As a result of this mad race for wealth maximisation, the health (physical and mental) of the rural people was affected. There is thus a great need to educate the rural people to earn their bread through agriculture, become self-reliant and thereby contribute to the growth of the villages. 

During the times of Pothana [i] (a devotee of Lord Rama and the saint poet who translated the Sanskrit epic of Bhagavatam into Telugu), the importance of village life and agriculture was highlighted in his poems. His brother-in-law, Srinatha [ii] , a contemporary scholar, derided the life in villages and also agriculture. He tried to influence Pothana to migrate to urban areas (abandoning cultivation) to serve in the courts of kings for wealth, name and fame. Pothana’s son replied very firmly to his uncle that the self-reliant life in villages (despite the meagre earnings) was much superior to the ostentatious life in the urban areas that lacked self-respect. In those days the people of Bharat had great reverence for Bhoo Mata (mother earth), Gou Mata (cow), Deha Mata (mother who gave us birth) and Veda Mata [iii] (the four Vedas – Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharvana). Today the youth do not possess this national outlook. They are all leaving the motherland and immigrating to foreign countries because of fascination for name, fame and money. The youth on the contrary should make use of their knowledge and skills for the progress of India. It should be however borne in mind that today’s towns / cities were villages of yesteryears. Madras was known as Chennappapalli  in the bygone times and likewise Bangalore was Bengaluru, meaning the place where fried groundnuts were sold. The basic cause for this entire decline is the erosion of human values in the society.


i] Pothana is a renowned poet of Telugu literature belonging to the times of Kakatiyas in Orugal presently known as Warangal about 60 miles from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. He translated Shrimad Bhagavatam originally authored by Sage Veda Vyasa in Sanskrit into Telugu.

ii] Srinatha was the brother-in-law of the Saint Poet Pothana.

iii] In Indian culture, people consider/refer to different animate and inanimate things such as rivers, cow, trees, scriptures, etc. as mother.

iv] Palli means ‘village’ in Telugu language.

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