While Baba’s are the focus of today’s public debate I want to bring this little known story from my city Lucknow. There was once a young man called Yoav Lev who had a deep spiritual yearning and his quest brought him to Lucknow to meet his master Shri HWL Poonja or Papaji as he was lovingly called by his disciples. Poonja ji was born in Pakistani side of Punjab but he later settled in Lucknow after serving in the army. Poonja ji had a vision of Krishna when he was just 8 years old and his lifelong quest took him to his master Shri Ramana Maharishi. When Poonja ji asked him if he could show him God Ramana told him that he must focus on the I or the seer within himself and he will realize what he wants. After years of practice, one day Ramana appeared in Poonja ji ‘s dream and gave him the vision of Krishna. Poonja ji became the disciple of Ramana Maharishi and after his retirement in 1966 settled in Lucknow .
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, He became very popular among the western seekers and the entire area of Indiranagar where he used to live became infested by foreigners. For the locals it was good business to rent out their extra rooms to his peaceful chelas who were harmless except an occasional drag of chillum. I still remember one friend who had a couple of them as his tenants. He ostentatiously tried to learn guitar from one of them and accompanied me in one of the solo performances. It was such a monumental flop that it’s still a legend among those who studied in Lucknow University during the early 90’s. Anyways, sorry for digressing let me come back to the main topic. Now the simple folk of Lucknow could never figure out what the hell these hippies were doing in their city. But they were certainly doing something at least one of them was. One day Poonja ji told Yoav Lev who was now called Bharat Mitra that he must start a limited liability company. The vision for this company would be to link spirituality with business and connect environment with sustainable livelihoods. Bharat Mitra recalls that at that time he did not know what a LLP company was! But few months later, by the grace of his Guru he was sitting as the CEO in his new office of a company called as Organic India.
25 years later today Organic India has become a household name with its signature Tulsi tea & other herbal supplements. A couple of years back Fab India picked up a 40% stake in the company to support it’s growth plans. Organic India today is a big company that sells it’s products not only in India but in 40 other countries. The total area under cultivation would run into thousands of acres.They do all this while still living upto the original resolve of supporting marginalised communities of farmers and giving back more to the planet than they take from it.
Fun trivia – I had approached Organic India for employment as a fresher back in 1995 but could not get through as they had already hired two of my batch mates. Later in 2002 I once again discussed with them for dealership for south India but even that didn’t move forward. The only link I have now is their Tulsi tea which I drink everyday 😊
In this video you can see another famous disciple of Papaji – Mooji singing Shiv Shiv Shambho for his master.