Mud Between My Toes

Harvesting til (sesame) from the paddy fields of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Today was yet another pre-dawn morning. We accompanied the teenage students of the Sri Aurobindo International School to ashram-owned paddy lands, near Ousteri Lake on the Pondicherry – Tamil Nadu border, to harvest sesame (til).

For them, as for us, the outing was a way to experience the basic mechanics of agriculture – or at least one significant part of the process – and remind ourselves from where our food comes. It was also hard work and good fun.

Harvesting til (sesame) from the paddy fields of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is largely self-sufficient in producing the food to sustain its 2,500 members, with entirely organic orchards, fields, paddy lands, and dairy operations. Indeed, the ashram has been producing a surfeit of rice in recent years, and has been rotating its paddies to produce non-flood-irrigated crops like groundnut, sun flowers, mustards, and sesame, which are pressed into cooking oils.

Yesterday evening brought an unseasonable storm to Pondicherry, utterly torrential last night, tapering to showers this morning. The sodden paddy fields were good fortune for us in two ways. First, the wet earth made the pulling of the til like butter.

Second, there are few things in life (I won’t enumerate them) as deliciously pleasurable as the mud of a paddy field squishing through your toes.

Harvesting til (sesame) from the paddy fields of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

3 Responses to “Mud Between My Toes”

  1. 1 Debabrata Ghosh 12 March 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Sri Aurobindo Ashram is an wonderful organisation.
    The Ashram shows the way also how to be self sufficient when it comes
    to get foods by cultivation for a group consisting more than
    2500 persns.

  2. 2 Deepanjolie 3 April 2008 at 6:06 am

    Hi Mark,

    love the educationist slant to the whole slishy-sloshy feel of mud between the toes you gave this post.


  3. 3 Becky 1 September 2008 at 6:38 am

    I have been studying Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga for a few years now and plan on enrolling at the Sri Aurobindo Darshan: School of Tomorrow. I have been to Auroville and the Ashram several times. I am a 26 year old yoga instructor from California, currently living in Cairo Egypt. I plan to return to Auroville in December for several weeks. Would like very much to meet liked minded individuals who are seekers and living the Integral yoga.

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