To raise awareness about saving soil, India’s best-known spiritual leader Sadhguru or Jaggi Vasudev has set off on a 30,000 kms trip. To “Save Soil”, he has embarked on a 100-day motorbike journey from London through Europe and the Middle East to India.
During the trip, he is due to meet celebrities, environmentalists and influencers in dozens of countries along the way. The journey is part of his #SaveSoil campaign, which is calling on policymakers to make soil regeneration a priority.
According to the UN’s campaign against desertification, it can take 1,000 years to produce a few centimeters of soil. The UN has also said that a third of soil globally is degraded and more than 90 per cent could become degraded by 2050.
“I’m not a scientist, I’m not an environmentalist. I belong to the land, not to the lab, but I know there’s a soil crisis so I’m talking to as many heads of state, politicians, leaders, top scientists and influencers [as possible],” said Sadhguru.
The 64-year-old motorbike enthusiast and yoga guru will be joined by celebrities including the Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma, England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson and German footballer Michael Ballack at public events in cities including Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva and Tel Aviv.
Sadhguru is a proponent of Hindu spirituality and has been teaching yoga in southern India since 1982. In 1992, he established the Isha Foundation near Coimbatore, which operates an ashram and yoga center that provides educational activities. He is the author of several books and a frequent speaker at international forums. In 2017, he received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to social welfare.
Before leaving London, Sadhguru met several key people from the community and attended events and visited temples.
Visit to Neasden Temple
Sadhguru visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London (popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’), on Saturday 19 March 2022. He was received at the ceremonial gates by trustees of the Mandir and then greeted with a traditional welcome by Yogvivekdas Swami, Head Swami of the Mandir, on behalf of Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
After paying his respects at the shrines in the upper sanctum and lower sanctum, Sadhguru met with members of the Hindu community and engaged with volunteers at the Mandir to understand some of its outreach work, such as the relief efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic and BAPS’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
A special evening assembly was held in the presence of Sadhguru, attended by Lord Rami Ranger CBE, Bob Blackman MP, Virendra Sharma MP, and several other leaders of Hindu temples and associations. During an interactive dialogue, Sadhguru explained his global ‘Save Soil’ campaign and elaborated upon his incredible solo motorbike journey from London to the Kaveri in India – 30,000 kilometres across 25 nations in 100 days – to raise awareness about the need to increase the organic content in cultivable soil.
Sadhguru also paid tribute to the Mandir’s charitable community services: “When humans are committed to do something beyond their own life, they can achieve something which is beyond imagination. That is what I see here [at the Mandir].”
Sharing his impressions of his visit, Sadhguru spoke of the “enormous amount of dedication, focus and devotion” taken to create this “exquisite” Mandir, and paid tribute to the legacy of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj by reflecting on the many people who attend and make use of the Mandir, “fulfilling the purpose [behind the creation of the Mandir by Pramukh Swami Maharaj].” He also drew upon the lasting impact of the activities undertaken by BAPS across the UK and Europe. “These are things that will live forever and inspire people for a long time to come.”
Nitin Palan, a lead volunteer at Neasden Temple, added, “It was an honour to welcome Sadhguruji and support his important global campaign. Here in communities across the UK, BAPS will be doing our bit, too. As a part of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial birth anniversary this year, we are contributing to the ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ project by encouraging households to plant a tree at their home. We wish Sadhguruji all the best in his mission of raising vital awareness about saving our soil.”
Visit to Lord Basaveshwara's statue
Sadhguru paid an official tribute to Lord Basaveshwara's statue in London on 21 March. He was welcomed at the statue by the former Mayor of London Borough of Lambeth, Dr. Neeraj Patil
Sadhguru said, “Our planet has enough soil for only another 80 to 100 crops, which will last 60 years. We are removing organic content from the soil, 40% of the world's top soil is gone. We still have 15 to 25 years to turn things around; otherwise, we will soon be living in the desert. There will be civil war due to food shortages, and we have to prevent this.”
The event at the Basaveshwara was organised by The Lambeth Basaveshwara Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in the UK that has installed the statue of Basaveshwara on the bank of river Thames.
Sadhguru applied sacred ash (Vibuthi) to the Basaveshwara statue and said it's a matter of great pride to see the statue of Lord Basaveshwara opposite the British Parliament.
Visit to the Parliament Square and High Commission of India
London's Parliament Square was the flag off point for Sadhguru's 30,000-km motorbike tour on Monday. He said to the followers and key people, “For the next 100 days, the world must reverberate with one energy with one purpose to Save Soil. Talk soil, sing soil, breathe soil, live soil. Let’s make it happen. Be with me.” He touched Gandhiji’s (statue’s) feet in a symbolic gesture to seek his blessings and offered flowers before he started off his bike tour.
After a series of events scheduled in key cities along the way, he is aiming for a homecoming in New Delhi in 75 days in honour of India's 75th year of independence.
Before setting off on his bike tour, at the Indian High Commission he told those present, "It's extremely important that we act now. I've been talking about this for over 24 years, but solutions can only come when there is positive policy in every nation. He said, over 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 20 years. Not just in India, across the world this is happening... one of the main concerns is soil depletion.”