Nammaazhvaar

  • The world knows Nammaazhvaar as an ambassador of organic farming. He spread the importance of loving nature and advocated the harm of adulterating the soil with synthetic materials, in the greed for higher returns. His life’s message was simple – “Nature is not a concept. It is a very much alive system. If you love it, it will reciprocate your love.” 

  • He grew up in the very lush and fertile region of Ilavankaadu, Thanjavur.

  • After graduating from Annamalai University, he was offered a job in the agriculture college in Kovilpatti. The sight of the dry landscape of Kovilpatti was what turned his life around. He started investigating as to why the land was so barren. His investigation revealed that the use of artificial fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides is what drove the land to this pathetic state. Seeing this, he resolved to protect the farmers of the land by educating them about the harmful effects of synthetic materials. He immediately left the government job with benefits and marched toward farmers.

  • Ours is a land that did not depend on the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. For centuries organic farming is what we were following. So, there was no shortage of experts on organic farming. So, what made Nammaazhvaar stand out, if there were so many experts? Dedication. 

  • They knew the facts, but Nammaazhvaar had the facts and was willing to put them to use. He dedicated his entire life toward making farmers realise that organic farming is the way they should be taking. He has visited almost all districts of Tamil Nadu to spread awareness among farmers. 50 years of service is no ordinary thing. But Nammaazhvaar was no ordinary man, was he?

  • His advice did not ask farmers to follow any meticulous processes. His theory was simple – The earth has everything it needs to grow a plant or a tree. We don’t need to give it extra supplements.

  • He is a scientist, but that didn’t mean he put forth entirely new theories. These were his words ‘we have been an agriculture-based nation for centuries together. We did not see agriculture as a profession; It was our livelihood. It is enough if we keep continuing what our ancestors did.’

  • Vaanagam was a legacy he left to the people of Tamil Nadu. Vaanagam is located in Kadavur, Karur district. When Nammaazhvaar visited the place for the first time, it was a barren land. But within a few years, he transformed it into a lush garden. His body rests in this very soil he poured his heart and soul into. 

  • Vaanagam is more than just a piece of land. It is a movement that takes the importance of organic farming to the younger generation. The members are doing a great  job with spreading the message. Any youngster who visits Vaanagam will hold nature in a higher regard than he did before visiting Vaanagam.

  • “The soil has enough power to feed all of us. We don’t have to add artificial supplements. Artificial supplements may give temporary results, but over time, it will eat up the quality of the soil and all that will be left is an unproductive surface.” With such words, he took his message to the farmers. His soul departed during such a protest against the Methane Extraction Project. This shows us his dedication to his cause, even in his last moments on Earth.

  • To learn about organic farming, all one has to do is read his books. You don’t have to worry that it might be texts involving a lot of jargon. The books break down the concepts of organic farming and give us the whole idea of organic farming, in simple language. 

  • Living a self-sufficient life is a hard task. It may even border on impossibility. But Nammaazhvaar proved that it is not a hard task if one is willing to commit to self-sufficiency. Till his death at the age of 75 years, he grew all his family needed on their farm.

  • During one of his talks with his fellow farmers, he asked them what they would want as their epitaph. When it was Nammaazhvaar’s turn to tell his epitaph, he said “A person who woke thousands from their sleep is resting here.” How true is that! Even his choice of epitaph hits a nail on the head.

  • Nammaazhvaar did not teach concepts to farmers. He explained his point and the solutions in simple language. This was another reason for farmers to love him. He spoke the language they spoke, and did not confuse them with unnecessary technical terms.

  • A person may live a whole life sheltered by a synthetic wall, but when he dies, he is at the mercy of nature. No human or living being can take nature out of their lives. At some point of time they will have to return to Nature. This is what Nammaazhvaar’s life shows us. Not just Tamilians, the entire world is indebted to him for helping us understand this truth.