Global warming and sedate monsoons were not focussed at that time. Yet, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was hopelessly ahead of his time. Way back in 1969 when he first arrived at Kandhamal with a dogged determination to make local agro-sector a successes, few fathomed his vision. Face to face with missionaries out to make maximum “soul harvesting”, he had the vision to make the natives economically independent through prudent farming. For, poverty was the root cause behind allurement conversions. No wonder, he was assassinated by the vested interests around this time last year, given the fact that he was an iconic impediment to the nefarious conversion agenda of the proselytisers.
Today his mantra of village development has done miracles.
His theory was simple:
1. Water conservation by traditional system and irrigation.
2. Use of compost and cow- dung in cultivation.
3. To start cultivation before the arrival of monsoon
4. To start multifarious cultivation.
And today Kandhamal is a living testimony of his pragmatic experiment. The district grows organic Haldi (turmeric) and several spices that nationally lapped up by the consumers.
The fruits of his movement to eradicate alcoholism is now explicit with farmers sticking to cultivation and enjoying economic stability. That to irrespective of their original or adopted religion.
Lakra Digal of village Mandakia, one of the erstwhile drunkard who was leading a life of vagabond earlier has now become reformed after being associated with late Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Digal used to beat his wife and children out of intoxication and was jobless due to his bad habits resulting with immense suffering of not only his own-self but also his whole family. His entire cultivable land was lying barren as he was not cultivating the same being addicted by liquor. This was not the only story of Digal but also most of the vanvasi people of the tribal dominated district of the State at the time of arrival of late Swamijee there, way back to 1969. Kindhearted Swamijee was extremely perturbed seeing this sorry state of affaire of poor vanavasis which made him to find out the causes of and bring out solutions to the problems. After a deep and detailed analysis, Swamijee came to the conclusion that the root cause of the suffering of vanvasi people are, they are illiterate, poor and simple.
Swamijee realised that the vanavasis had taken recourse to intoxication in order to forget, though for few moments , the pains and sufferings caused by their failure and acute poverty . Failure of crops, loss of livestock and abject poverty arising out of that was the main reason for their unsocial activities. Swamijee concluded that the geographical conditions of the hilly area had added salt to the wounds of poor vanvasis. Application of advanced technology in cultivation was completely out of their reach . This was also the reason for their massive proselytisation to other faith by way of allurement and lip service.
Swamijee gave a call to the vanvasis to rear and bear the family through two patches of land and one pair of bullocks and one pair of cow.
In the hilly areas, Swamijee started small irrigation projects inorder to conserve water for cultivation. Ponds were dug and the rain water was conserved successfully to be used in cultivation. The flow of streams were moulded towards the cultivable lands which were earlier being wasted. The glaring example of success of such project can be seen at village Raikia and Udayagiri of Kandhamal district where the vanvasi farmers have immensely benefited by the endeavour of late Swamijee. Swamijee taught the vanvasis how to sow seeds and how to cultivate multi crops from the same land. He taught vanvasis to use compost in the land to yield more production. Swamijee established four ‘Anusandhan Kendras’, two in Kandhamal, one at Deogarh and one at Cuttack, to facilitate more research on swadeshi and eco-friendly fertilizers. Swamijee also motivated people for soil and forest conservation through his village to village tours and delivering religious discourses for which about 150 Forest Conservation Village Committees were formed. For spreading of education among vanvasis, he founded two colleges in Kandhamal. In these colleges, Swadeshi Organic Farming is a compulsory subject for the students.