by Suma Varughese
Suma Varughese interviews Bharat Mitra, founder of Organic India, who proves that a company founded on spiritual values can thrive in the hardnosed business world
|Team Organic India: Dr Narendra Singh, Bhavani, Bharat Mitra |
and the farmers in a field of tulsi
Can such a model survive in the vicious world of business? Here’s where the story gets really interesting. Not only is Organic India surviving, but it is thriving! Its sales over the last one year is over 150 crores; it exports to 33 countries; it has created an organic revolution in India; and, having tied up with Fab India in India, and Whole Foods in the US, it is planning a quantum leap into the world of wellness.
Laudably, the spiritual values that underpin the organisation seem to have seeped into the workforce. Says the CEO and MD, Krishan Gupta, who had earlier worked with corporate giants such as Colgate and Palmolive, “This is one model where everyone in the chain is working in a win-win situation. We have few hierarchical structures, but everyone is engaged and empowered. I want to make money, but I want to make money the right way. Yes, I want to build a house, but I also want all the employees to build their own houses.” He adds, “I have never felt that I work. The unique thing about my team is that they are never tired. Passion and love drive them.” Adds Vandita Samuel, 37, who manages Poonjaji’s Satsang Bhawan, as well as press relations for Organic India, “When I gave birth to my son, I was given the permission to come in for only two hours a day so that I could go home and feed my son. The owners of this organisation have made me aware of the value of brotherhood, and it helps me to be nice and kind to others. I have understood the importance of the environment, how beautiful every moment of life is, and how not to spoil it by being unhappy and ungrateful.”
But it was in listening to Aruna Vishawanath’s story that one really grasped the dimensions of Organic India’s success. Aruna is the Chief Consultant, ENT Surgeon, at Vikram ENT Hospital & Research Institute, Coimbatore, but she also has a clinic at Goa where she practices a combination of allopathy and ayurveda. Her story began many years ago when she was struck down with a disorder that required her to take a liver transplant to survive. Unwilling to do so, she had resigned herself to death, when one of her patients brought her Organic India’s liver and kidney care capsules. Almost instantly, the pain in her liver disappeared, and in two weeks she had been restored to normalcy!
|Keeping team spirit up by honouring farmers |
with highest productivity
A relationship based on a miracle is bound to be felicitous, and sure enough she has gone on to achieve many healing miracles for her patients, through the use of Organic India’s ayurvedic medicines. Alzheimer patients have healed, and so have cancer patients and rheumatoid arthritis patients. She cites the case of one of the Dalai Lama’s principal monks who was struck with sudden deafness. The best ENT doctors were not able to heal him, but Aruna brought his hearing back through the use of Organic India’s brahmi capsules.
The brain behind most of Organic India’s products was the late Dr Narendra Singh, a research scientist, and founder of the International Institute of Herbal Medicine (IIHM), whose knowledge and expertise are the source of the organisation’s spectacular results. Says Dr Vishwanathan, “Organic India gave me the potency and purity I was looking for. I did not have to worry about the presence of heavy metals in them.”
Miracles indeed happen when heart, head and soul come together in service of God.
Excerpts from an interview with Bharat Mitra:
What inspired you to start Organic India?
From a very young age, I was drawn by the search for truth and self-realisation. I travelled to Lucknow to meet my guru, the late HWL Poonja, whom we lovingly called “Papaji”.
I did not have a business background at all. When Papaji suggested starting a private limited company, I had to ask my friend what a private limited company was! At the same time, I felt the idea was a blessing from Papaji. He was the embodiment of non-separation. It was an invitation to realise no separation between living spiritually, and being in the world.
In those days, hundreds of people came for daily satsangs. A place was needed for so many to meet, and I found myself managing what became known as the “Satsang Bhavan.” Many complicated situations were taken care of every day, but in the same way as the pen does not know what the hand is writing, I could not take any credit for my role. That was the experience of being with Papaji: free from the arrogance of doership.
In the same way, I feel I am an instrument for Organic India, just allowing what comes effortlessly from the heart.
So what was the experience like?
It has been, and still is, a beautiful adventure of discovery. There aren’t any readymade formulae or text-books to go by. We are just being present and available, in a responsible way, in service of what cannot be named – Grace, God… I love to call it Source.
Our vision, to be a vehicle of consciousness in the global marketplace, became our guiding light. The common thing to all of us is an uncompromising commitment to the vision, mission and core values.
As we were exposed to the usual ways of business, our commitments became clearer and stronger. Many businesses will do whatever it takes to create profit for their shareholders. In light of what we saw, we realised our role was to infuse the business world with love and consciousness.
We were called to create a holistic business modality where we were responsible for our social and environmental impact, and to demonstrate that successful business does not have to be exploitative.
Which year did you start?
We incorporated the company in 1996, and the first few years were about discovering how to put the vision into action.
We came to know about the wonders of tulsi, and the power of medicinal herbs from Dr Narendra Singh, an MD, research scientist, and founder of the International Institute of Herbal Medicine (IIHM). Dr Singh dedicated more than 40 years researching medicinal herbs in combination with allopathic medicine in a holistic approach.
After treating thousands of people, Dr Singh gained extraordinary knowledge and experience. He was hesitant to hand his formulae to just any company in case his ideas would be exploited, but our partnership was a match made in heaven.
For many years Dr Narendra guided us on how to grow tulsi and other herbs, and how to process them in a way that preserves prana, life force. We shared an absolute commitment to quality. Tulsi is surely one of the most incredible herbs on the planet. We truly felt that tulsi had chosen us because her time to be known all over the planet had come.
How successful are you?
While Organic India is a successful company by conventional standards, our true success is in fulfilling our purpose.
We have been successful in bringing an organic revolution to India. We have provided a life of dignity and training for thousands of small family farmers and tribal wildcrafters, regenerating tens of thousands of acres of land, and sustainably gathering herbs on over half a million acres of certified forests throughout India.
We have a healthy workforce, treating all employees with fairness and respect.
We have global distribution in 42 countries. All our distributors are like close family members, who resonate with the purpose of the organisation.
Organic India is a living ecosystem, where each aspect is actively contributing to the whole. This is true sustainability: no one is harmed, everyone is benefitted.
By caring for Mother Earth, our lands are healed, and produce abundant crops. The farmers regenerating the earth are able to provide well for their families. By caring for the employees, distributors and retailers as important members of the Organic India family, the company thrives. With our commitment to the highest quality international standards of production, we bring health and happiness to our customers worldwide. And more and more businesses and organisations are inspired to join us.
Millions of people worldwide are engaged in sharing the values and vision of Organic India. How beautiful, that this model of love and respect translates into a very successful economic business.
Apart from tea, what else do you produce ?
From soil to shelf, Organic India cultivates, processes, manufactures and markets certified organic Tulsi teas, herbal supplements, psyllium husk, desi ghee, and many other organic foods and spices.
Initially, people said that herbal medicines from India would not be accepted worldwide. They even advised us against calling our company Organic India.
We felt that as long as we stayed honest and true to our mission, we would succeed. And we have. It brings us a lot of joy every time Organic India formulae are internationally awarded for their purity and efficacy.
We have the best chyawanprash available, with the highest quality ingredients totally free of chemicals and pesticides. It makes me very happy when people say that our organic ghee tastes the way ghee used to taste 30-40 years ago.
What are your learnings from running Organic India ?
|CEO and MD, Krishan Gupta: A win-win business model|
I don’t consider myself to be a businessman, but rather a servant of a much greater vision.
There are no limits to what a group of people aligned in service can accomplish. Each one of us has a role to play, and it’s only when we work together that we will achieve what we are meant to.
When we have the courage to be true to our purpose, and to listen to the intelligence of the heart, everything works out in the best way possible beyond our wildest imagination.
The other learning is that business, in its true essence, is a vehicle to add value to society, to humanity, to the planet. Profits come as a byproduct of fulfilling its mission.
The foundation of the current socio-economic system is rotten as it is based on confusion of separation, and therefore dominated by greed and fear. Success cannot be called success if someone is being exploited. It is not about changing the system. It is about creating a new one, whose foundation is of oneness, of consciousness and love.
I am not against profit. In fact, it is necessary to be profitable to be sustainable, but profit cannot be the only goal for which we are willing to compromise our integrity and humanity.
In the name of economic progress we are deprived of that which is most essential: to be connected to the earth and our community, to be happy and loving, and to celebrate the gift of being alive.
Removing the delusion of separation means spirituality shines through every action, not just when we pray or meditate.
There are cultural beliefs that separate spirituality from daily life, that to be spiritual we need to renounce the world; and to be successful we are justified in ignoring our humanity. In the name of success and to generate profit, the corporate world has, and is, inflicting suffering and destruction on humanity and the earth. And we accept it as normal, which it is not!
Organic India is a shining example of Oneness in action, which honours our interconnectedness and respect for all – where there is no separation between spirit and matter, consciousness and abundance.
What lies ahead for Organic India ?
As a global leader and change agent, we are expanding our presence and activities, bringing true wellness to the world with our tulsi teas and organic health products. As we grow our volumes and global presence, we will continue to expand our farmer base, and increase our positive impact on the environment.
We are no longer operating in isolation, we are creating platforms of collaboration. Through our partnership with Fab India, we will open hundreds of True Wellness stores all over India, and empower people to make better choices and take good care of themselves. It pains me to see how Indians are embracing Western values, which do not support their well-being. Cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart diseases are soaring. Processed and toxic food and stressful lifestyles are creating a devastating reality for so many. In our True Wellness stores we will provide people with simple scientific genuine information and make available the highest quality organic health products and solutions. Our partnership with Fab India is one of synergy and collaboration that can bring great things for India and the world.
Organic India is a chosen key strategic supplier of Whole Foods in the USA, the world’s largest and most successful organic shopping center chain. Another partner, Dr Mercola, publishes the world’s No 1 natural health website.
I think many of us understand that a change is needed. We also need to understand that the change will not come to us, but must come from us.
Are not Organic India products expensive ?
Absolutely not. Our commitment is to have products of the highest quality at affordable prices. Our products are very fairly priced, they are an excellent investment in good health.
How did you manage to get employees and distributors who were aligned to your vision ?
The vision brings the right people at the right time. People are attracted because they feel the calling in their heart to be part of a transformative company. It’s effortless and natural. A great example of this is our CEO Krishan Gupta. Not only is he the brightest and most capable executive of the highest integrity, he is a true brother in the Vision.
Do you continue to live in Lucknow, where the Organic India work is centred ?
I no longer live exclusively in India, but I do come to India regularly, and it will always be my home. I am in the hands of life. I have a base in Australia as well. And I travel to visit family in the US and Israel.
Which country do you come from ?
I was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Today, I am an Australian citizen. But I feel deeply connected to India where I lived most of my adult life.
I came to India for the first time in 1987. It was love at first breath, first heartbeat. I love the people of India, and the deep spiritual foundation which is untouched by the current fascination with Western lifestyles. This country has produced the greatest sages and saints from time immemorial. India gave me the greatest gift of freedom. It’s the country where my guru came from. I have met the most beautiful people on earth in India. When I go to the villages, I am overwhelmed by their generosity and beauty. With so little, they will still take you to their homes and feed you.
I am what I am because of India, and if I am in service in any way, it is the greatest honour and privilege.
What is the source of your name, Bharat Mitra ?
Papaji came to my house one day and told me, “Your name is Bharat Mitra. You are a friend of India and a friend of the spirit of India.” He told me that Lord Buddha was a Bharat Mitra and so was Mahatma Gandhi: the greatest sage and the greatest activist. I believe I am to bring these two fields together – not just spirituality, not just activism, but spirit-led activism. That has been put in my heart by Papaji’s grace and love.
And your real name ?
My real name is Bharat Mitra. My Western name is Yoav Lev.
You say that India gave you the greatest gift of freedom. Are you saying you are enlightened?
It is more like freedom found me. To think there is anyone who is enlightened is an illusion. Any identification with an ‘I’ is an illusion. It is just about being the natural never-changing peace that we are. It’s not an attainment. There is no place to reach.
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