A Conversation with Bharat Mitra, Founder of Organic India and Uplift

by Chip Richards

The shire of Byron Bay, Australia has long been known as the ‘land of first light dreaming.’ A place of sanctuary, ceremony and sacred connection. As I walk along the citrus lined driveway, past a silent bank of solar panels and one of several flourishing edible gardens, I am struck by both a quiet sense of “being” in this place and an awesome air of productivity (later walks reveal chicken pens, bee hives, thriving orchard... food and life growing everywhere). Bharat Mitra opens the door to his home on the hill and instantly I feel like I am being greeted by an old friend. He welcomes me in and our conversation begins to grow like seeds in the garden that will later feeds us.

As we begin, the founder of ORGANIC INDIA reflects on his early moments of awakening as a high school student of agriculture . . . his deep yearning for freedom and the winding path that lead him to the feet of his master Sri H.W.L. Poonja, Papaji in 1990. Bharat Mitra shares, “While he was the most spiritual man I’d ever wish to meet on this earth, he was also incredibly grounded and present in the physical. For me more than everything else, Papaji was the ultimate embodiment of non-separation. Oneness, in action.”

Shortly before passing, Papaji told Bharat Mitra to start a limited liability company. “This company,” he said, “will help everyone. It will be very big and it will serve a very important function.” At the time, Bharat Mitra didn’t even know what a limited liability company was. But within a few months he found himself sitting in an office as the CEO of a company that was exploding into being. “We knew the vision for ORGANIC INDIA was to be a vehicle of consciousness but in those days nobody even spoke about social and environmental responsibility. So to speak about consciousness in business was incredibly unique. We explored many different projects with one guiding principle: to harm no one and exploit no one. Not as an NGO or a foundation, but as a new model for business, grounded in principles of nature and spirituality, in service of humanity and the planet.”

ORGANIC INDIA started as a trading company with a passion to share the wisdom of India and Ayurveda with the western world. But when they began to explore what it would take to grow their own herbs organically, they came face-to-face with the incredible devastation that chemical companies had inflicted on Indian farmers. This lead them to realize that the true purpose of ORGANIC INDIA was not just to be a conscious trading company, but to co-create an organic revolution in India. “When we saw how devastated the marginal farmers were, the vision came that we could work with them to convert their chemically abused fields into organic, biodynamic, and sustainable. By empowering farmers to grow organic crops, they would make a better income, we would get high quality raw material and together we would initiate an entire movement in India. At that time nobody even knew about organic or had organic certification.”

It was around this time they met and began working with Dr. Narendra Singh, who Bharat Mitra describes as, “one of the greatest integrative doctors, pioneering researchers, and world experts in herbal medicine.” With 40 years of clinical research and tremendous knowledge of herbs, Dr. Singh knew that in order to produce the very highest quality herbal teas and medicines, “what is most important is that you plant, cultivate, harvest, and process the herbs in such a way that maintains the integrity of the information, knowledge, and consciousness that each plant has carried with it through millions of years of evolution.”

Initially it was difficult to convince the farmers that this wasn’t just another Western scheme designed to take advantage of them, but with Bharat Mitra’s committed promise to buy all herbs grown organically, the head of one village agreed to grow Tulsi (the primary herb used in many ORGANIC INDIA formulations) in the first year. He was joined by eight other farmers. The following year 30 more joined. And 150 more the year after that. By the fourth year, over 700 farmers had joined the burgeoning movement.

Flash forward 15 years and ORGANIC INDIA teas and herbal medicines are now sold throughout India, America, and in 40 countries around the world. Many thousands of acres have been converted back to organic and thousands of farmers have been supported to reclaim their dignity and thriving communities - not only financially but culturally, connected to their core values and heritage. Bharat Mitra describes ORGANIC INDIA today as “a living ecosystem in the heart of the corporate world,” where everyone is treated with love and respect, and everyone benefits, starting with Mother Earth. “The most important essential thing about ORGANIC INDIA is how productive and effortless it can be and how the nature of this ecosystem can nourish everyone involved with it.”

As Bharat Mitra unravels the story of ORGANIC INDIA, he shares many examples of how the path has revealed itself - sometimes with great understanding of vast implications and sometimes just one step at a time, but always in ways far more profound than they could have imagined or tried to make happen. “For me the real essence of co-creation is when a group of people aligned with a vision make themselves available for the Universe to co-create with them. Together, the possibilities expand beyond measure to achieve something far greater than anyone could have done alone.

With eyes lit by the balance of inspired passion and deep humility, clarity of commitment, and a willingness to “rest in not knowing,” Bharat Mitra speaks of the many creative seeds now springing forth from the ever-expanding garden of ORGANIC INDIA. “Each one of us has our own unique gifts, purpose, and role to play in this magnificent existence. It may appear to be small or big, but everything is required. And it is only when we all come together that this new era can manifest. We truly can create oneness in action in the world.”

The Vision of ORGANIC INDIA is “to be a vehicle of consciousness in the global market by creating a holistic sustainable business modality, which inspires, promotes and supports True Wellness and respect for all Beings and For Mother Nature.” To learn more about ORGANIC INDIA and Bharat Mitra, please visit:  http://www.organicindia.com/

Chip Richards is the Creative Director of UPLIFT Portal, an initiative co-founded by Bharat Mitra. To learn more, please visit: www.upliftconnect.com

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 21: Enlightened Business