The momentum has shifted as we creep closer to spending our first night on the land and begin living at the monastery in Rampur Gainda. As previously mentioned, the land purchase was completed a few weeks ago with the intention of creating a monastery outside of Delhi. Since then, myself along with Tan Khantiko and Tan Mahapanyo have been travelling back and forth to the land from Yamunanagar. We are being well looked after by Rahul (AVT Manager), his cooking getting better and more creative by the day and his ever present smile is contagious. Also Anagarika Vaibahv is with us from WPN (wat pa nanachat) for two weeks while he waits to return to Thailand with his new visa.
We have decided to start our stay on the land using tents, large canvas tents you may see in Army camps or refugee camps. This decision came after local villager Jasveer informed us that this is the wrong time of year to collect grass for making simple huts. Also this will be a time where finding labor may be a bit tricky since it is harvest season for the wheat. We were then shown a tent for a possible short term solution, so went out to Ambala the following day to search out a supplier. With some help from Google , we were able to find a good shop and made a purchase of a few tents.
This last week we have had some rainy weather so we are a little behind where we thought to be now. However with the help of Jasveer and his tractor, a flat area was made for our first sala (temporary) which is now up..as of this afternoon before the thunderstorm! Another area was made flat, with a soon to be lovely walking meditation path, and this is where my tent will go. Tan Khantiko has cleared out another site, which we call the ‘pillar 6’ site, and plans to camp there. And today we chose another site which is almost flat and in some shade, and this is where Mahapanyo will set up. So Sunday night, we hope to have our first night on the land and will likely do some chanting and meditation at the new sala. Did I mention that the Sala has electricity??!!
Since we have arrived in Rampur Gainda and started poking around the land, we have been really well received by the villagers, especially the compound of 3-4 families directly next to our land. Jasveer, who I mentioned, has been very kind in helping us and seems to have taken us under his wing. There is quite a lot going on in this little area, new faces seem to pop up on every visit. Everything seems harmonious and the villagers seem supportive of us, even though they likely don’t really know what we are up to. We have been offered the use of their ‘dharamasala’ which is a spare room in the compound area. This will be our kitchen and Rahul will likely stay here too, though I’m sure he may consider a tent too.
The plan is to simply move onto the land and actually get an idea of what we have to work with. Since nobody has even spent the night there, it seems wise for us to just take some time and get a feel for it all before putting up any permanent structures. It has already been quite revealing of what the land and area is like from spending some longer days there. Seeing the bird life, the peacocks, and the monkeys is a welcome sign of wildlife and nature. And hearing the rock-crusher machine next door will be..a practice !!??
There have been some conversations starting with various architects along with people involved in permaculture, which seems to be a good starting point while we create a master plan for the monastery. Along with buildings, it is essential for us to get our heads around planting trees and other plant life. The land will need some professional management in creating a forest which can survive in these conditions. We would obviously benefit from the shade, privacy and a sound-buffer that a forest can provide for a monastery, and of course all the creatures would likely appreciate some natural landscape too.
I plan to write a weekly post for the WhatsApp group to keep everyone informed on the development of the monastery in Rampur Gainda. There will be future posts too which will inform of any activities or events we plan to do. Things such as work projects, or community work days (weekends) may be happening as we prepare for the upcoming rains retreat. I’ll add some photos below. Anumodana for all the support and for your efforts in Dhamma