In 2007, when Amruta Khanderao moved to Bhosa, a small village near the Nilona Forest in Yavatmal district, she was mesmerised by the dense forest cover in the area. The teak trees were so thick that she could hardly see the sky, but that was what made her feel happy and protected.
However, as time passed by, this cover began to get depleted because of commercial projects, and the rampant deforestation and forest fires would break her heart. For Amruta, these old trees were like grandparents, and she wept when she saw them being ruthlessly axed for various purposes.
Speaking to the local community through street plays and soliloquies, she spared no opportunity to tell people that the trees were needed, and if one was cutting them down, they would also have to take the effort to plant new ones.
But nothing seemed to work, or so she thought. However, all throughout, her son had been observing her, and it is quite possible that he was deeply influenced by his mother, from an early age.
Soon, Amruta realised that it was Bodhisatva who would take forward her torch for conservation through his simple ways.
In 2013, Bodhisatva was in Class 1 when he first spoke about the perils of deforestation at a public forum and that’s when it hit Amruta—her son had the gift of the gab and his words could move people.
And thus started their incredible journey.
Together, they began to visit schools, colleges, self-help groups, gram panchayats and even religious sites across Vidarbha, to spread their message
Bodhisatva’s efforts are not just limited to words. He has also been tapping the potential of Abhangs, a form of devotional poetry, and ‘Vrikshpath’ is his harmonic rendition to highlight the importance of trees. His soliloquy, ‘Mi Shetkari’ is also quite popular in the region, and through it, he has been highlighting the crucial role that farmers play in sustaining the population.
However, it was his remarkable exhibit of ‘seed-balls’ during a science exhibition in school that took the initiative a notch higher.
During these visits, he began demonstrating how one could easily make seed balls and requested people to refrain from discarding the seeds of fruits that they consumed, and stressing on the fact that these are not garbage.
In fact, Bodhisatva has been enlightening not just kids but also adults through his words and actions.
Speaking to The Better India, Amruta says that this was a method that required little effort from people but left behind a far, greater impact.
“Think of it this way. What use would seeds of fruits have if we were to throw these away? Collect and dry these to make seed balls and then throw them anywhere. The advantage of a seed ball is that these could grow into trees on their own. This is possibly the simplest way one could give back to a forest, for everything we take from it,” she says.
His relentless efforts are slowly making a difference.
The 11-year-old was personally lauded by the eminent public figures like the district collector, state Guardian Minister, local city council, various non-profit organisations. He has been covered by the local media as well.
Bodhisatva’s social forestation mission has been so impactful that he was once invited to an event as the chief guest when he was all of seven!
Shuttling between his activities and school, Amruta shares that Bodhisatva has spent many late nights to complete his classroom assignments but that doesn’t bother him even a bit. In his fight against global warming and deforestation, Bodhisatva believes that these obstacles have little significance.
His steadfast dedication to the cause has earned him the sobriquet of ‘seed boy’ and he plans on never resting in his efforts to increase the green cover through collaborative efforts. His seed ball movement in Vidarbha surely is gaining voice and one could say his work is indeed a milestone in social forestation, Amruta suggests.
In what was an extremely proud moment for the self-driven conservationist, Bodhisatva was invited to plant the first sapling in the state government’s ‘4 crore tree plantation’ program.
“Things are definitely changing. Policy makers and common people are slowly opening up their eyes to the dire consequences of global warming and that only planting more trees could save us from this crisis. Collecting seeds and making seed balls is something that we can do on an individual level. I can assure you that this simple step might help us save our forests before its too late,” she concludes.
Staying true to his name, Bodhisatva is guiding people towards a better tomorrow and we have to appreciate his mother’s role in bringing him up with wonderful values and a deep consciousness towards the environment. We are quite inspired by them, and plan to start making our own seed balls, and hope that their efforts would encourage you to do the same.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)