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Vandana Shiva: Teachers for a Living World

While Ivy League schools marvel at India’s economic growth, Vandana Shiva’s University of the Seed looks to the earth—and Gandhi—for guidance.




Gandhi once burned British cloth imported from the mills of Manchester to reveal the power of the indigenous spinning wheel; and led the famous Salt March to underscore the capacities of all Indians (in fact, all human beings) to live autonomously, depending on the support of themselves and each other while throwing off the shackles of global empire.

Renowned food and anti-globalization activist Vandana Shiva’s Bija Vidyapeeth (University of the Seed), co-founded with Satish Kumar in 2001, is grounded on the four Gandhian principles of non-violence: swaraj (self-rule), swadeshi (home-spun), satyagraha (truth force), and savodaya (the uplifting of all).

Vandana Shiva, image by Voces

Photo by VOCES

Inspired by these principles, this university grown on a farm preserves a wild diversity of indigenous seeds in cooperation with thousands of farmers across India and the world, committed to the organic principles of working with Mother Earth—rather than waging war on her with chemicals.

“Gandhi and Globalization” is a course co-taught annually at Bija Vidyapeeth for ten short, intense days in November and December. Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar (founder of Schumacher College in England), and Samdhong Rimpoche (the first Prime Minister of Independent Tibet) designed this course for students coming from all continents, speaking in multiple tongues, and joined by a shared passion for both Gandhi and the end of the era of globalization or neo-colonialism.

During the last three years, I have had the privilege of joining these three great teachers in the fabulous intellectual and moral adventure of co-teaching this course with them.

“Gandhi and Globalization” is one among a range of courses offered by Bija Vidyapeeth to demonstrate that Gandhi’s relevance grows even as globalization strangulates indigenous traditions of teaching, learning, living, and celebrating life and death.


Madhu PrakashMadhu Suri Prakash interviewed Vandana Shiva for YES! Magazine, a national nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Madhu is a contributing editor to YES! Magazine.

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