It was 1997 when Bruce Johnson, a professional musician from Sydney, Australia left behind friends, family and an easy-going life-style to begin an incredible segment of his life’s journey in a remote, dryland area in Maharashtra, India.
Convinced about the benefits of daily practice of an ancient Ayurvedic healing fire technique to restore the balance of Nature, Bruce pioneered a project which demonstrated in a practical way the transformational healing effects of Agnihotra (copper pyramid healing fire practised exactly at sunrise and sunset daily) in extremely adverse conditions.
During the period of his stay, the dry, rocky, depleted soil in Tapovan has blossomed into an oasis which supports fruit, nut and flower trees, Ayurvedic medicinal herbs, eastern and western culinary herbs, vegetables, grains, pulses, etc, all without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
For several years Bruce’s wife, Anne Godfrey, commuted back and forth to Tapovan from Australia while looking after business interests and a Homa farm (farm where Agnihotra and other healing fires are practised in conjunction with agriculture) in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. But for the last nine years she has also been here permanently in Tapovan.
In 1987 Bruce, a confirmed skeptic, thought Anne a suitable candidate for a mental asylum when she began to do Agnihotra (which involves burning dried cow-dung cakes to the accompaniment of Sanskrit Mantras) but he did a volte-face when his chronic asthma, with him for many years, was cured simply by being in the atmosphere of Agnihotra fire. Since then Bruce and Anne have passed on this knowledge to thousands of happy people who are experiencing the miracles of Agnihotra in their daily lives.
Life in Tapovan has been both rewarding and challenging as Bruce and Anne have bridged the gap between the so-called “civilized” culture of the west and the so-called “backward” culture of the simple village life of rural India in which they found themselves. Learning to use what was available from bullock carts for transport, simple hand tools for farming, pumping drinking water from wells, having no guaranteed power supply, no newspapers, no TV, life was lived at a grass-roots level with a growing connectedness to Nature. Often-feared “pests” of Nature such as cobras, centipedes, scorpions are now considered companions who in turn extend respect to the human beings who have moved in on their former territory. Non-violence (ahimsa) is a way of life at Tapovan and one of the side-effects of daily practice of Agnihotra is that the Nature kingdom comes into perfect balance so there is no need to control it.
The word has spread to the surrounding areas and hundreds of local people from all walks of life visit Tapovan where they can learn Agnihotra and start practising in their own homes. Many include farmers who have finally realized that using chemicals is totally destructive and see Homa farming as the solution The sad side is many farmers in these drought stricken areas commit suicide as they cannot see a way out when their land will no longer produce.
The 24 hour round-the-clock Homa healing fire permeates the atmosphere with healing and peaceful vibrations. Vedas, the ancient wisdom of the East, confirm the connection between the Homa healing fires and attracting nutritional rains, which has been borne out by Bruce and Anne’s experience at Tapovan. Here they have regularly observed rain in Tapovan where none fell in the nearby areas.
Tapovan meaning forest retreat, is now home to Bruce and Anne who look after Tapovan on a volunteer basis and consideration will be given to like-minded interested volunteers who may wish to stay for an extended period.
The site of Tapovan was indicated a long time ago by the great Master who has revived the ancient knowledge of Agnihotra to heal the pollution on the planet at this time when it is most needed. At one point He stated that “from this place greatest work will be done in the future.”