For at least 250 students of Sandipani Muni School (SMS) in Vrindavan, it’s ‘bull power’ that drives them to school every morning. Safe, relaxing and spiritual — the journey begins with holy chants of Lord Krishna. In its own small way, the school is contributing to the green cause.
The charitable school that started with one bullock cart in 2002, now runs five of them, carting 250 students from the surrounding areas. An Italian ISKCON devotee, Rupa Raghunath Das, who came to the holy city 20 years ago and started the school, took it upon himself to promote non-polluting mode of transport — the only one in the city.
Apart from the dividend of a clean environment, the economics of this mode of transport are also compelling. ‘‘It needs little investment. We don’t block capital in buses. We have our own ‘gaushala’ where these bullocks are kept. We also have a conductor for each carts. We save money on diesel and maintenance front. While the carts ply on wider roads, we have cycle rickshaws for students living in narrow lanes,’’ said Rajender Singh, principal of the school, which runs classes up to Class-IX. Singh says more bullock carts would be added to the inventory to meet the requirement of a growing number of students.
‘‘Each cart has a conductor. Students do kirtan on their way to the school, which promotes Krishna consciousness. It’s safe and relaxing,’’ he claims. Students using this indigenous mode of transport ostensibly endorse Singh’s claims as they wave hands at passers by with abandon on their way to school.
‘‘We enjoy the ride — and singing in a huge group throughout the journey is very exciting. You hardly feel when and how you covered the stretch between home and school. There is no fear of falling from the cart either as all sides have been properly covered,’’ says one of the students, Rohit Yadav. The school has nearly 1,200 students and Singh claims they will reach out to more of the poor and needy.