Ladnun - Jain Vishva Bharati - Trip To Spirituality [43] Invitation To The Former Bengani Family Seat

Posted: 16.02.2005
Updated on: 15.02.2008

One day, when we came back to the Needam, we found a message from R. K. Bengani, residing in Dubai since quite some time. We knew his name from his 2004 entry in the guestbook of HereNow4U, but had not met personnally until then. After a couple of days, he invited us to the former family residence in Ladnun. He took us by three-wheeler ('I don't like Tongas,' horse-drawn carriages, Mr. Bengani explained) to the house, where his father and mother had been the last persons to reside permanently. The children still maintain the house and look after it from time to time. In our days, many houses in Ladnun are left empty, because the former inhabitants moved elsewhere for business.

At the entrance of the house, Mrs. Bengani welcomed us.

The first thing catching our attention, was the modern water jar in the midst of ancient facilities, continuing the Rajasthani tradition, to offer fresh water to the guests in the moment, they are entering the house. This reminded us to an incident in another house, where we were asked how many water taps are in the ground floor of our house in Berlin. We were informed that this house gave access to 21 water taps on the groundfloor only! In his house, 21 people could be welcomed properly at the time. Understandable under climate condition of 50°C in summer!

View from the courtyard to the entry; visitors have to climb some stairs from street to first floor level, the main housing space. Marble, Rajasthani sandstone, and wood are prevailing construction materials, metal has been used sparely.

The quadrangular court is the centre of the house, from here, all rooms are accessible. It has no roof, during day time, the sunlight is shining on one part of it, the other is providing shadow. The sun is warming up the stones, respectively cooling them, when in the shadow. Further, the house is built in the way that always some breeze is cooling the air like a natural air-conditioner.

As can be seen on the photo, the main gate for carts and animals were on the groundfloor level, and so were the store rooms for field products. The family was happy to own pieces of land where water was accessible. They mostly had good harvests, nevertheless, the sons had to go abroad to earn their livelihoods, as many of their fellow citizens. The climate had become more dry, so farming was decreasing.

The house can be entered from the street, the open gate is indicating the entry. Behind the gate, in the middle of the photo, the former gathering place of Acharya Tulsi and the Sangh can be seen. This was before the foundation of Jain Vishva Bharati, and the vast ground on the fringes of Ladnun had been bought, where the administration, the university, and the schools now are located. It was there, where Mr. Bengani had watched in his childhood the first Preksha Meditation Camps, conducted by then Munishree Nathmal, now Acharya Mahaprajna, for presenting the results of his research on Jain meditation to Acharya Tulsi and his fellow Munishrees. The house is now used as asylum for aged nuns, needing someone to care for them.

Suddenly, two Sadhvishrees entered the house for Gochari. R. K. Bengani and his son are happily welcoming them.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Bengani had managed to prepare a delicious lunch in the rural kitchen. For her, this was as unsusual as it had been for us. In Dubai, she commands a modern kitchen with all facilities. In the Ladnun townhouse, even electricity was not available for cooking. She was happy to have managed everything with the poor means available at the location. Editor Aparigraha Jain and father and son Bengani took some items, Mrs. Bengani had handed over to them for offering to the Sadhvishrees.

After the meal, a tour of the whole house was made, including the roof. By watching the neighbour's children, the part-time inhabitants were reminded to their own experiences in past summers, when they all went to sleep on the roof. They remembered wonderful cool nights under the open, star glittering sky in Rajasthan.

We were very happy for the opportunity, to know so many details on former day-to-day life in Ladnun, offered by the Bengani family. Many thanks!

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