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Media Resources • Earth Pilgrim

Earth Pilgrim: a year on Dartmoor

Satish Kumar on Dartmoor: a production by the Emmy award-winning AGB Films, for the BBC2 series Natural World, which tracks ecologist, writer and Gandhi disciple, Satish Kumar, as he walks Dartmoor in all its seasons, sharing the distinctively Indian perspective he brings to one of England’s best known landscapes.

This programme was first transmitted in the UK on 18 January 2008 on BBC2.

Press coverage of Earth Pilgrim

Programme Snapshot

“Walking in nature is my prayer, my meditation and my solitude. I don’t look to the sky to find heaven. My heaven is here on Earth.”

Satish Kumar, Narrator

Dartmoor draws in around 4m visitors a year but very few will see the ancient moorlands in the same way as ecologist, former Jain monk and pilgrim for peace, Satish Kumar. Backed by exquisite photography, Satish Kumar guides viewers on a richly spiritual journey across a seasonally-changing landscape - a place where wildlife, rivers and woods inspire meditations on the natural world that are lyrical, uplifting and timely. From the producer of the Emmy and RTS award-winning Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat.

Background to the Film

The location for this richly-beautiful film is Dartmoor National Park, one of the UK’s best known and most visited landscapes. But the views the film offers are unlike any captured by holiday-makers or depicted on postcards.

Here, the audience is invited to join world-renowned ecologist, thinker, writer and peace campaigner Satish Kumar as he walks the ancient moor in winter, spring, summer and autumn, telling stories from his extraordinary life, and sharing the insights he has gained.

Satish Kumar has been a regular visitor to the moor for 40 years but his bond with nature dates back much further, to his childhood in the deserts of Rajasthan, India, and his decision, at aged nine, to become a Jain monk.

Jains practise total non-violence; to them, all living things are sacred and no life-form may be killed or exploited. For nine years, Satish withdrew from the world, devoting himself to a life of absolute simplicity and inward contemplation. Then, at 18, he heard Mahatma Gandhi’s message: ‘Practice spirituality in every day life’, left the order and embarked on an epic pilgrimage for peace.

Empty-handed, he walked over 8,000 miles across mountains, deserts, steppes and snow, from Gandhi’s grave in New Delhi to the tomb of John F. Kennedy in Washington DC, in a non-violent protest to warn about the dangers of the divisions and weapons that killed both leaders.

Through the film, he introduces the Dartmoor scenes and sights that most inspire him - gnarled oak woods, whirling starlings, rushing rivers, stags in rut, wild tracts of heather, cuckoos hungry for food, the metamorphosis of moths - and contemplates what they reveal, and the lessons they hold for humanity.

I am an Earth Pilgrim. If I’ve learnt anything from my journey in life, it’s come through wandering this wonderful world.

Satish Kumar

Never too much. Never a flower has complained that a bee has taken too much nectar away. Nature in balance. But this balance is tipping. Human beings go to nature and take, take, take, until all natural resources are depleted. Honey bees never do that. If I can learn that lesson of frugality and simplicity, I will be learning the art of living.”

The film’s producer-director Andrew Graham-Brown says: “Earth Pilgrim is just as beautiful and just as filled with wildlife as is traditional for Natural World films, but there the comparisons stop. Satish offers a very spiritual, very Indian, perspective on nature. Even people who think they know the West Country well will be surprised and awed by how very differently Dartmoor looks when seen through Eastern eyes and influences. It’s both life-affirming and life-changing. Satish is a most remarkable and insightful man; you come away feeling a better person having spent time in his company.”

Earth Pilgrim is an AGB Films Ltd production for the BBC2 series Natural World. The film was produced and directed by Andrew Graham-Brown and photographed by Warwick Sloss.

Andrew Graham Brown’s previous work for the Natural World series includes, Mississippi: Tales Of The Last River Rat, which won an Emmy Award, plus Grierson, Royal Television Society and Wildscreen Panda prizes, among others.

The series editor for Natural World is Tim Martin.

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries email Tracey Benton or call on 01271 814622. For queries out of hours call 07967 494 776

What Satish Kumar says in the film

On his pilgrimage for peace

“My journey confirmed my belief that there can be no peace in the world if we make no peace with the earth.”

On the danger facing humans

“Sadly, the human species considers itself as a superior species – and, in that, we try to control nature, manipulate nature. The way we treat our animals… forests… our oceans and rivers, and land and soil – that appears as if we are at war with nature. And in waging war against nature, we create problems for ourselves, because we are nature. And global warming, pollution of rivers, depletion of resources, is like cutting the branch upon which we are sitting.”

On the value of sitting under a tree

“Trees give pleasure to a pilgrim, shade to a deer, berries to a bird,beauty to the land and health to humans, branches for fire, leaves to the soil. My mother used to say: ‘The tree is the true teacher of humanity and the greatest teacher that we have – even greater than the Buddha.’ I would ask her: ‘What do you mean? There can be no greater teacher than the Buddha; the Buddha was the greatest teacherin India.’ And my mother would say, ‘But even the Buddha got his enlightenment while sitting under a tree.’ Nowadays people don’t get enlightenment, because they don’t sit under a tree. That was such a wonderful teaching and I now realize how right she was. Because when I come to the tree I feel a sense of calm, a sense ofhealing - it is the true sustaining force of the earth.”

Resurgence website

Biographical notes on Satish Kumar

Notes for editors

Press information for The Resurgence Trust

For media enquiries email Tracey Benton or call on 01271 814622. For queries out of hours call 07967 494 776

Resurgence at the heart of earth, art and spirit