Sangeeta Jain walks amongst the plants and trees as if she is one with them. “This here is patchouli,” she says, offering you a couple of dark green leaves at her family’s 40-acre Sakri Farms in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. “You can keep these in your cupboard and you won’t need mothballs. And that’s turmeric there.”
Moringa is coming up. “This superfood is India’s gift to the world. All parts of this plant can be used,” she gushes. “I had a little bit of pain in my hips that has completely stopped since I started having half a teaspoon of this in water every day.” She continues to point out different plants and their benefits like a mother showing off her children, advising you to “say sorry to the plant when you pluck it. Do it with gratitude. It understands your vibrations.”
In terms of her professional profile, Sangeeta may be the co-founder of RAS Luxury Oils – India’s first all-natural, premium farm-to-face beauty brand that grows its own ingredients, manufactures them in-house, and retails them from high-end stores and salons nationwide – but she is, at heart, a gardener, and a hands-on, happy one at that.
Born to an agriculturist’s family in Arvi – a small Maharashtrian city called the ‘land of saints’ with less than 50,000 people but with 90 percent literacy – Sangeeta grew up under the shadow of a deeply spiritual mother who went for Vipassana and nature cures and wrote down notes of all the home remedies she had ever tried, and a pragmatic, workaholic father whose only religion was humanity. The youngest of five siblings, she imbibed a bit from both her parents.
The children grew up amidst lush green farms, towering teaks, and scented orchards, with the humming of a dal mill and cotton processing units in the background. They played in the forests and ran over streams, as comfortable by themselves in the field as in the company of a large extended family.
Arvi being a small town, Sangeeta and her brother were sent to Nagpur for higher education. After completing her B.Com and diploma in business management, Sangeeta studied computers and started her own clothing label with a cousin. Marriage at 25 to the scion of an agri-biotech company changed her career direction.
“It was a big joint family. I had five mothers-in-law!” she jokes, recalling those chaotic, eventful years. Her two daughters Shubhika and Suramya were born two years apart, and once they were older, Sangeeta turned educationist and set up schools in Raipur to teach children computers. When the family set up the Kaanger Valley Academy, a day boarding, 10 years ago, she joined them as head of the nursery section.
“But all I ever wanted to do was gardening,” says Sangeeta, who came up with Garden Centre in 2012. Her little enterprise began offering seeds, grown plants, pots and landscape design services. Initially, it was a passion project, not something she planned to make a career out of. But when her daughter Shubhika joined the family business and pointed out that many of the aromatherapy plants and herbs they were growing on their fields could be tapped for their beauty benefits, Sangeeta took out her mother’s old notebook and began to look for natural beauty recipes.
Gradually, RAS Luxury Oils was born.
Not only do their products contain fresh, all-natural herbs and oils made on their own farms in Raipur, Sangeeta also points out one more magical ingredient: pure intentions. “Mantras are chanted during the making of all the products, and we do sound healing therapy to cleanse the space of negative vibrations,” says Sangeeta, who meditates daily and – along with her husband Shailendra Jain – frequently hosts spiritual healers and teachers from around the world.
“We’ve learnt from many different schools of thought,” she avers, adding, “Meditation techniques that use a combination of sound and breath appeal the most to me.”
She believes walking the path of spirituality makes one more accepting and less judgmental of others. It also teaches you to have faith and to let things happen, taking even pain in one’s stride.
“We just keep the intention and things fall in place. I’ve learnt that we define our own limits; in truth, there are no limitations. When you have the vibration of prosperity, there is no limit to what you can achieve and have. Remove self-limiting beliefs and things will start happening,” the gentle gardener promises.
First published in eShe’s March 2019 issue