We met Aditya, who just launched his new brand Beeja, crafting vegan butters and creating delicious snacks, mostly from sprouted seeds and nuts. He shared with us his life’s journey and move into the nut business.
Aditya has been in Auroville since 2000, when he moved here with his parents from Mumbai. Growing up in Auroville has deeply impacted his journey and eventually led him to create Beeja: “I spent my entire childhood in Auroville surrounded by people and friends from all over world from different cultures, many of whom I stayed with from kindergarten until the end of high school. This opened my mind to myriad possibilities that I never appreciated, until I left Auroville at the age of 18. After spending just 2 years in Bangalore, I realized the impact of modernization on Indian culture.” Aditya was not impressed by what he saw and felt burdened by the “dogmatic steps” that were expected of him: schooling, job, marriage, children and retirement. “That truly made me realise and understand the unique possibilities my life had.”
Interestingly, this led Aditya on what he calls a journey of negativity. “I started saying no to almost everything, to almost everyone, to any action that did not give me fulfilment. On this journey of the most positive negativity I realized I could never work for anyone that did not add value to the lives of those that used their products or services. Having worked with my parents from the age of 12 in a business that I saw being built from scratch, I was passionate of creating an enterprise of my own. It was then that at 21, after saying no to a lot of opportunities, I started my own journey as a social entrepreneur.”
Getting The Most Out Of Nuts
Beeja entered the Indian market as being the sole manufacturer of Sprouted Nuts & Seeds. Aditya’s inspiration came from ancient wisdom. “Indians love nuts, yet we don’t eat them right. Our 5000-year-old manuscript on healing and plants tells us how to eat them, yet in the process of modernization we forgot our ancient wisdom. There are only 2 types of nuts available in the market. Either they are raw and full of nutrients, or we roast them at high temperatures for a wonderful crunch. Neither of these options delivers on the potential that nuts and seeds carry. All nuts and seeds are meant to become trees or plants, not to become a part of our bodies. Therefore one may have a hard time digesting nuts and feel a little lethargic for a few hours after. This is because of an acid available on the outside of every seed and nut known as phytic acid. This brilliant natural preservative ensures the seeds’ integrity until the time comes for its journey of transformation to a tree or a plant. It is this acid that allows a bird to eat fruit from trees and carry the potent seeds in its digestive tract, which when dropped are in the best environment to start their journey into trees and plants.”
Beeja focuses on taking care of this natural acid, to make sure that nuts that travel through our guts are better assimilated into the body. Over 2.5 days, the nuts and seeds are soaked to activate the process of growth. They are then taken out of the water and dried at low temperatures, to ensure that the final product stays raw and does not lose any nutrients.
Bursting the Bubble
Running a business in Auroville is, according to Aditya, “Very rewarding, and it has its own set of challenges.” One that he mentions is that when in Auroville, one can lose a sense of connection with the outside world: “It can be challenging for me to stay driven, as I become so used to the comforts that come for those staying in Auroville – the clean air, the forest, the cafes, and to be surrounded by peers of entrepreneurs who support me. It is only when I travel outside that my conviction for my work and the value that it adds drives me to work harder. It is when I leave the bubble, even for a day, that I feel the need to give back.” Another challenge Aditya faces is one of human resources, because, as he puts it, “Gaining and keeping talent is difficult, as most working professional still chase the conditional social acceptance in the big cities of India.”
So on a daily basis, what does a day at Beeja look like? “A typical day for me is never typical. No entrepreneur, in the starting stages of a company, has a typical day. To run a business is to face problems and obstacles daily. Solving problems is what I do day in and day out. But I am moving forward. My vision for Beeja is to develop a brand that resonates with my ideal customers. It is to influence the masses to opt for a healthier and more conscious product while remembering to sustain not only themselves but the environment. These are far-reaching goals and I am idealistic and young. But then, I have always understood that these two go well together…”
To shop Aditya’s products, have a look here.