A small country school in Australia's New South Wales, owned by the spiritual sect of Ananda Marga, is teaching its pupils the philosophy of strict yogic vegetarianism and neo-humanism.
Ananda Marga, the sect that was widely blamed for the 1977 Hilton Hotel bombing, but denied responsibility, bases its ideology on neo-humanism - the theory that total human development can only be achieved through both personal development, and social service to the community.
AdvertisementAnd children at Vistara Primary School, at Richmond Hill, Lismore are being given lessons that are a little different from the mainstream education.
The school's neo-humanist philosophy teaches children to respect animals and sustain, rather than exploit, our environmental resources.
Pupils are taught to follow a strict vegetarian diet, with the school giving them a healthy meal of nori rolls, noodles or spinach pastries.
The school's yogic vegetarian diet doesn't include gelatine, rennet, garlic, eggs, onion, mushrooms, and animal products. Junk food, with the exception of plain crisps, is also strictly banned.
This concept of strict vegetarianism has proved popular even with meat-eating farming families.
Besides maths and science, students are also encouraged to discuss environmental and ethical issues.
Vistara Primary School spokeswoman Rukminii Aphans said the vegetarian philosophy taught their students to respect animals and the planet.
"Often a vegetarian kid in a mainstream school will get picked on at lunch. Other kids say `Eww, what's that?'" the Daily Telegraph quoted her, as saying.
"In our school there is minimal bullying. The kids actually tend to stand up for what's right rather than going with the flow.
"Vegetarian philosophy and not harming animals is quite important as part of our philosophy. We foster that through respect of everything on the planet," she added.
The students and teachers of the school, which has a waiting list up to the year 2013, produced a cookbook last year called The Broccoli Forest.
"Our waiting list is up to the year 2013 and we even have babies on the waiting list,'' Aphans said.
"Our kids do all the mainstream education key learning areas but it's their attitude into the world and life that is really different.
"Our kids are exceptional, they relate better to adults and have time for each other," she added.
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