Eco Lights
The Apple Man
-By Luis

Samuel Stokes, scion of a prosperous American family, came to India in 1904 to spread the message of Christ.
He was 21 years old when he landed in India. He worked at the leper home in the Simla hills of Himachal Pradesh for
two years. Then becoming disillusioned with the missionary way
of life, he severed links with missionary organisations and became a sort of a hermit, giving up all material comforts and living for some time in a cave. However, he continued to reach out to the downtrodden, the diseased and the dying once spending ten days at the bedside of a boy who had contracted a most virulent form of smallpox. Stokes cleaned his sores and stayed with him till the end, even though the boy developed gangrene and there was a terrible stench in the room.

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Stokes felt such a love for India and its people that he sought to become one with them in language, dress and way of life. In 1912 he gave up his asceticism to take up the reponsibilities of a householder, having taken to wife a young girl from the hills. They set up house in Kotgarh.
The people of Kotgarh were extremely poor. Most of them were bonded labourers. Stokes made a careful study of the soil in the region and came to the conclusion that it was best suited for fruit cultivation, especially apples.
He obtained seedlings of the Golden Delicious variety of apple from the USA and planted them in his orchard. They began to bear fruit four years later. The fruit was sweet and juicy. He encouraged farmers to grow apples, giving them free saplings. The farmers were at first unwilling to take to apple cultivation as they would have to wait several years for the trees to start giving fruit, but Stokes persisted in his efforts to popularise apple growing. In course of time apple orchards began to come up in Kotgarh and neighbouring villages. With the apple came prosperity, the sort of prosperity the people of the region had never experienced before.
Today Himachal Pradesh is known as the Apple State and Kotgarh is the heart of the apple industry there.
Given his love for the country, it was inevitable that Stokes should get drawn into the freedom movement. He was a great admirer of Gandhiji. When Gandhi gave his call to boycott foreign goods, Stokes threw his western clothes into a bonfire and from then on, used only khadi, spun by his wife.
He is the only American to have served in the All-India Congress Committee of the Indian National Congress. Disgusted with British high-handedness in the Punjab, especially after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Stokes travelled the length and breadth of the Punjab, addressing gatherings and making people aware of their rights. In 1921 while he was on his way to attend a meeting at Lahore, he was arrested on charges of sedition and promoting hatred between different classes of His Majesty's subjects, and sentenced to prison for six months, thus becoming the first American political prisoner in India.
Stokes finally embraced the Hindu way of life, changing his name from Samuel to Satyanand. He passed away on 14 May 1946, having spent more than 43 years of his life in the country which he had come to change but which changed him instead.



User's Comments                     
john weiss
I admire him
Nitin chauhan
He was cool ! I like him as he has done so much for the people around us in Shimla.
saurav sirkeck
He placed the people of Kotgarh on a big platform by bringing apples to this land. Hats off to him .
Dr J.C. AGGARWALA
I live in USA and I am 86 years old. I was present at the SHUDHI ceremony when STOKES became SATYANAND. I STUDIED IN MISSION SCHOOL IN KOTGARK in the year 1930 to 1932. I am again visiting this area in JUNE 2006.
Rjesh Srarma
He has changed the life of Himachal and people of Himachal should always remember him. As today apple is giving money not only to himachal but thousands of people directly or indirectly linked to the apple brought by him. I Salute him. Rajesh
vikas nalwa
This is Vikas from Kotgarh. Mr Stokes was a crisimatic personality for Kotgarh. Whatever Kotgarh is today is all because of the blessing and great work of this great personality. Kotgarh is one of the beautiful place in this earth. I love my place from the core of my heart.
Narinder Kumar
Satyanand Stokes has changed not only the financial and living condition of kotgarh but also whole of upper shimla area. He was only American who fought for the freedom of India.
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