We wish all our readers a very happy new year. As we look back at the past decade and more recent events on our streets, these words from Prof. H. Y. Mohan Ram, the eminent botanist and great teacher, become even more relevant. Surrounded by fragile egos, failing integrity, fake news and furtive attention, we would do well to learn from our giant companions: Trees! Here’s an extract from an article about Prof. Mohan Ram where he is quoted as having said:
“I wish I could be like a tree; deep rooted and firmly fixed, bearing a lofty bole and a broad canopy, continuously absorbing, synthesizing and renewing, bearing fragrant flowers and delicious fruits, unmindful of stresses and insults, resilient to changes and perpetually giving and not coveting. To this I must add tenacity, based on the remarkable example of a gingko tree, almost at the epicentre of the 1945 Hiroshima nuclear explosion, that sprouted from the root after its trunk had been completely demolished along with everything around it.” An extract from “Turning a new leaf” To view the complete article and know more about Prof. Mohan Ram, follow this link: https://ia800205.us.archive.org/22/items/TurningANewLeaf-H.Y.MohanRam/Turning_A_New_Leaf_Part_1.pdf
The great Banyans of India
To embellish this article we place some images from the great Banyan tree of Auroville, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Tamil Nadu. This is a single tree, over a century old, whose main trunk has a gaping hollow around which the bark has curled into a dry aged mass. Yet the tree lives on with dignity, its expansive girth supported from all sides by huge aerial root pillars. The tree is a thriving ecosystem with hundreds of creatures that make their living in its space, and under which people of all faiths gather to admire its form and take a moment of rest before the long walk up to Matrimandir. The experience is truly awe-inspiring.
The Banyan is the national tree of India, and found in great abundance in central and southern regions, even having a whole city named after it. Vadodara, in Gujarat, is named about the giant banyan or badh tree. The Banyan belongs to the Ficus family and begins its life as an epiphyte, meaning that it grows onto another plant. Perhaps that is why so many young Banyans are entwined with other trees, earning then the title of “strangler figs” (see images below). This giant ficus survives through its close connection with fig wasps on which it depends for pollination. The largest specimen at around 550 years of age, is to be found in Kadiri botanical gardens in Andhra Pradesh. Its branches spread over 5 acres, with a canopy of 19,107 square metres. Here is a link to a list of the most prominent Banyans in India: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Banyan_trees_in_India.
Below are some images of the Auroville banyan. Here’s hoping that the gentle giants in our world provide us with inspiration as we move into a new decade towards peace, harmony and affectionate coexistence with other living beings.
Happy new year!
Link: The Banyan of Auroville, https://www.auroville.org/contents/2139