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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rejuvenating Wildlife Holiday

Come, Celebrate Nature, Celebrate Life............

Getting up with chirping of birds and slight breeze flowing from the forest carrying nature’s smell and fresh oxygen, is an experience very few get to enjoy. Our modern city life has made us so busy that many of us especially our children have not even experienced the beauty of nature with which once we used to live and grow. Our life has become so stressed with work and running around to save time for further work that we have no time left for our children, our parents and even god. We have computers and they say whole world has become so small but isn’t it amazing that we don’t even know who our neighbors are or we get a chance to enjoy those beautiful flowers hanging on the branch just outside our window. Our culture is entwined around nature and ‘Sanatana’ religion believes that god and nature are one. But we don’t have time to either enjoy nature or to know god more intimately.

One of the good ways to enjoy your time with your family is to have a holiday in a wildlife reserve. Be rest assured this wilderness holiday will be a perfect break for you and your family from the monotonous daily routine as well as give you enough time to spend together. Nature is the best healer – you must have heard it so many times but rarely got a chance to experiment this phrase. Now, plan a trip to any famous or not so famous wildlife destination like Kanha or Pench national park. Normally tourists visiting these national parks and Tiger reserves are here for wildlife excursions on vehicles and this is what even you must have thought. But, here is the clinch; plan a holiday which is different.

Yes, taking morning safari excursions and planning evenings for walks, tribal village visits, just sitting under trees and having a chit chat and other like activities will help you in spending more time with your family. Or maybe the other way round, use your mornings for walks or at leisure and evenings for safaris in the national park. This also has an advantage; you get more time for family and friends and while enjoying the natural heritage of the tiger reserve. Do some Yoga and meditate under any tree around in the lap of nature. At the end of your holiday you will see that you have not only renewed all your family ties but this relaxed holiday time you have spent has also de-stressed you making you ready to face the hectic life again with improved energy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Trees in ancient Indian culture

ब्रम्ह तद वनमं, ब्रम्ह सा वृक्ष: असा ।।
Brahma tad vanam, Brahma sa vriksha asa (Rig Veda, X.81.4)
Forest is god, tree is god.
Trees are God

Be it oldest rock paintings or seals of Indus Saraswati civilization we see tree inscribed everywhere with reverence. Even the Vedas have praised trees and given them utmost importance. In above shloka trees and forest have been correlated with Brahma or God. There is a long list of trees, plants, shrubs and even grasses which are listed in the Vedas as sacred. Most of these trees have also been found in seals of Indus Saraswati civilization which indicates that both cultures are correlated. In ancient Indian scriptures wood of Peepal (Ficus religiosa) and Shami (Prosopis spicigera) are used to kindle sacred fire, drink made of Soma plant is said to make the user immortal, Peepal tree was known as 'Akshaya Vat' (meaning Indestructible tree) and Bargad (Ficus indica) or Banyan tree was said to be a Cosmic tree.

Trees have been praised in all Hindu Scriptures, it continues to Ramayana, Mahabharata and many rituals related to trees have even continued to modern times. You can see women worshiping Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Pepal tree even today. Tulsi is known to be a very sacred shrub, dear to lord Vishnu and planting it in house is said to bring good luck. Even Jain and Buddhist scriptures have named many trees as sacred and all Tirthankaras and Buddhas are known to have attained enlightenment under specific tree. Many trees find place with stories of Lord Krishna like Kadamb (Neolamarckia cadamba) is always seen with him in most of his pictures. In one of the stories it is narrated that Agni disturbed lord Shiva and his concert Parwati wherein she gave a curse to all devetas (demi gods) to become trees. On penance she agreed to reduce the intensity of her curse and now a part of all devetas remain in the trees.  It is said that Lord Vishnu lives in Peepal, Goddess Lakshmi in Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Lord Shiva in Bargad. Hence, killing trees or cutting a live one is a crime against devetas and we are killing a part of them.

Matsya purana compares planting and rearing of one tree with 10 sons. Mahabharata, the great epic also talks of saving trees and forests and goes on to say that devetas, yakshas and rakshasas live on trees as such we should never hurt or injure them rather worship them as deities as they also have life. Rig veda goes on to say that plants incarnate the god and trees are 'Vanaspati' or lord of the forests, everlasting and self-regenerating. Most of these trees, plants or even grasses have been praised or known as sacred due to their inherent curative properties which are very useful to humans and environment. This shows how foresighted our ancestors were. They understood very well that human race and earth’s environment is dependent on trees and forests as such they in some or other way related trees to gods to save them from destruction.

छायाम् अन्यस्य कुर्वन्ति तिष्ठन्ति स्वयम् आतपे |
फलन्त्यपि परार्थाय वृक्षा: सत्पुरुषा इव ||

Chhaayaam anyasya kurvanti tiShThanti svayam aatape
phalantyapi paraarthaaya vrukshaa-haa sat-puruShaa iva

They give shade to others, while standing in the heat themselves.
They bear fruits for the benefit of others, trees are like the virtuous Men.

Banyan Tree