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Protect trees to protect ourselves

Protect trees to protect ourselves

The inspiration of many a poem, the tree majestically stands rooted to the earth and stretches up to the heavens in prayer – improving the quality of the soil it grows in and the air that surrounds it.

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Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 21:48 IST
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A vivid memory from my childhood remains etched in my psyche. A young, newly married robust man in the neighbourhood died suddenly after falling ill for two days. There were murmurs that it could be because the family had cut a healthy drumstick tree in their house recently. This connection haunted me for a long time. While this incident was etched in my mind for a long time, I understand why cutting trees was considered a sin. For, not only is a tree a living, breathing entity by itself, but also provides oxygen – the source of life to all creatures on earth; thus making its destruction a crime and sin no less than a gruesome murder. And while crashing down, it must also be ending lives of fledglings and the hundreds and thousands of insects in its shelter. 

Helping my daughter with her school project had us looking for uses and products of trees. We planned to make it interesting by listing them in order of the letters A – Z. Needless to say, there were not one or two, but multiple uses and products listed against each letter of the alphabet. The magnitude of its impact hit me even more at that time. 

The inspiration of many a poem, the tree majestically stands rooted to the earth and stretches up to the heavens in prayer – improving the quality of the soil it grows in and the air that surrounds it. It only constantly gives, gives and gives all its life and its parts are used long after too. Global warming and frequent flooding have not taught us a lesson yet. Unplanned excessive construction continues unabated, turning the green to grey (cement).

Older generations have often narrated how pujas were done to ask for forgiveness before cutting a tree when it was unavoidable, for it was believed that souls of Gods dwelt in them. The act was atoned by planting 100 saplings. The Dharmasutras as well as Chanyaka’s Arthashastra condemned the felling of trees and prescribed severe punishment to offenders. Destroying of a coconut tree was a crime of high decree as it was considered akin to the Kamadhenu, the divine cow that symbolised wealth, property and good health. 

What Jagdish Chandra Bose proved in 1901 with his research was stated in Manusmriti, centuries ago – Anthah sangya bhavantyete sukhaduh khasmanvitaah, meaning the trees have inner consciousness and experience joy and sorrow.

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