Four Ways The Tree Relates To Bhakti Life

[Tulasi plant]“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

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रसो ऽहम् अप्सु कौन्तेय
प्रभास्मि शशि-सूर्ययोः
प्रणवः सर्व-वेदेषु
शब्दः खे पौरुषं नृषु

raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya
prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu

In one particular section of the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna describes various aspects of life and how He is the essence of them. The taste of water. The light of the moon. The penance of the ascetics.

Whatever object you know, understand that it has an essence. Something like a defining characteristic. Then know that the Supreme Lord, God the person, is the reason for that object’s existence.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada recommends applying the same principle across the entire creation as an easy way for understanding God. No need to sit in a temple classroom. Living in an ashrama is not absolutely necessary. Neither does a lengthy study session have to take place.

Take something as simple as the preferred beverage. It may be wine, even though that is an extreme case. The taste of that beverage is Krishna. In an easy way you have entered into an understanding of God.

Along similar lines, the sight of a tree can remind me of Krishna in many ways.

1. The leaves like the Vedas

In the springtime, the tree has fully blossomed. There are leaves throughout the many branches. I am reminded of how the Vedas are similar.

Though the objective is one, there are different departments of knowledge. Krishna is at the root, but it is easy for any person to choose their preferred branch as an entryway, as a path towards the root.

For instance, the Vedas cover the military arts. There is information to maintain proper health. Money, fame, beauty – whatever opulence is desired there is a way to get it.

[trees]That tree holds steady because of the roots. Without the support nothing else related would matter. In the same way, Shri Krishna is the reason for the Vedas, and He should be the primary object of study.

2. The twin yamala-arjuna trees

I see this beautiful tree and I sure hope it doesn’t fall. I recall the pair of arjuna trees that fell to the ground due to the naughty behavior of Damodara, the darling child of mother Yashoda.

She tied Him to a mortar as mild punishment for misbehavior. Krishna used that opportunity to liberate two demigods from a previous curse. Though they were forced to stand as trees for many years, they still got to meet God and offer prayers to him.

3. The tamala tree

Though this tree before me is of a different color, I can’t help but remember the one so dear to Shrimati Radharani.

The tamala tree has a color that matches Krishna’s bodily complexion. Therefore, Radha is drawn to the tree. From this comparison to a wonderful aspect of nature, shastra provides further information into what God looks like.

4. The tulasi plant

Though much smaller than what is before the vision at present, I remember the tulasi plant and her importance in the bhakti culture.

[Tulasi plant]She is actually a devi who is very dear to Vishnu. Devotional activities performed in her presence bear fruit quickly. She empowers saints to write wonderful literature, such as with the Goswami who authored the Ramacharitamanasa.

In Closing:

When on park bench to sit,
With Krishna comparison to hit.

That similar in ways is He,
To that beautiful standing tree.

Branches like Vedic knowledge so,
Color of tamala where Radha to go.

Tulasi for devotional life sustaining,
He beyond root this universe maintaining.

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