“The impious trees are useless jungles only, and they can only be used to supply fuels. In the modern civilization such impious trees are planted on the sides of roads. Human energy should be properly utilized in developing the finer senses for spiritual understanding, in which lies the solution of life. Fruits, flowers, beautiful gardens, parks and reservoirs of water with ducks and swans playing in the midst of lotus flowers, and cows giving sufficient milk and butter are essential for developing the finer tissues of the human body.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.11.12 Purport)
“The thing I love about His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is that he is always against the prevailing narrative. I noticed this from the beginning, in reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is for the first time.
“I was first offended by so much of the commentary. You mean I shouldn’t sleep more than six hours? I shouldn’t trust women or politicians? You mean I am just wasting my time in sense gratification? The entire world is suffering from ugra-karma?
“No one ever mentioned these obvious fallacies to me before. Everyone kind of goes along to get along, though they know something is not right. That person earning millions of dollars is no happier than I am. That leading politician is totally full of it. Just because they have a post does not make them superior to anyone else, especially if we are judging by character.
“Another truth that got me is the distinction between pious and impious trees. I never made the connection before. We pass so many trees while driving on the road. The trees are on the sides. Shrila Prabhupada says that these make useless jungles only. The lone salvation is that the trees can be used for fuel.
“The fruit-bearing trees are pious, but I rarely come across those where I live. Is that maybe an indication that the place isn’t ideal for spiritual life? This is a new concept to me, so maybe you can explain further.”
A fruit-bearing tree serves several purposes simultaneously. There are the obvious health benefits, especially when combined with a balanced diet, eating in moderation. Fruits are known to have flavonoids and other compounds that are beneficial in fighting off disease and maintaining good health.
Moreover, the tree already provides shelter from the scorching heat. It is a beautiful aspect of nature, with no human intervention required. The tree produces more than enough fruit to satisfy a single person, and very little effort has to go into the process. In many cases, the trees are already there, managed entirely by nature.
They were an embellishment to the amazing beauty of the Dvaraka community, as described in Shrimad Bhagavatam. This is the place ruled by Shri Krishna in His role as king. Dvaraka is essentially the spiritual world. We only find pious trees and beautiful parks, filled with animals that stimulate spiritual propensities.
High and low births are a component to a material existence, which has duality from beginning to end. On the higher platform of understanding, even the supposedly impious trees can have an enlightening effect. Goswami Tulsidas uses the lowly trees in the heavenly realm to compare the status of a devotee who may not have the most admirable lineage or pedigree.
राम नाम सुमिरत सुजस भाजन भए कुजाति |
कुतरूक सुरपुर राजमग लहत भुवन बिख्याति |
rāma nāma sumirata sujasa bhājana bhae kujāti |
kutarūka surapura rājamaga lahata bhuvana bikhyāti |
“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the roads in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
In the heavenly realm, even the supposedly impious trees are worshipable. They are kalpa-vriksha; a tree which can grant desires immediately. The person devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the same way, as they can pass on the seed of the creeper of devotional service.
Even if we are surrounded by impious trees, engaged in ugra-karma to supply the needs of the body, with scant sunshine throughout the year, there is the transcendental light shining down from the Vaikuntha realm.
The potency rises to the factor of rescuing any person, wherever they may be. If they even contemplate the Dvaraka atmosphere and how pleasing it is to Krishna, they are as good as there. This is the meaning of Absolute, allowing a person to remain perpetually connected to the spiritual side of life.
If only thoughts that way directed,
Then perpetually connected.
Pious trees coming to mind,
Heavenly atmosphere to find.
To that beautiful scene embellishing,
Where Krishna’s presence relishing.
For that purpose coming here,
A spiritual understanding clear.