“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)
1. Looks similar to other ones
“Really, the appearance is identical. Same structure. From afar you would not notice the difference. You walk by so many on a given day that you barely pay attention. They are a welcome addition to the background, an integral component to beautiful scenery, but unless there is an animal roaming about or leaves changing color and falling you have no reason for giving added attention.
“His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that these are pious trees. This is because they give fruit. The ones without fruit are considered sinful. I never heard of such a distinction before, but apparently this classification is based on Vedic literature. The swami did not just make it up.”
2. Too much for one person to consume
“If you happen to have one of these fruit trees in your backyard, there would be an abundance of product in a given year. In other words, too much for a single family to utilize. A person can only have so many jars of apples stocked in the kitchen pantry. They can only eat so much peach cobbler without wanting something different.
“The person with access to such a tree would have to be considered fortunate. In the worst circumstance, they could at least eat off the land. A little fruit and milk is sufficient for maintaining the body, and coupled with chanting the holy names this diet for six months produces wonderful benefits.”
पय अहार फल खाइ जपु राम नाम षट मास|
सकल सुमण्गल सिद्धि सब करतल तुलसीदास ||
paya ahāra phala khāi japu rāma nāma ṣaṭa māsa|
sakala sumaṇgala siddhi saba karatala tulasīdāsa ||
“Subsisting on fruits and milk, chant Shri Rama’s holy name for six months. Tulsidas says that by following this formula all auspiciousness and every perfection will arrive in the palm of your hand.” (Dohavali, 5)
3. No effort required
“We work so hard to maintain a living. We travel great distances. We suffer hardship and abuse. We have to knowingly abandon intelligence when dealing with irrational superiors. We worry over the future, if there will be sufficient jobs available to help people earn a living.
“Then we see something like this tree. There is usually no effort required. The fruit grows on its own. Many times, it falls off without someone going up and cutting. Nature takes care of everything. Every product has seeds inside to keep the process going, but who was around to plant the first seed?”
4. Provides nutrients and prevents disease
“By the way, these fruits are not simply for satisfying the taste buds. They have these amazing properties, providing nutrients that might not otherwise be so easily found. They have the ability to cure ailments of the bowels, the stomach, the heart, the blood vessels and so forth.
“There is the familiar saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ No need for a supposed miracle injection, where you are not allowed to ask the ingredients. No force applied, either. You can eat the fruit or avoid it. Up to you.”
5. No other fate than to fall
This comparison comes courtesy of the Ramayana. In one particular section, Shri Rama is explaining how easy it is to abandon responsibility. This is due to the inherent fear of death. The mature human being has no other fear than death, in the same way that the ripened fruit has nothing left to do than fall.
यथा फलानां पक्वानां नान्यत्र पतनाद्भयम्।
एवं नरस्य जातस्य नान्यत्र मरणाद्भयम्।।
yathā phalānāṃ pakvānāṃ nānyatra patanādbhayam।
evaṃ narasya jātasya nānyatra maraṇādbhayam।।
“As a ripe fruit has no other fear than to fall, so a man who is born has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)
The pious trees are one way to know God. If you cannot visit a temple, gaze upon the tree. If there is little access to sacred texts, where everyone around is mired in the illusion of maya, remember that the pious tree is a gift from above, for continuing life and remembering the auspiciousness related to the Supreme Lord.
Otherwise, we are completely helpless. What can we really do? How much can we actually accomplish? We may amass billions of dollars on a balance sheet, based on the potential liquidation of equity shares, but we are still no different than everyone else. We are helpless against time, which delivers the final blow at the moment of death.
As transcendence is our ideal destiny, anything we can use to achieve that transcendence becomes auspicious. The pious tree gives shade, comfort, nourishment, healing, and also shelter. The same is true of Bhagavan; this is a secret known to those who are intimately connected to Him.
As pious considered,
Of fruit to eat,
Even without peeling.
Comparing that fruit-giving tree,
As mercy of Bhagavan to see.
Categories: the five