“Although the child Krishna was bound up to the wooden mortar, He began to proceed towards the growing trees in order to fulfill the prophecy of His great devotee Narada. Lord Krishna knew that Narada was His great devotee and that the trees standing before Him as twin arjuna trees were actually the sons of Kuvera.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 10)
A large tree from the backyard fell down last night. The cause was a severe thunderstorm. Power lines are down across the area. There is flooding in people’s basements. Some homes are completely destroyed.
We are not in such terrible shape, but seeing the large tree in that particular placement reminds us of several teachings relating to spiritual life. More specifically, we remember the words of Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and a pastime from His childhood years in Vrindavana.
1. We are fortunate it didn’t strike us
Insurance policies might describe such events as “acts of God.” It is beyond human control. Therefore, it is difficult to both predict and protect against. No one has total assurance. We were not expecting the tree to fall. Due to its size and weight, it has the potential to turn into a lethal weapon.
2. There is danger at every step
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes this material world to be full of danger. At every step, padam padam vipadam, there is a threat to safety. What to speak of local case positivity rates based on testing for a virus amongst a healthy population, even the young are not spared. They face the potential of a knife approaching them in the womb and then endless needles throughout childhood.
3. Nothing lasts forever
The tree must have been there forever. Thirty years ago, when we first moved into the house, the tree was there. It is a fixture in the backdrop to countless photographs. From it fell beautifully colored leaves in the autumn. It tolerated the harsh cold of the winters. It signaled the renewal of life during the spring season.
Now it is gone. An equal part of nature, it was taken out by another aspect of nature. There is no possibility of restoration. Despite planting roots deep into the ground, stretching across a large area, the connection could not remain forever.
There was no construction crew involved in building the tree. There was no external support necessary. The tree knew how to stand on its own. There was no instruction manual. There was no guidance on where the roots should extend, how many leaves to show in the summer, how much to bend to the wind, and so forth.
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो
मत्तः स्मृतिर् ज्ञानम् अपोहनं च
वेदैश् च सर्वैर् अहम् एव वेद्यो
वेदान्त-कृद् वेद-विद् एव चाहम्
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)
As Bhagavad-gita explains, this innate ability is due to the Supersoul. He is the source of knowledge and forgetfulness. The preprogramming, so to speak, is done by the most intelligent person. No dependent entity could ever conjure up something as amazing as the tree.
5. Damodara with the mortar
On the positive side, the fallen tree reminds us of the pastime involving Damodara. Shri Krishna was bound to a mortar as punishment. Mother Yashoda tried her best with rope, and it was only after Krishna’s sanction that He agreed to be bound.
Though a small child at the time, when no one was looking Krishna was able to move the mortar to which He was tied. The mortar went in between two trees. Amazingly, the force from Krishna’s pulling was enough to drop the trees.
How Damodara survived no one was entirely sure. How the trees knew exactly where to fall, to maintain safety, was the work of a higher authority. Even more amazing was that two beautiful living entities emerged from the trees.
These were demigod brothers who had previously been cursed. Their eventual blessing was witnessing God’s transcendental form as Damodara. The fallen trees turned out to be something to remember for generations.
In backyard a fallen tree,
But something more to see.
Yashoda chasing Krishna one time,
Finally to mortar to bind.
But child sneakily able to move,
In between large trees to choose.
Demigods emerged after they fell,
Their deliverance Narada to tell.
Categories: the five