A Poem as Lovely as Banyan Trees


Namaste and Aloha!

“It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.



After the discussion of the importance of bhakti-yoga, one may question, “What about the Vedas?” It is explained in this chapter that the purpose of Vedic study is to understand Kṛṣṇa. Therefore one who is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, who is engaged in devotional service, already knows the Vedas.

The entanglement of this material world is compared here to a banyan tree. For one who is engaged in fruitive activities, there is no end to the banyan tree. He wanders from one branch to another, to another, to another. The tree of this material world has no end, and for one who is attached to this tree, there is no possibility of liberation.


The Vedic hymns, meant for elevating oneself, are called the leaves of this tree. This tree’s roots grow upward because they begin from where Brahmā is located, the topmost planet of this universe. If one can understand this indestructible tree of illusion, then one can get out of it.” Bhagavad Gita As It Is, translated by his Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami starting chapter 15:1

These are my cell phone photos of Banyan trees in Hawaii.  Banyan trees are related to fig trees.

Remember this song?  We are Spirits in the Material World:

Banyans are referred to in devotional scripture (above) as an example for all of us to pursue and develop our spiritual life, rather than chasing material attachments (purchases, etc.).   The foundation of the Vedas is that we are spirits in the material world, and we should nourish our spiritual life.  Bhakti Yoga means devotional yoga (yoga means union and Bhakti yoga is one type of yoga intended to encourage our relationship with G_d via prayer/song/study/remembering/reading and more). The illusion referred to is the illusion that we are material, rather than spirit souls (we forget to feed our spirituality and we start to chase material desires).  Hey, I know that’s pretty deep for a nature blog about a tree with a bunch of external roots, but the Banyan Tree brings us a rich history and education that cannot be ignored.  I am very thankful for this tree’s generous reminder.  Banyan is also the national tree of India.

“One who wants to get out of this material existence must know this tree thoroughly through analytical study. Then he can cut off his relationship with it.”

For geeks, Banyan is also an antique/early layer 3 computer operating system that was among the first to use ARP and TCP/IP protocols.

Wikipedia, “Older banyan trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally, using these prop roots to cover a wide area. In some species the effect is for the props to develop into a sort of forest covering a considerable area, every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The topology of this structure of interconnection inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system Banyan VINES.

In a banyan that envelops a support tree the mesh of roots growing round the support tree eventually applies very considerable pressure and commonly kills the tree. Such an enveloped dead tree eventually rots away so that the banyan becomes a “columnar tree” with a hollow central core. In jungles such hollows are particularly desirable shelters to many animals.”

Welcome to the Jungle:

So when you’re feeling like you’re lost in the jungle of material cr*p, maybe you can remember these photos of the Banyan’s super entangled aerial prop roots.  Banyan trees can visually remind us to feed who we really are, a spirit in the material world, and we can choose to act on (or ignore) their ancient wisdom about how to escape the material jungle.  Together, let’s feed our soulful hearts rather than increasing our material debts.

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Michele the Trainer

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