Chakra Announcements

Premeditated tree murder in Vrndavan

by Deena Bandhu das

Posted May 7, 2005

All the devotees in Vrindavan are furious. One of their oldest and dearest friends in Vrindavan -- a gigantic, ancient neem tree standing next to Sadhana Kunj -- has been mercilessly butchered by Dr. Samik Rishi Prabhu. Everyone is coming, claiming he outright lied in February, saying he would never cut down this tree -- maybe just cut a few branches which stood in the way of making a guesthouse. I also had advised him not to cut this tree, but to build around it and let it shade the courtyard.

One devotee counted 350 rings on one of the branches. Another visiting godbrother who knows trees said that if that many rings are on the branches, then the tree could be as much as 500 years old! It may have been here when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavan.

This tree has been my friend for the last 21 years. I used to gaze on this magnificent tree from the roof of the Gurukula while chanting my rounds in the morning. Later before the MVT Guesthouse went up, I would have his darshan doing rounds around the pathways. All the devotees say the same thing: that this tree is their old friend. Nobody can believe what just happened. Everyone tells me it is like their hearts have been ripped out from their breasts. This was such an enormous, noble, magnificent neem tree.

Not that the devotees didn't put up a fight. They went to the forest department and got the plan stopped, as it is totally illegal to cut down trees in Vrindavan. That slowed things down for a month. But later, one of the Loi Bazaar merchants told the devotees that his lawyer, meeting Samik Rishi's lawyer in the court, had been shown the court order allowing them to murder this old resident of Braja. Devotees asked, "Well, can't we appeal?" Reflecting widespread cynicism about the alleged corruption of the Indian judiciary, he claimed, "Obviously, he paid some money. Then you can pay some money. He will pay some money. Where will it end?"

If I hadn't been in Mayapur and on safari, I would have done something about this senseless slaughter. I have very good contacts in the forest department, but I only found out about it during the wonderful 30th anniversary festival we just had in Vrindavan. By the time I got there to see my friend, it was too late.

All the symbols of Vishnu were on this tree. Near the base you could clearly see the Gada, then above and to the left was the Shankha. About midway was a small Chakra, and near the left top a beautiful Lotus.

All the devotees are so angry; some have even told me they have cursed this project . Those who orchestrated the tree cutting will never be able to stay in Braj, they will never be happy, and the guesthouse project will fail because no guests will ever be happy there. Some devotees have vowed to boycott any opening ceremony should anything be built there, and that they will encourage all devotees to boycott staying in this guesthouse. Without the mercy of the Vaisnavas, then what is the use?

We had just heard from Kishori prabhu how she had once complained to Srila Prabhupada that they were going to cut down the tamal tree in the courtyard of Krishna Balaram Mandir, and he was furious.

Also, they cut down an old tree in the Dallas Gurukula since it was leaning on the roof, and they thought it posed a danger to the students. The next time Prabhupada came, he immediately missed his old friend and asked what happened to the tree. When they informed him, he said, "Just see: this tree has stood here for a hundred years, and in a few minutes you have finished him." He was so furious that no one could enter his room the rest of the day. Yet this tree in Braja was 500 years old!

And finally a quote from Gaura Kishore das Babaji Maharaja about a so-called sadhu who cut a tree down in Navadvipa:

Babaji Maharaja told those nearby, "This atheistic person has informed me that he has cut the wish-fulfilling trees and creepers of Navadvipa. Alas! Alas! Just see! Just see! It grieves us to cut even a solitary dry tree of Navadvipa. These trees and plants are our eternal friends. They assist Lord Gaura in His eternal pastimes. These cruel persons never achieve the qualification to perform devotional service to Lord Hari. By making an outward show of being a Vaisnava, they bring misfortune to themselves and to others as well."

A land speculator amputated the limbs of this historic Vrindavan tree and dug around to expose the roots before felling it.