Palm Trees Mean Paradise
Posted February 24, 2006
Srila Prabhupad said this
In FEB1970 when we first moved into the LA on Watseka ave. Srila Prabhupada called it the world head quarters of Iskcon. This is what I remember. I was here when Srila Prabhupada and so many of His disciples moved into these buildings. I was speaking to Dayanidhi Prabhu, a Senior Devotee of S.P., who was also present at this time. He told me that Srila Prabhupada, during his offering on the appearance day of his Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Maharaj, had said with tears in his eyes, "My Spiritual Master has outright given us this temple."
From the very beginning Srila Prabhupada had a vision of what was to be Iskcon. It was up to us to follow and try to help fulfill them. He told us so many things to do. I remember He told Karandhar Prabhu, our temple president then, to plant lots of trees. I have not been able to track him down and get the exact quote. But many other devotees', who were also here during these memorable years, have reminded me of this fact.
Not too long ago I was driving down Watseka with a friend. The first remark of hers was; why is there no trees by the temple? Don't you Hare Krishna's believe in Nature? Isn't it part of your Philosophy? It looks so dry and barren like an industrial zone.
Now this isn't the first time this happened to me. I can remember at least 3 times in the last couple of years.
If any one has ever been to the La Temple they would have noticed the big "Hare Krishna Community" sign out front on Venice Blvd. There used to be two beautiful Juniper trees next to the sign. They were not blocking the view of the sign in any way. Many years ago I started to garden under the sign as I thought it was embarrassing to only have yellow dry weeds and litter there making it look like an abandoned lot. After all it was the first thing that people would see under the name of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I gradually started to water and plant left over plants from festivals. I received many thanks from passer by's and devotees for providing green and oxygen. A couple of years ago the two tall pine trees were scored in at the bottom about 2 feet off the ground and in about 3 inches all the way around. This was to cause gradual death of the trees, and in the end, they were cut down. In fact every one of the 6 or seven trees received the same treatment and destiny.
So, now what remains are two beautiful Queen Palm trees next to the big sign. They are only blocking the view of the parking lot and telephone poles and wires and creating an atmosphere of tranquility, which all of nature has the habit of doing. I do not wish to burden anyone with details here. But the gist of it all is that they have decided to remove all the plants and the last two remaining Palm trees and paving a large portion of the area with cement.
Now, I know if anyone wants to do something bad enough, he can find a bucket load of excuses and reason for doing so, and he may even be able to convince others that they are justified. But I have searched and found no real justifiable reason to do this! For a long time there has not been any room for discussion or consideration of the opinions and insights of other devotees who are not on the temple "Board". There are no Istagosti's. Some peaceful devotees' are afraid of expressing their views for fear that they might be asked to leave the temple. This is understandable as they simple want to do their service in the temple. So they keep quiet. Many others don't want make waves, thinking that even if they speak up it will make no difference anyway. I have been told so many times..."what is the use, "they" do what they want". I have heard S.P. say that all of his disciples should be independently thoughtful. I have always believed that if you see something wrong it is your duty to at least speak up. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells Arjuna to fight for the sake of fighting without considering victory or defeat. Now, Arjuna was a peaceful man, certainly not one to want a war or violence, and he didn't want to disrespect his peers or have any disagreements with his friends, elders, teachers, relative etc. He would rather retire to the forest and meditate. In the end Krsna told him it was Maya, in the name of religion.
So, I am posting this for your information, not a personal attack on our Managers or any devotee. You can agree or disagree with their decision. This is meant to be informative. I consider all devotees deserve to be heard as all are equally initiated and if what is spoken is intelligent and in harmony with our Spiritual Master, then there should always be open discussions, not that only one or two people decide and all else grins and bears it. I have stated my opinion and if any other devotees desire to do so, I welcome your opinions. There are many quotes from S.P. in regards to trees and the importance of Nature, but here are a few that touch on the subject matter.
February 7, 2002 VNN7145 *Comment on this story* Click Here
Srila Prabhupada's Tree
TALK BY GIRIRAJ SWAMI
USA, Feb 7 (VNN) - Prabhupada Festival, 27 May 2001, Los Angeles
Srila Prabhupada had to struggle very hard to build the Juhu temple. The first struggle was to get the land; the next struggle was to get the permission to build the temple, and last struggle was to actually build the temple and install the Deities. And we had worked very hard to get the permission, but the Indian permits often include many conditions. So although they give permission, the permission is not actually valid until one fulfills the conditions.
One of the conditions was that we had to have an internal access road of a certain width according to the length of the road. And it just so happened that right where the access road was supposed to go there were some palm trees. Once when Srila Prabhupada came to Juhu after being away for some time he noticed that one or two of the trees had been cut and he was very concerned -- I would say upset -- and he asked, "Why did you cut down the trees?" We thought we had the perfect answer: We had to build the temple, and to get the permission for the temple we had to cut the trees in the way of the road. Srila Prabhupada said, "No, you go to the Municipality and tell them it's against our religion to cut down trees." So we had no choice, and we did it. And of course the Municipal officers argued.
But one thing that really struck me about how concerned Srila Prabhupada was for the trees was that the next time he came back to Juhu after a world tour practically the first thing he said was, "I was in Tehran and I have seen they have trees in the middle of the streets. So we can also have trees in the middle of our street." In other words, it was not so strange. So on Srila Prabhupada's order we held our ground with the Municipality, and in the end they gave us the permission to keep the tree. And even today we can see that tree that Srila Prabhupada protected is still standing there with asphalt all around it.
The abode known as Kailash is full of different herbs and vegetables, and it is sanctified by Vedic hymns and mystic yoga practice. Thus the residents of that abode are demigods by birth and have all mystic powers. Besides them there are other human beings, who are known as Kinnaras and Gandharvas and are accompanied by their beautiful wives, who are known as Apsaras, or angels. Kailash is full of mountains filled with all kinds of valuable jewels and minerals and surrounded by all varieties of valuable trees and plants. The top of the hill is nicely decorated by various types of deer. There are many waterfalls, and in the mountains there are many beautiful caves in which the very beautiful wives of the mystics are found. On Kailash Hill there is always the rhythmical sound of the peacocks` sweet vibrations and the bees` humming. Cuckoos are always singing, and other birds whisper amongst themselves. There are tall trees with straight branches that appear to call the sweet birds, and when herds of elephants pass through the hills, it appears that the Kailash Hill moves with them. When the waterfalls resound, it appears that Kailash Hill does also. The whole of Kailash Hill is decorated with various kinds of trees, which produce flowers with fragrant aromas. There are many banana trees which decorate the small hillside lakes very nicely. There are different kinds of lotus flowers, and the small lakes are full of various kinds of birds who whisper very sweetly. There are many kinds of other animals also, like deer, monkeys, boars, lions, forest cows, forest asses, tigers, small deer, buffalo and many other animals, who are fully enjoying their lives. There is a small lake named Alakananda in which Sati used to take her bath, and that lake is especially auspicious. All the demigods, after seeing the specific beauty of Kailash Hill, were struck with wonder at the great opulence to be found there.
Srila Prabhupada condemns unnecessary industrialization for contributing to the problem of hunger and for creating unemployment, pollution, and a host of other problems. In the following speech, recorded on May 2, 1973, in Los Angeles, he advocates a simpler, more natural, God-centered lifestyle.
ime jana-padah svrddhah
hy edhante tava viksitaih
[Queen Kunti said:] "All these cities and villages are flourishing in all respects because the herbs and grains are in abundance, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals, and the oceans are full of wealth. And this is all due to Your glancing over them." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.40)
Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises. The gigantic industrial enterprises are products of a godless civilization, and they cause the destruction of the noble aims of human life. The more we increase such troublesome industries to squeeze out the vital energy of the human being, the more there will be dissatisfaction of the people in general, although a select few can live lavishly by exploitation.
The natural gifts such as grains and vegetables, fruits, rivers, the hills of jewels and minerals, and the seas full of pearls are supplied by the order of the Supreme, and as He desires, material nature produces them in abundance or restricts them at times. The natural law is that the human being may take advantage of these godly gifts of nature and thus satisfactorily flourish without being captivated by the exploitative motive of lording it over material nature.
The more we attempt to exploit material nature according to our whims, the more we shall become entrapped by the reaction of such exploitative attempts. If we have sufficient grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, then what is the necessity of running a slaughterhouse and killing poor animals?
A man need not kill an animal if he has sufficient grains and vegetables to eat. The flow of river waters fertilizes the fields, and there is more than what we need. Minerals are produced in the hills, and the jewels in the ocean. If the human civilization has sufficient grains, minerals, jewels, water, milk, etc., then why should we hanker after terrible industrial enterprises at the cost of the labor of some unfortunate men?
But all these natural gifts are dependent on the mercy of the Lord. What we need, therefore, is to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and achieve the perfection of human life by devotional service. The indications by Kunti-devi are just to the point. She desires that God's mercy be bestowed upon her and her sons so that natural prosperity will be maintained by His grace.
Kunti-devi mentions that the grains are abundant, the trees full of fruits, the rivers flowing nicely, the hills full of minerals, and the oceans full of wealth, but she never mentions that industry and slaughterhouses are flourishing, for such things are nonsense that men have developed to create problems.
If we depend on God's creation, there will be no scarcity, but simply ananda, bliss. God's creation provides sufficient grains and grass, and while we eat the grains and fruits, the animals like the cows will eat the grass. The bulls will help us produce grains, and they will take only a little, being satisfied with what we throw away. If we take fruit and throw away the skin, the animal will be satisfied with the skin. In this way, with Krsna in the center, there can be full cooperation between the trees, animals, human beings, and all living entities. This is Vedic civilization, a civilization of Krsna consciousness.
Here are some sites explaining the benefits of trees. This is scientific.