Chakra Living

The Evil Gardens of Venice Blvd?

by Gunamai Dasi

Posted April 3, 2006

In response to Kriya Shakti's "Garden renovation project", I am amused by her use of adjectives. Visions of thorny rose branches, reaching out and scratching passer by's on bicycles, babies in carriages and old people, as they hurry past in fear, come to mind. Hazardous Red wood chips that conspire to trip the unsuspecting disabled in wheel chairs, innocent pedestrians, skateboarder and roller-bladers, is a haunting vision. While the water thirsty, money sucking unruly foliage demands more and more from its masters, the tall, dark, dense bushes give shelter to bogymen lurking in the shadows ready to attack helpless women at night. A little way down this treacherous path are gnarly palm fans with thorny barbs threatening to end ones journey through the evil garden of Venice blvd., as the dangerously tall Queen Palms entangled in electrical wires created a hissing and crackling noise in the distance next to the wall covered with clinging ivy and thick brush. This is frightening picture, and one wonders how so many escaped with their lives intact. But there is hope on the way now, as the plans of a kinder, gentler garden are in the horizon. Fear not because the water wise sun tolerant, soft ornamental grasses, low shrubs, with lots of color and non frightening shapes are already on their way: The evil thorny plants have been gently removed and given new homes.

Facts: S. Prabhupada told Karandhar to plant many trees and said that "palm trees mean paradise". Unless I am grievously wrong he really liked trees; there are so many stories in regards to S.P. and trees.

The 3 palms trees that were removed posed no real problems in regards to the electrical wire. Queen palms only reach a certain height and the only one in "danger of reaching the wires was stunted. I myself and 3 other devotees moved a Queen palm without costing the temple a penny. They have very small root system and can be moved over if there is fear. These were 90 percent or more full grown and posed no real danger and even so they could have just been moved over, but it appears that the powers that be do not like trees. The "gnarly" attack palms were not sold; they were up rooted and left in the sun for 3 days until someone picked them up. I don't know if they made it or not. The rose plants were "trimmed" by someone with out consideration or knowledge of how to do it properly. The Big beautiful flowering Plumeria Tree was brutally cut back to half its size and up rooted in such a un-gentle manner that only 3 or 4 inches of its root system was left. I am trying to save it now and hope it comes back to its original health and beauty. The other tree was left in the sun for days even though the hole dug for it was ready. The clinging ivy which protected the wall from graffiti could easily have been trimmed back.

There is no question that the garden needed help as it had become over grown and needed some attention. It needed a good overhaul and in fact what started this, was that I had someone out there trying to clear it all up since it is difficult to do this alone. No one objects to improvement and I have asked many times for assistance, but never was there response. There is an old Chinese proverb; "do not use cannon to kill a Mosquito". In my opinion this was over kill and it has cost the temple a whole lot of money. Most of the plants would have been wonderful with proper trimming two or three times a year.

In regards to the quote from Srimad Bhagavatam about the heavenly planets, then I have to reply that in the heavenly planets they have heavenly gardeners who know how to move whole mountains with out harm to any one living entity. The Srimad Bhagavatam says that the king is responsible for the welfare of all living entities including an insignificant weed. In the last 10 years at least 20 trees have been killed (not moved). Not one has been replaced or planted and at least one or two full grown palm trees have been killed. The only reason these latest 3 palm trees were saved is because I complained too much.

As I've said before, I don't object to "real" improvements and upgrades, but I ask that these living entities are treated with dignity and higher consciousness as much as possible without unnecessary destruction. I cannot fathom how killing 20 0r more trees in a hot smoggy, oxygen deprived city, and not replacing even one of them is an improvement or in anyway auspicious. This has become a quick fix, disposable society and nothing much is considered sacred. Mother Nature is quickly deteriorating through neglect, complacency, pollution and greed, but nothing other than nature can create a peaceful, healthy and tranquil atmosphere. There is no description of any heavenly abode without including details of a lush environment; the sweet fragrance and sounds of nature and the effects of it on the consciousness of the residents. Is this a matter of taste? We are a supposed be a Spiritual society of higher consciousness; a spiritual community that sets an example for the rest of world; how to live in the highest harmony with nature and all of Gods creations, without envy for any living entity, by seeing God in everything.

Srila Prabhupada was the highest revolutionary and because of his influence there are now so many Yoga societies etc. here in the west, which indirectly follow his example. Many of these places are very nicely maintained with meditation gardens that are very attractive. They have many followers, because people are searching for peace, health and higher consciousness; A better life style. Many of them also come to the temples in their search. Maybe they are not searching for Krishna and devotional service but when the temples are beautiful, they become attracted to an atmosphere which is special. Many temples such as LA do not even have a proper reception area for guests who are curious. I am hoping that soon out temples are able to create a welcoming atmosphere for any soul wandering in search for the higher truth. Are we here only to attract, the local homeless and destitute. Not many are "joining" in these times. Where is all the intelligentsia that S. Prabhupada so much wanted to attract to this philosophy and life style and culture?

I do not know what is to become of the remaining garden, but since this improvement project has started, some of the remaining plants have been half mutilated and some left to die without being watered except for occasional rain. Under the Hare Krishna sign the "new renovated Garden" has been planted already by hired gardeners. It is a matter of time to see how it develops, but this is the status now and I am hoping for the best.