Chakra Living

Old-Growth Banyans Face Destruction

Photos and article by Dinanath das

Posted February 15, 2011

One of the massive banyan trees under threat.

This is an urgent message to anyone and everyone. Between 15,000 and 20,000 giant, ancient, sacred old-growth Banyan trees are to be cut down on the road from Bhuvaneshvar to Jagannath Puri beginning this week.

Some of these trees were planted by King Prataparudra himself on the request of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Millions and millions of pilgrims have sat, meditated and worshiped under these trees since time immemorial, and now they will all be cut down and destroyed if we don't act now. These trees will be destroyed starting this week unless we rally to save them.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "Of all trees I am the sacred Banyan tree," so please try and understand the crisis which we are facing. These are not ordinary trees. I was out there taking photos last week, and some of these trees are larger than two or three buses put together. It is one of the most sacred old-growth forests in all of India, and borders the Parikrama Marg from Bhuvaneshvar to Jagannath Puri. There is nothing ordinary about this situation; these trees are 500 to 1,000 years old or even older, and have been the protectors of the Holy Dham ever since.

A banyan already marked with white paint and intended for destruction.

I truly believe that at this very moment, under the circumstances, this is the most important Krishna-seva there is. While an unwanted bridge in Vrindavan can always be torn down, you cannot bring back to life thousands of thousand-year-old trees.

By the will of Krishna I found out about this on February 1, so I'm trying absolutely anything to stop these horrific crimes. What I need is for you to do absolutely anything in your power to help. If you're good on the computer then please pass this information on to others, contact the media, contact the government, contact environmental groups, contact everyone.

At this moment I am trying to mobilize a ground force to surround and protect these trees. and also to convince the locals to join hands around these trees to save them, but by myself I can do little. I need your help. This is not an ordinary event. This is the tide of Kali-yuga coming to vandalize the Holy Dham of Jagannath Puri. Once they're gone, they're gone forever.

The road to be widened at the cost of ancient shade trees along its route.

In ten, 20 or 30 years people will look back with shame at letting one of the most magnificent old-growth forests in the Holy of Holies be cut down, the ancestral trees of our great acharyas. I will never be able to forgive myself if I don't do everything I can to save them, so please help. Please help, please. I can be reached at 00 91 (0) 958 340 4456 inside India, and outside India at 00 91 958 340 4456.

For further information, see "Banyan trees being uprooted in large numbers" in The Hindu, September 23, 2008.

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