Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gopal Lahiri writes

I am not

I am not the moonlight
that has not turned into words
on the blank page,
black ink beneath
sucking the tiny letters.

I am not like the slowly cooked fish
marinated with vinegar
while assembling the jigsaws
and inking in silence
the burrows of the crustaceans.

I am not the scattered ashes
of your memories wrapped
under the
leafy banyan tree protecting
the hidden treasures.

I am not your cleverest friend
erasing your sadness and goodbyes,
taking the world,
step by step
with wit and confidence.

 Bridge Road Banyan Tree Jupiter Island Hobe Sound Florida -- Kim Seng


  1. In the Gujarati language, "banya" means "grocer or merchant." Because the leaves of several species of fig are large, leathery, glossy green, and elliptical in shape, and said to be the resting place of Krishna;
    the tree provided a shaded place for village meetings or for merchants to sell their goods. By 1634, English travelers began to tell of the "banyan tree," under which which the "banya" conducted business, and eventually "banyan" became the name of the tree itself. A banyan is an epiphyte, a plant that grows on another plant; its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices of a host tree (or on buildings and bridges; Ta Prohm in the Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia is famous for the giant banyans that grow up, around, and through its walls). Banyans bear multiple fruit in structures called syncarps, which provide shelter and food for fig wasps; in turn, the trees are totally dependent on the fig wasps for pollination, while their seeds are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds that thus land on other trees' branches and stems germinate, sending roots towards the ground. Since they envelop part of the host, banyans are sometimes called "strangler figs." The mesh of roots around the host tree applies considerable pressure on it and often kills it; the dead tree rots away, allowing the banyan to become a "columnar tree" with a hollow central core. To Buddhists, this is a metaphor for the way sensual desire overcomes people. Banyans are have aerial prop roots which grow into thick, woody trunks that may be indistinguishable from the main trunk; these prop roots permit lateral growth, so the trees often cover a wide area. (Thimmamma Marrimanu, a banyan about 35 km from Kadiri in Andhra Pradesh, India, has a canopy of 19,107 sq. m. and branches that spread over 8 acres.) In some species the props develop into a sort of forest, with every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk (thus inspiring the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system called Banyan VINES). Due to its seemingly unending expansion, it is a symbol of eternal life. Shiva, as Dakshinamurthy, is usually depicted sitting in silence under the banyan, with holy men at his feet. In the "Bhagavat Gita," Krishna referred to a "tree which has its roots upward and its branches down, and the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas." In Guam, the Chamorros believe that their ancestors act as spiritual guardians of banyan trees, but in the Philippines the trees are home to a variety of evil spirits, includimg the kapre (a giant), the tikbalang (a reverse centaur which has a horse top and a human bottom), and duwende (dwarfs), as well as demon-like creatures such as the dili ingon nato, "those not like us."

  2. Around 589 BCE, a young Nepalese prince who saw the suffering of the world and wanted to end it, Siddhartha Gautama (later known as the Buddha) reached the Phalgu river, near Bodh Gaya, Bihar, about 96 km (60 mi) from Patna, India. After meditating without moving from his seat for three days and nights under a fig tree, he attained "bodhi" (awakening or enlightenment). Then he spent another week under the "Bodhi tree" and a third second staring at it, walking back and forth between the tree and the Animeshlocha Stupa in the northeastern part of the Mahabodhi Temple built by king Ashoka ca. 260 BCE, though the spot was used as a shrine even in the lifetime of the Buddha; lotus flowers sprang up along this route, now called Ratnachakrama (the jewel walk). He spent the fourth week near Ratnagar Chaitya, located near the northeast side, and during the fifth week, under Ajapala Nigodh tree (now marked by a pillar) he taught his new doctrine. He spent the sixth week beside the Lotus pond and the seventh under Rajyatna tree. His followers claimed that the ground would be devoid of all plants for the distance of a royal karīsa if the Bodhi tree did not continue to grow at the site and believed that no being, not even an elephant, could travel through the space that surrounds the tree. According to the Jatakas, the original Buddhist canon, from around the 4th century BCE, the navel of the world is at that spot, and no other place can support the weight of the Buddha's attainment. When the world is destroyed at the end of a kalpa, it is the last spot to disappear and the first to reappear when the world emerges into existence again. Later on, so people could make their obeisance while he was absent on pilgrimage, Buddha sanctioned the planting of a seed from the Bodhi tree in front of the Jetavana Monastery near Sravasti. When a fruit dropped from the tree, Moggallana took it before it reached the ground, and Anathapindika planted it in a golden jar. A sapling immediately sprouted, 50 cubits high, and the Buddha spent a night under it in order to consecrate it. Because the tree was planted under the direction of the Buddh'a first cousin, ("bliss"), it came to be known as the Ānanda Bodhi. (Ānanda became the Buddha's personal attendant in the 20th year of his ministry, accompanying him on most of his wanderings and taking the part of interlocutor in many of the recorded dialogues, Sometimes the Buddha asked him to substitute for him as a teacher. Most of the "Sutta Pitaka" are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings, and the Buddha insisted that he himself would not have presented the teachings in any other way. He also persuaded the Buddha to publicly recognize women as being equal to men in possessing the potential for enlightenment, leading the Buddha to have his step-mother Mahapajapati be ordained.) When Ashoka became king he so diligently paid homage to the Bodhi tree, the Sri Maha Bodhi, that his wife, Tissarakkhā, became jealous and had the tree killed by means of mandu thorns in 288 BCE. However, the tree was restored by plantings from the original specimen. In the 2nd century BCE it was cut down by king Pushyamitra Shunga, and again in 600 CE by king Shashanka. But a new tree was always planted at the same place. Asoka’s son Mahindadaughter and daughter Sanghamittra took a piece of the tree to Sri Lanka’s ancient capital, Anuradhapura, in 245 BCE; the descendants of this Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi still grow there. According to the "Mahāvaṃsa," the 5th-century chronicle of the kings of Sri Lanka, branches from the Bodhi trees of all the Buddhas born during this kalpa were subsequently planted there as well. In 1913, Anagarika Dharmapala gave a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi to Mary Foster, a benefactor to Buddhist missionary work; she planted it in what became the Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu.


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