The Great Banyan

I feel insignificant when I rest beneath a great banyan tree. Or when I stand under a starlit sky in a forest reserve. On many occasions, while on vacation, I have been amused by the disdain of a monkey or a mountain goat appraising me. Even the ants under my feet are sticking to a rigid route, unperturbed by a giant obstacle like my body. Every now and then I make it a point to sit by the sea, or take a trip to the hills when the air is just beginning to get crisp. The rest of the world seems to be going about its business of living whereas human beings are so busy making their lives that they have forgotten it’s enough to have survived this far, to exist, to just be.

I admit that I didn’t always have such awareness. I grew up in Mumbai. My idea of nature was staring at sea waves while traversing the city or occasionally marvelling at a sunset while sipping tea. I’m afraid of bugs and winged creatures. Absurd though it is, I even try to keep away from a moth in my periphery. But the city grew unbearable; towering high-rises of cement mushroomed all over it, the streets felt narrower and the crowds more unruly. We began living with noise, chaos and pollution on the daily. Moreover, this understanding is not limited by geography. Sometimes, my travels take me to foreign cities where I observe commercial spaces across my hotel room with cabins and cubicles bathed in artificial light. I see people staring at computer screens for hours on end and feel exhausted on behalf of humanity.

We have created a micro world in a macrocosm. A world that is fast losing touch with reality. I’m not bashing technology or progress. Yet, we are so inextricably consumed by the world we’ve created that we are amazed by those communities that thrive in wilderness, even though that was how we used to be. The crunch of dead leaves underfoot on a walk, the silence in a jungle broken by the hoot of an owl, the warmth of the sun’s rays, all make us feel at ease. The vastness of nature reduces our exalted self-image; our obsession with career and relationships, our hurts and disappointments, our goals.  There ought to be a curb, a boundary to set limits on the importance of these. They pale in comparison to the universe’s scheme of things.

No matter how we feel, sad or elated, anxious or brave, brooks will keep hurtling down mountain sides, stars will continue to twinkle, the hum and throb of a universe and its creatures in motion will remain as it has for thousands of years. We stepped out of our natural surroundings to feel safe but we ought to address our primal need to feel one with it. Like I said, I feel insignificant when I rest beneath a great banyan tree.

Pic courtesy: Fallon Michael

Share this :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me On #SoorinaDesai