In the seed is a big tree. And what constitutes a tree? Its roots, its trunk, branches, stems, leaves and fruits. Each one has its own identity but they all draw nourishment from the same root.

There, in the corner of the street, was a huge mango tree. Old and wizened. Loved by the people on the street. They took the leaves for making ‘torans’ and for Pujas. The mangoes were obviously very loved. Children would climb the tree trunk and sit on its huge branches. Some on the left, and some on the right. They would make temporary swings on the strong branches and play to their fill.

One day some strangers came to the street wanting to put up some huge hoardings. They wanted the space which was occupied by the mango tree. Yes, the mango tree was divine and peaceful, showering only love, but these peope didn’t care for that! They only wanted that space to earn more.

Now they could just not cut the tree down because it was strong and healthy. The Municipality did not give permission to cut down strong trees. They had to do something to make it weak. So they drew up a plan.

One of the hoarding contractors went and spoke to the leaves of the tree. He praised it to the skies. He reminded them of how holy they were and how the importance of the mango tree was because of the fact that no Puja could be conducted without a ‘kalash’ with mango leaves in it. The leaves were absolutely delighted! Yes, the tree existed because of their contribution.

The other contractor spoke to the mangoes and praised their sweetness comparing them to a heavenly delight. He told them that if it were not for the mangoes, no one would even look at the tree. It was their ‘Ahimsa’ because of which the tree had so much respect. Who else would tolerate the stones thrown at them? Yes, they were the reason why humanity believed in non-violence.

The branches were wondering why despite carrying all the weight of the leaves and fruits, they were not given any importance. They were upset. They did not realise that all this was part of an evil plan. And the results of the evil plan were soon visible.

The huge trunk because of which everyone had taken birth, which sustained the branches, leaves and fruits started getting worried for the health of the tree. It told everyone, “Listen up folks, we all have our own identity and strength. Though we may have a different appearance and role, we all are one. Please believe this.”

The leaves said, “Nonsense, we are nothing like you. We are different and unique. You exist because of us. Don’t say that we are a part of you … you just want to show off your strength.”

The fruits who wanted to be counted upon as unique and great also said, “We too have been in existence for almost as many years as you have. But you always want to decide as to when we should prosper and grow. You want control always. Sorry, we don’t want to be associated with you anymore.”

The branches said, “Even we are unique. We too want to be treated as different from you.”

The poor trunk did not know where it had gone wrong. It just couldn’t satisfy anyone. Not just that, termites had made the trunk their home. They were making it hollow from within.

The strangers who had befriended the leaves and fruits came and told them that they would take them to a better place. Soon, the tree was shorn of its beautiful leaves and fruits. The huge branches too dried up in sorrow and the tree looked lifeless.

The municipality people came and saw the dying tree and declared it unsafe. They said that for the safety of the residents of that locality a major portion of the tree and its branches were to be cut off. A huge stump remained. The tree was neither dead nor alive. The roots were intact but no one could see them and all the roots could do, was to keep the stump alive for as long as was possible. No one would water it any more either. Only the rain gods could help.

What happened to the contractors and the leaves, fruits and branches? Oh! They made a huge hoarding and put it up in the place where the huge tree stood. They earned a lot of money year after year from the hoarding. Some others burnt up the leaves, ate up the fruits and made cute objects of the branches and sold them.

What about the people and children on the street? Well, year after year, they kept remembering the huge, old mango tree and its shade and the swing on it and how they grew under its shade. They blamed the tree for dying and depriving future generations of the same happiness.

**** Who is the tree?

The tree trunk is Hinduism – Sanatan Dharma. The roots are our civilization. The branches are the offshoots (also known as ‘panths’) of Hinduism. The leaves are Sikhism. The fruits are Jainism. The contractors are the Christo-Islamic Missionaries. The Municipality is the Secular Government. The people and children on the street are the people and children (of all religions) of Bharatvarsha. The truth is that they are standing on the sidelines today just observing the mischief of the contractors and the non-interference of the municipality and blaming the huge tree for dying. They have forgotten that they were nourished by this very tree selflessly, for so many years.

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