It was a hot summer afternoon. The roads all roasted by the sun, exuded heat and the sky seemed no more pleasing. Not a bird dared to fly out of its shady nest. Water lost its cool and air even lost its weight! The wrath of the Sun was unbearable as I walked back home, that afternoon.
In the distance I saw a Banyan tree, and gave a sigh of relief. The shade of the Banyan tree seemed to me like heaven on earth. My steps quickened, as I headed towards this oasis and felt lucky. Feeling thankful, as I sat in the shade of the great Banyan, I looked up, wiping the sweat off my forehead. I saw birds resting upon its branches, peacefully perched in the shade of their 'Big Daddy'. I felt grateful for the Banyan to be holding such a treasure of life in its being. Supporting numerous birds in its body and offering shade to weary travellers like me.
Overwhelmed with gratitude I started talking to the Banyan.
"How long have you been here?" Up came an obvious yet unexpected answer, "Ever since I came out of mother Earth's womb"...It had more to say, so I kept quiet and listened, "....but my roots..." Suddenly the Banyan stopped as if taken in by some deep thought. I chose not to interrupt. We sat in silence, for some time. The Banyan had not spoken in many years, but that was not unusual for it. For me however, silence was unusual. This silence took me into the space of my mind that now wanted to know more about the Banyan, and sent forth another question.
"Why do you send down roots from your branches?" The Banyan grinned and answered, "You know I just got a creative knack and thought if roots could make branches, then branches could also make roots! See it worked...I just hit the right formulations and there it is!"
This amazing answer made me even more curious about the Banyan. Forgetting the heat of the afternoon, I got into this interesting conversation with the Banyan.
"But you could have chosen to grow upwards, given the huge potential of growth that you have. Why did you choose to come downwards? People always like moving up, ahead in life, why did you choose this regression?"
"Hmmm .... (a deep pause) ...Do you want me to answer this or would you like to find out for yourself? Ha-ha, I believe discoveries are fun!" It laughed. I thought for a while, then said, "Indeed discoveries are fun, but I have got to get this one from you."
There was another long pause before the Banyan started telling me more about itself. "Like all trees, I had learned to grow towards the light, and so I did. I was digging the ground with my roots, while I was rising. I felt like a candle burning at both ends. I was as much below the ground as I was above it. Rising to the light is not an easy task, but what most people fail to see is that it's not easy to dig through the ground either!
I was taught by my genes to go deep for a greater stability, and also to reach a height that was respectable. I was trying my best to achieve both. But knowing what height was actually respectable was a big question. I really did not know how high I should be going, for once out of the ground, I moved up with the momentum of reaching the sky. But the more I grew upwards, the more I found the distance between me and the sky increasing as I mapped my way up. I had a self-set challenge for life, which was to be in the 'light' always. Having risen to a point in light, above the ground, I started feeling that the heights above were becoming more and more unknown, and hence it was a sort of 'darkness in light'. The journey towards 'light' had actually been a venture into the unknown, to know more. But the more I knew, the more there was to know. Thus increasing my knowledge was increasing my ignorance at the same time.
While when I looked at the path I had travelled, though it now lay in my shade and even in the darkness under the ground, it had a sort of 'light in darkness' as I knew that path.
I realised that knowledge itself was light and ignorance itself was darkness. This was existence in a different plane. Very different yet very similar to the physical reality of existence. I started moving towards the light of this dimension of life, which brings about, what you see as 'regression'. But for me it's progress all along. And the height where I hit this realisation was the respectable height; I had always wanted to know about. I gained respect in my own eyes, for I had discovered this new dimension of 'light'."
This was amazing! The Banyan had laid open a totally new dimension of life for me. I realised a ceaseless growth and an unending existence in light. The Banyan had been able to live up to its self-promised goal, and attained not only light, but lateral growth, that covered both the sky above and the earth below in equal measure!
Author: Jyoti Prateek