Living in the Forest
(Buddhu Ram* returned to Navadarshanam after a week. As always, dog Kaluram greeted him lovingly. The two sat down together and had an exchange of coos, barks, and words. Buddhu told Kalu that he wanted to talk about the forest. Kalu was delighted. They agreed to meet after an hour. Their conversation went as follows.)
BR: Kalu Ram ji I am curious about your view of the forest. It is bound to be different from mine. Let us see.
Kalu: You are right, for my view is gutsy, yours bookish.
When Nature thought of creating life and manifesting it in earthly beings she first provided a good home for them. This we call Forest and like mother it nourishes all animals, birds, and plants. She can be visualized as a living being like you or me. All of us, animals and plants, are her limbs.
BR: I am sorry Kalu ji; people will not understand the forest being a living body. Please elaborate on it a little?
Kalu: Obviously, like any living being, the forest is born and it dies. A good example is our own Navadarshanam land. An ancient forest lived here for a very long time and died about 50 years ago. A new one is being born. Like all living organisms the forest protects her integrity and health. By using her awesome powers and wisdom she draws needed sustenance from her immediate surroundings. For instance, she literally pulls clouds from the sky to squeeze their moisture for the plants. She evolves and sustains innumerable species of animals to do her work. Forest is breathtakingly beautiful and in perfect balance.
BR: Humans of the industrial culture do not want to live in the forest. They think they are clever enough to create their own environment.
Kalu: I beg your pardon Buddhu Ram ji. You humans are shamelessly boastful. A few of you came out of the forest less than ten thousand years ago and by interfering in nature’s work you have virtually ruined this planet and pointed it toward a horrendous disaster.
BR: You see Kalu Ram ji; human population has risen to 5 billion and is continuing to explode. We have to produce food for all of us. Don’t you think we are smart to produce the amount we currently do?
Kalu: I beg to disagree. Huge population increase of the humans is an aberration, and it is your own fault. Forest balances animal populations by controlling their food supply. For the first time ever, one specie (the humans), has stolen a major part of the available food. Consequently, the human population is exploding and all the other animals are dying. If you begin to share food with other animals your galloping growth rate will stop. It is as simple as that.
In fact your shortsighted actions have made you also an endangered species. By becoming dependent on a few varieties of cereals as your staple you have made your future food supply dangerously vulnerable. For instance if virus destroys a crop of wheat, your food supply will plummet worldwide and millions will starve. In fact by abandoning the bountiful, beautiful, healthy forest and moving to filthy morbid cities you have hit a hornets’ nest and gained nothing whatsoever; for your gadgets are tinsel compared to forest’s gifts.
BR: What you say is true, Kalu Ram ji, but how can so many of us fit in today’s woefully diminished forest?
Kalu: Physically returning to the forest would be ideal, but it is neither possible nor essential. You can, however, start living as if you were in the forest by changing your diet, clothing, and houses. You will have to stop agriculture and drastically cut the amount of cereals you eat. Luckily, trees and other natural plants can still produce enough wholesome and tasty sun cooked food for all of you.
Your education can begin by recognizing the forest as a model caretaker of life. You must also learn that you are not special. You are only one species in a community where everyone has equal claim to what our forest mother provides. Remember, like the Vedic Rishi had sung (sarve bhavantu sukhinaha), only if all the other beings are healthy and happy, the humans can prosper. If you stop cutting the forest back, she will automatically return quite rapidly, regain her vigor and spread.
BR: But, Kalu Ram, we have rigid food habits and strong desires. Do you think we can change them?
Kalu Ram: Yes you can. You are not a stranger to the forest. Your ancestors lived happily it for three million years. In fact life in the forest is much easier. The forest in its beauteous habitat provides good ready-to-eat foods. By going plucking and gathering every day you will get free exercise in fresh air.
BR: We cannot live under trees, can we? We have to build houses to protect ourselves from summer heat and winter cold.
Kalu: You can easily build simple shelters in the forest. But you will have to move to suitable climate for which your body has evolved. You need air-conditioning and central heating only because you live in wrong places.
BR: Do you think we can still squeeze into the tropical areas.
Kalu: Yes, I think you can if you do three things. 1. Trust the awesome power and wisdom of the forest. 2. Use your own abundant intelligence bestowed in you by nature. 3. Have compassion for all beings. If you do that, I don’t see how you can fail.
*pen name of the author.
April 16, 2005