Be Tolerant than the trees, beware of their suffering, and be intertwined like the Redwood trees

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu urges in the third verse of shistashtakam taror api sahishuna be tolerant than the trees. Observing the Redwood trees in Muir Woods, Srila Prabhupada teaches us why the trees are so tolerant, and His Holiness Radhanath maharaj teaches us where the tolerance and strength of Redwood trees come from.

In The Hare Krishna Explosion, Hayagriva maharaj writes that once when Srila prabhupada visited Muir woods in San Francisco with his disciples, he enlightened them that the souls that were now standing as tall Redwood trees were too much engrossed in sexual pleasures in their previous lives. Their rebirth as trees was a result of their over indulgence in sex.

Srimad Bhagavatam reveals how the two sons of Kubera were turned into trees when they behaved shamelessly in Narada muni’s presence. Those who like to flaunt their naked bodies are given the bodies of trees in their next lives. This is to teach them what it is to be naked under the sky all their lives. The trees have to tolerate all types of weather conditions. They even have to bear with human onslaught on them. The life of a tree teaches a soul’s tolerance and penance. It teaches us not to be extravagant with our dark desires, rather we should be miser in fulfilling them. Just like we are conscious about spending our money only on the things we really need, we should be contemplative about whether sex is for pleasure or for procreation. We like to spend our money not only on the right things but in the right way too. This should be our approach about using our bodies as well.

His Holiness Radhanath maharaj teaches us that although the roots of Redwood trees are not deep in the earth, these trees have been in Muir woods at their respective places since thousand of years. In their lifetimes many kings of the world were born and died. They won and lost many wars, marked boundaries and removed them. History changed so many times in the lifetimes of the Redwood trees, and it will keep changing. Maharaj teaches us that the strength of these trees lies in their unity. These trees have shallow root system, but their roots are intertwined with the roots of other Redwood trees, 100 feet from the base. Like these trees we should be together through thick and thin in life. No matter what, we shouldn’t cut our roots that are intertwined with roots of other devotees through Bhakti.

The acharyas show us different aspects of the truth in a bonfide way. They teach us how to assimilate our understanding and apply it to improve our devotion. May lord Krishna bestow us with the ability to see things as our acharyas want us to see.

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