Growing a forest


Jadav "Molai" Payeng planted a forest on a sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra

Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest – TIMON SINGH – Apr 4, 2012

Jadav “Molai” Payeng started his project 30 years ago when he was still a teenager. Then, in 1979, flood waters washed a large number of snakes ashore on the local sandbar in Jorhat, some 350 km from Guwahati. When the waters receded, Payeng (who was 16 at the time) noticed the reptiles had died due to a lack of forestry.

“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested,” said Payeng, who is now 47, to The Times of India.

Payeng chose to live on the sandbar, starting a life of isolation as he began work to create a new forest. Planting the seeds by hand, watering the plants in the morning and evening, and pruning them when required, he cultivated a huge natural reserve. After a few years, the sandbar was transformed into a bamboo thicket.

“I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected and planted them. I also transported red ants from my village, and was stung many times. Red ants change the soil’s properties. That was an experience,” Payeng recalled.

Over the years, the reserve has seen a huge variety of flora and fauna blossom on the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger. “After 12 years, we’ve seen vultures. Migratory birds, too, have started flocking here. Deer and cattle have attracted predators,” claims Payeng. Unfortunately, locals reportedly killed a rhino which was seen in his forest, something that Payeng clearly disapproves of. ”Nature has made a food chain; why can’t we stick to it? Who would protect these animals if we, as superior beings, start hunting them?”

Amazingly, the Assam state forest department only learnt about Payeng’s forest in 2008 when a herd of some 100 wild elephants strayed into it after marauding through villages nearby. It was then that assistant conservator of forests Gunin Saikia met Payeng for the first time.
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Just see the result of one man’s dedication. Singlehandedly he planted a forest, one seed at a time. This is how one man is changing the world. In a similar way, another person took it upon himself to carry out the order of his spiritual master and bring the teachings of Krishna consciousness to the West. Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya predicted that one day the holy names would be chanted in every town and village on Earth, and practically this came true by the dedicated effort of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the Hare Krishna movement he founded under the name of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Prabhupada introduced chanting of the holy names in public in major cities of the world; hence he and his disciples became known as the “Hare Krishnas”. But more importantly, Prabhupada translated and wrote books explaining the science of self realization, and these books have been distributed in the millions right around the world, effectively sprinkling the seeds of Krishna consciousness everywhere.

Many seeds have lain dormant for so many years, but under the right conditions, with a little watering they will sprout and grow. And that is how devotees are made. They are not actually “made”, but simply wake up from their long hibernation and resume their spiritual life.

Prabhupada, one man, did so much. As his disciples we ought to multiply his efforts.

Just like my Guru Maharaja did not travel all over the world, so I have got double energy than him. So you must triple energy, four times energy than me. Then actually disciple. My Godbrothers are envious because they could not do. They could not do even half of Guru Maharaja’s work, and I am doing ten times. So therefore they are envious. So if an ordinary man like me can do ten times, you are Americans-twenty times, then you are successful. (Prabhupada, Conversation, April 2, 1972, Sydney)

We cannot create the favorable conditions; that is Krishna’s doing. But it’s our function to distribute this knowledge and demonstrate it in our own lives, and help to cultivate and nurture Krishna consciousness in others’ lives also. What a shame if we neglect to water the seeds – neglect to chant the holy names – and our own Krishna consciousness dries up.

Do we think it is impossible, or that Krishna consciousness is for only a minority of people on the planet or only one of the world’s religions? No, this is religion. Everyone is Krishna’s devotee. Every living being is part and parcel of Krishna, servant of Krishna. It’s just that most have forgotten and are languishing in this material world of repeated birth and death since time immemorial, like zombies.

In 30 years one man’s forest has grown so large and has provided a habitat for so much flora and fauna. It has been now more than 40 years since Prabhupada came to New York and started the Hare Krishna movement. Prabhupada was one person, his disciples numbered some 5,000, so where are these 5,000 devotees now? And the new devotees, disciples of his disciples or rightfully, disciples of Prabhupada? What have all of us produced in 40 years? Why has Krishna consciousness not taken over the Earth?

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