December 10, 2013

Truth or a matter of perception?

I had planted a Nandivardanam (Crape jasmine, Tabernaemontana divaricata) shrub in our garden, and characteristic of this species, it is full of flowers most of the year, and a pleasure to look at every morning. These flowers are supposed to be 'sacred' and used for puja.

I noticed recently that the plant suddenly stopped flowering, and began worrying about it, especially since I lost a precious Cordia this summer.

And then I noticed a man diligently plucking the flowers one by one till not a single flower was left on the plant. However, by the time I went downstairs, he had disappeared. And then I saw him again a few days later. All my sleepiness disappeared instantly, and I dressed up and rushed down to the garden and confronted him.

He looked sincerely and innocently at me and said, "But they are for god". I told him politely that if he wanted flowers to adorn his gods, he should grow a plant in his balcony, water it every day, and then pluck its flowers. This one was meant for people of our apartment complex to see and enjoy, and certainly not for plucking.

His assumption that flowers are meant to adorn gods made me wonder at the conditioning of the human mind. Most human beings believe that it is okay to pluck flowers from a plant, which is god in my opinion, to adorn a human-made idol, which they believe, is god.

A lifeless idol in a puja room, or a living plant filled with flowers. Which could be god? 

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