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Plants have life. How about soul?

An analogy of immovable beings in Vedic texts 

The most intelligent tribe on Earth always wonders and explores all around the universe. Like,
What comes first?  The seed or the tree? 
What is Life? just the body as machine or the soul?

In such quests, several generations, yugas have passed !! And we have seen wonders in invention. These are narrated or described not in single text but multiple texts. There have been several illustrations. It has been inculcated into lives as beliefs, traditions, rituals and celebrated as festivals.
For a moment, relish being thousands of years back on the time!!

Plant Pictures · Pexels · Free Stock Photos
Image: Internet
Behind the Scene : 

The warriors of both sides have camped at Kurukshetra. More Kings and their warriors are joining either sides. Sanjaya, the advisor of Kauravas returns from war scene .

The scene  :

“Oh! Sanjaya, Tell me all about Earth, the places from where these warriors have arrived and what are the specialities of those regions??” Dhrutarashtra asks his advisor.

Sanjaya says that he would describe as much he has learnt from his Gurukula. He starts explanation with features of earth and then life on earth. As he moves on, he says

द्विविधानीह भूतानि त्रसानि स्थावराणिच ।
त्रसानाम् त्रिविधा योनिरण्डस्वेदजरायुजा : ॥

Sanjaya Says, “Here, two types of things exist : the one which has life or living beings (त्रसानि) and the one which doesn’t (स्थावराणि). There are three types in the category of which has life – one which takes birth from womb(yoni – mammals), one which produces young ones from eggs (anda – birds, serpents)and  lastly the ones which take birth due to humidity, dirt, dust and sweat.(swedaja – parasites; – udbhija – plants, sprout out of moist and humidity).

Back to present time,

In schools, we are also taught about these categories; but with credits to western scientists. This verse indicates that lots have been discovered, explored and invented with respect to plant life as well in the past centuries.

Its a well known detail that Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose proved that plants have life in 1901.

 His experiments showed that plants suffer, sleep and get excited. He invented an instrument called crescograph, which could magnify the motion of plant tissues by 10,000 times. He proved that the responses of the plants to stimuli can be electrical in nature, previously thought of as only chemical. But a minister thousands of years ago had the basic knowledge.

Didn’t we know until then at all?

We worshipped Trees, plants as divine; We performed several rituals, celebrated festivals; And thought all the traditions were all blind beliefs or just ignorantly followed tradition passed on by ancestors ?

We find Reference to Life on Earth in upanishads and other vedic texts:

We can find teachings, the observations of plant having life, features, uses and benefits in several scriptures.. I have just taken few quotes from selected text, just to showcase our ancestors knew it all and had them scripted as well. They were part of the initial education curriculum to all children in the gurukula.

A shloka from Chandyoga Upanishad :

Chandyoga Upanishad, while explaining what a True Living Self or Soul is, Sage Uddhalaka explains to his son Swetaketu. He quotes several real life experiments to exhibit the features of soul.
Shwetaketu Asks his father “Dear father, please tell me more about the Living Self?”

अस्य सोम्य महतो वृक्षस्य यो मूलेऽभ्याहन्याज्जीवन्स्रवेद्यो |
मध्येऽभ्याहन्याज्जीवन्स्रवेद्योऽग्रेऽभ्याहन्याज्जीवन्स्रवेत्स |
एष जीवेनात्मनानुप्रभूतः पेपीयमानो मोदमानस्तिष्ठति ॥ ६.११.१॥

After quoting several illustrations and making Shwethaketu conduct real life experiments, Sage Uddalaka further adds this illustration. He says “If some one were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed, but still be alive. If someone were to strike at its stem, it would bleed, but still be alive. If he were to strike at its top, it would bleed, but still be alive. Pervaded by the living Self that tree stands firm, drinking in its nourishment and rejoicing;”
In that context, he refers to how, even trees exhibit Life. This shloka says that the juices flow all through the tree, just like blood flows through moveable beings. When a part of it is hurt, it does bleed just like other sentients.

अस्य यदेकाꣳ शाखां जीवो जहात्यथ सा शुष्यति |
द्वितीयां जहात्यथ सा शुष्यति तृतीयां जहात्यथ सा |
शुष्यति सर्वं जहाति सर्वः शुष्यति ॥ ६.११.२॥

Sage Uddalaka continues “But if the life (the living Self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers.”

Sage uddhalaka continues to say that until soul leaves the tree, the tree regrows and sustains life. Soul helps gain energy and form repeatedly. Once the soul leaves, the tree dies, but the soul doesn’t. 

What!!!! Does trees have soul in them ?

At the time where humans are debating whether soul exist in humans, these verses are indicating the all living beings have souls!
In a scientific way, we can decipher “Soul” as “that unseen capability of beings to lead their lives using the body or form they have obtained..”. Be it the intelligence levels or capability to sustain. Or we can say that there are some functions pre-programmed to make our bodies work. And that capability passes on from generation to generation in each of the respective species.. Or the emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of a being…
The explanation can go endless, but the one fact remains is the question on Soul!! That we are still searching for.
That our ancient tribe also consistently tried to look out for, few did but many didn’t…

And the challenge still continues even today…

In the recent past, there have been several discoveries in plant life. Scientists quote that trees, plants do communicate through their roots. They can identify their offsprings within certain radii and protect them as much as they can, whether by providing extra nutrition or sending out threat messages they catch from nature.

These are not just experiments of Life in Plants, they also indicate presence of soul which exists in all beings.

To complement this explanation of Sage Uddalaka, we can also refer to Bhagavata Purana, where there is an event of twin trees falling off closely over Krishna.

The story goes this way : 

 Kubera’s sons(Gandharvas or extra terrestrial lives or not sure if life existed on any other planet of the solar system) were cursed by Sage Narada. They were to take birth on Mother Earth as trees until Lord Krishna would incarnate and release them from the  cursed life. They were born as twin trees in Gokula and lived for several years.  Once, Krishna ,in his childhood was punished by his mother and was tied to a mortor. In a way to escape from that Krishna used these twin trees, stuck the mortar in mid of  these trees and tried to get rid of the mortor. At this moment, the twin trees fell. Thus the twin brothers were liberated from their curse. The souls returned to their original Gandharva form and returned to Gandharva loka.

All that we take from this story here is 2 souls lived in those trees and left the tree when they uprooted.

We have similar reference in Ramayana as well where Kabanda is depicted as a demon in the form of a huge tree. The more we dig, the more we get such references.

Finally, I want to make a point here, totally out of all that we read until now.
I want to insist my point of view here to propagate across like minded people.
We are reinventing the wheel rather rediscover from the hidden treasures that we possess. It is probably easier to quote similar references from varied sources, once someone invents. But studying and reinventing itself is a humungous effort that learned people have to put in. All that we know for thousands of years is that, we have a reference from where we can move human race to higher levels of living. But it is time for us to take action and get active to learn and glorify our lives.

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2 Replies to “Plants have life. How about soul?

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  2. An eye opening article with references and quotes from Upanishad and Bhagavata. All living things have an external mortal body and inner immortal soul. Beautifully presented Radhika. Waiting for more thought provoking articles from u.

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