Letter 42

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20th April, 1946
At the time that Bhagavan was to go out in the morning today, the labourers who had been deputed to gather mangoes from the tree near the steps towards the mountain began beating the tree with sticks to knock down the mangoes instead of climbing the tree and plucking them one by one.

In the course of the beating, the mango leaves also were falling down in heaps. Hearing the sound of the beating even while seated on the sofa, Bhagavan sent word through his attendants not to do so and when he went out as usual, saw mango leaves lying in heaps. Unable to bear the cruel sight, he began saying in a harsh tone to the labourers, “Enough of this! Now go! When you are to gather the fruit, do you have to beat the tree so that the leaves fall off? In return for giving us fruit, is the tree to be beaten with sticks? Who gave you this work? Instead of beating the tree, you might as well cut it to the roots. You need not gather the fruit. Go away!” Bhagavan’s voice, which was like thunder, reverberated in the ears of all who were there and made them tremble with fear. The bamboos that were held aloft were brought down and placed on the ground. The labourers stood with folded hands like statues. They had no words to speak. When I saw the personification of kindness towards nature in an angry mood, my heart beat violently and my eyes were full of tears. Can one who is so much moved by the falling of the leaves of a tree, bear pain in the minds of human beings? Bhagavan Ramana is indeed karunapoorna sudhabdhi, the ocean filled with the nectar of compassion.

By the time he returned from the Gosala side, the devotees had gathered the leaves into a heap and begged him to forgive the fault. Bhagavan went into the hall, saying, “How cruel! See how many beatings were showered on the tree! How big is the heap of leaves! Oh!” When Bhagavan was in Virupaksha Cave, Echamma, who installed a picture of Bhagavan and a picture of Seshadri Swami in her house, decided to do puja with a lakh of tender leaves, and began it after informing Bhagavan about it. By the time she had finished the puja with fifty thousand leaves, summer had set in, and she could not gather any more leaves even though she wandered all over the mountain. She got tired, and went to Bhagavan to ventilate her grievances.

Bhagavan said, “If you cannot get the leaves, why not pinch yourself and do puja?” She said, “Oh, but that will be painful!” Bhagavan said, “If it pains you to pinch your body, is it not painful to the tree when you cut its leaves?” She turned pale and asked, “Why did you not tell me earlier, Swami?” He replied, “When you know that pinching the body is painful, why did you not know that the tree will be equally pained if you rob it of its leaves? Do I have to tell you that?” That tender leaves should not be cut from trees is also stated in the sloka in “Devikalottara Stotra” in Jnanachara Vicharapadalam, given below:

Roots should not be pulled out. Leaves should not be pinched. Living beings should not be harmed. Flowers should not be plucked.