“The human race has persistently destroyed and perverted Mother Earth’s dharma of love and compassion. Now Mother is warning us to take care not to destroy her.” Swami Premananda
Swami Premananda had a deep love and respect for trees and Mother Nature and he regarded all trees and plants as sentient beings. During his lifetime, Swamiji planted thousands of trees, fruit trees and flowering plants all over the Ashram land and encouraged everyone to join this seva.
“If you want to heal the planet, the best thing is to plant trees.” Swami Premananda
When the Ashram was started in the 1980’s the land was barren, thorny and dry. Swamiji worked night and day to cultivate the land and plant trees to enrich the soil and provide shade for the people, animals and other plants. He constructed a drip irrigation system so that hundreds of trees and plants could be given a little water every day.
“You see, the plants on this earth are much more intelligent than the human beings. Mother Earth is full of all the nutrients that the plants need to survive and grow well. The plants absorb these from Mother Earth. They absorb what they need. If only humankind was the same! People no longer understand what is good for them to eat and consequently they spoil their lives and the earth by destroying forests and plants in order to make money or raise cattle for food. We take far more than we give. We take much more than we need. Some have far too much whilst others are dying of starvation. This is the fault of human beings, not God. Man acts out of ego and not from the depths of his soul. His soul is the repository of all knowledge but he covers it up all the while with the poisonous layers of ego and greed.” Swami Premananda
The Neem Forest Project
Apart from giving advice about how to grow plants in a natural way in the Ashram, Swamiji initiated the Neem Forest project. Two thousand neem trees have already been planted at the back of the Ashram. This project is on-going as Swamiji’s aim was to have around ten thousand neem trees. Swamiji said that neem trees are the embodiment of the divine mother and that once the trees have grown bigger, people will be able to sit underneath them to meditate and that the energy emitted by the trees will help to elevate their minds and go within. He often talked about the medicinal properties of plants and trees. For example, the neem leaves can also be dried to make a powder, which when taken can help to remove ailments and purify the blood.
Swamiji’s vision for a greener world stretched way beyond the Ashram land. He initiated the Evergreen Tamil Nadu project, the aim of which is to grow thousands of trees so that every year at least one hundred thousand trees can be given to local villages and many areas of land all over Tamil Nadu can be reforested.
“The garden is an excellent spiritual training ground. Here patience is a most valued essential as many of our plants and trees take months and years to grow. Here we can understand that Mother Earth is indeed present even in a single grain of dust. Preparation of the soil is likened to preparing oneself for spirituality. Great care is to be taken in the early stages.Digging over the soil and removing stones and weeds are akin to cleaning the mind of unnecessary qualities in readiness for receiving divine teachings.” Swami Premananda