Venu Payyanur 

Nature is the biggest benefactor for humanity and the greatest teacher of all. The colour, beauty, light, sound and movements that you see in the nature is amazing! Can a person ever create such wonders? God only can! The lessons one can learn from nature is unlimited, restricted only by the power of your observation, imagination and enthusiasm or lack of it. There is not a single thing in this world that has been created without a purpose, whether it is you or a stone, we only have to enquire and find the purpose to live it! Every scientific invention or discovery that we see today is only an extension of what we see in nature. Whether it is modern construction technology, medicines, engineering designs or aircraft building, you can trace it back to something that you can see in our nature. Nature also gives us great lessons on behaviour and character building, whether you watch ants for their teamwork and industry or the dogs for their love and loyalty. Every creation in nature gives you immense lessons.

Lessons from Trees

  1. Be flexible – the tree that bends a little to the harmless breeze will later grow to withstand the wild wind. Similarly if you maintain a degree of flexibility in our attitudes and viewpoints, such persons will not be broken in any form of criticism or opposition.
  2. Leaves – though they are small, are vital to the life of a tree. Similarly in our lives, there are many whom we consider insignificant are indeed important to our sustenance and growth and should be taken good care of. Even a simple word of appreciation or thank you will go a long way in encouraging them and supporting you in your endeavours.
  3. Do not be intimidated (disappointed) by small beginning in your life. A mighty oak or banyan tree was a small seedling one day. Efforts when enriched with strong motivation and determination will grow and only sky would be the limits.
  4. Do not be afraid of change. Invigorate your life by letting go off the past and fast forwarding to something new. For the sprout to come out the shell has to be broken. Old leaves have to be shed for new ones to take its place.
  5. Practice team work – in forests individual trees support each other. By interlocking roots and branches trees in the forest survive powerful cyclones but a giant tree standing alone could easily be uprooted. Collaboration and team work is essential for success and growth.
  6. It is important to have deep roots to survive and grow – deeper the roots, taller the tree and only such trees can withstand heavy winds or adverse external environmental conditions. Similarly it is critical for us to develop deep roots wherever we are, whether in the place of our birth, place where we live or the company we work. Frequent change of job or living place does not help us develop deeper roots.
  7. Grow where you are planted – every plant needs certain environmental and physical conditions to survive and grow, a tropical plant cannot grow in the arctic region or vice versa. If you think that people living in western countries are lucky and opportunities are unfavourably stacked in favour of them, think twice before you plan to immigrate to that nation. You may feel discriminated; even worse, you may not get the same opportunities as locals and may not even enjoy the climate and life style.
  8. Avoid people who would cut you down.
  9. Shed your leaves during harsh winter – during heavy snow falls, trees can collapse on their own weight if it does not shed the leaves. Similarly lack of sun makes the leaves without much function during the winter. Many companies resort to large scale retrenchment during recession or such severe external economic conditions to survive the difficult times.

10. Trees with fruits bend their heads – trees standing tall are those without fruits. Humility is an essential personality trait for those who are knowledgeable, successful and in high positions.

11. Be prepared for brickbats and criticism – people throw stones at fruit bearing trees only. The higher your position in society or in your organization, the harsher the criticism that you will hear.

12. A fast growing tree is weak and has a short life and a slow growing tree is stronger and has a long life. Manage your growth and be stronger and stay long.

13. Trees that do not provide fruits are grown to be used as firewood and will be cut down when they reach certain age and size.  If you do not produce expected results for your company, you will be cut down in due course of time.

14. Work hard – trees and leaves work very hard. Leaves are the primary work force for the tree. During daytime, it takes sun light and prepares nutrition for the entire tree. At night it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and serves the society. Our work culture and life should reflect that of a leaf, always engaged and working for the benefit of others.

15. Give shelter – a tree provides shelter for birds, butterflies, snakes and many such living organisms. It provides shade and shelter for tired pedestrians from the harsh sun or rain. Our lives should reflect that of a tree; help those in need and difficulty irrespective of caste, creed, religion or region.

16. Tree and an organization – tree reflects an organizational structure with branches and sub branches.

  1. The roots anchor the plant. It is the head or corporate office. It absorbs the minerals and water from the soil, essential for the survival of the plant and also acts as a site for storage.
  2. The stems provide the support for the plant. It produces new tissues and provides transportation between leaves and roots. It can also act as a storage place. The regional or branch offices that recruits and trains persons essential to run the organization.
  3. Leaves are like workers in an organization, either organized singly or in pairs depending upon the requirements of nature. Leaves main function is photosynthesis, a process wherein carbon dioxide and water is combined with the help of sun light to produce the essential food for the plant and to the entire humanity. The waste product is oxygen which is so vital for our survival. Leaves structure is designed to adapt to the nature.

17. This story gives some interesting lessons about our life – There was an old man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn some valuable lessons and who are always too quick to judge things or give up too easily on the first obstacle that confront them. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was at a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because
they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfilment of your fall. Moral lessons: Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season.

Facts about Trees – General

  1. Trees keep our air supply fresh by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
  2. In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.
  3. Trees provide shade and shelter, reducing yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars.
  4. Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
  5. The average tree in metropolitan area survives only about 8 years!
  6. A tree does not reach its most productive stage of carbon storage for about 10 years.
  7. Trees cut down noise pollution by acting as sound barriers.
  8. Tree roots stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
  9. Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.

10. Trees provide protection from downward fall of rain, sleet, and hail as well as reduce storm run-off and the possibility of flooding,

11. Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife.

12. Trees located along streets act as a glare and reflection control.

13. The death of one 70-year old tree would return over three tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

Tree Biology

  1. Trees are the longest living organisms on earth.
  2. Trees and other plants make their food through a process called photosynthesis.
  3. The inside of a tree is made of cork, phloem, cambium, and xylem.
  4. The xylem of a tree carries water from the roots to the leaves.

Trees and the Environment

  1. Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
  2. The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year.
  3. One acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
  4. Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer.
  5. Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
  6. Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
  7. Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
  8. The cottonwood tree seed is the seed that stays in flight the longest. The tiny seed is surrounded by ultra-light, white fluff hairs that can carry it on the air for several days.

Record-setting Trees

  1. One of the tallest soft wood trees is the General Sherman, a giant redwood sequoia of California. General Sherman is about 275 ft or 84 m high with a girth of 25 ft or 8 m.
  2. The 236 ft or 72 m high Ada Tree of Australia has a 50 ft or 15.4 m girth and a root system that takes up more than an acre.
  3. The world’s tallest tree is a coast redwood in California, measuring more than 360 ft or 110 m.
  4. The world’s oldest trees are 4,600 year old Bristlecone pines in the USA.
  5. Trees and Science
  6. Dendrochronology is the science of calculating a tree’s age by its rings.
  7. Tree rings provide precise information about environmental events, including volcanic eruptions.
  8. A mature birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds per year.

More Tree Facts

  1. A single edition of a daily newspaper uses the wood from approximately 5,000 trees to make the paper. One ton of recycled paper saves approximately 15 trees and their habitat.
  2. The average tree will drink approximately 2,000 litres of water each year.
  3. Trees receive an estimated 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil.
  4. Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A branch’s location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1000 years.
  5. No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.
  6. There are about 20,000 tree species in the world. India has the largest tree treasuries in the world and second is USA.
  7. The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.
  8. Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.
  9. Knocking on wood for good luck originated from primitive tree worship when rapping on trees was believed to summon protective spirits in the trees.

10. Trees can induce rainfall by cooling the land and transpiring water into the sky from their leaves. An acre of maple trees can put as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the air each day.

11. Trees prevent erosion by trapping soil that would otherwise become silt. Silt destroys fish eggs and other aquatic wildlife and makes rivers and streams shallower, causing more frequent and more severe flooding. Trees along streams also hold stream banks in place to protect against flooding.

12. Planting 30 trees each year offsets greenhouse gases from your car and home.

13. Trees provide substances with medicinal values such as the active ingredients used in asthma medications and cough remedies. Aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree.

Venu Payyanur

Brahma – The god of creation is called Brahma.  Brahma, the infinite, the source of all space, time, causation, names and forms, has many interesting and instructive designations.  Brahma is usually seen carrying the Vedas, a sceptre, a string of prayer beads, a water pot a spoon used in making offerings in the fire sacrifice, or a bow.  Brahma is usually portrayed with four heads and four arms.  

Brahma’s vahana is a hamsa or a swan. The bird hamsa is very beautiful, peaceful and graceful. It is suggestive of the fact that Brahma is the master of all the beauty and grace in the world, and He can help us in our effort to acquire these qualities. Hamsa also has more attributes, like being treated as symbol of purity, detachment, divine knowledge, cosmic breath (prana) and highest spiritual accomplishment. Such a high level of symbolism was attached to hamsa as it transcends the limitations of the creation around it: it can walk on the earth (prithvi), fly in the sky, and swim in the water.

This divine bird is bestowed with a virtue called Neera-Ksheera Viveka or the ability to separate milk and water from a mixture of the two. The significance of this is that justice should be dispensed to all creatures, however entwined it might be in a situation. Also, this virtue indicates that one should learn to separate the good from the evil and then accept that which is valuable and discard that which is worthless or evil.

The word “Hamsa” is a combination of two words, “aham”+ “sa”, which mean “I am He”. This awareness is that God exists only in enlightened persons. Rightly Brahma is the friend and philosopher of all the enlightened beings in the world and he has the power to give us this knowledge about our true nature. In view of the association of a hamsa with several attributes as indicated above, saints and other holy persons are given the title of paramahamsa, that is, the supreme hamsa. This title is affixed before the name and symbolizes that the particular person has reached a high level of spirituality and grace, such as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

Lakshmi – “Goddess of Fortune and Wealth” – Lakshmi represents the beautiful and bountiful aspect of nature.  As Bhoodevi, the earth-goddess, she nurtures life; as Shreedevi, the goddess of fortune, she bestows power, pleasure and prosperity on those who deserve her grace.  To realize her, one must respect the laws of life and appreciate the wonders of existence. 

Shri Maha Lakshmi rides on an owl called Uluka. The owl is a solitary creature that remains awake in darkness and asleep during the day time. It rarely trust human beings and seldom seen in the company of any other bird. It in fact stays away from people as if it has no interest in the humanity. Those who pursue riches should be aware of these negative qualities and pray to Shri Mahalakshmi so that she would inculcate in them the qualities of trust, generosity and social responsibility and would make them popular among people. She would also help them come out of the darkness of ignorance, avarice and selfishness, which are generally associated with the pursuit of materialism. The owl is also regarded as an inauspicious image by the Hindus, who believe that if an owl visits a house in which people live, it is an ill omen. Shri Mahalakshmi with her grace can remove all negative, inauspicious and adverse influences from our lives. If someone is suffering from adversity, they should pray to her because she, who controls all ill-omens and adversities, can ward them off and bring them prosperity. Thus She has rightly been shown as using a rare bird like an owl as her vehicle. According to one Christian tradition, owls represent the wisdom.  Owl represents wisdom and knowledge because their nocturnal vigilance is associated with that of the studious scholar or wise elder.

Parvati – “Daughter of the Mountain” – The goddess that is Shiva’s wife in her most gentle form is called Parvati.  Parvati is depicted as a beautiful woman.  The Unconquerable and splendid manifestation of Parvati is known as Durga.  Durga has the role of a warrior goddess who destroys demons.  She is usually depicted with ten arms that hold the weapons of the various gods and contain within her the power of all the gods combined. She is the invincible power of Nature who triumphs over those who seek to subjugate her.   Durga’s vahana is a lion.  Her lion acts as her means of transportation and one of her many weapons.   Lion stands for cruelty, mercilessness, anger, violence and hostility towards other beings. Pravathi with her grace can help man to control all these qualities in him and become an enlightened being like Lord Siva.

Saraswati – “The Goddess of Wisdom” – Saraswati, the goddess of art, music and learning, usually holds a book and a stringed instrument called a veena.  She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation and dispels the darkness of ignorance.  Without her there is only chaos and confusion.  To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and rejoice in the serenity of the spirit.  Saraswati’s vahana is a peacock or a swan.  The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the Goddess teaches Hindus not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth. The peacock also eats snakes, which symbolically means that she can help those who are accustomed to eating desires or for a better expression pursuing desires, by providing them with the divine knowledge and learning for which she is famous. The peacock is a graceful and beautiful bird and is known for its dance before the rain. This denotes that Shri Saraswati can immensely help those who want to pursue art and dance. Devi Saraswati is also shown riding a hamsa and the details are given above as the vehicle of Brahma.

Ganesh – “The remover of obstacles” – The chubby, gentle, wise, elephant-headed Ganesha, is one of Hinduisms most popular deities. He is the remover of obstacles, the deity whom worshippers first acknowledge when they visit a temple.  He is usually shown in sculpture accompanied by or riding a rat.  Since rats are seen as being capable of gnawing their way through most things, the rat symbolizes Ganesh’s ability to destroy every obstacle.

In India the rat, like the fox of our western tales, represents trick, cleverness, sagacity and political slyness. Therefore, as normally, the rat has been first conquered, then mastered and occupied by the One who is the incarnation of spiritual strength. After all, the rat had to bow to Ganesh, his Master, more efficient to guide him than his own insight.

At the Ganesh feet, on the ground, fruits or other food are often arranged. Near these offerings, the Ganesh rat is watching, standing on his back paws. The rat does not touch this food but looks at Ganesh to beg His permission. Food represents the properties, power and well-being. When a man uses to follow high principles in his life, prosperity may come naturally to him. Whatever prosperities are or are not at his disposal, this does not change anything in his mental attitude: he remains indifferent to these facilities. The rat symbolizes desire. This animal has a very small mouth and minute sharp teeth, but he is the most ravenous of all the animals. His greediness and eagerness are so strong that he robs more than he can eat and that he collects more than he may remember, so that he often leaves inadvertently burrows full of stock grains. This prominent characteristic of the rat fully justify that he is the symbol of greediness. Likewise, a small desire pervading the man’s mind may destroy all the achievements that he got for years on the material and spiritual levels. Therefore, looking up to Ganesh, the rat demonstrates that desires are fully controlled by a wise man.

Activities of a man having got these spiritual achievements are rather directed by his ability of discrimination and sound judgement than by the sensitive and irresistible wish to enjoy the whole collection of worldly things. Therefore, just as a mouse stealthily enters within things and destroys them from inside, unnoticed selfishness penetrates in our mind and quietly ruins all our undertakings. He can be used profitably only when he is mastered by a divine wisdom.

You may wonder how a small mouse can carry on its back a hefty personality like Ganesha. Here mooshika does not mean a mere mouse. It symbolises the darkness of ignorance because it is in darkness that the mouse moves about. Hence, Mooshika Vahana or Ganesha is one who subdues ignorance and dispels darkness. This also teaches us how humble and modest one should be. Ganesha in spite of his huge physical, mental and intellectual prowess conducts and carries himself so lightly that he can very well be carried by a very very small (compared to the size of Ganesha) and insignificant being-the mouse.

Additionally, our thoughts multiply many fold when left uncontrolled. Like mice attacking in the night, they stealthily attack us in the darkness of our ignorance. Ganesh seated on the mouse signifies His crushing our negative thoughts when we surrender our lives to Him. Our minds are extremely fickle and tend to run around here and there, completely leaving our control on it! Achieving control is a sign of great wisdom. The mouse at Ganesha’s feet signifies that He can bring our minds under his control and bestow grace and plentitude on us. Bowing to the Vighneswara’s also allows us to gain control over our minds, thereby, getting beyond our vighnas as well! The mooshika, staying at the Lord’s feet permanently, signifies the steady mind forever being in prayerful attitude, leaving aside all negativity and ultimately attaining bliss and oneness with Him.

Lord Subramanya’s Peacock represents as Vahana symbolising his conquest over ego, vanity and pride. Eyes of the peacock represents both SATH( existing) and ASATH ( non-Existence) This indicates “Maya”( Illusion) and the Lord has total control over ‘Maya’.


The Seven Horses – Surya’s vahana – Horses portray power, arrogance and speed.  The Sun God’s seven horses represent the seven sins and his control over the same. It also represents the way we need to control our base emotions so as to climb further and higher in the spiritual realm of our own lives.

Surya’s seven horses also represent the seven chakras or spiritual centres in our subtle body, the blossoming of which leads to the rising of the power of Kundalini or the serpentine energy residing within us.