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Of Banyan Trees And River Banks - Poem by Aniruddha Pathak

Until the sixth century since Christ came,
Known it was still by the ancient name,
Vatapatrak1 – a leaf of Banyan tree,
Born on my banks— river Vishvamitri,

A stream invoked all the way from heaven2,
By a self-made-Brahmin sage of same name,
For hermitage hands’ holy ablution,
Such was my heritage, such was my fame.

To my west bank settled a busy town,
Ankottaka3, born of Ankola3 tree,
A small settlement claiming huge renown,
Trading Romans across Arabian Sea.

Hundreds of years hence handsome has it grown,
Claiming in many ways her self-renown,
Yet the tree that the town her good name gave,
Nigh but lost her roots and is fighting brave.

The town fathers did naught me to protect,
Instead, soiled my holy waters sublime,
Growth was the cancer that plundered my prime,
Trees hinder growth they felt and failed to act.

They know nor yet care but let me give hint,
One Banyan bloom can match ten other trees,
So blest be her kissing breath, life’s footprint,
Bare-handed can Banyan pollution ease.

The Peepal4, Neem4, too have a place in sun,
Thanks be benign footprint of Oxygen,
Among trees Banyans be sovereign kings,
History many an ancient lore3 sings.

Hundreds of Banyans still were done to death6
In short years of madness, live signature
Of my old name, kiss of life, of fresh breath,
I hope, one day would return green nature.

No more my old face has been the river
Today; and Banyan tress, the name giver
To the ancient town no more breathe fair,
The three of us crave some indulgent care.
_____________________________________________ _____________________
1. This village goes back in history to 600 AD. Vata in Sanskrit means a
Banyan tree, patraka is leaf. Vata-patrak in course of time became Vada-
patrak, and then Vadodara {vada-udara (the belly of Banyan tree}, the
British called it Baroda, and in Hindi, Badauda.

2. There is a reference in Mahabharata for this river. See Aadi Parva # 71.29/30.
Sage Vishvamitra created this river for his hermitage somewhere in
Pavagharh hills from where the river originates. In this ancient time
the river was known as Kaushikee. But, today’s river Koshee also
claims to be ancient Kaushikee.

3. Ankola, or Ankota, in Sanskrit is erazhil tree (Alangium hexapetalum) .
The name of the town, Ankottaka, was derived from this. Today’s
Akota was in course of time shortened from this, and is a western
suburb of Baroda. Two thousand years ago it traded with the Romans,
A bronze jar handle with a figure of Greek god of love, Eros, pieces of
bronze trefoil amphorae, red polished sprinkler and terracotta seals of
European style testify to these links. People of Akota lived in burned-
brick houses. The town was for many years situated as the junction of two
major trade roots: one between Ujjain and Bhrigu-kaccha (the present-day
Bharuch; and another between Udaipur and Bhrigu-kaccha, a major port
town then.

4. Peepal tree is known as ashvattha in Sanskrit. See Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 15.
Neem has a high place in Indian ayurveda. Charaka has sung paeans of
praise for her.

5. There were still 1200 Banyan trees in Baroda in 2006. Only but 800 of them
were left by 2010.

6. There are a few hopeful signs. GSFC, a public sector fertiliser company in
Gujarat has grown some 1,50,000 Banyan trees in her factory premises and
elsewhere. Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, and Bangalore are also known to have
a sizeable population of these trees. With their green foliage and huge spread,
they can be virtual lungs for a polluted place.
_______________________________________ ________________________________________________< br> - Nostalgia | 04.04.11 |

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Poems About River

  1. 1. Of Banyan Trees And River Banks , Aniruddha Pathak
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  48. 48. Betrayed , Jesse Milligan
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