Like a Banyan Tree

A Small Story…


I remember when my uncle Suresh planted that tree,

I must have been about five years old.

He took my fat child hand in his big wide one and

 walked me to the fields where an ancient-ruined

shrine to the gods stood in a sea of green rice plants.

“Here, Sunil,” he said, “Here we plant this tree sacred

to all Indian people.”


Five years later, the banyan tree stood several feet over my head,

many arial roots already touched the ground. It was a hot day –

I remember it was the day our well ran dry.


Three Year Old Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

We stood looking at the tree and my uncle said,

“See Sunil, see how quickly this tree grows. Here is a place you and all the

villagers will come to pour out your troubles. Here you will laugh, cry and reflect –

protected from the hot sun by the shade of this giant tree.”

Leaves of Young Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Leaves of Young Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

“Sunil, some of these trees grow so large they say

10,000 people can sit underneath one.”


“Really Uncle? So big?”


“Yes, really.”


“And you Sunil, you can grow like a banyan,

you can give shade and comfort to many many people.”


“How is that possible Uncle? Like you do Uncle,

always making people laugh and smile?”


“Sunil, when you sit quietly within yourself, you will discover how you can

become like a giant banyan tree. You may realize that all of nature is inside of you.

And like a tree, you will naturally radiate peace,

a peace much like the cooling shade of this banyan tree.”


I’ll never forget Uncle, he always had a ready smile for everyone –

he always shared the little he had. He didn’t speak much, but when he talked

his words stirred something inside of you.


He died a few years later, but before he left this earth he made me

promise to put his ashes in the ground at the base of this tree.

Yep, that was a long long time ago, about eight-two years ago today to be precise.


I’m an old old man.

And now look, look at this banyan tree, I have to crane my bald head

 all the way back to see the top – look at those roots hanging down. And I can tell you,

many a villager has laughed and cried here, many a love-story has blossomed

around this tree. Many a sadhu has taken rest here on his wanderings.

Long Ariel Roots on Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Long Ariel Roots on Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

And me, well, that “me” climbed this tree as a boy and later climbed it in my mind trying

to understand what my Uncle meant. Day after day I would come here and think

about Uncle and his kind words and loving heart. And then it dawned on me, he was right

you know, when we realize we are not our stories, our beliefs, our conditionings and

recognize we ARE that peace, peace just spreads itself around – naturally.


 And so even though I left this village many years ago,

I keep coming back to sit quietly, in peace, under the shade of this banyan tree.

Sacred Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Sacred Banyan Tree, Tiruvannamalai, South India


About smallpebbles

A simple life unfolding moment by moment
This entry was posted in Banyan Tree, India, Nature, Oneness, Peace, Photographs, Self-knowledge, Silence, Spirituality-Inner Life, Tiruvannamalai and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Like a Banyan Tree

  1. dadirri7 says:

    i love the banyan too .. a sense of community and life … thanks for the beautiful story … we are not our stories and beliefs etc … we are strong and peaceful like the banyan if we care to notice … …. so right, i love it!

    • smallpebbles says:

      A heart-full of thanks! It is no wonder that the ancients placed their temples along-side banyan trees. They seem to stand as guardians, certainly reminders to be still and listen! in peace…..kai

  2. I love this story. Thank you.

  3. vision5d2012 says:

    A beautiful story, so in tune with India. It really could have happened and may indeed have happened, as all the components of your story have their basis in the truth of human nature and human relationships. Thanks for bringing it through for us. Alia

  4. Stephanie Jill Rudd says:

    Reblogged this on livinginthemonasterywithoutwallsdotcom and commented:
    “A small story” with a big perspective reblogged from Small Pebbles, a beautiful blog hailing from South India, who have just become followers of Livinginthemonasterywithoutwalls. Welcome to them and hope everyone here enjoys this tale about the Banyan Tree.

    • smallpebbles says:

      Stephanie, not sure my other reply went through so wanted to send thanks and gratitude for the re-blog – so enjoy the living words from “the wall-less monastery!”. Will be following along……in peace….kai

  5. aalif says:

    Wow – I must share this story and experience with my son!

    • smallpebbles says:

      Aalif, the story came somehow, it flowed one afternoon of spending time with a banyan tree. And the “uncle” character, that son of the Indian soil is so much in my heart after living in India for so many years. Hope you darling son will enjoy!

  6. Kozo says:

    Your uncle was a wise man. I am glad you have the tree to remind you of his wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

    • smallpebbles says:

      Well Kozo, not really “my” uncle, but certainly his character represents the wisdom of ancient India that is passed down through the ages through wise beings like him. And under a banyan tree – seemed like the right setting. The atmosphere is so peaceful. Somehow the story just wanted telling. shanti….kai

      • Kozo says:

        Oops, I missed the fictional nature of this “small story.” Somehow I knew you weren’t 87 years old, but I did not want to offend. It is worse claiming someone’s real life is fictional than it is mistaking their fiction for real life. Regardless, a lot of wisdom here.

  7. marga t. says:

    Thank you; how beautiful!

  8. reikiheidi says:

    So so beautiful – thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. Amy says:

    This is so beautiful ~ I love this: “when we realize we are not our stories, our beliefs, our conditionings and recognize we ARE that peace, peace just spreads itself around – naturally.” Thank you so much for this post today. Many blessings ~

    • smallpebbles says:

      Amy, thanks for your words – India has given this one so so much, over many years. The story just came through, like a gushing current – and the characters arrived to voice the words. And blessings and shanti back…..

  10. Jayashri Fairclough says:

    Beautiful story! And I love the photos! Those trees are like entire villages unto themselves.

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