The following were taken in 2009 (except for the latest taken in May 2015). All within our home (except for our small coconut grove which is about 8km from our home). The sights and sounds you hear are the result of years of gardening effort by dad. Our house had become grand central for all sort birds and other creatures. Those living abroad and feeling nostalgic about the nature sounds of Madurai or India… put your headphones on maximum and listen and enjoy:
We take it for granted the rich variety of plants we can have in India. My dad made the best use of every inch of land in our compound. He had tropical trees every kind: coconut, mango, almond, banana, guava, papaya, jackfruit, amla, neem, ashoka, teak, rosewood, tamarind, curry leaf, drumstick, orange, kumquat, lemon, sapota, cotton tree, custard apple (சீத்தா பழம்), jambu (நாவல்), etc. And various flowering plants like jasmine (மல்லிகை), button jasmine (குண்டுமல்லி), night jasmine (பவழமல்லி), tree jasmine (பன்னீர் மரம்), firecracker flower (கனகாம்பரம்), hibiscus (செம்பருத்தி), east indian rosebay (நந்தியா வட்டை), frangipani (சம்பங்கி), four o’clocks (அந்தி மந்தாரை), butterfly pea (சங்கு பூ), roses, orchids, bougainvillea (காகிதப்பூ), etc. Various herbs like aloe, mint, omam, tulsi, henna, betel leaf, red chillis, eggplant, okra, various cacti, various creepers, etc. So much that our house with its thick foliage stands out distinct from other houses in satellite view from Google Maps.
Nature: Organic vs Synthetic
What do we have when back in the USA? A full time activity of the average American homeowner is maintaining the lawn (Europeans observe it as an obsession) – forced to be uniformly green and devoid of any other plant life through repeated chemical treatments. Twisting, warping, and sanitizing nature to conform to standards instead of appreciating nature as it is (see Spring Allergies). It is synthetic, because if you dare stop maintaining your lawn even for a week, it will die. In contrast, an Indian garden or a forest, even if left untended for decades will remain alive and vibrant, with all sort of live from animals to bearing fruits. There have been alternative attempts by home owners to spruce up their lawns with vegetation that is more in tune with nature, like wild flowers, and allowing their grass to grow tall (which automatically solves their weed problem by crowding it out) – but only to get a warning notice from their home owners association to conform.
- While environmental conservation is something that dawned on the USA only in the late 1980’s, Hindus and other indigenous cultures around the world (such as Native Americans) have valued its importance centuries before.
- Hindu (and other indigenous cultures in other parts of the globe) venerated and preserved every river, mountain, landscape, tree, etc. All richly decorated with beautiful spiritual attributes and woven into much of their culture and classical spiritual poetry (especially Tamil native poetry).
- Classical Tamil Sangam period love poetry was classified (as codified in the Tolkāppiyam) according to the landscape (திணை) that inspired it: mountains (குறிஞ்சி), forests (முல்லை), agricultural land (மருதம்), seaside (நெய்தல), and desert (பாலை). See Sangam Poetry Landscape.
- The science of Yoga itself arose in close association with Samkhya cosmology (which developed a holistic understanding of man and nature), and hence also the literal meaning of yoga “union with”.
- It serves us to remember the “seven great Tamil kings” (Kadai Yeizhu Vallalgal): Paari, Ori, Kaari, Began, Adhiyaman, Nalli, Ai Kandiran. They have made a place for themselves in Tamil history exclusively for their regard for nature/environment.
- The Murugan sects of Tamil Nadu and their veneration (and hence preservation) of hill ranges (Murugan in his most oldest manifestation was deity of the hills, forests, green pastures, etc).
- It serves us to remember the heroic sacrifices of the Bishnoi sects of Rajasthan (such was their regard that 362 clung to trees – to have themselves face death rather than have the trees cut).
- It serves us to remember the environmental edicts of King Ashoka.
Today our spiritual connection with nature is fast buckling under the blind rush towards modernization and the accompanying mass consumer culture. See Trash/Pollution.