Where is Kanha’s Braj; where is Kadamb, where’s Tamal: Mohan Swaroop Bhatia

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Shri Bhatia said that millions of trees may have been planted in Braj since we became independent, yet the heart longs to see ‘Kanha’s Braj’.

Mathura, 2020-07-21 (VT): Responding to the news of UP Government’s ‘Mission Vriksharopan’ which aims to plant 25 core saplings across the state during this year’s ‘van mahotsav’, Padma Shri and Braj litterateur Shri Mohan Swaroop Bhatia said that while this is a commendable initiative, the government should also make efforts to protect and restore the ecological diversity and character of Braj.

“In Braj, the land of 12 van, 24 upvan, 12 adhivan, and 12 tapovan, one finds neither Kadambkhandi nor Tamal trees at the banks of Yamuna today,” he lamented.

Writing about Braj-Vrindavan, Bharatendu Harishchandra once said, तरनि तनूजा तट तमाल तरुवर बहु छाए (Tamal trees line the banks of the river). Krishna’s most exalted devotee Mirabai glorified Shri Dham in the following words, आली म्हाने लागे वृंदावन नीको। घर-घर तुलसी ठाकुर पूजा दरसन गोविंद जी कौ (Dear to my heart is Vrindavan, where Tulsi and Govind are worshipped in every home). Another Krishna Bhakt Chandrasakhi shared the same sentiment.

However, the ecological character of Braj has been destroyed beyond recognition today. Bemoaning the state of present day Vrindavan ‘Kavi Ratna’ Satyanarayan said, पहिले कौ सौ अब तिहारौ यह वृंदावन (Your Vrindavan is not the same; there are no Vrinda (Tulsi) forests anymore).  

The works of Ashtachaap Kavis profusely mention Kadamb, Tamal, Kareel kunjs (groves) along with other trees such as Chonkara sitting under which Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya and other stalwarts of the Vallabh Sampradya taught their followers. Most of these native trees are difficult to find in Braj today.

According to the DFO, last year nearly 24 lakh trees were planted in Mathura district. The target this time is approximately 25 lakh. He said that many Kadamb trees still exist on the Mahavan-Baldeo and Govardhan-Paintha Marg, but there’s always the danger from road widening looming on them.

Shri Bhatia added that millions of trees may have been planted in Braj since we became independent, yet the heart longs to see ‘Kanha’s Braj’

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