24 January 2008

Tree named for Yogananda

Litchi Tree

The Litchi Vedi is one of the sacred places associated with our divine Gurudeva in the Ranchi Ashram. It was under the shady canopy of this large litchi that Guruji frequently held outdoor classes and satsangas for the boys who attended the school founded by him in 1918. Because the spot is so closely associated with the great Guru, for many decades the tree with a large picture of Paramahansaji enshrined underneath its boughs has been a favourite place of pilgrimage and meditation for YSS/SRF members.

Recently, scientists have discovered a remarkable physical fact about this spiritually beloved tree: It has been scientifically recognized as a unique variety never before documented by horticulturists and officially named after Paramahansa Yogananda. The name is now listed as Litchi Cultivar Yogananda Selection.

The distinctness of the tree was first noticed and confirmed by Dr. Shivendra Kumar, principal scientist and head of the Horticultural and Agro-Forestry Research Institute in Ranchi. What makes the tree unique, Dr. Kumar notes, is “the profuse branching with dark green foliage in which the number of leaflets range from nine to thirteen, which is a very distinct characteristic.” These findings have been accepted and registered with National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi.

Dr. Kumar remarked to the Yogoda monks that the appearance of a new subspecies such as this generally occurs by mutation of the plant’s genes, producing new characteristics that are passed on to successive generations from that tree. “Often it is some specific source of powerful energy that causes such changes in the genes,” Dr. Kumar explained. “And though we cannot identify it scientifically, surely devotees of the great guru Paramahansa Yoganandaji will have no trouble drawing their own conclusions about the ‘energy source’ associated with this particular tree!”

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