Bhagawati experiences the maulshree tree in Jabalpur under which Osho became enlightened.
Departing from Varanasi after experiencing the divine madness of Holi that turns the entire population into a color-throwing frenzy and with Anatto’s hair still showing an interesting purple tinge, we take a sleeper train to Jabalpur which is scheduled to arrive in the early morning the next day, March 21st. The plan is to have some tea and toast and then immediately proceed to Bhawal Thal Park, home to the maulshree tree Osho experienced enlightenment under. As it usually happens with the best-laid plans, the train does reach in the early morning but stops about two kilometers before Jabalpur Junction because some other train is blocking the tracks.
As we are already up ready to leap off the train around 5 am when it would arrive, we sit on the bottom bunk of our compartment watching the other travelers slowly come to life; when they realize the train isn’t going anywhere, their inner wisdom about Indian train schedules comes to the fore and they sink back for another snooze. We, however, expect that any moment now the train will move again. We anticipate that moment for about four hours when there is finally a rattling jerk and the train slowly moves into the station.
We have made arrangements with Sanjay, a sannyasin from Jabalpur who runs a car rental business, to pick us up. When we emerge from the station, he is standing next to a white car that has a large Osho sticker on the back. He had waited faithfully for us the entire time and now whisks us off with a big smile to sample some breakfast. It being just after Holi, many watering holes are shut down, the proprietors still recovering from the excesses of the celebrations. He finally finds an open hotel restaurant where a solitary cook is willing to whip up some chai and buttered toast.
Fortified, we drive on to the park. Opposite the entrance is a pink Christian church with a figure of Jesus holding a tall cross in his left hand while saluting with his right; it makes me giggle. Excitement starts bubbling up when we pay for the tickets and enter the main gate, which is flanked by two large but friendly looking fiberglass dinosaurs. It seems it is a very odd world out there in Jabalpur! The park is large, more on the ornamental side, with well-kept flower beds and many trees and green lawns where people can sit in the evenings when it is cool and their children can run around and play. Alpine-style wooden fences separate some of the lawns from the paths, elsewhere grassy patches are protected by metal fences.
The path leads us to a circular area, maybe 15 meters in diameter, protected by a metal fence with a small gate. It is here that the maulshree tree rises from the middle of a patch of brown earth surrounded by grass, and a narrow moat encircles the area. In the evenings children paddle around and around that moat in a small yellow plastic boat. There is no plaque that refers to Osho or the tree and I am glad about this.
I step barefoot onto a blistering hot narrow metal bridge to walk over the moat towards the tree which has a rather short trunk yet a very wide crown. A handful of sannyasins are sitting or standing to the side – I hear later that there had been a large celebration in the morning when we were still sitting in the train.
I move towards the tree and put my hand on one of the large branches and close my eyes. It is very still. My heart begins to beat very fast and when I touch the bark also with my other hand, a torrent of tears comes flowing down my cheeks. An overwhelming feeling of gratefulness wells up and a soundless voice from within expresses an unconditional “Thy will be done.”
There is no desire to remove myself from that spot. I look up into the foliage and more tears flow and an urge arises to lean my forehead on the branch. Later, I intend to step away but my legs are not moving. So I remain standing, with tears continuing to flow.
Later, Anatto gently helps me out of my reverie. Blissful joy remains, a sense that something inside ‘gave’ and notably an absence of wanting.
Maulshree (Mimusops elengi) is the Sanskrit name for the mulsarry or maulsari tree, which is native to the Indian subcontinent only. It has small shiny, thick, narrow pointed leaves and is a prized ornamental specimen. It was extensively used by the Mughals in Delhi and Agra as its neat crown lent itself to formal planting arrangements.
It is an evergreen tree that provides dense shade; during the months from March to July the night air is filled with the delicious heady aroma of its tiny cream colored flowers. Flowers are small, star-shaped, yellowish white in color, with a crown rising from the center. In the morning the fragrant flowers which so graciously scented their surroundings with their deep, rich, fragrance during the evening hours, fall to the ground. People love to collect them as they retain their fragrant smell for many days after they fall. They are offered in temples and shrines throughout the country. Appears in Indian mythology as Vakula – said to put forth blossoms when sprinkled with nectar from the mouth of lovely women. Fruits are eaten fresh.
Article by Bhagawati