The legendary banyan tree under which Lord Krishna is believed to have delivered his message of Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna is dying a slow death. Considered to be more than 5,000 years old, this tree at Jyotisar near Kurukshetra in Haryana is reportedly the only remaining relic from the time of the Mahabharata. Now, a tussle between the two claimants over the holy place on a puerile issue has left the tree completely neglected, putting it on the verge of extinction.
TOI found that the area surrounding the tree has been covered with marble pavement and it can't draw nutrients for its growth. Fancy lights and lamps are fitted with nails on the tree for lighting during night and big bells are tied all over it. The 'holy thread' tied by the visitors has covered most of the lower branches. Tying threads is considered to be wish-fulfilling. Sadly, chunks of branches were also chopped off recently by the caretakers without any expert advice.
The two stakeholders - Hindu Mission, a local religious body that has been taking care of the tree for years and the Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB) - are sparring over the ownership of the space where the tree is located.
Pandit Sukhpal, who is currently taking care of the disputed portion on behalf of Hindu Mission, said, "We have been looking after the holy tree and even constructed a marble pavement for its upkeep. Our gardener prunes it from time to time." Sukhpal added that there is no need of any scientific preservation of the tree because that would invite some 'problem' for this holy area, as the KDB would then levy fee on visit to this place.
When contacted, KDB curator Rajender Rana told TOI that for scientific assistance for maintenance of the tree, they had contacted officials at the Sunderbans in West Bengal, which has the largest forest cover of old trees in the world. He added that on receiving feedback from the Sunderbans, they had chalked out a plan for its preservation but the claim by some individuals over the area has prevented them from taking any concrete step.
A case between Hindu Mission and KDB is pending in the apex court, which has ordered to maintain status quo.