Life is Like a Mango Tree
The other day, someone here in the US asked me how an enlightened being eats a mango. If that sounds like a silly question to you – mangoes are not a mundane subject. When I was a child, for four months in a year, mango was the religion in India. During the season, I used to be on a mango diet. There was nothing but mango in our stomachs. When mango madness took over, there was mango all over the faces, on our clothes; we smelled of mango and so did the whole house – everything was mango.
I even missed examinations because I was busy studying mangoes. Around Mysore, there were a lot of wild mangoes and mango plantations. I spent almost five, six years exploring the locations and varieties of mangoes, and had all the mango trees in the area mapped in my mind. Mangoes naturally come in different flavors, and their complexion and the way you experience them changes from March to end of June, July. This happened when I was in the pre-university course, which is considered crucial, because what kind of marks one gets in the pre-university decides the future of one’s educational trajectory. The term was over, but we were supposed to study harder to make sure we get maximum marks. That was a period of time when even the family restricted our movement, which was a very difficult thing for me to put up with. The special classes in the college gave me the opportunity to leave the house.
It was the beginning of the mango season. My friends and I assembled at the college. I was the consultant as to where to find what kind of mangoes. We discussed where to go and were just about to leave when the principal of the college came down and took us to task. His office was on the first floor, right above where we were standing. He must have looked down and listened to our discussion. He said, “What? The examination is just another twenty days away, and you are going after mangoes?” Then I told him, “Examinations come twice a year. Mangoes come only once a year.”
There were over 300 varieties of mangoes in South India, mostly grown wild and on a few farms. Today, many of the varieties that we had then have disappeared. Since mangoes are grown in increasingly large farms, the varieties that are grown are chosen based on commercial aspects, like shelf life, and so on. This not only applies to mango varieties – a number of fruits and vegetables we had in India when we were children are not available anymore. They have been wiped out by the multi-national agricultural conglomerates and their seeds, which dominate agriculture today and could destroy the biodiversity of this planet.
Mangoes have always been a part of this culture. Even gods were described as eating mangoes. Probably most of you know the famous story of Ganapati and Kartikeya, the children of Adiyogi and Parvati, competing over a sweet, luscious mango. If I delve deeper into the subject of mangoes, I want to go back to India! To me, what is being served as mangoes elsewhere are not really mangoes. If you already like the mangoes that are grown in other regions of the world, you must travel to India and spend some time there during the season to taste Indian mangoes. I could tell you exactly where to go, what varieties of mangoes to eat, and how to eat them. Mango eating needs a lot of training. You must know which mango to bite which way. These days, even the majority of Indians do not know this anymore, because they all cut and eat them.
If you look at a mango tree in February, March, there will be nothing but green leaves. Then, some small, innocuous looking flowers will bloom. Suddenly, one morning, you will see the tree is full of tiny little mangoes. From then on, they will be growing bigger by the day, until they are full of juice and sweetness. But initially, four, five years, nothing happens. You have to wait for years for a mango tree to bear fruits for the first time. It would be foolish to think after a couple of years, “Nothing happened, so I’m going to chop down the tree and throw it away.”
This is how life is made – first you have to establish a solid basis. This takes time. The same applies to your sadhana. The seed is good – the very source of creation is within it. If the source of creation finds expression, you become an utterly beautiful piece of creation. You are given the raw material – what you make out of it is up to you. Once the seed is planted, don’t dig it out after some time to see if it sprouts. Just keep watering it every day. Don’t wait in front of the mango tree, praying for fruits to come. And don’t try to pluck the mango prematurely. When it is time, the fruition will happen quickly. One day, the mango will drop on your head.
This is what yoga-sthah kuru karmani means. Establish yourself in yoga – then act. Beautiful things will come out of it.