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Sequoia Tree: Here’s Why Spiritual Significance is Attached to it!

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Symbolic Trees in the world today
The Giant Sequoia in Nevada, California. NewsGram
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– by Dr Bharti Raizada

July 17, 2017: People all over the globe believe that trees, particularly big and old trees- are a symbol of forgiveness, gratefulness, wisdom, strength, endurance. Some of these trees in different countries and religions are- Bodhi tree in India, The Major Oak in England. The Great Sugi in Japan, The Baobab in Africa, Tane Mahuta in New Zealand, El Tule in Mexico. In Hinduism, some trees are considered eternal and wishful filling or Kalpvriksh.

Recently, I visited Sequoia National Park in California, USA. George Stewart led the movement to create Sequoia National Park and in 1890 Congress agreed to this idea.

Sequoia trees are mainly found in Sierra Nevada mountain range between 5,000- 7,000 feet. Above 7,500 feet temperature is too cold and below 5,000 feet it is too dry for Sequoias to grow. These trees are protected resource. Sequoia trees are conifers but it differs from other conifers in that its trunk remains thick far up the tree giving it a columnar shape and huge bulk. This large volume makes them world’s largest trees.

Sequoia trees can grow up to 311 feet tall and 40 feet in width at base, 52,500 cubic feet volume,  1385 tons in weight i.e. more than four fully loaded jumbo jet airplanes. They live up to 3,200 years. Sequoias can grow in groups. The Three Graces and The Four Guardsmen are group of three and four sequoias respectively. These Sequoias are of same age.

Tiny male cones grow near tree tops. Late in winter, they release mists of yellow pollen onto the female cones hanging below. Female cones, small when pollinated, grow bigger and each cone holds 200 seeds tightly between its scales. 455 cones contain 91,000 seeds or one pound of seeds.

Mature sequoias carry thousands of female cones. About 2,000 new cones may grow each year. Cones can hang on the tree, sealed, for up to 20 years until something opens them. Thousands of seeds sprout in the ashy soil left by the fire. This soil absorbs and holds moisture well.

New roots easily penetrate it because it is loose and crumbly. The odds of a single tree to grow into a big sequoia are extremely small. The hazards to seed are—too deep forest litter preventing seed to reach soil, seed can land in bad spot and never sprouts, seed eaten by ground squirrel, seedling starts in shade and withers, if seeds are too crowded then they wither, fungus in soil kills seedling,  if there is not enough rain then seedling dries out, cone with seeds taken home by someone. Sequoias produce million of seeds to increase the chances that a few will grow to maturity. Damage from ozone pollution shows up as a yellow spot on seedlings and this reduces the tree’s ability to create nutrients through photosynthesis.

Each tree ring marks one year of growth and records fire and weather conditions. The wider the ring the better the growing conditions- sun, water, and nutrients were plentiful. Tree growth is measured in rings per inch. Sequoias need frequent fires to reproduce. Their survival depends upon conditions created by natural processes. To grow Sequoia need moist, but not soggy soil throughout the summer. Most Sequoia saplings that grow in dense groups will die. Competition for light and moisture is too great. When fire thins these dense groups the survivors fill out.

Fire kills some sequoias but benefits many others-

  • Heat opens cones on sequoias and seeds rain down
  • Seeds land on clear soil fertilized by ash
  • Heat kills insects and fungus that may attack seedlings
  • Trees that compete for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients are killed
  • Once burned, an area is less flammable for several years, giving seedlings a good start

Sequoia trees live for 3,000 years. Adaptation makes then live this long. The bark of the tree is up to two feet thick protects the living layer underneath it. The tannin, a reddish chemical, present in high concentrations in Sequoia bark, gives the Sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, fungus, and fire. Thick bark with many air pockets insulates the wood from heat. The high branches hold foliage well above most fires. The sap is watery and not very flammable, so does not burn easily. When injured the tree heals and keep growing. Curved healing rings grow over wounds restoring the trees protective surface. Some trees may be burned hollow but survive for centuries. Rapid growth often occurs after fire. With competing trees burnt away, the surviving sequoias get more light, moisture, and nutrients. Trees may grow thicker annual rings for as long as 100 years. Tons of leaves, branches and tree trunks pile up on the forest floor each year. For tiny sequoia seeds, this dry and impenetrable deep layer is a sure death. They can not even start to grow. Fires clear this natural litter and leave behind better conditions for sequoia regeneration. Repeated ground fires usually leave a large triangular scar on the trunks. These scars limit the flow of water to the crown. The top dies, leaving a dead snag above massive branches and abundant foliage. Heat from fire dries out hanging Sequoia cones leading to cones opening and falling of millions of seeds.

Giant Sequoias need an enormous amount of water. By growing near the meadow but not in it, they can benefit. Their roots capture moisture as it drains toward the meadow. Sequoias shallow roots can support a giant tree in less than three feet of earth by spreading out far from the trees. Interlocking roots throughout the forest help to support the Sequoias. As Sequoias grow taller, they loose lower branches due to fire or lack of Sun. Once the trees rise above the rest of the forest canopy, their pointed crowns round off. Dead tops mark the oldest Sequoias. Once mature they grow no taller, but continue to grow thicker.

Foot traffic wears away topsoil exposing shallow Sequoia roots. Most large sequoias die by falling after root damage, soft soil,  heavy snow or the wind.

Giant sequoia groves are portions of Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest that contain giant sequoias. In most groves, giant sequoias are fewer in number than other tree species but are the most visually striking and dominant in size. Within park boundaries, park staff distinguishes approximately 40 different giant sequoia groves, ranging from one to tens of thousands of sequoia trees per grove. Giant Forest is a large sequoia grove, set on a rolling plateau between the Marble and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park. It is the largest of the unlogged giant sequoia groves, and it contains more exceptionally large sequoias than any other grove. It hosts the largest living sequoia, the General Sherman Tree. In this grove, visitors can see the effects of decades of prescribed burning: open forest conditions and clumps of giant sequoia seedlings that establish after fire.

Grant Grove is located in Kings Canyon National Park. This grove has numerous exceptionally large sequoias grouped in a 90-acre area. A higher percentage of this grove’s mature sequoias reach sizes of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet (3, 4.5, or 6 m) in diameter than in any other grove.

Redwood Mountain Grove is a very large grove of a spectacular old growth sequoias and a diversity of plants on the forest floor. In the spring, the colorful mix of wildflowers along the ridge trail and near Redwood Creek will delight hikers as much as the giant sequoias. In the fall, the dogwood shrubs turn a deep red color, and the fall light provides good photo opportunities.

Redwood Mountain Grove is the largest grove in total area, has the largest area of old growth giant sequoias, and contains more mature sequoias than any other grove. This grove was one of the first areas where Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks started prescribed burning to reduce fuels and stimulate giant sequoia reproduction. The large fire scars on some of the monarch giant sequoias are a testament to the presence of fire over many centuries in sequoia groves. Today, the open stands of trees and the growth of young giant sequoias at Redwood Mountain Grove illustrate successful outcomes of the parks’ fire program

The Sugar Bowl Grove is one of few examples of a nearly pure giant sequoia forest, rather than the typical mix of giant sequoias with other types of trees.

 

Some interesting facts:

  1. General  Sherman, the name was given by James Wolverton in 1879, after the leader he served under during the Civil War, is the largest tree by Volume and weight.  General Sherman, in the US, has a girth of 109 feet around on the ground and is 36.5 feet in diameter at the base.

2. El Tule in Mexico is largest by thickness in the world.

3. Coast Redwood is the tallest tree in the world. It is 367 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.

4. Sugar Pine is biggest and tallest pine tree. It is 216 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.

5. General Grant, in Kings Canyon National Park, USA, is the largest tree by width.

6. Centennial stump in California National park is 24 inch in diameter. Eastern people in Philadelphia did not believe that such a giant tree existed and called it a “California Hoax”.

7. Sentinel Tree, a Sequoia in Sequoia National Park, is 2,200 years old.

  1. Giant Forest, named by John Muir, in Sequoia National Park hosts four of world’s five largest trees. In Giant Forest Sequoias grow bigger than anywhere else, and Round Meadow is one of the best Sequoia habitat within Giant Forest.

 

The above information is from Park website and display boards in National park.

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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Swami Vivekananda’s Quotes That Will Inspire You To The Fullest

Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. He wanted the youth to get going and hence his inspirational thoughts were a motivation to many people for self-improvement especially for the youth of the country.

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Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. Wikimedia Commons
  • Swami Vivekananda was behind the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world
  • Swami Vivekananda followed and carried on the philosophy of Ramakrishna Paramhansa
  • Swami Vivekananda’s mother had a great impact on him

Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk, a great orator, passionate patriot and one of the most celebrated spiritual leaders of India. He was the man behind the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. In colonial India, Swami Vivekananda immensely contributed to the concept of nationalism.

Swami Vivekananda followed and carried on the philosophy of his guru, Ramakrishna Paramhansa forward with his teachings and worked towards the upliftment of the society and revival of Hindu spiritualism. He wanted to showcase Hindu religion on the world stage. Later, he found the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.

Also Read: India’s First Woman Lawyer: 10 Lesser Known Facts About Cornelia Sorabji

Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863, into an affluent Bengali family in Calcutta. His father was a successful attorney with considerable influence in society. Swami Vivekananda’s mother had a great impact on him. During his lifetime, he spoke a lot about spirituality and life motivation. Swami Vivekananda quotes became very popular among countrymen and he was seen as a spiritual idol for many.

Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863, into an affluent Bengali family in Calcutta. Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863, into an affluent Bengali family in Calcutta. Wikimedia Commons

Here, we have compiled few of the Swami Vivekananda’s inspirational thoughts that would fill you with much insight and spiritualism.

  1. “When I Asked God for Strength He Gave Me Difficult Situations to Face When I Asked God for Brain & Brawn He Gave Me Puzzles in Life to Solve When I Asked God for Happiness He Showed Me Some Unhappy People When I Asked God for Wealth He Showed Me How to Work Hard When I Asked God for Favors He Showed Me Opportunities to Work Hard When I Asked God for Peace He Showed Me How to Help Others God Gave Me Nothing I Wanted He Gave Me Everything I Needed.”

2. “This is the gist of all worship: to be pure and to do well to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. And if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste or creed or race or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.”

Also Read: 11 Must-Know Facts About Asima Chatterjee

3. “All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; do not believe that you are half-crazy lunatics, as most of us do nowadays. You can do anything and everything, without even the guidance of anyone. Stand up and express the divinity within you.”

Swami Vivekananda followed and carried on the philosophy of his guru, Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda followed and carried on the philosophy of his guru, Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Wikimedia Commons

4. After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul the more quickly does one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains-one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Atman is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it. Let people say whatever they like, stick to your own convictions, and rest assured, the world will be at your feet. They say, “Have faith in this fellow or that fellow”, but I say, “Have faith in yourself first”, that’s the way. Have faith in yourself-all power is in you-be conscious and bring it out. Say, “I can do everything.”

5. “Advance like a hero. Do not be thwarted by anything. How many days will this body last, with its happiness and misery? When you have the human body, then rouse the Atman within and say-I have reached the state of fearlessness!…and then as long as the body endures, speak unto others this message of fearlessness: ‘Thao art That’, ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached’.”

Also Read: 10 Must-Know Facts About Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

6. “Remember the words of Christ: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” These words are literally true, not figures or fiction. They were the outflow of the heart’s blood of one of the greatest sons of God who have ever come to this world of ours; words which came as the fruit of realisation, from a man who had felt and realised God himself; who had spoken with God, lived with God, a hundred times more intensely than you or I see this building.”

7. “Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvellous work. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world. It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions. It is fear that is the cause of all our woes, and it is fearlessness that brings heaven even in a moment. Therefore, “Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached.”

8. “For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjuna, for it comes as an open gate to heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your dharma and your honour.”

January 12, swami Vivekananda's birthday, is celebrated as the National Youth Day in India. Wikimedia Commons
January 12, swami Vivekananda’s birthday, is celebrated as the National Youth Day in India. Wikimedia Commons

9. “Do not believe a thing because you have read about it in a book. Do not believe a thing because another man has said it was true. Do not believe in words because they are hallowed by tradition. Find out the truth for yourself. Reason it out. That is realization.”

10. “We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act. “

Also Read: 15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

Swami Vivekananda used to stress upon the universal brotherhood and self-awakening. He wanted the youth to get going and hence his inspirational thoughts were a motivation to many people for self-improvement especially for the youth of the country. For his love for youth, January 12, his birthday, is celebrated as the National Youth Day in India. Swami Vivekananda’s motivational quotes are still followed at many of the country’s educational institutes.