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Updated: Aug 1, 2023

The Banyan tree is commonly found in India but rarely around the world and Indian’s have had a deep connection with this tree since the very beginning. Even today in villages, people sit under the tree, within the comfort of its large shade, holding town meetings, gossiping and sharing stories. Even children swing along the hanging roots of this tree. It is a tree for everyone and rightly so, is called as the tree of life. For many centuries, stories around and about the Banyan tree have been passed down from generation to generation. One such story talks about the competition between a God sage and a shoemaker. One divine and the other, a common person. Who will win?

Narad Muni, a God-sage, was traveling the Earth and stumbled upon a shoemaker who claimed to Lord Vishnu’s devotee. Narad started talking to him and during the conversation, the shoemaker said that he knew about the greatness of Lord Vishnu. Narad felt offended. He said, “Narayan Narayan, no one the greatness of Lord Vishnu more than me.” And thus an argument erupted between them. It escalated to level where the villagers gathered around to listen to this great debate. In order to settle this heated discussion, the villagers thought of organizing a competition between Narad and the shoemaker. The competition was so, that each one of them had to write only one sentence on a paper and the sentence which best described Lord Vishnu’s greatness would be deemed as the winner.

Narad and the shoemaker both showing their spirit, started scribbling their sentence on a paper. First, Narad’s chit was opened. It read, “Narayan Narayan, Lord Vishnu is so great that he can remove an entire elephant from the small hole of a needle.” The villagers applauded and praised Narad. Now it was the shoemaker’s chit which was opened and the villagers immediately described him as the winner. The shoemaker had not only written about Lord Vishnu’s greatness but the sentence was true and believable. His chit read,

“Lord Vishnu is so great that he can fit an entire Banyan tree in one seed.” For greatness is not something superficial, it is something that exists around us and we don’t have to go looking for it.

You can call it the miracle of God or the wonder of nature, but it is true that in order to be a big, strong tree, it still has to start its journey from a seed.



Ulka Mayur


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