Let me move on to the common accusation that bonsai is a way of inflicting cruelty on plants. Well, the answer is no. Or it is only as cruel as maintaining a well-manicured lawn or a precisely laid out garden, or for that matter, growing a potted plant. In these cases too plants are not given full freedom and allowed to grow as they want to. Don’t we mow our lawns, trim our trees, and pull out weeds? Who are we to decide which plants are useful and which are not?
Everything fits somewhere into the scheme of nature. Don’t some gardens feature topiaries with trees trimmed into grotesque shapes? Bonsai is definitely kinder than all that. At least the natural beauty and shape of the tree is maintained, nothing but the size of the tree as such is altered.
So, let me assure anybody who reads this that bonsai is not cruel to plants, so please don’t have any guilty feelings associated with it. I do agree that as bonsai becomes popular, there are people, even intellectuals who are going about criticizing it and vilifying this beautiful art. Somehow, their voices are heard more than that of the person who truly understands what bonsai is. I guess it’s because they’d rather spend more time with the tress they love than go around trying to defend themselves.
So I, a person who loves bonsais, enjoys them immensely, but with absolutely no patience to dedicate to the art, have taken it upon myself to dispel at least a few misconceptions. Perfect proof for the fact that the trees do not suffer is the fact that the leaves of a bonsai tree are always normal sized, so are the fruits and they taste awesome too, bursting with flavor and richness. Now a tree that is being tortured wouldn’t yield that would it? Only happy trees yield flavorful fruits.
As for it being an aberration, an act against nature, did you know that Nature herself makes bonsais quite often? Ever seen banyans and peepals growing out of cracks in walls, wells and on rocks? They are all bonsais too.
Nature Herself is the Grand Master of the Bonsai grower and he takes his lessons, his tips and cues from Her. Bonsai is merely an imitation in a small scale, the grand scheme of Nature. A Bonsai grower admires, enjoys and respects Nature wherever her goes and this bond of affection inspires him to protect and preserve Nature.
Moreover, from my personal acquaintance of this bonsai grower from my hometown, let me tell you, I am yet to personally meet a man who loves nature more or has done more for the environment. He is single handedly responsible for raising awareness about the environment among school and college kids in Kanyakumari district. He has grown and supplied thousands of saplings to ashrams, schools and colleges and involved students in tree planting and reforestation projects.
If you are familiar with the landscape of Kanyakumari district, you would be familiar with the small hills on the outskirts of nagercoil. They are the foothills of the western ghats. The hills near Chunkankadai, behind Sree Ayyappa College, till a couple of years back, were just barren with nothing but wild grass growing on them. This man has changed those hills into a thriving mini forest with the help of OISCA, a Japanese environment friendly organization, and school and college kids. He not only plants trees, he arranges for their watering and goes back to check on their progress. With him, it is not just a case of ‘plant a few saplings, pose for a few pics and forget about it.’ Thanks to him, Kanyakumari district is greener. And his services have been recognized with awards several times from OISCA and other societies. Just the fact that this man grows bonsai is proof enough for me that it is not an act of cruelty to plants, because he can never ever hurt a tree.
Moreover, bonsai is an art form which originated in the East, whether India, China or Japan. The East is known for its holistic and spiritual approach to everything. We revere and worship nature, we would never harm nature. We who believe in ‘Vasudeiva Kutumbakam’ and the presence of the ‘Brahma Tejas’ in all life forms wouldn’t do something that hurts nature would we?