Seeds for Life - 1: Manjadi
Whosoever walks through the path of a forest—be it with the wondrous mind of childhood innocence or the expanded mind of old age wisdom—is beckoned by Nature into Her sacred life. A glowing fungi blossoming in decayed wood, weaving together release and rebirth. A silky spider web, its delicate threads upholding the sunshine in dew drops. A shiny red seed who knows no resistance—every passerby´s steps spontaneously cease as they bend towards the plant in a gesture of curiosity and reverence.
In China, the Manjadi seed is named xiang si dou, the “mutual love seed”. In India, where she grows very commonly, she is also called Coral Tree, Red Sandalwood, Red Lucky Seed, Saga Tree and Bead Tree. A species of the Fabaceae family, this leguminous tree is native to South Asia, and now grows in many tropical regions throughout South, Central and North America. But regardless of her worldly travels, Adenanthera pavonina is a symbol of Mother Earth´s love for humanity and Her children’s gratefulness.
The beauty of the Manjadi does not remain contained in its polished scarlet shell. As the mother tree loosens open its spirally pods and exposes the brilliant red descendants, neighbouring birds are drawn to swallow them, even though they lack any pulp for nourishment. Travelling through their wings, the slumbering seeds are gently awakened from their dormancy by the acidic juices of the animal´s stomach. Dispersing new generations throughout barren lands, the flying friends of the forest release the little ones in their droppings, which is known to be a fertilizer of highest quality.
That microcosm contains all the nutrients, associated microorganisms, and medicinal treatment to support the sprouting and healthy growth of a plant. A home is established. Inside are all the elements which have the potential to unfold into a locally sustainable ecology, a small yet indispensable contribution for the environmental equilibrium of our planet Earth. Coral Tree is one of Nature´s pioneer species, colonising and reestablishing native ecosystems.
Microbes, clouds, shrubs, worms—numerous “silent gardeners”—take care of the seedling which gradually manifests its full service to the land. Its fast growth protects the earth and absorbs carbon that purifies the atmosphere, reducing heat and providing coolness. Roots fix air nitrogen into the soil. Its broad canopy drinks pure sun rays and produces fresh green leaves, which nourish insects, wildlife, cows, goats, buffaloes and village people. As they are released, the small leaves easily decompose, feeding various essential microorganisms who create rich humus—a perfect nursery ready to receive and support the next generation of plants. Distant birds hear the young Saga Tree whisper “Time has come,” and bring new seeds of delicate fruit species, who now have a suitable place to dwell.
The Red Sandalwood Tree whispers to nearby villages, who come to receive her offers of beads for malas and rosaries, strong reddish wood for boats and houses, bark for soap, and tender greens for morning meals. Wise elders collect bark and leaf for their medicinal preparations which relieve migraine headaches, bacterial infections, rheumatism, dysentery, tonsillitis, exhaustion and leprosy.
In Kerala, faithful devotees gather her precious beads and offer a handful of Manjadi to the Lord of Guruvayur temple. Tradition says that once a peasant grandmother travelled by foot for 44 days with a pouch of Coral Seeds to offer Krishna, all along the arduous way her mind was lost in his divine presence. When she reached the temple, the old woman was trampled by the guards of a local ruler who was bringing an elephant as a present to the Lord. From the Sanctum Santorum a voice was heard: “Where is my Manjadikuru? Where is my devotee who lovingly gathered these precious seeds?” Until these days, their daily presence amongst the offerings of those humble in heart remains a silent prayer of mutual love.
Coral Tree Seed—a secret gift of Nature uniting the hearts of God and humans in joy and gratefulness.