A school teacher has planted nearly 5 million trees and inspired a generation of students
A government school teacher for nearly 30 years, Satyavan has taken it upon himself to teach his students and others the larger lesson of how to keep the planet green and healthy. Popularly known as Triveni Baba, the teacher has planted 5 million trees across his home state of Haryana and several other states.
Amarpal Singh Verma 26 April 2023 10:21 AM GMT
Though the name he was given at birth was Satyavan, people in Haryana know him better as Triveni Baba.
Satyavan, who was born in Bisalwas village in Loharu tehsil in Bhiwani district, Haryana, was profoundly impacted by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings. “Swami Vivekanand Ji had said that at least do one meaningful and beneficial thing in your life, and for me becoming a teacher was one path to doing that,” Satyavan told Gaon Connection.
Satyavan believed that as a teacher he could mould a generation of children who would take the country to great heights. And he has set an example through his love for trees.
Fifty-seven-year-old Satyavan has so far planted about five million trees of which nearly 100,000 are Neem, Peepul and the Banyan. He has also built platforms around the trees so that people can sit there under the shade of their branches. He has also provided for bird feeders.
Panchayats, schools, hospitals, cemeteries… now have trees planted either by him or by those who have been inspired by him. And his green mission covers not just Haryana, but also other states such as Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
“I thought it necessary to plant as many trees as possible for the good of the environment and I started with Saral village where I was first posted. Soon after this, it became a mission for me as I travelled from village to village planting saplings and encouraging others to do so too,” the teacher told Gaon Connection. “Ever since, till today not a day has gone by when I have not planted a sapling,” he added.
Satyavan did his Bachelors of Arts and followed that up with a Bachelors in Education in order to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. In 1991 he got a government job as a trained graduate teacher and his first posting was Saral village in Tosham Block, Bhiwani, in the government high school there. He taught Social Sciences to the students of high school till February, this year.
Since then, he has been working at the Bhiwani education department as an eco-coordinator. A part of his job involves visiting schools and colleges and enthusing young people to plant more trees and safeguard the environment.
In 1994, Satyavan went on a mission of planting tree saplings across the state. He began by planting the triveni or triumvirate of Neem, Banyan and Peepal trees at the village cemetery. Hence his name Triveni Baba.
When he began, he would encourage people to plant saplings to commemorate heroes, martyrs and other famous personalities. “But soon, I asked them to plant saplings in the names of their own ancestors, on the occasion of weddings and birthdays in their families, and so on,” the government teacher said.
According to him, that has become the norm rather than the exception in the villages he has travelled to. The village people plant saplings on all special occasions and also distribute them to others.
“I have not married and my life is devoted to the trees, which are my family,” the 57-year-old teacher said.
Satyavan spends his entire salary on buying saplings. Sometimes local inhabitants buy saplings and hand it over to him to propagate.
Satyavan does not stop at tree planting. He also tells students to be prudent about water usage. He urges them to turn off open taps, switch off the fans, turn off the lights when they leave a room. “It is these little practices that have a large impact,” he said.
The saplings keep coming. “Baba is never short of them. Neem saplings are available in government nurseries and Peepal and Banyan saplings come from nurseries in Saharanpur, Bhiwani and Tosham,” Raj Singh, a retired soldier and a former student of Satyavan, told Gaon Connection.
A hero’s tale
Satyavan is currently on a mission of planting saplings to commemorate the lives of 26, 945 martyrs. He began doing it in December 2022. The initiative was started in Chandimandir in Chandigarh at the Indian Army’s Western Command Headquarters.
‘‘He has gone to Wagah Border, Hussainiwala and other historically significant locations to plant these saplings, along with the personnel of the Indian army and the Border Security Force,” Raj Singh said. He was a student in 1994 when Satyavan began his mission.
The soldier said that thanks to his teacher, so many countless people today were planting saplings and making the planet a better place. “It has become a habit. Something that will never stop,” Raj Singh said.
Bhonduram who is now working in the Water Works at Saral village was also a student of Satyavan. “I was perhaps in class six or seven when Baba began his planting of saplings. Ever since all of us who have studied under him have followed in his footsteps and taken forward tree planting in our respective villages,” he told Gaon Connection.
“I planted 500 saplings when my father passed away. At my nephew’s wedding we planted nearly 700 saplings. Most of us have started doing this now,” Bhonduram said.
The Peepal, Neem and Banyan are considered to be the triumvirate of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Satyavan said. “When planted together they are beneficial not just spiritually, but also environmentally. They are all long lasting trees that provide shelter and sustenance to many birds and small animals. Planting these saplings is considered to be holy and blessed and anyone sitting under them can feel their positive energy,” he said. “If we all come together to plant these saplings, we will be doing a huge service to the planet,” he concluded.