For those who may have visited our site in the past, you probably noticed that our logo has changed. The PBPF’s new logo is of the Himalayan Deodar Tree which plays a major role in P.B.’s book A Hermit in the Himalayas. The name “Deodar” is derived from the ancient Sanskrit “devdar” meaning “timber of the gods.” The Deodar most often reaches up to 70 feet tall, has a spread of 20-40 feet, and a trunk up to 9 feet in diameter, but in its home habitat of the Himalayas, at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, it has been known to reach 250 feet in height. Its roots grow deeply into the mountainside, usually at least 45 feet.
In the mid-1930s PB went on a year-long journey to the majestic mountains of the Himalayas and resided for many months in a small cabin on one of the ranges. These selections from A Hermit in the Himalayas illuminate P.B.’s relationship with the Deodar Tree:
“Here I am at last, perched on top of a narrow ridge, the dividing barrier between two deep valleys.…above the tops of the fir and deodar trees which literally grow within a few inches of the door and which are rooted down below on the mountain-side, the long and rugged barrier of snow-covered peaks and pinnacles which separates Tehri State from Tibet ….
“What luck! To have an entire forest of Christmas trees at one’s door! And each tree carries a load of gifts upon its needled branches—gifts intangible and invisible, maybe; gifts of serenity and quietude! The tops of these towering trees reach almost to my very door, but their roots are forty or fifty feet down the mountain-side. What the firs lack in girth, they make up for in height. They are lordly and grand in their vivid green garments.
“Lichen coats their barks. The ground is thick with fallen brown fir-needles. The creeping plants which entwine themselves around a few of these trunks in front of my door show snow-white blossoms of faintly-scented little flowers which brighten the shadowed scene. They spangle the dark foliage like a firmament of shining stars. Among these silent tree-shadows I may find, doubtless, what the towns cannot give—peace, depth and healing.
“My gaze comes to rest at last upon the curving branches of a lofty deodar, whose aged trunk is heavily covered with brownish-green dank moss and with long tufts of ragged lichen like a beard. It grows but a few feet away from and below my seat, and leans forward at a slight angle from the cliff-side. The sunbeams filter through its foliage. There is not very regular symmetrical growth of the branches, as with pine-trees, and the clustered needles which form the foliage droop sadly towards the ground. Nevertheless there is quite an air of faded aristocracy about the old dark tree, while its leaves still waft the peculiar fragrance which betrays its primal relationship with the Syrian cedar. I remember that the Mogul Emperors used the wood of the deodar trees to heat the water for their baths, and for the baths of their harem favourites , because of its unusual scent. Two tiny mountain flowers kiss the venerable foot of the deodar with their fresh young petals. Most spiritual of all trees, legend makes the deodar the favourite of the gods.
“I fancy that we shall get to know each other well, this tall graceful deodar and myself, and even attain an intimacy of firm friendship which my inevitable departure one day shall be unable to break. At any rate, we must henceforth companion each other for a long time, for such are the dictates of destiny. I shall whisper my heart-hidden secrets to you, O patriarchal deodar! and tell of those vanished joys and terrible tribulations which a man can never commit to public gaze, writer though he be. And you too shall speak to me, albeit in tones so low that the world will sneeringly say that I am deluding myself. But we shall both laugh pityingly at the world and forgive it, because we know well that although Nature is the common mother of us all, the world still remains darkly ignorant of her tightly-held secret.
“I squat on the ground rooted like the deodar tree before me. The life which throbs through my veins seems to be the same life which runs in the sap of the plant world around me. Even the solid mountain itself is no longer a mere mass of hard crystalline rock and thin patchy soil, but a living growth obeying directive laws no less than my fleshly body obeys them.
“Have you any message for me, O deodar?
“The intense silence, the unperturbed peace, holds us for a minute more. At last it is broken, not by any sound though but by a thought-whisper which floats through the atmosphere into my brain.
“‘You came to me out of a world which I do not know and do not understand. Sooner or later, I knew that you would be recaptured by it. Why should I wish to detain you? Have I not learned how to live alone? Have I not found in my own solitude the strength to endure all things—even the buffetings of snarling winds and the rage of destructive lightnings? Where did I get this power of endurance from? I drew it forth out of my own heart, where at first it lay asleep. Now I fear none and nothing—not even death, which cannot be far away. I have learned to depend on no help, except my own. That, my younger friend, is my answer to you. Be self-reliant. Wheresoever you go, remain a hermit inwardly. Then your world can never weaken you. Do not leave your stillness here after you find it. Take it back with you into that distant life whose agitation rarely reaches me, hold to it as your most treasured possession, and then, unafraid, you may let all storms blow past you. Remember always that you derive your being from heaven. My own peace I give to you.’
“These are the last words I ever hear from the deodar. For with the ceasing of its telepathic whisper I pass insensibly into a deeper condition. The peace outside seeps into me. I rapidly become like a man hypnotized and fall into a semi-trance. I cannot stir a finger, much less a limb, and remain rooted like a tree to the ground.”
– Paul Brunton, A Hermit in the Himalayas (Chapter 3)
The logo was drawn and painted by artist Rosemary Quebral, firstname.lastname@example.org, who has contributed her work to Anthony Damiani’s Astronoesis and most recently to Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret Egypt.