Neem trees are one of the most useful medicinal plants in India. Part of neem trees—leaves, berries, and twigs—are naturally antiseptic and antibiotic, and since they taste so terrible, they discourage insects from eating crops and flowers. Neem extracts even seem to be effective as spermicides for birth control. Villagers prefer to sleep beneath neem trees since they purify the air, thus preventing communicable diseases. They also snap off twigs from neem trees and chew them until they make a toothbrush which is effective in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. We have a rare photo of Baba Virsa Singh Ji from 1991, chewing a neem dattan as he walks around inspecting Gobind Sadan’s fields.
Fortunately, Gobind Sadan is naturally blessed with many neem trees. Our chief way of using them is as a pest repellent in the fields and gardens. In July, when the neem berries fall in abundance, our malis (gardeners) gather them to concoct a natural pest-repellent spray for ornamentals and vegetable plants. In addition, composted neem leaves are mixed with the soil when bushes are planted, to discourage dimocks (white ants) from attacking them, and to help improve the soil.
Neem trees seem to grow well at Gobind Sadan even in rocky, dry areas, without any care. Wandering animals don’t eat them unless they are very hungry and there is nothing else to eat. They provide very welcome shade as well as purified air all around our community. Thus we feel that our neem-studded, peacock-filled paradise is full of Nature’s precious treasures.