Skip to content Skip to navigation

Jadav Payeng: The Forest Man of India

An exceptional, genuine and a compassionate person who surrendered his life to giving. Walking alone in the path of selflessness and humility is a true story of a man named Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng.

This man has single-handedly created a thriving, 550 hectare forest from a 'barren' sandbar in the middle of the river Brahmaputra of Assam.
Payeng belongs to the Mishing tribe and since 1979 Jadav has been planting trees.  His forest is larger than Central Park NYC (341 hectares). His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland, into a lush oasis. This place is full of trees Jadhav has planted them himself.  In beginning he found planting trees very difficult and time consuming but later it became much easier for him as he started getting seeds from trees themselves.

Former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam gave him the title ‘Forest Man Of India". In 2015, he was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.

Born in the state of Assam in northeastern India in 1963, he had a normal childhood as simple as it can be in one of the remotest parts of India before he heard the tiny voice of his heart.  During the floods of 1979, walking along the sandbars of the Brahmaputra River, Jadav found many snakes swept ashore but found them dead a few days later due to heat and the absence of trees. He approached the Forest officials to help plant trees but they told him to so himself.

Athough it was a painstaking process, Jadav started planting bamboos in the sandbars. A year later, in 1980, the Assam Forestry Division initiated a plan to reforest two hundred hectares of land in one of the sandbars of the Brahmaputra, known then as Arun Chapori. Jadav enrolled for the job and started planting trees for the project. The project was finished in five years, but Jadav decided to stay back and since then, he remained in Arun Chapori, planting trees and taking care of them with utmost compassion.
A fruit of pure love and will – the sandbar and neighbouring area is a forest today, more than 1000 hectares in area and is known as Molai Forest, aptly named after its creator and caretaker. The flora and fauna has grown fascinating with tigers, rhinoceros, rabbits, and deers making Jadav’s forest their home.
Jadhav lives with his family comprising of his wife, two sons and a daughter in a bamboo and wooden hut. He sells cattle milk to the nearby villages, which provides him with a meager but sufficient source of income.

Naina meets this amazing man at his residence in Kokilamukh, Jorhat. Clad in a simple gamucha dhoti and a naga shawl wrapped around him, he was very forthcoming to present his views in Axomiya language.
Presenting here is an excerpt of the interview (translated from Axomiya into English) with the living inspiration for all - the forest maker of India


I have lived in the village since my birth and attended the village school. The beautiful village is located in the heart of nature and since childhood I have spent my time with botanists and learnt from them. That’s why it doesnot matter what my country has given me, but what matters is what I can do for my country. Dr. Bezbaruah once told me that what I am doing will earn me lots of enemies and I really donot care for these people who protests on the roads because they are really not contributing anything to the society, to the country. They even donot know how to plant a sapling. The other day, ULFA Chief Anup Chetia told me that they are setting up a non profit organization and want me to join. I told him its of no use unless you all set an example by conserving the rhinos and other animals and help preserve and nurture nature. How can I be a part of an organization it itself allows or tolerates killing of animals and destruction of trees in its on areas. Anup chetia told me that he spent 30 years in a jail in Bangladesh but the question is coming from Lachit’s own land why did you have to waste your life in a Bangladeshi jail? Why couldnot you do work in your own land? I have been planting trees, preserving nature and creating forests in in Lachit’s land for the last 36 years, I have not wasted my time in some jail in Bangladesh. I told him if he wants to do really good for the country and his own land he should do it here. Now Paresh Barua keeps fleeing to various countries and what is his credibility, killing people and destruction. Does this help in the development of your land. This is totally unacceptable. If he is really the son of the soil, then he should join with the Indian army and fight our enemies in the border. My life objective is totally different from theirs. I donot care even if someone kills me. My objective is to help provide oxygen to humanity, including a thief and a sinner, a president and a commoner. That is why I donot care what others think or do, my joy is in helping the trees to provide oxygen for all in this existence.

Questioning the World Economic Forum for Climate Change

In Paris, I raised this question to the Economical Forum for Climate Change which has over 200 countries as members, that why do you emphasize so much on the word economy, what value is of economy if there is no oxygen.  I asked them to stop breathing for 2 minutes and then realize the importance of oxygen. We all know that trees give us oxygen and if these 20,000 individuals sitting in forum plant one tree, they will help themselves only. And if the whole 2 billion population of the world plants only one tree each, that will help stop climate change, other than that there is no way out.

Who is God?

When I asked the Forum for Climate Change if they have ever seen or met God, not a single person could reply. Who is God? Your parents are God because they give you life and when they leave pass away, who do they leave you with? – Prakriti (Nature) and other than nature there is no God. Therefore he who loves nature can only love this world, only he can love the whole existence of flora, fauna and humanity. To talk or give lecture in a forum is not my subject.

Compulsory Subject on Environment in Schools

When JNU conferred this award – Forest Man of India- to me, the Dean told me that I should visit schools, colleges, universities and big meetings and conferences are not really my platform. I agree and visit schools and colleges in various parts of the country and the world. Because the tree that taught us to make a garment from it and the bird that taught us to fly donot speak, we started to play the role of a destroyer and hence the issue of climate change today. During my visits to various schools and colleges, I observed that they have been observing Vanamahotsav since Jawaharlal Nehru’s time and for this occasion millions of saplings are purchased and given to these institutions but where are the trees? In 1972, in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, 136 nations pledged to work together to prevent climate change. But till today, we see no qualitative change. Is our education system such that adults cut trees and children uproot small saplings? Where is our awareness? I believe that our education system must have environmental science as a compulsory subject in schools and we should put emphasis in creating more environmental science research institutes and these research and awareness will bring a positive change in the eco system. If it is made compulsory for Lower Primary schools to make each Class I student to plant one sapling and nurture it till 5 years and he should be considered to Class 6 only if the tree is grown by then. Thousands of students take admission every year and imagine the number of trees the country will have in 5 years. In ten years India will become totally green. The students must be taught to co-exist with the insects, birds and animals and this will bring a great balance in the whole eco system and students can help create this new green world. I urge the Education Minister of India to bring that change in the curriculum of the schools.

In September 2016, I went to Taiwan. Huen sang came to study in Nalanda University from China through the Himalayas and today our Indian scientists, engineers, all the creative and talented brains are leaving India to work abroad. They are contributing to the development of another nation which could have otherwise helped in contributing towards the growth of our own nation. It is a sorry state of affairs. In Taiwan I saw they are making 4 lanes, 6 lanes but without destroying the trees. But it saddens me to see that thousands of trees are being uprooted and destroyed to make 4 lane roads in India. Why is this happening in India because we are an unaware nation. In the name of development we make policies which are not healthy for the environment. Hence I believe that this awareness towards our environment and for our survival, we must start to educate and spread awareness from Primary schools.

Message to Narendra Modi

My message to the prime Minister of India is Demonetisation and bringing back black money is all fine, but if humanity donot survive what is the value of money? So I would like to say to Mr. Modi to take measures on priority to save the ecology and environment of our country and focus on planting trees for the sake of the present and future generations.

On Women Empowerment

I am happy with Pramila Rani Boro, the Minister of Environment & Forests, for her efforts in empowering women of the region and she travels on foot through forest and terrain which shows her dedication and concern. Being a female she has done extremely good work than the previous ministers. During the previous Assam forest ministers’ time, what they have done is only destruction of nature, hundreds of animals were killed and nobody bothered about it. She has taken some good measures for the preservation of forests and nature and her role is very much appreciable. I convey my thanks to her. She deserves to be awarded for her work. Women can do much better than men and they must come forward. With their understanding, love and concern for another being, they can mother a child as well as a plant much beautifully than men.

Appeal to the Media

Media is very prompt to pick stories that is short lived and sensational but these issues which are of serious concern to humanity at large such as of climate change, or depleting eco system are never published. Media can bring about a great change if they so will by giving more coverage on environment and then we will surely have a beautiful green world and a eco system in which each individual contributes something to mother nature.

Author info

Ma Prem Naina's picture

Ma Prem Naina born in Jorhat, Assam, was initiated into Sannyas in 2003 at Oshodham, New Delhi. She is an MBA and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication. Deeply inspired by the love and dedication of the founder of the Osho World Foundation in Delhi, Swami Om Prakash Saraswati, she left her career as a producer/journalist to join in Osho’s caravanserai. She presently heads the publications and media relations at Osho World Foundation, New Delhi.


Chandana Hazarika's picture

I am so inspired by the work and views of Jadav Payeng! I seriously feel human beings must and must start planting trees in a big way if they want to survive. I strongly agree to his suggestion on educating each child about environment and eco system and make them responsible for planting and taking care of one tree from class 1 to class 5. Thank you for this article.
vijaynirusimhan's picture

i can't believe this a single man nurture the forest in Assam.He wants to explain the people , how he can nurture the forest and what are the possibilities to grow the forest.Then how we maintain that as much as greenly city. Thank you sir for your oxygen to survive in the world,i am obviously salutation for philanthropic attitude.
Pranjal Mali's picture

This is a really great work forever assam.


Add new comment

Random Stories

Unwanted protest in BTAD over land rights

27 Feb 2018 - 12:14pm | AT News
Kokrajhar: Amid simmering protest over land rights issue of the non Boro people in BTAD areas, former Rajya Sabha MP and president of United Peoples Party(Liberal) Urkhao Gwra Brahma have seen a...

SC 'NO' to Rakes Paul's bail plea

18 Jan 2018 - 2:45pm | AT News
NEW DELHI:There seems to be no respite for Rakesh Paul as the Supreme Court has declined the bail petition of the APSC chairman who has been languishing in the Guwahati Central Jail in...

Tripura CM suspends PWD engineers

14 Mar 2018 - 8:23am | AT News
PRASENJIT SAHA AGARTALA:  Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb suspended three PWD officers alleging sub standard road works.  Deb took the drastic step when he came to see the road work as...

Shillong Autumn Festival concludes

23 Nov 2010 - 3:40pm | Abdul Gani
The Shillong Autumn festival came to an end after a stupendous celebration over two days in which the colour of northeast was in full display. There were several surprises too for the visitors,...

Other Contents by Author

Why do we become joyous on a particular day and why in every culture and society, there are a few days in the year for celebration? People think someday, in the future we are going to be happy, joyful, celebrating. Osho’s vision is that, if you want to be happy, joyful, celebrating, then nothing is lacking. Right now, this very moment, dance; laugh, this very moment. This moment is all there is; celebrate it. For Osho, life is all. What else is there, he asks? If one loses life and gains the whole world instead, what has one gained really? And if you gain your life and lose the whole world, nothing is lost. Life is meant to be a celebration, not a contest, a competition. We need not be...
Sai  itna  dijiye, ja main kutumb  samaye || Main bhi  bhukha  na  rahu, sadhu  na  bhukha  jayeGive that much O God, suffice to envelop my clan || I should not suffer cravings, nor the visitor goes unfed-Saint Kabir In Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainsim, ‘dana’ that is giving or sharing is an important part of one’s religious practice. Dana is a Sanskrit and Pali word that connotes the virtue of generosity and is an ancient practice in Indian traditions. Dana is mentioned in ancient texts as “paropkara” meaning benevolent deed. Here “dana” and “dakshina” differ as “dakshina” is a fee or gift in return for anything taken. “Bhiksha...
An ancient proverb says- we are and always will be connected to nature. With the ever increasing speed of urbanization, globalization and our new found addition of the screen, we need to be with nature more than ever to stay healthy and sane. We are so hassled and tired in our day to day activities that we are losing touch with our primary and most essential life’s source and missing out on the positive effects of nature. We come from nature and will go back to nature. Nature mothers us and provides us with all that is essential to be alive. Just as Osho says, “Your life is your breath”. Breath is the bridge between the body and the self and between the self and the universe. But how many...
Modern man is like an uprooted tree. He has forgotten how to relate with existence, his surrounding and more importantly with himself. He has forgotten how to whisper with the clouds and the trees and the mountains. He has completely forgotten the language of silence. It is the silence that becomes a bridge between man and the universe. On this earth there are almost 3000 languages and existence knows no other language except the language of silence.  All communication has disappeared from the world. Everybody is living a lonely life and man has never been so lonely. Communication has failed because a thick, dense indifference surrounds everybody that even a shout cannot be heard...
Hindus have chosen a beautiful word, Ramleela, to signify the drama of Rama's life. Leela means play, which implies an abundance of energy. Only Hindus have the concept of play in their religion. They say, "The world is God's play- leela." Leela means there is so much overflowing energy, just to sit idle is impossible! The energy is overflowing. God is infinite energy, and we are his overflowing. The whole existence is his overflowing. It is all his abundance that is flowing and he can never be exhausted. This energy which can never be emptied, is called Rama. There is no destiny, no fate for God. He is beyond destiny. Flowers bloom, the moon shines and the stars twinkle for what? Why do...
Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway and back home in India, Nafisa Joseph, Viveka Babaji, Jiah Khan, more recently Pratyusha Banerjee, their way of choosing death reveals that their famous lifestyles are not as bright as the sparkling spotlights they walk through. More so, it is often a case of ignoring that darker side of life which, if consciously tackled, could become a breakthrough.Today the world we live in is a complex phenomenon, intertwined with several dynamics such as relationships, ambition, competition, anger, jealousy etc. Often, we all go through varied moods, and many of us have experienced depression, anxiety and stress. But taking one’s own life is an extreme...
Man has been conditioned down the centuries for goals, purposes and meanings, a goal-oriented ideology. All ideologies are goal-oriented. Because of these ideologies one cannot allow oneself to relax in the moment. The goading for achieving something continuously runs in the back of the mind. The whole education system is a strategy of poisoning the individual’s consciousness; a strategy of driving one crazy after goals and creating ambition. Ambition is neurosis. But this has been done for so long that it has become part and parcel of the human mind. Every university can become a place, not only to teach geography, history and other subjects; but to teach something very essential:...
When Bob Marley composed his very famous redemption song in 1980, he inspired millions with the lyrics -"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds". Probably at that time he had no idea how relevant  these words will be today, after 36 years. Outer slavery is not as complex as mental slavery because mental slavery is something that happens in an individual’s mind, invisible to others in the outside world.  Mental slavery is not somebody else's responsibility. It is just that we donot want to be responsible for our own acts and most importantly we are afraid of being free.  This fear is worse than anything that can happen to anybody....
Terrorism is not new, though it has come in a new incarnation. Throughout our history, invaders like the Huns, Taimur Lane, Nadirshah, Mahmood Gaznavi to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, all are part of a chain of terrorists. The major difference is now that terrorism is no longer limited to a particular area or a geographical territory. It has become globalized. Now everyone in the world feels threatened and terrorized. Terrorism is an ideological violence essentially rooted in unconscious human behavior. It shows its heinous form when governed by hypnotic conditioning. Osho points out, “Terrorism is not in the bombs, in your hand, terrorism is in your unconscious.”  Religion, in most cases, has...
Ya Devi sarva bhuteshu Matri rupena samsthitaYa Devi sarva bhuteshu Shakti rupena samsthitaYa Devi sarva bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthitaNamestasyai Namestasyai Namestasyai Namoh NamahThe goddess who is omnipresent as the personification of universal motherThe goddess who is omnipresent as the embodiment of powerThe goddess who is omnipresent as the symbol of peaceI bow to her, I bow to her, I bow to her With the magical rendition of these chants dawned a beautiful morning in east India, particularly Bengal and was thus invoked the goddess of supreme power “Durga” on 12 October 2015. Known as Mahalaya, this is an auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds...