|Trees in Scriptures|
Trees in Hindu Scriptures
Read also Leaves in Hindu Scriptures; Why Hindu Tie Thread Around Trees
From the very beginning trees have a very important role in our Hindu scriptures.
Some trees have been described on and off.
Ashwatth or Banyan or Peepal Tree
(1) When Maarkandeya Jee saw the Deluge he saw Naaraayan lying on a leaf of a banyan tree in an infant form in the Pralaya waters.
(2) Shiv as Dakshinaamoorti is nearly always depicted sitting in silence under the banyan tree with Rishi at his feet.
(3) Garud Jee, when felt hungry, his mother Vinataa directed him to his father for his food. Kashyap Jee told him to go on an island and eat elephant and tortoise. So he went there lifted them in his paws and looked for some place to sit and eat them comfortably. He found a banyan tree whose branched were spreading 100 Yojan long, to sit upon; but as he sat upon it, its branch was about to break, so he quickly ate both of them and threw the branch in a locality of a tribe.
(4) There is a Neel Parvat in the North of Sumeru Parvat. It has golden peaks among which I liked the four peaks the most. One of them has a Banyan tree, another has a Peepal tree, another has a Paakar tree and another has a mango tree.
(5) Also in Hindu culture, the banyan tree is also called Kalp Vriksh meaning 'wish fulfilling divine tree'. It is worshipped on many occasions. There is a Vat Saavitree Vrat on Jyeshth Amaavasyaa and married women worship Vat Tree for the long life of their husbands.
(6) The ancient Hindu scriptures speak of the Universe as an inverted Ashwatth or banyan tree with its roots in the Higher Worlds of Sat-Chit-Aanand (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) and its branches in the many lower worlds that have been created. The world tree motif is present in many other religions and mythologies too.
(7) Read a story about the Ashwatth tree and Shani Dev.
(8) Kath Upanishad, II, iii, 1 - "Yam says about the world - “This is an eternal Ashwatth Tree whose root is above, but its branches are downward. It is He that is called the Bright One and Brahm, and Immortality, and in Him are all the worlds established, none goes beyond Him. This is That you seek for."
(9) Neelaarudra Upanishad, 3 - "This that comes is He that destroys evil, Rudra the Terrible, born of the tree that dwells in the waters; let the globe of the storm winds come too, that destroys for thee all things of evil omen.
(10) Bhagvad Geetaa, 15.1 - Here the Ashwatth tree is referred to banyan tree, not to the Peepal tree - "The Blessed Lord said - "There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Ved."
Ashwatth (Banyan) - A Sacred Tree
(1) Ashwatth, literally literally means "where the horses stood" (Ashwa means horse and "tha" means "one that stands"). In ancient times horses were the main means of transportation, and perhaps every town or village boasted a Peepal tree to give comfort and rest to travelers.
(2) In the Bhagvad Geetaa, 15:1, Krishn says: "Of all trees I am the Peepal tree, and of the sages I am Naarad. Of the Gandharv I am Chitrarath, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapil. (10:26). In Geetaa, it 15th chapter opens with the name of this tree saying about it that Peepal tree's roots are very deep and they must be cut by detachment.
(3) Shankaraachaarya Jee also interprets this tree as a cosmos. A means "no" and "Shwa" in Sanskrit means tomorrow, and "tha" means that stands; so A+Shwa+tth means which is not the same tomorrow. The same is true for the Universe.
(4) There are also other hidden symbolic meanings of this tree – one such meanings is narrated by Bhagwat Shah of Pushtimaarg. The Peepal tree represents the tree of life and is sacred in Hindu Religion. It supports life of all sorts and is famous for its long life. The Peepal tree also has the property to purify air.
(5) Normally all temples house a Peepal and a banana tree in their compound.
(6) Worshipping Peepal tree gives relief from Shani's (Saturn) affliction;
The Great Banyan Tree of India
A 330 meter long road was built around its circumference, but the tree continues to spread beyond it. The circumference of the original trunk was 1.7 meters and from the ground was 15.7 meters. The area occupied by the tree is about 14,500 square meters (about 1.5 hectares or 4 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of about 1 kilometer and the highest branch rises to about 25 meters; it has at present 2880 aerial roots reaching down to the ground.
Kalp Vriksh and Paarijaat Vriksh from Saagar Manthan
Tulasee Plant for Vishnu
(2) Vishnu Bhagavaan does not accept anything (any food item) without Tulasee leaf. That is why no Hindu house is found without Tulasee Biravaa (plant). It is still strange that although every house has Tulasee plant, Tulasee plant is not found inside the house. Tulasee plant is always planted outside the house or in the courtyard of the house.
(3) Tulasee leaves garland is offered to Badaree Naath Jee and people get it in Prasaad.
In fact the whole Tulasee plant is very important and worth worshipping for a Hindu. Its leaves and flowers (Manjaree) are for Vishnu, its leaves and roots are for medicinal uses, its wood is used for making beads to make a rosary for Jap.
Bel and Dhatooraa Tree for Shiv
Dhatooraa fruit is also offered to Shiv while worshipping him.
Shamee and Mandar Trees
It was the Shamee tree on which Paandav kept their weapons before they entered Viraat Nagar to spend their A-Gyaatvaas (incognito) period of exile.
Shamee tree is worshipped on Dashaharaa day (Aashwin Shukla 10) also.
Krishn and Two Trees (Yamalaarjun)
Aamalaa and Ashok Trees
Some Unusual Trees
If the Bodhi tree is about 2,300 years old, the giant sequoia trees of California too are its contemporary. Standing tall at 275 feet high, weighing about 6,000 tons and covering a volume of 1,480 cubic meters (52,500 cubit feet), they are huge.
Even older is the bristlecone pine tree, aptly named Methusela, standing at 11,000 feet above sea level, it is estimated to be about 48,838 years old.
But the oldest tree in the world is reported to be at Dalama in the Norway-Sweden border. It is an evergreen coniferous spruce tree. Scientists estimate that its trunk lives up to 600 years, and that it has cloned itself over the years.
There is one mango tree
Each time a chromosome divides and makes a copy of itself, a small bit of its end (called the tail end or telomere) is lost. Thus, after a set number of duplications, the progressive telomere shortening leads to the dead end. Understanding telomere biology and how cells are ‘immortalized' in cancer (through the enzyme called telomerase) came from the work of a large number of people, culminating in the work of Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider (who won the Nobel in 2009 for this work). That plants have a somewhat different mechanism of ageing became apparent soon enough, and Dr Barbara McLintock (who won the Nobel for discovering how genes can 'jump' or transpose themselves) called it ‘chromosome healing'.
We now understand a little better that ageing and telomere action in plants are different from animals. When we talk of an animal's life span, we talk of the survival of its entire body, but in a plant, there is comparatively only a rudimentary body plan. Plants grow in a modular form - individual modules being roots, shoots and branches, leaves, inflorescence and such.
As leaves age and die off, the rest of the plant does not. Also, plants grow using what are called vegetative meristems — these are undifferentiated stem cells that can regenerate into the entire organism. Thus, one can pick up a twig or a branch and grow the entire tree, or graft into another and make a new tree with added features. And cell death is not the death of the entire organism. A lucid, readable review of the subject is published by Drs J Matthew Watson and Karel Riha of Vienna, Austria. Titled “Telomeres, Aging and Plants: From Weeds to Methuselah: A Mini-review”, it is published on line on April 17, 2010 in the journal "Gerontology". Those interested may go to google.com, type out the above details and download the entire article free.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 10/03/13