Monday, 4 April 2016

Amazing facts - Trees and Hindu religion!!

Asian Indians have been worshiping trees since time immemorial  and many  civilizations owe  their gratitude  to the trees and plants without which life cannot exist. Trees and their products are part of our religious and cultural rituals and ceremonies. A a matter of fact, tree is closely  linked  with the lives of humans right from the birth till death - cradle to grave.   In Indian culture trees are believed to be conscious;  like humans  and  they can feel the pangs of pain as well as happiness like us. A few decades ago a Botany professor at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, TamilNadu proposed a theory that "trees and plants grow better in response to music." Different trees like  banyan (Ficus bengalensis), bel (Aegle marmelos), neem (Azadirachta indica), peepal and many more  have close association  with Hinduism and various  deities and are believed to have enhanced the  religious  and  spiritual sanctity.

01. Trees play a vital  role in the production of solar energy which is important for the flowering, fruits plants, including medicinal plants, seasonal crops, pulses, etc

02. Trees are home to  numerous birds and animals  and give us cool shadows - a place for the weary people  to rest and relax after a long exposure to  the sun. To build a shelter above our roof, we use wooden beams, rafters, planks cut from the trees.

03. Many religions of the world have some kind of  links with the trees.  The Yule Tree in German mythology, the Tree of Knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, the Christmas tree,  the Bodhi tree in Buddhism and Saglagar tree in Mongolian Tengrism are worth mentioning.

Peepal (Ficus religiosa) www.quora.com
04. In both India and Sri Lanka, Buddhists venerate the Bodhi Tree which is said to have protected the Buddha when he was meditating to attain enlightenment. The Bodhi tree symbolizes enlightenment and wisdom and people with spiritual bent of mind would prefer cool shadows of Bodhi Tree to meditate  in order to reach self-realization and  sainthood.
 

05. One will be surprised to note the  close similarity between the life cycle of humans and that of trees. They represent a powerful symbol of birth, growth, death and rebirth. The various phases of growth, the annual death and revival of their foliage, make the trees stand apart.

06. Evergreen trees such as banyan that remain  green throughout these cycles and  are sometimes considered symbols of  eternity, immortality or fertility. In Tamil Nadu, in particular, young women worship trees for a certain period to be blessed with a baby. People hang a small image of a cradle from the tree in the hope, they will be granted a baby by the almighty. Likewise people hang
from the tree a small piece of cloth dipped in turmeric water, asking for favors such as winning a court case, cure of physical  and mental ailments of family members,  successful passing of a tough exam, etc.
Bel -Bilva tree (dear to Lord Sjiva). kannadigaworld.com
07. In folk religion and folklore, trees are often said to be the homes to  some tree spirits.  Here in India  there is even a belief in yakshas or yakshis, or nature spirits, that  may dwell in trees or other natural places. By worshiping trees in which yakshas may inhabit, people seek to please the spirits and bring health and prosperity into their lives. This is often done by placing incense and candles at the root of the tree or performing "tree puja."  Sometimes the small stone images of deities and Naga spirits may be  placed near the roots since the tree offers  shade and protection to them. In  rural areas, people  believe that there are good as well as bad spirits living in the trees. Hence, they worship certain trees to avoid mishaps.

08. Hindus worship  trees to convey their gratitude to them without which we can not survive on this earth. Bel rudraksa (seeds of Elaeccarpus) and Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) are believed to be closely associated with Lord Shiva and wearing the dry beads with certain number of  faces is considered good for the people.

Banyan with characteristic adventitious prop roots. en.wikipedia.org

09. Some trees are favorite of certain gods Sala - Shores robusta and Pipal  are favorite of  Vishnu;  Kadamba (Anthocephalus cadamba)  favorite of Sri Krishna; Mango tree (Mangifera indica) of Lord Hanuman;  Asoka tree of Kama Devi;  silk cotton (bombax malabaricum) of Goddess Laksmi; Sriphala (Cocos nucifera) -dear to Varuna or the lord of waters/rain.
 

10. Neem tree that has medicinal values is believed to be the abode of Sitala; Pipal of Goddess lakshmi; Amla tree of both lords Shiva and Vishnu. Pink lotus - Nelumbe nucifera is the favorite of many goddesses.
Puri  Jagannath Temple Chariots made of wood . www.jagannathtemplepuri.com
11. Sala is sacred to Buddhists because lord appeared and passed away under it. So are Pipal and bargad under which  Lord Buddha got the enlightenment.
Wooden (from Neem tree) idols of Lords Krishna, Balarama and Goddess Subathra.  newglobalindian.com
12. In the famous Puri Jagannath temple, the three main deities - Sri Krishna, Balarama and Goddess Subadra re made of neem  wood  and every 12 years or so they are ceremoniously replaced by fresh wooden idols. The rathas - chariots  are entirely made of wood and every year old chariots are replaced by new ones.
South Indian wedding. www.pinterest.com
13. During  some Joyous  ceremonies banana fruits, etc, betel leaves are exchanged between people. In all weddings in South India,  at the entrance to the venue,  a pair of banana tree trunks with a bunch of bananas are tied to the poles on either sides. Like wise prior to the wedding function,  a ceremonious wooden pole is erected in front of the Mantapam and pooja is done by Vedic Pandits, chanting specified mantras  and this custom is followed  by  Indian communities across India.  In Hindu  temples the main symbolic tree is worshiped  first as part of temple ritual. Kodi yattram or hoisting of temple flag is an important  ritual to be done before consecration of temples.

14. Even in the case of death in Tamil Nadu  fresh
bamboo poles and coconut leaves are used to build a bed called "Paadai" to carry  the dead body to the cremation ground. Tradition has been that dried cow dung and  fire wood are used to cremate the body. In other religions  wooden boxes - coffins are used to bury the body in the earth.

 Thus our lives are interwoven with trees, flowers and plants and without them, we the humans cannot survive on this planet. Devoid of adequate green cover  environment will become disastrous  and a change in the weather/ climate  pattern  will be detrimental to the very existence of our civilization that depends on water and trees.

http://www.esamskriti.com/essay-chapters/Sacred-Trees-of-the-Hindus-1.aspx