Wednesday October 18, 2017
Home India Sacred Trees ...

Sacred Trees in Hinduism

While trees are considered sacred in Hinduism, that is not the case in Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, but they are mentioned for their benefits in Bible and Quran.

0
409
This image is of BodhGaya. Trees are of religious significance according to Hinduism. Wikimedia

Dr. Bharti Raizada

Trees give us shade, fruits, wood, oxygen, shelter, fragrance, medicines, sap, flowers, leaves, etc. They also prevent erosion near water bodies. But trees can also be sacred, according to religious beliefs.

Some trees are considered sacred in Hinduism. Many of these are big, have a long life, and provide many things to humans and have folklore associated with them.

Tulsi
It is also known by the name of Haripriya or Vishnupriya or Shripriya.
It is usually planted and grown in front or center of a Hindu house and the structure around it is called Tulsi Vrindavan. Tulsi plant is considered very auspicious. Tulsi Vivah is celebrated between Prabodhini Ekadasi and Kartik Purnima.
Its leaves are used in puja and offered to Vishnu Bhagwan. It is used in making tea, tulsi water, and jap mala or tulsi mala.
This plant is useful in the treatment of cough, cold, muscle aches, gout, rheumatic arthritis, and insect bites.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

Banyan
Just to clarify, banyan tree is not banana tree. In Hindi it is called argad. It is also known by the name of Strangler Fig or Nyagrodha. One indestructible Banyan tree is in Prayag and is called Akshya Vat. Another is in Gaya, Bihar, and one is in Varanasi. It is the national tree of India. This tree’s roots and branches grow over a very large area and it has a very long life. The roots and branches can grow in fissures of stones, concrete, walls of building, etc. The roots even grow upwards and connect to branches to give them support. This tree usually grows on or around a host e.g. other tree, and eventually destroys that host tree, building, stone, etc. Nothing grows under its shade. Initially they need a lot of water, but when fully grown they can live without water for a long time.
The Great Banyan tree in the Indian Botanic Garden is the largest Banyan tree. It has many aerial roots and looks like a forest. Bargad tree provides a lot of shade to temples, homes, shops, and pedestrians. People sit down under its shade and hold meetings, discussions, etc. Rishis and sadhus sit down under this tree and meditate. Women offer prayers to this tree and ask for a long married life on Vat Savitri Purnima. This tree is used to treat skin diseases, female infertility, to stop bleeding, diarrhea, joint pain, tooth ache, etc. Milk sap is used to polish brass utensils. Sap is also used as an adhesive and polish.

 

Peepal
Also called fig, Bodhi, and ashvat. It is considered to be the king of trees. Mahavir Buddh got enlightenment under a Peepal tree and Bhagwan Krishn left his human body under a peepal tree. It keeps growing as it ages, its branches hang down, its roots grow very deep inside the earth, and it has a very long life. Rishis and sadhus meditate under its shade. In the morning people do seven pradakshinas around this tree.
Its medicinal use is in treatment of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, gastrointestinal upset, and wounds.

 

Ashok
‘Shok’ means sorrow or grief. Ashok means no sorrow or grief. This tree has a zillion names. Some are- sita-ashoka, anganpriya, ashopalav, asupala, apashaka, hemapushp, kankeli, madhupushp, pindapushp, pindipushp, vanjula, vishoka, and vichitra. It is found in rain forest and its flowers are red and yellow. Its fruit contain multiple seeds. Lots of folklore is associated with this tree. Ravan kept Sitaji in Ashok Vatika. It is used to treat depression and infertility.
There is one other tree which resembles the Ashok tree. It is called false Ashok tree. Its flowers are green in color, its fruit has only one seed, and it is taller than the Ashok tree.

 

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

 

Parijaat
It is in Kintoor, near Barabanki in U.P. It is also known as kalpvriksh. It is believed that Krishn brought this tree to earth from Indralok and it is more than a thousand years old. There are many stories associated with this tree. It grows flowers, but not fruit or seeds, so more parijaat trees cannot grow.

 

Sandalwood or Chandan
It has a very nice and unique fragrance and its powder or paste form is used for tilak.
It is also used to make agarbatti, soap, and in aroma therapy. Its wood is used in temple construction. The wood retains its fragrance for many years. Oil is also extracted from wood. Jains, Buddhs, Sufis, Zoroastrians, Chinese, and Japanese also use sandalwood. It is grown in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Australia.
It is used to treat cold, bronchitis, skin, liver, gallbladder, urinary tract and heart diseases, general weakness, fever.

 

Kalpvriksh
Also called kalptaru, kalpdrup, kalpadapa, surtaru, devtaru, and kalplata. It is the wish fulfilling tree. It appeared during samundra manthan. Indra Devta took it to Devlok and planted it in Surkanan Van. There are five Kalpvriksh in Devlok — Banyan, Parijat, Mandana, Santana, and Harichandan.
On Earth, banyan tree, coconut tree, ashvatta or sacred fig tree, mahua, shami, chyur or indian butter tree, and kalplatha are considered kalpvriksh.
Jains believe that there are 10 kalpvriksha and Buddists believe that there is one kalpvriksh.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

Bael
Also known as shivadruma or shriphal. Its branches are straight. Its leaves grow in a group of three, have a very sweet fragrance, and are called belpatra. The leaves have anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties and are used for protecting stomach and controlling cholesterol. Bael leaves are offered to Shivji. Its fruit is called Bilva, and is like wood from outside, and therefore this tree is also called wood apple tree. It grows in dry climate and is usually grown in temple gardens. It is used as a laxative, tonic, and in treatment of diabetes and hemorrhoids. It has antibiotic and antiemetic properties.
Neem
It is also called healing tree, and is drought resistant. Its leaves are offered to Shivji. Dried leaves are used to protect clothes from insects. Neem tree has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It is used for skin diseases and to treat diabetes. Its twigs are used to clean teeth. Smoke made by burning neem leaves makes bees, insects, etc. fly away. Its fruit is called nimboli. Neem is eaten on the occasions of Ugadi and Gudi Padva.
Coconut
Coconuts are offered during arti and prayers and are broken on auspicious occasions. Copra or dried water is used to make oil, husk or coir is used to make ropes, the white part is eaten, and the brown shell is used as wood to make boats. Its flowers give sugar.
Mango leaves are used for auspiciousness and offered to Saraswati Devi. They are also used in hawan.
Banana leaves are offered to Laxmi Devi and Vishnu Bhagwan and also used as plates. Fruit is offered as Prasad.
Bamboo is used to make Bansuri.
Sami
The leaves are offered to Ram Bhagwan and are used to treat leprosy and intestinal diseases and have anti-inflammatory properties. Its roots are used in diarrhea and dysentery. Flowers are used to prevent miscarriage and pods to treat urological diseases.
Sami tree can grow in adverse climate and its roots go very deep into the soil. Its leaves remain green even in drought.
Jackfruit tree or Kathal
It has a unique aroma. Its pulp gives a mixed smell of pineapple and banana. It is the largest fruit in the world and has multiple seeds in one fruit. Wood is used to make musical instruments e.g. veena, mridangam, thimila and kanjira. It is also used to make furniture, doors, windows, and roofs.
The sacred Jackfruit tree site is on Kaina Hill of Bhashmukh parvat in Manipur. Seven Krishna images were carved from this tree and then placed in different temples.

 

Trees are not considered sacred and prayers are not offered to them in Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, but they are mentioned for their benefits in Bible and Quran. Jews have some rules and guidelines to follow before cutting trees, particularly fruit bearing trees.

There is a Gurudwara known by the name Shree Ber Sahib. Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak Dev sat down and meditated for more than 14 years under a Ber tree near this gurudwara.There are three Ber trees in Golden Temple, Amritsar—Dukhbhanjan Beri, Ber Baba Budha Sahib, and Lachi Ber.

Some trees mentioned in Quran are the date, palm, fig, olive, pomegranate, and tamarisk. Tuba is like Kalpvriksh.

Trees mentioned in the Bible are almond, apple, date (khajoor), palm  (devdar in Hindi), fig (anjir in Hindi), oak (baloot), pine, tamarisk (jhaoo or farash or jhambook) , pomegranate, walnut, acasia (babul).

Druits and Celts—alder, apple, ash, birch, blackthorn, cedar, elder, elm, fir, hazel, holly, juniper, mistletoe, oak, pine, rovan, willow, yew.

Nine sacred trees to build a bonfire in Wiccan tradition are birch, rowen, ash, adler, willow, hawthorn, oak, holly, and hazel.

General Sherman is the largest tree in the world, by volume. It is located in Sequoia National Park, California, U.S.A. 

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

Next Story

Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

0
24
Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

Next Story

Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

0
30
Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

Next Story

Exploring the Faces of Faith and Devotion: 7 Principal Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world

0
73
Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.

Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.

In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.

Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

1. Vishnu

Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Lord Vishnu. Wikimedia

Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.

Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.

So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.

Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.

2. Shiva

One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.

Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
God Shiva, Wikimedia

Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.

Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.


3. Lakshmi

One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.

Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Gods and goddesses of hinduism
Goddess Lakshmi. Wikimedia

Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.

Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.


4. Ganesha

The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.

The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Ganesh Puja. Wikimedia

Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.

Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.


5. Krishna

Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.

In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Picture of idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, decorated for Janmashtami. Wikimedia

Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.

Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.

Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.


6. Ram

Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia

Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.

Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.

Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.

7. Saraswati

Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.

Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.

Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.