I used to be amazed to see pipal tree growing from a crevice of the house. My mother would say one should remove it else it has the power to break the wall because its roots are very strong. However, she would neither herself uproot it nor let any of the family members do it too. According to her a potter who works with soil or an agriculturalist should uproot it. I realized that the tree has some religious significance and uprooting it is a bad omen.
In the current generation, we expect how many of the kids to actually recognize the traditional trees? These trees are native to India and not only helped the religion survive on it for various traditions, it kept our soil rooted, provided habitat for many birds and reptile alike. If we see around us, Pipal, Bargad, Neem, rudraksha seems very elusive to most of the colonies. The date palm, Gulmohar, silver oak or maybe the commonest thin Ashok tree seems to suffice most of the “greenery”. Why are (especially Hindus) we failing in keeping these sacred trees survive even if it is just from the religious perspective? Hinduism is a sustainable practice and not just regular temple visitations and hitting someone on the head for the sole reason of proving ownership of mundane things of the past (I did mean temple position, cosmetic surgery, pushpak vimaan, evolution…….). How many of these Hindu extremists actually plant these significant trees or hit on somebody head for cutting the tree down I wonder? Well, I am not further drifting from the topic but I wish some of these Saffron (a color I love) clad people get enlightened by Tree and their God relationship. (A person not having religious and mythological belief can peacefully ignore)
Pipal tree / ashwattha/ Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) is said to have provided refuge to Lord Vishnu.Ashvattha is a name of Shiva and Vishnu (combined). Said to be the origin of Saraswati river in Puran and the same is mentioned in Mahabharata where it is called Plaksha Prashravana.its symbolic of fertility and protection hence women seen doing 7 circumambulations around it. (Even Budha attained knowledge below it).
Banyan/ Vat vriksha/ National tree of India ( Ficus benghalensis): Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurti (the teacher) sat below it. In pralaya, Lord Krishna is said to have survived on the banyan leaf. Savitri brought her husband Satyavan life back under this tree (Vat Purnima is celebrated in its honor).
Dhaak/Palaash: the trifoliate leaf represents Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma.
Bael: Skanda Purana mentions that it originated from the sweat of Lakshmi/Parvati. It is offered to Lord Shiva.
Neem: Associated with Sheetala Devi and cures smallpox (now gone 🙂 )/chickenpox
Ber: Shabri offered the fruit to Lord Ram
Ashoka: Sita stayed under this tree in Lanka
Parijata: Krishna gifted it to his wives. Lord Visnu and Lord Hanuman are said to be seated under the tree.
Mentioned here are just a few such trees who has the reference to Hindu God. Many of these trees are out of sight from most of the urban landscape. Some tree can be found in or near temples. But like most of the festival losing its significance for the dearth of right place and things for the offering similarly the religious significance associated with the sacred trees are getting lost very quickly. Some years back I saw many ladies doing chath-puja at a water canal near an agricultural field in Dehradun.Within few years the built up came up on the same agricultural field and the sight of ” Chath puja” is nowhere to be seen now. Many of us riding the religious bandwagon if actually respect the culture and tradition and really want to pray to our Gods then just planting and preserving the native trees would be the best way to worship. All the “Hindu” pro men moving with a “danda” to separate every young couple on valentine day just to prove the cultural and traditional values of Hinduism, should ask that couple to plant a sapling or at least water one! If one has to distract a couple better it should be the constructive distraction and in the process, I will have more tree around me and in turn more birds!