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The Glory of Banyan Tree

The Glory (greatness) of Banyan Tree

*The banyan tree is mentioned in many scriptures as a tree of immortality. Its aerial roots grow down into the soil forming additional trunks and therefore called Bahupada, the one with several feet (Bahu-several, Pada-feet). It symbolizes longevity and represents the divine creator, Brahma. We find this tree invariably planted in front of many temples. The numerous stems of the banyan tree are regarded as the home of gods and spirits.

The Rishis and Munis (Sages and Seers) sat under the shade of this tree to seek enlightenment, held discourses and conducted Vedic rituals.In Hindu mythology, the tree is called Kalpavriksha, the tree that provides fulfillment of wishes and other material gains. It symbolizes Trimurti – Lord Vishnu is believed to be the bark, Lord Brahma, the roots, and Lord Shiva, the branches.

 *The banyan tree is said to have nourished mankind with its „milk‟ before the advent of grain and other food. According to the Agni Purana, it symbolizes fertility and is worshipped by those who want children. For the same reason, it is never cut. Even its leaves, which are used as cattle fodder, are broken only when there is a famine. It is believed that if the tree is cut, a goat should be sacrificed in atonement.

 *The Puranas tell the story of Savitri, who lost her husband a year after their marriage. He died under a banyan tree and by worshipping it; Savitri was able to follow Yama-the Lord of Death himself and win back her husband‟s life as well as secure prosperity and progeny. This powerful legend has made Savitri an ideal of Indian womanhood and established the Vat-Savitri Vrata.

On the full-moon night in month of Jyeshtha (June), all married women fast and circumambulate the banyan to pray for the long and healthy life of their husbands.

  *According to the Vishnu Purana, during the deluge at the end of an epoch or Yuga, Lord Vishnu sleeps on a banyan leaf. It also compares Lord Vishnu to the seed of the banyan: just as a huge tree originates from and is contained in one little seed, the entire universe is reduced to its germ after these periodic deluges. This germ is contained in Vishnu, who then recreates the universe.

 *Another legend states that this tree is believed to have originally been situated in Vasuki‟s garden. Amba or Mother Earth, wanted it for her children. After a fight with Vasuki and by invoking Lord Shiva‟s help, Amba managed to obtain it.

 *This tree is also sacred to the Buddhists. After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha is believed to have sat under a banyan tree for seven days, absorbed in his newfound realization. The worship of the tree is also represented in a Buddhist sculpture with its long hanging roots dropping gold pieces in vessels placed below.

 *The Elders say that Sri Mahavishnu appears on leaf of Banyan Tree only (Vata Patra Sai) at the time of destruction (Pralayam). The leaf of Banyan (tree) is the basis (Adhaara) of Sri Mahavishnu himself. Therefore, it is beyond words to narrate the greetness (glory) of Banyan Tree.

 *There are many trees, attached (linked) with Indian culture. Among them, there are 5 famous trees, called as “Pancha Ksheera Vrukshas”. Of course, there is also Banayan tree in those famous five Ksheera Vrukshas. (Milky Trees) The remaining four trees are ficus tisela, (JUWWI – a kind of fig tree) Ficus religiosa, (Peepal tree), Ficus glomerata, (Medi- species of fig tree) and Jonesia asoka (The Asoka tree) Varaha Mihiracharya opined that wherever these trees exist, there will be plenty of water including various crops in large quantity. Therefore, the Banyan tree is an unique and matchless great tree among all trees.

 *The Banyan tree is also one among Pancha Pallava trees i.e. Ravi, Medi, Marri, Juwwi and Mamidi (Ficus, Tisela, Ficus raligiota, Firus glomerata, Banyan and Mango) All these five pallavams are used in sacred water kalasam (jar containing and offering worshipped as a preliminary to a main ceremony)

 *Our ancestors used to grow those trees in groves, These help us to maintain good health. These groves are considered one among seven offsprings (children) these trees supposed to grown as groves are 1) Ravi (peepal) 2) Maredu (bael fruit tree/ Aegle marmelos) 3) Banyan 4) Asoka (Jonesia asoka) and 5) Medi (species of fig tree). There is also Banyan tree in these five trees. Thus we can understand the importance of Banyan tree.

 *There is Banyan tree also among seven samidhas (firewood for a sacrifice) and five twaks. We are using these all in Homas (sacrifice performed by casting ghee and other objects on a fire accompanied by recital of Prayers from the Rigveda) and in the preparation of Ayurvedic Medicines.

 *The Banyan tree is also known as Nyagrodha which means a “tree which takes birth again and again”. Even human beings get rotated in the wheel of Birth and Death. They will born and die, born and die again and again. We are similar to Banyan tree. No sooner Swami enters in us than our body gets filled with divinity and divine wealth. Therefore entering the Banyan tree, the God indirectly preaches us to convert our Hearts into Banyan tree so as to enable me (the God) to reside there”.

 *The trees Preach and teach us Sacrifice” So, It is the aim of  Malladi Sri Venkateswara Swami that people should develop humanity in themselves and serve others like a Banyan tree. Sri Swami is preaching the same by entering in the form of  Banyan tree. ( Vata vruksham)

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