Worship of Trees in Hinduism
Trees are major processors of solar energy which is vital for our existence, and they yield flowers, fruit, wood and medicine. So, worship of trees in Hinduism is a matter of gratitude. The importance of all the elements of nature, including trees, has also been discussed in the Hindu scriptures.
It is believed in Hinduism that a person who plants an ashvattha tree, a neem tree, ten tamarind trees, three banana plants, three shami trees, three amla trees and five mango trees is a holy man. According to the scriptures, there are twelve or more trees that have special significance in Hinduism. To worship any god or goddess of Hindu religion, many plants and leaves of many plants and trees like banana, tulsi, paddy, arum, ashoka, shami, wood apple etc. and flowers like jaba, padma, sheuli, aparajita, kunda, parijaat, dhutra etc. are very important. Medicinal plants have been given importance in Hinduism since Vedic period. Many Hindu devotees lead their lives as vegetarians. In Hinduism, trees are believed to have souls and should be honoured and cared for. According to Hindu mythology, nine forms of Devi (goddess) Durga were appeared through nine kinds of plants which are collectively known as Nabapatrika. Fruits are also important in different puja occasions. So, trees bearing fruits are always given importance in Hindu community. Today I will present here some of the trees that are considered very important in Hinduism.
Tulsi (basil) Plant
Tulsi plant is a fragrant and medicinal plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. Its scientific name is Ocimum sanctum (sanctum means holy place). Goddess Tulsi is worshipped in almost every Hindu household. According to Hindu scriptures, Tulsi is an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi. She is regarded as the avatar of goddess Lakshmi, and thus the consort of the god Vishnu. In Golok Vrindavan, Tulsi (Gopika Vrinda Devi) is the nurse of Radha-Krishna and the main director of performing their (Radha-Krishna) various leelas (divine plays). She is the messenger of Lord Krishna, experienced in kunja (grove) reform and a scholar in Ayurvedic scriptures. She is known as Tulsi because she is the holiest of all the goddesses. (Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Prakritikhand, 22, 24, 42). She is also called Bhakti Devi or Bhakti Janani as she is the giver of devotion.
Neem (margosa) Tree
Neem has miraculous medicinal properties. Neem is considered as mother Durga and another form of God. It is also called Nimari Devi somewhere. This tree is worshipped by Hindu devotees. The neem tree has been found in India for many centuries.
Bael (wood-apple) Tree
In Hinduism, it is considered to be the form of Lord Shiva and it is believed that Mahadev resides in its root i.e. its root and its three leaves which together are considered to be the form of Tridev. Bael is a tree that is found in many parts of the world. The group of five leaves of this tree is more auspicious.
Peepal or Bodhi Tree
According to Hindu mythology, peepal tree is considered to be the abode of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. So, peepal trees are also very important in Hinduism. The peepal tree itself is also called Shiva. Visiting a peepal tree is compared to visiting Devadidev Mahadev.
Kadali (banana) Plant
Kadali Plant is used in most of the religious activities of Hinduism. It is usually used in the worship of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. In Durga Puja and Ganesha Puja, kadali plant has a special importance. The main ceremony of Durga Puja begins with Nabapatrika snan and the entry of Nabapatrika in the Durga temple.The nine plants are: kadali or rambha (banana) plant, maankachu (colocasia) plant, haridra (turmeric)plant, bael (wood-apple), dalim (pomegranate) stem, ashoka stem, jayanti stem, twigs of white aparajita plant and dhanya( rice) plant. The nine plants of Nabapatrika are collectively signify Navdurga or the nine special aspects of Durga.
Ashvattha (fig) Tree
In the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10, Verse 26), Lord Krishna says,
devarsinam ca naradah
siddhanam kapilo munih
“Amongst trees I am the asvatthah tree (sacred fig tree); of the celestial sages I am Narad. Amongst the Gandharvas I am Chitrath, and amongst the siddhas I am the sage Kapil.”
Actually, every ingredient of Ashvattha like bark, leaves, fruits, seeds, leaves and roots are all very effective. Ashvattha is a very important tree in every sect of Hinduism.
In the Ramayana story, Lord Rama worshipped shami tree before the conquest of Lanka. According to the Mahabharata story, the weapons of the Pandavas were hidden in a shami tree in the last year of their exile. Shami or Khejdi trees are worshipped in Hinduism. There is a custom of worshipping shami tree on the occasion of Durga Puja. The wood of the shami or khejri tree is considered sacred for Yajna (fire sacrifice).
Dalim (pomegranate) Plant
It is believed that positive energy is produced from the dalim plant. Pomegranate is counted among the five fruits of puja offerings. At the same time, this plant has many medicinal properties.
The leaves of Ashoka tree are used for Hindu auspicious and religious purposes. Ashoka tree is considered sacred and beneficial in Hinduism. It is believed that planting Ashoka tree in the house brings auspicious time, and a person can be freed from all exploitation.
Narkel is an essential part of all Hindu rituals. During puja, the narkel is placed on top after being filled with water. In Lakshmi puja, narkel naru is offered to the goddess. It is a symbol of Mangal (auspiciousness). This fruit are also offered to most of the gods.
In Hinduism, whenever there is a good deed, the door and the wall of the house or the mangal ghat of the puja, the mango leaves are used. Mango is known worldwide for its own taste. However, the religious significance of the mango tree is much higher in Hinduism. Its leaves are used in religious ceremonies and decorations in mandapas.
Chandan (sandalwood) Tree
Chandan is also considered to be a holy and sacred tree. The fragrant wood of the tree is made into a paste, which is then used in worshipping Lord Vishnu and Shiva. The paste of the tree is considered very pure and holy.
Tamal tree is very auspicious to the Vaishnava devotees of Hinduism. This tree is associated with Lord Krishna. According to mythology, Krishna played his flute sitting on the branch of the tamal tree in Vridavana. The 52nd Harinam initiation anniversary of His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, who was very dearly accepted as a disciple by Srila Prabhupada on 14th of April, the Easter Sunday of 1968, in San Francisco, within just one month of his having joined the temple. Srila Prabhupada explained the meaning of Tamal Krsna : “Your name is Tamal Krishna. Tamala is the name of a tree that grows in Vrndavana. Because it is the same colour as Krsna, the gopis, out of separation, sometimes mistake the tree to be Krsna Himself. Especially Srimati Radharani would embrace the tamala tree and always take rest underneath it whenever She was feeling separation from Krsna.” (source: Go Back To Home Back To Godhead।Facebook)
Lord Krishna used to play his flute under the Kadamb tree. All the activites in his childhood, were done near this tree. The kadamb tree is also a favorite among many gods and goddesses. Devi Durga is believed to reside in the Kadamba forest.
Rudraksha seeds and rudraksha tree is very significant Hinduism. The saints of the Himalayas used rudraksha to quench their thirst. Rudraksha garlands, rudraksha bracelets have been used by Hindu Shaiva devotees, Buddhist monks and Bauls for thousands of years. According to the mythology, Lord Shiva fought for a long time with unwavering eyes while trying to slay demon Tripura. That is why a drop of tears fell from his exhausted eyes. Then Rudraksha tree was grown from those tears. So rudraksha tree is very important in Hinduism. The 5-mukhi rudraksha is the most common in nature. However, 1 to 36 mukhi rudraksha can also be found in nature. The price of 14 to 21 mukhi rudraksha is higher as it is not readily available. Gauri Shankar, Triyuti rudraksha is well- known in the world but it is beyond the purchasing power of the common man. Gauri Shankar rudraksha seeds seem to be paired together, which is considered to be the symbol of Shiva and Parvati.