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Monday, January 12, 2015

Magic of Trees!

* Hindu Saints composed Upanishads under the Himalayan Trees
* Buddha attained wisdom under the Bodhi Tree
* Vaishnavite saint Nammalvar attained wisdom under a Tamarind tree
* Sanatkumaras attained wisdom under the banyan tree
* Saivaite saint Manikkavasakar attained wisdom under a Kuruntha tree
* Sita Devi saw Hanuman under Asoka Tree
* Hanuman lives under Parijatha Tree
* Plato and Aristotle attained wisdom in the Olive groves of Greece
* Issac Newton discovered Laws of Gravity under an Apple tree!

From time immemorial Hindus have been worshipping trees of wisdom .Three trees from the same genus Ficus (belongs to the family Moraceae) have been mentioned in the Vedas, Upanishads and later Hindu scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahsranama etc. They are Banyan Tree, Peepal tree and Udumbara tree. Brahmins performed their fire rituals (Yagas, Yagnas, Havans and Homas) with particular types of wood only- mostly Peepal ( also known as asvaththa, Bodhi ). Tamils called this peepal tree as the King of Trees (Arasa maram). They installed gods’ statues under Peepal or Banyan (Arasu and Aal in Tamil அரச, ஆல மரம்) only. Krishna says he is Asvaththa among the trees in Bhagavad Gita. Buddha who was born a Hindu followed the Vedic tradition and did his penance under this tree.
Hindus used these trees for some scientific reasons. More the leaves, more oxygen they produce in the day time. Ficus Indica (Banyan tree) and Ficus religiosa (peepal/aswaththa) are huge and produce more oxygen, so as Ficus glomerata (udumbara in Sanskrit and Aththi in Tamilஅத்தி). Sangam Tamil literature and Gatha Sapta Sati (Prakrit book of verses) describe the gods under these trees. Some of the trees themselves were considered sacred. Wood Nymphs are also described in these literatures. Sanskrit literature goes one step ahead and speaks about ‘love with the trees’. (The botanical terms for these plants are given at the bottom):
If you touch Saptaparna (ஏழிலைப் பாலை), it will bloom
If you taste Makizam (மகிழம்), it will bloom
If you scold (tiff) Pathiri (பாதிரி), it will bloom
If you laugh to Mullai (முல்லை), it will bloom
If you dance around Punnai (புன்னை), it will bloom
If you hug Kura (குராபக), it will bloom
If you kick Asoka (அசோகு), it will bloom
If you sing to Kurukkaththi (குருக்கத்தி), it will bloom
If you look at Mara (மரா), it will bloom
If your shadow touches Shenpaka செண்பகம், it will bloom.
Scientific names of trees
Paalai= Wrightia Tinctoria or Alstonia Scholaris; Makizam= Mimusops eEengi; Paathiri =Stereospermum Suaveblens; Mullai= Jasminium Auriculatum; Punnai= calophyllum inophyllum; Kura= holarrhena antidysenterica; Asoka = Saraca Indica; Kurukkaththi= Hiptage Madabloata; Mara=Shorea Talura; Shenpakam= Michelia Champaka.Veppa maram=Azadirachta Indica, Puliya maram= Tamarindus Indica

(Kanchi Shankaracharya, Paramacharya swamikal who attained Samadhi at the age of 100, had said the above in one of his lectures. Greatest of the Indian poets, Kalidasa, refers to these trees in several places.)
Great Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar added one more to this list Anicham flower that is not satisfactorily identified yet. If you smell it, it withers.
Udumbara/Aththi/Ficus glomerata: This tree was worshipped by the Romans according to the Bible. North Indians worship it as Dattatreya.
There are hundreds of golden sayings about trees in our scriptures:
“Asvattha is the manifestation of Vishnu, Palasa (Butea Monosperma)of Brahma, Nyagrodha (banyan) of Shiva and Udumbara of Yama”—Mahabharata (Xiii-1-49-101)
Recently India has started exporting Neem (margosa வேம்பு) tree leaves to Japan for its medicinal properties. Japanese drink neem based water instead of green tea.Tamils have been using Neem (Veppa Maram in Tamil வேப்ப மரம்) for ages to stop the virus of small pox. If one takes it from young age in the prescribed quantity, even snake bite wouldn’t affect the person. One kilo neem leaves fetch Rs100.
Red sandal wood is exported to Japan for nuclear plants. They stop the radiation spreading like the metal lead. Sandal’s cooling effect is praised by Tamil and Sanskrit literature.
Scientific facts: 121 Drugs from plants!
Different size trees produce different amount of oxygen. It differs from 200 pounds to 400 pounds per tree a year. Man of average size consumes 400 pounds oxygen per year. Ocean algae ( Katal Paasi in Tamil கடல் பாசி) produces 90 percent of world’s oxygen!
Tropical forests are considered “Lungs of Earth”. The US National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 121 prescription drugs sold today are produced from plants. Vincristine, extracted from the plant Periwinkle is one of the worlds most powerful anti cancer drugs.
Trees help us to fight cancer, small pox, may be even AIDS. Let us respect, worship and save TREES.
A Sanskrit sloka describes the relationship between the women and the trees. It is slightly different from the list given above:
Nalinkithak kuraapakas thilako na drushto
No thadithscha charanai sudrasaam asoka:
Siktho na vakthram athunaa bahulaas cha saithre
Chitram thathaapi bhavathi prasava avakirna

Meaning: பெண்கள் உதைத்தால் பூக்கும் அசோக மரம், பெண்கள் சிரித்தால் பூக்கும் செண்பக மரம், பெண்கள் பேசினால் பூக்கும் நமேரு மரம், பெண்கள் தழுவினால் பூக்கும் குராபக மரம், பெண்கள் பார்த்தால் பூக்கும் திலக மரம்).
If women break Asoka tree, it will bloom.
If women smile at Senbaga plant it will bloom
If women speak at Nameru tree it will bloom
If women touch at Kurabaga tree it will bloom
If women sees at thilaka plant, it will bloom

Asoka = Saraca Indica
Shenpakam= Michelia Champaka.
Mara=Shorea Talura
Kura= holarrhena antidysenterica

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