PLANTING TREES AND HINDUISM

SACRED PEOPLE SACRED EARTH

By: VAIBHAVI PRAVESH SURA & DR. DHWANI PRAVESH SURA

Hinduism, which arose from the ancient Vedic religion, placed marked value upon trees (and plants, in general). With regards to the philosophical outlook on plant life, in contrast with Buddhism, there is a clearer and prevailing view of plants being taken into moral consideration. This clearer view on plant life is because Hinduism generally considers all beings as being connected via Brahman, and as consequence plants possess a consciousness and are therefore sentient, and trees are even self-aware according to the Yogavasistha.

Planting trees is an intensely noble Karma that may even earn eternal peace for departed ancestors.

Consequently, plants are part of the cycle of death and rebirth, known as samsara. With specific reference to trees, it is not surprising that it is the religiously- and economically- important trees that are most actively associated with religion and culture. To begin, it is however necessary to recognize that Hindus consider all trees to have a tree deity, which can be worshipped and provided with offerings including water and sacred threads. For example, Shitala (the goddess of poxes) is considered to reside within a neem tree (Azadirachta indica) – perhaps because neem has been used to treat an array of poxes and other illnesses for many centuries and as a result, the neem tree is considered sacred.

 Persisting with the religious aspects of trees within Hinduism, one can also observe how the planting of trees – particularly groves – is a highly important act worthy of marked religious merit. At times, these groves may be planted in patterns that accord to the cosmic alignment of the stars, planets, and the Zodiac, as understood in Hinduism; as may temple forests, which frequent the Indian landscape serve multiple spiritual and religious purposes.

Trees are real doers for all of us without imposing themselves upon us as the real doer. Trees are absolutely non-discriminatory, benevolent to all irrespective of socio-economic barriers. When the breeze wafts around, trees hum beautiful lullaby. Even an agitated mind is certain to fall asleep under the green of a tree.

Trees are wonderful Gurus too as they continuously teach us how to be philanthropic without being motivated. Trees are ultimate philanthropists as they continue providing so much even after their being uprooted and eventual demise. Trees are indeed, an incarnation of the Supreme Provider as they feed us and animals, provide fresh air to breathe, support all other members of their eco-system and cure our diseases.

The moment seed sprouts on earth, divine aura is immediately created that associates itself with it, continuously augments and stays with the tree throughout its existence.

Trees are established to be Yogis in the real sense, perpetually in the state of Samadhi sacrificing every bit of their existence every moment for the sake of all beings, directly by offering themselves as fruits, foliage, wood, Ayurvedic medicines, and shelter to animals and insects while indirectly by purifying environment constantly. Indeed, trees are Mahayogi-s commanding a distinct halo of sanctity exercising their exceedingly critical role as an important member of the eco-system wherever they grow. The moment seed sprouts on earth, a divine aura is immediately created that associates itself with it, continuously augments and stays with the tree throughout its existence.

Trees are meant to be loved, nourished and adored. They never take anything from us. They only provide.

In conclusion on a symbolic level, within the Bhagavad Gita, which is a Hindu text, the upside-down tree mentioned by Krishna also has importance within the religion. This tree’s roots are up in the skies, whilst its foliage is down upon the earth, and this is said to symbolize man’s origins (or roots) from divinity and consciousness. The suspended roots display these origins of man, whilst the branches upon the earth detail the workings of the mind, which is vastly complex in composition and function. The leaves, which are attached to the branches, symbolize emotions and thoughts that man will experience, and their temporary nature, as these leaves are eventually shed and re-grown. However, these leaves also need the water and nutrients from the roots, which connects man back to divinity and consciousness (the roots in the sky – the spiritual world), from where the mind should be based and build from, in spite of the temptation to base conscious existence upon emotion and the material world (the leaves).

śhrī-bhagavān uvācha,

ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śhākham aśhvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam

chhandānsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit

adhaśh chordhvaṁ prasṛitās tasya śhākhā

guṇa-pravṛiddhā viṣhaya-pravālāḥ

adhaśh cha mūlāny anusantatāni

karmānubandhīni manuṣhya-loke

(BHAGVAT GITA chapter 15 verse 1-2)

Planting trees is an intensely noble Karma that may even earn eternal peace for departed ancestors.

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