Monthly Archives: December 2014

Lotus plant - A symbol of purity

Seven sacred plants and trees for Hindus

Seven Sacred plants and trees and their importance

We all know that we are dependent on plants and trees for our survival, or in other words we can’t survive without them. Though modern man makes strident effort to conquer nature, but this is well known that Hinduism has always given importance to nature. These days, we can find people campaigning for animal rights and environmental care.  Hindus have harbored these caring sentiments since millennium. Hindus respect most flora and fauna. Hinduism also preaches to regard some trees and plants sacred, and to use as much part of trees and plants as is required and to apologize or pray to them before plucking flowers, fruits or leaves.

To name a few, certain plants and trees like tulsi, pipal, banyan, coconut, etc.have a special spiritual significance due to their association with deities, and they are worshipped or offered to God.

 Tulsi

For Hindus, Tulsi is considered as one of the most sacred plant.Tulsi or Basil is considered to be very dear to Bhagvan Vishnu and it is also known as Haripriya. One can find a tulsi plant in every Hindu house. The lady of the house daily worships, light a lamp, water the plant and circumambulate it. The leaves of the plant are offered to lord in pujas. Offerings are considered incomplete if these leaves are not used in worship. Tulsi also symbolizes goddess Laxmi, hence known as Vishnupriya. Tulsi is also a very important herbal plant used in ayurvedic medicine. It is no coincidence that this plant has got so many medicinal values and it is considered as a pious herb.

Tulsi - A sacred plant

Tulsi – A sacred plant

 

Banyan tree

Banyan tree is an important tree and  also called ‘Kalpavriksha’, meaning ‘wish fulfilling divine tree. Married women worship banyan tree annually in June on Vat-savitri Purnima, with flowers, rice grains, milk and by winding thread around the trunk. Hindu women worship banyan tree for happiness and long life of husband.

Bael tree

The leaves of the plants, bael patra are considered to be very sacred. The leaves of this tree are very dear to Lord Shiva and they are used in worshipping the Lord Shiva. Inthe holy month of Shravan, [July or August], devotees of Lord  Shiva offer bael patra on Shivlinga while chanting , “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is said that  Lord Shiva is appeased by this and devotees receive his blessings.

Bael-Fruit-Plant - dear to Lord Shiva

Bael-Fruit-Plant – dear to Lord Shiva

Pipal tree

Pipal tree has got importance in various religions. Not only Hindus but Buddhists and Jains consider this pipal tree to be sacred. It is also known as Sacred Fig or Bodh-tree. Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under the Bodh- tree. Thus the tree is also known as Bodhi tree. It is well known symbol of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. Hindu sadhu meditate under Bo- tree. For certain Buddhists, this tree is often the site of Buddhist and animist shrines.

Pipal Tree

Pipal Tree

Ankol and akado plant

Ankol flowers are white and black in colour, whereas akado are either white or reddish. Flowers of the plant are dear to Lord Hanumana, thus garland of these flowers are offered to him.

Lotus flower

The lotus symbolizes truth (satyam), auspiciousness (shivam) and beauty (sundaram). Since God is attributed with same virtue of satyam, shivam and sundarm, many parts of his body are compared to lotus: lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus hand, and he is described as lotus of our heart. Lotus grows in muddy water or ponds, yet remains beautiful, pure and unsoiled by the dirt.This means that even if one is born in an unholy family like Prahlad or in the lower caste, one can blossom to perfection. Inspite of living in a bad world a person can remain pure and be good.

Lotus plant - A symbol of purity

Lotus plant – A symbol of purity

Mango tree

This tree is another auspicious tree in Hindu religion.Mango leaves are considered very sacred. Leaves are tied at the entrance (toran). It is said to absorb negative energy from entering your home. Mango also represent Kama, the God of Fertilty.  It is put in kalash to worship Varun, God of rain. Mango leaves are also used for pouring ghee in havan.

Apart from above sacred plants and trees, Banana leaves are also considered to be of great importance. Similarly, coconut trees also hold a significant place in Hindu mythology.

Marriage of Padmavati and Lord

When Lord Vishnu borrowed from Lord Kubera

The interesting story of how and why Lord Vishnu has to borrow

 Yes, this is true, not only he had to borrow, but he is still in debt. In Indian mythology, there is an interesting story of Lord Vishnu borrowing from Lord Kubera.

Sage Bhrigu getting angry

It happened that Sage Bhrigu was once entrusted with the task of selecting the most deserving god from the trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh for a particular offering. Bhrigu visited Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva and did not find them suitable. When he visited Lord Vishnu, he found that Lord was resting with his consort Laxmi. Seeing this, Sage Bhrigu got enraged and hit Lord Vishnu on his chest with his foot.

Sage Bhrigu angry with Lord Vishnu

Sage Bhrigu angry with Lord Vishnu

 

Laxmi leaves Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu immediately understood his mistake and he apologized sage. Sage realized that Lord Vishnu is the most deserving deity out of all these. But Goddess Laxmi got angry with this behaviour as Lord Vishnu’s chest was her abode. She left Lord Vishnu and went to earth. Lord Vishnu searched for her but could not find.

He is reborn on earth

Then Lord Vishnu took birth by the name of Srinivasa as the son of Vakula Devi. Vakula Devi was an incarnation of Mata Yashoda. She was Lord Krishna’s foster-mother and was unhappy in that life for not seeing his marriage. She received a boon from Krishna, and was reborn as Vakula Devi. Laxmi also took birth in the form of Padmavati.

 Goddess Laxmi also reborn on earth

Padmavati grew up into a beautiful maiden and once she met Saint Narada. He told that she was destined to be the spouse of Lord Vishnu himself. In due course, Lord Srinivasa on a hunting trip was chasing a wild elephant in the forest.

 

The marriage is fixed

The elephant led him into a garden where Princess Padmavati and her maids were present .The sight of the elephant frightened them and their Princess. When Lord Srinivasa appeared in front of the Elephant, it immediately turned round, saluted the Lord and disappeared into the forest. Lord Srinivasa noticed princess Padmavati and enquired about her from her maids. He soon developed a desire to marry Padmavati and told this to Vakula Devi, along with his identity of Lord Vishnu.

 Soon, Vakula Devi approaches the father of Padmavati with the proposal to marry her son, Lord Srinivasa. Her father, a king himself agreed and his advisor Bhrihaspati wrote the invitation for the wedding between the two avatars.

 Lord Vishnu borrows from Kubera

Lord Srinivasa called for a conference of the Gods to win their consent for His marriage with Princess Padmavati. He obtained a heavy loan from Lord Kubera, god of wealth in Hindu Mythology towards expenses for the wedding as well as provide proof of his wealth. He agreed to Kubera that his loan will be repaid by the end of Kaliyuga with interest. So, when a devotee presents and offering at Balaji temple, he tries to help Lord in his quest of repayment of the loan and he is never sent back empty handed. Sage Bhrigu was also pardoned by Devi Laxmi.

 

Marriage of Padmavati and Lord

Marriage of Padmavati and Lord

Lord Venkatesh

Soon Mahalaxmi descended from heaven and when she discovered that Lord has remarried, she was horrified. On seeing her, Lord becomes a stone. Later on, this stone was recovered and the site became the temple of Lord Venkatesheara. This site is associated with Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu, and there is a varaha shrine, which holds great importance in Tirupati.

The intent behind this whole story is that Lord Vishnu wanted Tirumala hills as his abode in Kaliyuga and to help the humankind. He is adorned with Mahalaxmi and Padmavati.