Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why we worship Peepal Tree/ Sacred Fig?

The Sacred fig or Peepal tree is worshiped in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is known as the king of trees and is believed to be the abode of Gods. In Hinduism, The Tridev's Bhramha, Vishnu and Maheswar are believed to be residing in this tree. The Roots being Bhramha(the creator), trunk being Vishnu(the preserver) and leafs being Maheswar/Shiva( the destroyer or transformer). In Buddhism, Peepal tree or Bodhi tree,is the one under which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (or Bodhi). Thus, in both this religion the tree is worshiped.    

One of the other popular belief in Hinduism connects Peepal tree with Lord Shani or Saturn. The mythological story goes like this, once two demons Ashwasth and Peepala after obtaining boon destroyed the Yajna performed by saints. Ashwasth took the form of tree and Peepala took the form of Bharmin. When any Yajna was performed , Peepala would join the Bhramins and would ask them to touch Ashwasth tree. When they would touch Ashwasth, they would fall sick and get killed. And Peepala would kill the Bhramins performing Hawan or Yajna. Thus, this two demons created terror. Rishi Agastha wanted to perform Yajna, so he prayed to Shani dev to do justice. Shani dev killed both the demons and resided in Ashwasth tree or Peepal tree.

The trunk of Peepal tree is considered as lord Vishnu. When Vishnu resided in Peepal tree, Lakshmi his wife also followed him and is believed to live in Peepal tree. There is another story of Lakshmi and Alakshmi. Lakshmi and Alakshmi are sisters, Lakshmi brings in Prosperity, wealth and peace whereas Alakshmi is opposite to Lakshmi and brings in calamity, sorrow and poverty. It is believed that Alakshmi had persuaded Shani dev to allow her to stay with Vishnu at night in Peepal tree, as Lakshmi stays only in day time. So, worshiping Peepal tree in day time and in evening is considered auspicious, however worshiping at night is considered inauspicious.

Whatever may the mythological story behind the popular belief to worship Peepal tree, there is a scientific side to it. Peepal tree or Ashwasth tree has heart shaped leafs and does not produce any eatable fruit. The Neem tree however has many medicinal value still we do not worship Neem. The reason behind this is Peepal or Ashwasth tree is the only tree which produces oxygen at night time. Though the oxygen production is less compared to day time, still this is the only tree apart from the ones found in desert which has ability to take in carbon dioxide and give oxygen even at night. Somehow, our ancestors had some concept that is beneficial to mankind so they had enforced this by religion and made this rule that anyone who uproots Ashwasth tree will be punished, as uprooting this auspicious tree is considered a great sin.

There are many other popular beliefs which we now consider as superstition but contributes towards a scientific cause. Take for example, cutting nails at night time is considered inauspicious, however if we give a think to this simple one, in ancient days when there was no electricity, cutting nails in dim light of a small lamp could have been dangerous, might be this is why they had a rule in the name of religion so that general mass would obey them.

Though, still I believe there are many things which are superstition in our religion, which were made to satisfy one particular caste or to have a male dominated society. However, I am still in for of those rules which were made in favor of  everyone irrespective of caste, creed or gender.

Thank you, for giving me your valuable time to read this post.

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