Peepal Tree


Scientific Facts and its Religious Significance

 Peepal Tree is considered sacred by the followers of HinduismJainism and Buddhism.It is a very large tree with long life span and it can grows upto 30 metres (98 ft) tall.  Its bark is light grey, smooth and peels in patches. Its heart-shaped leaves have long, tapering tips. The slightest breeze makes them rustle. The fruit is purple when ripe. The Peepal is the earliest-known depicted tree in India: a seal discovered at Mohenjodaro, one of the cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation (c. 3000 BC - 1700 BC), shows the Peepal being worshipped. During the Vedic period, its wood was used to make fire by friction.

Common name: Peepal, Bo tree, bodhi tree, holy tree, scared fig

 • Hindi: पीपल pipal • Manipuri: সনা খোঙনাঙ Sana khongnang • Marathi: पिंपळ pimpal • Tamil: அரசு aracu • Malayalam: arayal • Telugu: బోధిద్రుమము bodhi-drumamu, రావి raavi • Kannada: ಅರಳಿ arali, ಅಶ್ವತ್ಥ ashvattha • Bengali: অশ্বত্থ asbattha •Oriya: aswattha, jari • Konkani: पिंपळ pimpal • Urdu: peepal پیپل • Gujarati: પિપળો piplo • Sanskrit: अश्वत्थ ashwattha, बोधिवृक्ष bodhivriksha, प्लक्ष plaksha 

Botanical name: Ficus religiosa    Family: Moraceae (Mulberry family)

Peepal tree is considered as  Aswatha(the tree of life).The twigs of peepal tree is used for homams.It provokes the functions of the brain, giving peace of mind.The leaves of Peepal tree is very rich in protein and the bark of the tree is used in several native medicinal drugs.

As religious belief many people circle around peepal tree for in need of children.But it is scientifically proved that the air comes from peepal trees cures uterus problems,menstrual cycle related problems.

Ashwatha literally means "Where horses stood" (ashwa + tha).Sage Shankaracharya interprets this tree as representing the the entire cosmos. 'Shwa' in Sanskrit means tomorrow. 'a' indicates negation, and 'tha' means one that stands or remains. He interprets Ashwatha to indicate "One which does not remain the same tomorrow", or the universe itself. 

Ashwatha tree is quite remarkable because it grows both upwards as well as top to bottom. The branches themselves morph into roots, so even if the original tree decays and perishes, its branches underneath are young and continue to enclose the parent. 

This eternal life of the the Peepal tree has inspired many Indian philosophers and Hindu thought. 

Great Stories behind Peepal Tree

The Brahma Purana and the Padma Purana, relate how once, when the demons defeated the gods, Vishnu hid in the peepal. Therefore spontaneous worship to Vishnu can be offered to a peepal without needing his image or temple. The Skanda Purana Peepal Tree also considers the peepal a symbol of Vishnu. He is believed to have been born under this tree. 

Some believe that the tree houses the Trimurti, the roots being Brahma, the trunk Vishnu and the leaves Shiva and worship the tree as Ashvatha virutcham. The gods are said to hold their councils under this tree and so it is associated with spiritual understanding. Ashvatha means "hORSE".Once Agnidev turned as horse and hid in the peepal.And so the tree got its name Ashwatha.

The peepal is also closely linked to Krishna. In the Bhagavad Gita, he says: "Among trees, I am the ashvatha." Krishna is believed to have died under this tree, after which the present Kali Yuga is said to have begun. According to the Skanda Purana, if one does not have a son, the peepal should be regarded as one. As long as the tree lives, the family name will continue. To cut down a peepal is considered a sin equivalent to killing a Brahmin, one of the five deadly sins or Panchapataka. According to the Skanda Purana, a person goes to hell for doing so. Some people are particular to touch the Peepal only on a Saturday. The Brahma Purana explains why, saying that Ashvatha and Peepala were two demons who harassed people. Ashvatha would take the form of a peepal and Peepala the form of a Brahmin. The fake Brahmin would advise people to touch the tree, and as soon as they did, Ashvatha would kill them. Later they were both killed by Shani. Because of his influence, it is considered safe to touch the tree on Saturdays. Lakshmi is also believed to inhabit the tree on Saturdays. Therefore it is considered auspicious to worship it then. 

Women ask the tree to bless them with a son tying red thread or red cloth around its trunk or on its branches. On Amavasya, villagers perform a symbolic marriage between the neem and the peepal, which are usually grown near each other. Although this practice is not prescribed by any religious text, there are various beliefs on the significance of 'marrying' these trees. In one such belief, the fruit of the neem represents the Shivalinga and so, the male. The leaf of the peepal represents the yoni, the power of the female. The fruit of the neem is placed on a peepal leaf to depict the Shivalinga, which symbolises creation through sexual union, and so the two trees are 'married'. After the ceremony, villagers circle the trees to rid themselves of their sins.

In Buddhism

The Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple. 
The Bodhi tree and the Sri Maha Bodhi propagated from it are famous specimens of Sacred Fig. The known planting date of the tree in Sri Lanka is 288 BC which gives it the oldest verified age for any angiosperm plant.This plant is considered sacred by the followers of Buddhism, and hence the name 'Sacred Fig' was given to it. Siddhartha Gautama is referred to have been sitting underneath a Bo-Tree when he was enlightened (Bodhi), or "awakened" (Buddha). Thus, the Bo-Tree is well-known symbol for happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck.

According to the Buddha – 'He who worships the Peepal tree will receive the same reward as if he worshiped me in person'. The Peepal tree has its own symbolic meaning of enlightenment and peace.

On new moon day and in karthigai somavaram it is good to circle the tress and worship.In Tamil Nadu,the Snake deity is kept under the tree and worshipped. For infertility and other naga doshas for marriage peepal tree can be worshipped.

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