(Last Updated on : 06/07/2013)
The trees in Indian mythology and folklore bear spiritual importance in Indian legends and history. The Vedas, Puranas and Epics carry special references on these mythological trees. As a result these trees are worshipped across India alongside the deities even in the recent times.
Hindu mythology has mentioned the banyan tree time and again. Hence a special significance is associated with this tree. It is often referred to as the "Ashwath Vriksha". In legends and folklores God Shiva as Dakshinamurthy is depicted sitting in silence under the banyan with rishis at his feet. This symbolises an eternal life due to the tree's unending expansion. The Hindus further believe that the banyan tree is a 'wish fulfilling divine tree.' The reference of this tree is found in various mythological texts as Bargad, Vatavriksh, and Barh.
The Bodhi Tree is an old sacred fig tree located in Bodh Gaya under which Gautama Buddha, the spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism achieved enlightenment. In religious iconography, the Bodhi tree is identifiable by its heart-shaped leaves. The Peepul tree or Ashvastha tree is also a sacred Fig tree and a symbol for happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. In Bhagwat Geeta, Lord Krishna had also said "among trees, I Am Ashvastha".
The Tulsi plant is an important mythological plant with a Puranic background. According to myths and legends goddess Mahalaksmi, wife of Visnu, had once taken the form of Tulsi. Due to these factors Tulsi plant is often seen at numerous Hindu temples, especially those dedicated to Vishnu and Krishna.
The Coconut tree, in mythology, is called "Kalpa vriksha" meaning "the tree which provides all the necessities of life" or "wish-fulfilling tree". Lotus, a symbol of beauty, purity and divinity is also seen as the sitting platform of many Hindu deities.
The Skanda Purana interprets the significance of Bael tree and mentions that Goddess Parvati's perspiration, which fell to the ground while she performed penance, gave birth to this tree. Hindu mythology also says that various incarnations of Parvati reside in each part of the Bael tree. Besides these the Ashoka tree is popular for the myth of Lord Buddha taking birth under it in Lumbini. Lord Mahavira, too, renounced the world under the Ashoka tree in Vaishali. Ramayana also mentions this tree as the Ashoka Vatika where Hanuman first meets Goddess Sita. Bamboo tree is also mythlogically associated with Lord Krishna as his 'bansuri' was made of bamboo.
Indian mythology and folklore mentions several plants that are revered in India and given a sacred status.