Friday, 5 October 2012

Nature worship - Stalavriksham (temple tree)

Ancient education system 'Gurukul'. Students learnt under a tree from their Guru

Yesterday, I visited a very beautiful Hindu temple in a place called Nemilichery, Chennai, India. I used to visit this temple in my childhood days regularly. I remember walking on the ever-green beautiful paddy field to reach the temple. Sadly, the scene is different now .There is no paddy field or greenery left .Every inch of the land is eaten by the growth of sprawling urbanization. 

The Nemilichery temple is nearly 1000-2000 years old. The presiding deity of this ancient temple is Lord Shiva - one of the Hindu trinity gods. The temple and its close surrounding have a Peepal tree and a pond. After worshiping the deity, I usually sit under the peepal tree. I am sure that it is the effect of sitting under the glorious and gigantic peepal tree that my mind is completely transformed into a calm and serene one and the air I breathe in is pure and fresh.

What we notice about many ancient Indian temples is that the temples would have been built incorporating Mother Nature into its fold. You will find a pond/lake and a tree with healing and medicinal properties. Trees such as Peepal, Neem, Bilwam, and gooseberry can be found planted in the temple.

Indian civilization and its culture is unique on the earth planet. Traditionally, the Indian population has been worshipping rivers, lakes, mountains, trees and other natural resources. People of India have been living very closely with the nature and thriving well on the natural resources.

Traditionally, every Hindu temple will have a stala vruksha (sacred tree) in different kinds. The Five Natural Elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) are treated with veneration, as they are inevitable to the progress of the humanity and very indispensable in day-to-day life of mankind.
Trees are well associated with human life. Even before some trees were regarded as Sthala Vrikshas (Sacred Trees of the Temple), those were worshipped by ancient people as they believed in Nature worship. Our ancestors who planted the tree in the temple did with a good intention. The trees that were planted have religious and medicinal importance. The worshipper who comes to the temple attains a healthy spiritual enlightenment!

We will see the benefits of some of the trees that can be found in ancient Hindu temples.

Peepal Tree:

Those days, our elderly ancestors advised married women who wished to have a child to go around the peepal tree and carry out their prayers. Our ancestors believed that Peepal (Sacred fig) has an effect on the chance of conception. 

The origin of Peepal tree can be traced back to the times of Indus valley civilization (3000 BC - 1700 BC) in the Mohenjadaro city. Scientific research has revealed that among trees, Peepal is the only tree that produces oxygen in abundant quantity day and night which is so essential for sustaining life. Those days Peepal tree were planted along with the neem tree. When they are together, the magnetic field created by both the trees along with pure oxygen generated combined with a focused mind of the praying ladies influences the body organs which could stimulate FSH/LH (Follicle stimulating and Luteinizing hormones) which helps in the reproductive process.

In Ayurveda, leaves, fruits and bark of the Peepal tree were used to cure diseases related to bacterial infection, cure speech irregularities, cure wounds, bile, phlegm, inflammation etc.

Gooseberry tree:

There is a mention of Gooseberry tree in Hindu Upanishads, puranas and many other ancient medicinal works. 'Amla' fruit is believed to be very nutritious. It is associated with the fertility cult. Women tie red and yellow threads around the gooseberry tree branches to get their wishes fulfilled. Women, who aspire for a son, tie a cradle to the tree and most of them beget children. They untie the thread after the fulfillment of their wishes. Women decorate the tree with sandal and turmeric paste, kumkum, flowers and offer camphor too. The sthalapurana of the temple says that this tree is to be planted in the southern side of the temple. 

Apart from its religious value, the gooseberry tree has medicinal values. Its bark, leaves, flowers, fruit and nut are useful to prepare many medicines. It has been proved that one gooseberry fruit's nutrition is equal to three apples. It is rich in vitamin C. Asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis, diabetes, bleeding of the gums, blood infection, cancer etc could be prevented if its juice is taken with honey. It also relieves stress and tension and proves to be a good liver tonic. If taken raw, it gives a cooling effect to the eyes and body. For constipation it is a good remedy. It is experimented successfully that fermented liquor obtained from its fruits could be used for indigestion jaundice and nasal problems. (Dastur, J. F. Medicinal plants of India and Pakistan, Bombay, 1962) Various parts of the tree are used to prepare medicines for tooth ache, fever, anemia, nervous disorders, sores, pimples etc. It is used by women to strengthen the uterus. For scorpion sting the juice of onion and gooseberry bark works an antidote.

More than these religious, mythological and medicinal aspects, to safe guard the environment, trees play an important role. The ecological factors reflect on the prosperity of a country for which nature is to be well taken care by the people. The Sthala vrikshas reveal the socio-economic aspects of the region concerned. People's knowledge of the trees and the veneration of the sthala vrikshas inculcate in them a sense of responsibility to protect the environment. In India it has been the tradition that anything would be appealing to the people if it has some religious sanction. Sthala vrishas are one of the best examples of the same. (Source:

If you would like to know more about sacred trees please see

Bye for now. With love from PetalDew

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