Tulasi Mala Rice Grain Model

Tulsi Mala Rice Grain Model Rs. 2000/- 
(Like Rice Size Small Beads Tulasi Mala)



Each and every god likes Tulasi Plant. Rishis and saints say that the Pooja performed with Tulasi is equal to Aswamedha Yagna.  Since Tulasi is so sacred, thus Mala made out of tulasi stem too is sacred.  The Power equivalent to Electricity will adorn the person who wears the Tulasi Mala. All good qualities will be bestowed upon him. His immunity power too will be increased. The person who wears a Tulasi Mala or who donates it to any Vishnu temple will be blessed with good health and wealth, the sins of this birth and the previous birth will be washed away.
Tulsi is the family of basil. The Tulasi Wood is the most sacred of all wood in the Hindu tradition. Tulasi Mala worn around the neck indicate a devotee’s surrender to the Lord, and therefore a person wearing tulasi beads is dear to the Lord.
Tulasi is worshipped in Indian temples as a living goddess. One Hindu legend relates that Vishnu spawned Tulsi from the turbulent seas in order to help all mankind. The Thulasi Bead Mala is worn permanently, for the beads protect one from bad dreams, accidents, attack by weapons and the servants of Yamaraja. Upon seeing the Tulasi-mala, the Yamadutas feel like leaves scattered by the wind.

According to popular Indian belief, Wherever Tulsi is planted, the place becomes, holy as a place of pilgrimage and the Yamadutas of Lord Death dare not enter that place. According to scientists the place containing tulsi plant becomes pollution free. The oil of the leaves is capable of destroying bacteria and insects. The leaves have mercury traces and are hence nowadays used in cancer curing Ayurvedic medicines. The juice of the leaves cures bronchitis and stomach upsets. The leaves paste cure all skin diseases and the decoction of the leaves cures common cold, as per the ancient vedic texts. Tulsi rosary is also said to cure a person from high fever, diseases of mind and from the ailment caused by disorder of the wind within the system. Tulsi clears the aura. It helps to balance vata and kapha doshas. Saying the mantra on Tulsi increases the spiritual power of the prayer, increases devotion and spiritual growth. It protects and aids in the pursuit of Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion.


OCIMUM SANCTUM

Family Labiateae
Sanskrit: Tulasi
Hindi: Tulsi
English: Sacred Basil
Tulasj-tulana-nasty, ataeva tulasi’ i.e. nothing can equal the virtues of Tulasi is a common saying. Tulasi is the meeting point of heaven and earth. According to one version, Tulasi plant was got as a result of the churning of the milky ocean (see Nycanthes arbor-tristis). Tulasi plant has a beautiful legend attached to its origin. Tulasi was married to a demon called Jalandhar who was born of the sweat of Mahadeva that fell in the sea. Because of his severe austerities and penances he had been blessed by Vishnu and given a boon which made him invincible to men, gods and demons, so long as his wife was faithful to him. Tulasi or Vrinda the name by which she was known as the wife of Jalandhar, was known for her conjugal fidelity. Getting arrogant of his invincible state, Jalandhar started committing atrocities on men. A time came when his excesses against humanity went beyond endurance.For a redress of their grievances, men took a deputation to Vishnu. Vishnu told them of the boon that he himself had given the demon and said that the only way to kill him was, if his wife was made unfaithful to him. Tulasi was so devoted to her husband that she would not even look at another man. Since the condition imposed for the demon’s death was
impossibility, the mortals requested Vishnu, the Preserver, to come to their rescue. Vishnu agreed and approached Tulasi in the form of her husband and seduced her. Having made her unfaithful to her husband, even though unwittingly, the demon was then easily killed. When Tulasi found out the ruse played on her, she confronted Vishnu in shame and rage and demanded an explanation for having been made a widow even when she had served Vishnu with unflinching faith and devotion. Vishnu gave her a lengthy discourse justifying his actions saying that to kill evil, sometimes even a god had to stoop to deception. However, to pacify her, he gave her an assurance that she would be worshipped by women for her faithfulness to her husband and her name would become immortal. Also, so that the women do not become widows. Tulasi was pacified by this assurance and committed sati. From her ashes arose a plant which was named after her and till today, the plant Tulasi is worshipped by all Hindu women. In a slightly different version of the story, Jalandhar confident of his invincibility asked Indra, to return the fourteen gems that had been obtained by the churning of the milky ocean. According to him, the gems were his property as he was born of the ocean. Indra did not know what to do with this strange demand and rushed to Siva and Vishnu for advice. On being told of the cause of Jalandhar’s invincibility, the gods decided to do something about it Siva, who was proud of his personal attractions, approached Tulasi but she repulsed him. Later Vishnu seduced her by approaching her in the form of her husband. When Tulasi found out the fraud, she cursed him to become a stone. Thus was created the famous Salagram stone. Vishnu in turn cursed her to become a plant.

Another story connected with the plant is that Jalandhar’s wife Vrinda was a woman of great beauty and Vishnu was enchanted with her. To entice him away from her, the gods collectively appealed to Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu; Gauri, the wife of Siva; and Swadha, the wife of Brahma for assistance. Each goddess gave a seed to the gods for sowing at the place Vishnu was enchanted by Vrinda. The seeds grew into Dhatri, Jasmine and Tulasi plants (Embelica myrobalam, Jasminium grandiflorum, Ocimum sanctum respectively). The three plants appeared before Vishnu in the form of three beautiful women and he was attracted by the three beauties and forgot Vrinda. The three women later reassumed the form of plants. Why the plant is called Krsna-fu/as/ is described in another story. Radha was in love with Krsna and her hold on him was so great that Krsna almost forgot his other duties and spent most of his time with her and the gopies, singing and dancing in the forests of Vrindavana and swinging from the branches of the Kadamba (Anthocephalus cadamba) tree on the banks of the Jamuna. To free him from his entanglements with Radha, Narada Muni went to Radha and asked for alms. The unsuspecting Radha promptly offered him anything that he asked her for, presuming that he would ask for the alms of clothes, jewels, foodstuffs, cattle etc. Assured of her promise to him, Narada Muni asked for alms of Krsna. Radha, having committed herself could not go back on her word. Krsna was given to Narada as alms but Radha became dejected afterwards. Seeing her sad face, Narada relented and~offered~to exchange Krsna for earthly oods provided they weighed equal to the weight of Krsna. Radha was happy once again. She was prepared to barter anything to get her Krsna back. A huge scale was brought While Krsna sat on one pan, on the other pan were heaped material goods. Unknown to Radha, Krsna was an incarnation of Vishnu and no matter what earthly goods she put in the pan to balance the weight of Krsna, the pan with Krsna was always heavier. Having put all her clothes, jewellery, cooking pots, household articles and cattle, there was nothing left for her to put in the balance and she started weeping at the thought that she was ultimately going to lose him. Just then she heard a heavenly voice which suggested that she should put a leaf of Tulasi to balance the pans. Trie minute she did that, the two pans containing Krsna on one side and the Tulasi ieaf on the other, balanced perfectly and Radha got her Krsna back. And thus the plant came to be called Krsna Tulasi or Kali Tulasi as Krsna was dark of complexion.

Another story which gives the reasons for Tulasi being dear to rsna says that Satyabhama, one of the wives of Krsna, wanted to be arried to him birth after birth and asked Narada Muni for advice. He suggested that she give Krsna as alms to him, as anything given to a Brahman was returned to the giver multifold. Satyabhama did as Narada advised her. Narada then started for the celestial heavens with Krsna carrying his Veena. When the other
wives of Krsna came to know of this, they reviled Satyabhama for her presumption and begged Narada to return Krsna to them as they also had a right on him as his wives. Satyabhama, they said had no right to give away in alms what did not solely belong to her. Narada told them thfct it was sinful to accept charity from a Brahman but if they wished to get Krsna back, they could buy for his weight. This sounded a very reasonable proposition to the wives. A huge balance was then brought. Krsna sat in one pan of the scales and the wives put all their gold ornaments on the other pan. But Krsna’s pan continued to be much heavier. Then Rukmini, the chief queen of Krsna, who was not present at the time, was asked to come and suggest a solution. She was the only one among the wives who was aware of Krsna’s divine nature. She asked the wives to remove their ornaments from the pan and instead to put a leaf of Tulasi. As soon as this was done, the pan with Krsna sitting in it went upwards. Rukmini then told the other wives that Tulasi plant-was more-dear to Krsna-therrall of them put together.

According to some tribal myths, when Vishnu as Kjsna outraged the modesty of Vrinda, she cursed him for having approached her in the guise of her husband and said: “I shall be bom in the form of the sacred Tulasi plant and you will have to bear my leaves on your head for the wrong you have done to me”. Krsna repented and granted her desire and now nothing is more dear and acceptable to him than Tulasi.

From Wollheim’s book we learn that the Tulasi is one of the holiest trees of India, because it is believed that the goddess Sri has been incorporated in it. Because of this the goddess has the name: Tulasi. The tree gets divine honours and sacrifices are brought in front of the tree. It is written about this tree in Krijayogasara, Indra and all other gods should always honour this superb Tulasi, granting result to the four endeavours. The Tulasi is, as is said, on earth, in paradise and in the netherworlds difficult to obtain, therefore, whoever wishes to reach the fruit of the four endeavours has to honour her. Wherever a Tulasi tree spreads, there will stay the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and all other gods. Kesava always stays in the middle, Prajapati on the top and Siva in the stalk of the Tutasi leaves. Lakshmi, Saraswati, Gajatri, Chandika, Sachi and the other goddesses are staying in the Tulasi flowers, Indra, Agni, Samanas, Nairita, Varuna, Pavana, Kuvera live in the branches of this tree. Aditya and other planets, all visvas (semi-divine), Vasus, Munis and all Devarishis, the Vidyadhara, Gandharva, Siddha and Apsara go to the Tulasi grove and always stay there. Where the goddess Tuiasi dwells, the goddess dear to Vishnu, comprising all the other gods, there you will find all the other gods. Ganga, Yamuna, Narmata, Saraswati, Godavari, Chandrabhaga and all other rivers and holy ghats, as many as there are on earth within the middle of ten million worlds, they all go to the Tulasi forest and make their dwelling there. Who absorbed by devotion honours the Tulasi, honours as well Vishnu, Siva and all the other gods? Those, who cut the blades of grass, growing near the root of Tuiasi, Hari will take from them the deadly sins off their bodies. Anyone, who in summertime waters the Tulasi with fragrant and cool water, he gets eternal bliss. Whoever spreads a carpet or umbrella over the Tulasi during the hot season, he will be delivered of all sins. People watering uie Tulasi in the month of Vaisakh (April) with uninterrupted flowing water, they get the reward equal to a horse sacrifice. Whoever merely sprinkles a single drop of water on the Tulasi, he shall reach, freed from all sins, paradise. The Fortunate one, who only once sprinkles milk on the Tulasi, in his house the goddess of luck will stay for ever. But now listen to what happens to the one, who annomts and rubs cow-dung to the root of the Tulasi. As many particles of it as are made liquid, O Jaimini, as many thousand kalpas he will enjoy with Brahma. Who places at the root of Tulasi a lamp in the evening, he shall go, accompanied by ten million relatives to the palace of Vishnu. Who ever protects the Tulasi from cattle, goats, camels, donkeys, young buffalos and children, he shall be protected by Kesava himself.

Anyone who devotedly plants Tulasi, he will go, when he dies, to highest bliss. The noble one, who, early in the morning and full of devotion, looks at the Tulasi, he shall get the reward of looking at Vishnu. The devoted one who worships the Tuiasi, his life-duration, his strength, glory, wealth and offspring shall always increase. By naming Tulasi all sins are extinguished, by touching the Tulasi all pains of men will perish. Whoever eats a beautiful leaf of Tulasi driving out all sins; all desires in his body shall be gone at once. The man, who wears a garland of Tulasi, in his body sin cannot dwell. The man, who carries on his head water drawn from Tulasi-leaves, he survey gets the reward -which is derived from bathing in the Ganges. The man, who’honours the beautiful Tulasi with Durva grass (Pao cynasuroides) flowers and pure sacrificial food, he gains the same reward as for offering to Vishnu. Why should anyone, who has honoured the divine with virtue, wealth, wishing goods and giving and purifying Tulasi with sacrifices, flowers, precious fragrance, melted ghee and lamps, why should he do the ceremony to honour Vishnu’s feet? Hari, the-king of the worlds, the enemy of Mara will be happy about all those, who plant at pure places, to be worshipped by the multitude of gods, causing pleasure to Hari, the Tuiasi and he will grant all of them the highest place to stay in. Sacrifices, vows, devotion to ancestors, prayer to the eternal one, pious gifts and whatever men do as good works near the pure foot of Tulasi, all these will be truly eternal.” Any pious work a man does on earth without the Tulasi, so dear to Narayana, is useless because the lotus-eyed god is not happy about it. The one, who during a journey full of devotion looks at the beautiful and pure Tulasi, he immediately receives by Hari’s grace complete reward for his journey. These, my words are reliable. The undivided sovereign of the world, the Infinite, he himself takes, not regarding the Mandara (Erythrina indica), the Jasmin, the lotus and other fragrant flowers; the Tulasi endowed with all good points and full of delight, he takes her even if she is withered, she can still remove many sins. The offenders who tear out the Tulasi, the plant bearing eternal life, even without wishing and knowing and throws her to the ground, Nrihari (Vishnu) who loves the Tulasi will take luck, offspring and life from them. Sinful people who urinate or leave excretions or used gargle-water in Tulasi forests, Hari will take away their wealth and everything else. Fingers, collecting Tulasi leaves for puja of Narayana, are richly rewarded. Prayers used by the Vaishnavas during the time of collecting Tulasi leaves, I shall now tell you, listen. “O Mother Tulasi who causes happiness to the heart of Govinda, I collect you for puja in the service of Narayana. Worship to you! Kesava without you has no happiness at Parijta (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) and other fragrant flowers, therefore I pluck you, o beautiful one! Without you, O blissful one, deeds are without fruits. Therefore, goddess Tulasi, I pluck you, be benevolent towards me. Because in my heart I am burdened to pluck you, be kind towards me, world Mother Tulasi! I adore you!’ After the Vaishnavas have said these prayers and have beaten together their hands three times, they collect the leaves of Tulasi. Then the leaves of Tulasi will be so carefully taken up by the wise men, that not a branch of the Tulasi tree will be shaken, because if by collecting of leaves a branch of the goddess is broken, the heart of Vishnu, Tulasi’s husband, is harmed. If an old leaf falls from the top of a branch to the earth, even by that it is, possible to honour Govinda, the defeater of Madhu and Kaitabha. The one, who with beautiful Tulasi leaves honours the superb eternal one, he receives without delay everything, what he desires ...,”

It is further said of the Tulasi: ‘Tulasi even is the holy Lakshmi, the wife of Bhagwan, therefore the wise ones do not consider her from the point of Botany. Just like a human being on earth thinks piously of the Tuhsi, in the same way Indra and the other gods worship her in heaven. Where this Tulasi is, equal to the-highest being, there is all-bliss. What-I-say-is reliable. Who, if he has been an ever so great a sinner, at the hour of death obtains water
drawn from over a Tulasi leaf, he shall get Hari. Who at the hour of his death carries a stroke of earth formerly part of the earth of the Tulasi root, he £oes, freed of his terrible sins to the dwelling of the disc thrower (Vishnu). On whose mouth, head or ears at the hour of death a Tulasi leaf is laid, his master is not Bhaskari (Yama).

Brahmins consider the plant as a wife of Vishnu. But in Kerala, the Nairs associate the plant with Siva, According to them, Tulasi is sacred to Siva and by worshipping Tulasi daily; they don’t have to go elsewhere for worshipping Siva. They believe that by drinking the water in which a few leaves of Tulasi have been soaked, they can cure themselves of all kinds of disease. When a Brahmin is dying, a plant of Tulasi is put before him on a pedestal and puja is offered to it, after which a small piece of its root is placed in the mouth of the dying man and its leaves on his face, eyes, ears and chest. He is then sprinkled with ganga-jal, the holy water of the river Ganges with a twig of Tulasi which has been dipped in it, amidst the chanting of the word, Tulasi, Tulasi, and Tulasi. The man dies feeling assured that he will go
straight to heaven.

A branch of Tulasi offered to Vishnu in the month of Kartika (Oct.-Nov.) is considered more pleasing to the gods than the offering of a thousand cows. A spray of Tulasi dipped in Saffron and offered to Vishnu is believed to assure one of becoming like Vishnu and partaking in his joys anti happiness. To offer a twig of Tulasi to anyone suffering from anxieties and cares is sure to secure a satisfying ending of his difficulties. One obtains pardon from all sins by merely looking at it; gets purified by touching it; gets cured of all sins by worshipping it. On the eleventh day of Kartika (Oct-Nov.), special puja is offered to Tulasi after which the ceremonial marriage of Tulasi to God Narsi is performed, and then only the marriage season is declared open. Marriages stop being performed after Ekadesi in the month of Asadha (July). Women’pray to Tulasi for the safe return of their husbands and sons who have gone on a journey. Tulasi is also worshipped by virgins desiring a husband, on the fu.l rnoon day of Aswin. The plant is believed to be a killer of demons, i.e. Bhutagni, and is therefore planted in houses so that no evil spirits would come near it. Its worship removes sins and brings wealth and happiness to the devotee. The leaves of Tulasi are never plucked on Tuesdays and Sundays or ever boiled as that torments the soul of the plant.

The seeds of Tulasi are believed to have the property of killing passion. This led to a curious custom of giving grounded seeds of Tulasi to young widows so that their chastity was preserved. When an eclipse is announced, to avoid the evil influence of it, Tulasi leaves sprinkled with the Ganges water are put in jars containing drinking water and cooked food, and are thus kept pure while the eclipse lasts. The plant which is an aromatic herb and scientifically proved to have many medicinal properties, probably gave rise to these beliefs.

NELUMBIUM SPECIOSUM
Family Nymphaeceae
Sanskrit: Pundarika
Hindi: Padma, Kamala, Kumuda
English: The Sacred lotus
The symbol of lotus occurs and re-occurs in Hindu and Buddhist literature. It is a symbol of eternity, plenty and good fortune. At present Lotus is mainly associated with Brahma, the demiurgic creator and the pristine embodiment of the universal spirit who was born of a lotus. A stalk of lotus arose from the navel of Vishnu as he lay reposing on his snake couch Ananta in the celestial waters. This lotus which bore Brahma, is considered as a duplicate manifestation of the Goddess Padma herself. From the earliest vedic tines, water has been regarded in India as a manifestation of the divine ersence and that is why oceans and rivers figure so frequently in Hindu mythology. Pundarika or lotus grows in the water and this is considered as the primeval waters of the spirit or the life maintaining element. Whereas Vishnu is the chief procreator of the universe, his wife Padma (Lotus) is second only to him. She is also called Sri or Lakshmi i.e. Prosperity, Fortune and Beauty. For this reason the Hindu kings apart from being married to their earthly queens are also married to Sri Lakshmi or the Raj Lakshmi who is considered as the very incarnation of good-luck and fortune. If Raj-Lakshmi forsakes a king, there is a danger of his losing his kingdom. In the Rg-veda, the lotus goddess Sri or Lakshmi is praised as Padma sambhava (lotus born); Padmesthita (standing on a lotus); Padmavarna (lotus coloured); Padma-Uru (lotus thighed); Padmaksi (lotus eyed); Padmini or Pushkarini (abounding in lotuses); Pauma. Malini (decked with lotus garlands); Madhavi (honey like); Hiranyamayi (made of gold); Yishnupatni (wife of Vishnu). The lotus unfolds the universe. According to Gopala-uttara-tapini upanishad “the immaculate lotus rising from the depth of the water and even remote from the shore is associated with the notion of purity and with the cohesive tendency (sattva) from which spring the law-of-conduct (dharma) and knowledge (jnana). It is sometimes taken as the emblem of the six transcendent powers (bhaga) which characterize divinity (bhaga-van)”.

The Goddess Padma does not figure in the earlier vedas because like the lotus plant, she is also a product of India and only when the Aryan invaders came to this land did Goddess Padma make its “appearance in “vedic hymns. Pundarika or or lotus is the creation of the divine life substance and that is why the celestial waters produce a thousand petaled lotus of pure gold before the universe is created. This lotus opens to give birth to the demiurge creator Brahma who then creates the universe. Waters are considered female and the cosmic lotus is the womb from which issues Brahma who creates the earth.

The Goddess Padma was worshipped as the mother but with the Aryan invasion of India and the installation of their patriarchal gods she was relegated to a-servi’e position and is depicted as pressing the feet of her Lord Vishnu, and Brahma, the Creator was installed on her lotus throne. But with the merging of the Vedic and the earlier traditions she was re-instated in her position of honour. Even among the Buddhists, Padmapani or Avalokiteshvara like Vishnu, has divine powers. Very often the lotus goddess is depicted not in a human term but by her symbols, a stalk of lotus or the lotus pedastal, the Padma-asana.

Often her symbols are consigned to other deities. Quoting Zimmer,“the lotus symbol, which originally gave birth to beings and existences in unending succession, now carries the powerful wisdom of Nirvana: the word that puts an end to all individualised existence, whether in heaven or on earth”. The Pancavimsa Brahmana states that the lotus flower is born of the light of the Naksatras, and the Atharvaveda compares the human heart to the lotus.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, Gokula is compared to the thousand petalied lotus with Govinda sitting on its disc. The petals are the seats of different performances of Sri Krsna and of different occult centres. The southern petal contains the occult seat attainable with difficulty by ascetics. The S.E.petal contains two recesses. The eastern petal has the most purifying properties. The N.E.petal is the seat of fruition, and the gopies attained Krsna on this petal by worshipping Katyayani, also Krsna hid the clothes of the gopies on this petal. The northern petal of the lotus is the seat of the twelve Adityas find is considered as good as the disc itself. The N.E. petal is the seat of Kaliya. Respect and favour were shown to the wives of Vedic Rishis on the western petal. Also the Asura Agha was killed here. Here is also the lake called Brahman. Asuras Vyoman and Santha-cinda were killed on the S.W. petal. Eight petals are situated in Brndavana. Outside Brndavana, there “are sixteen petals. The first petal is the seat of Govardhana where Krsna was installed as Govinda. The first petal contains Madhuvana (Bassia latifolia), the second Khadira (Acacia catechu), the fourth Kadamba (Anthocephalus cadamba), the fifth Nandisvana or the residence of Nanda, the sixth Nanda, the seventh Vakula (Mimusops elangii), the eighth Taia (Borassus urn belli form), where the Asura Ohenuka was killed; the ninth Kumuda (Nelumbium speciosum), the tenth Kamya where Brahma knew Krsna as Vishnu; the eleventh many forests; the twelfth Bhandtra (Ficus bengalensis), the thirteenth Bhadra (Shorea robusta), the fourteenth Sri (Aegle marmelos), the fifteenth Lohar and the sixteenth Mahavana. The deeds of Bal-lcrsna up to the age of five took place at Mahavana.

Kamalasana or the lotus seat as its support is one of the favourite themes in literature and sculpture. Brahma is seated on the lotus arising from the navel of Vishnu; Saraswati has a white lotus as her seat, Sveta-padmasana and Lafcshmi is depicted as sitting on a red lotus. Her home is the lotus pond. In fact in India, practically every deity is represented on a lotus seat. In fact the whole world is conceived as a huge lotus. Many plants like the lotus, the Sami and the Mandara owe their sacredness to the fact that a deity once resided in the plant as is borne out by the following story.

Rishi Dadhichi of Bhrigu’s race was approached by the deities with Indra at their head, to discard his earthly body, so that a deadly weapon could be made from his bones with the help of which their enemies could be killed. Dadhichi, concentrated his soul by his Yoga powers and cast off his body. Dhatri, taking the bones of the Brahmana created an irresistible weapon called the Thunderbolt with the help of which Indra struck Viswarupa, the
son of Tashtri. Having killed the son of Tashtri, Indra severed the head from the body. From the energy still residing in the lifeless body of Viswarupa was born a mighty Asura called Vritra. Vritra being also an enemy of Indra, he was also killed by the latter. In consequence of this double sin of Brahmanicide, Indra was greatly frightened and had to abandon the sovereignty of heaven. By his yogic attributes of Anima i.e. super-human powers by which one could become rninute, he became small and entered the fibres of a cool lotus stalk growing in the Manasa Lake. When the Lord of the three worlds thus hid himself, the attributes of Rajas and Tamas assailed the deities; mantras uttered by the great Rishis lost all efficacies; people became an easy prey to Rakshasas. The deities and the Rishis then decided to crown Nahusha as the king of the three worlds and thus law and order was restored. After a while, Nahusha felt that he enjoyed all that belonged to Indra but still Indra’s spouse Sachi was not his. He visited Sachi one day and asked her to be his wife, saying: The position of Indra is now being occupied by me. I deserve to enjoy the dominion and all the precious possessions of Indra. Thou wert Indra’s and therefore should be mine”. Since Sachi did not want to become Nahusha’s wife, she.gave him a false promise of meeting him on a particular day.She then proceeded to Vrihaspati to find out her husband’s whereabouts. Vrihaspati asked her to invoke the boon giving goddess Upasruti. Invoked by Sachi with the aid of proper mantras, Upasruti appeared before her and conducted her to Lake Manasa and pointed out Indra residing within the fibres of a lotus stalk.  Seeing Sachi so pale and  emancipated, Indra became exceedingly anxious and asked her the cause of it. Sachi told him of Nahusha’s desire to make her his wife. Indra instructed Sachi thus: “Go and say unto Nahusha that he should come to thee on a vehicle never used before and unto which some Rishis should be harnessed.” Thus counselled by her lord, Sachi left with a joyous heart and Indra re-entered the fibres of the lotus stalk. Seeing Sachi come back to heaven, Nahusha was happy and desired her. Sachi then told him what Indra had instructed her to say. Nahusha agreed and harnessing a few Rishis to the vehicle, he set out to meet Sachi. Agastya muni did not approve of this disrespect shown to the Rishis. Nahusha insulted him by kicking him with his foot. At that insult, Agastya cursed him to fail to earth. With the fall of Nahusha, the three worlds were again without a king and chaos reigned. The deities and the Rishis then gathered again and requested Vishnu to remove the curse of Brahminicide from Indra. Vishnu agreed provided Indra performed the horse sacrifice- Led by Sachi. The deities then proceeded to the Manasa Lake where Indra was residing in a lotus stalk and rescued him from the curse. Because Indra once resided in the lotus stalk, the plant is held sacred.

The plant is also held sacred because of Vishnu. Vishnu used to offer one thousand lotus buds daily in worship to Siva. One day as he was going to offer the lotus buds, he found that one bud was missing. Since his eyes were always compared to the lotus buds, he took out one eye and substituted it for the missing lotus buds. The rootstock of the lotus called Padmaka or padmakashta goes into the composition of many drugs. The seeds and stalks are edible. An offering of lotus stalks to deities at temples is considered highly auspicious. Pundarika or the white lotus plant is believed to be the Bodhi plant or the plant of enlightenment of Rishi Sikhi.

NICOTIANA TABACCUM
Family Solanaceae
Hindi: Tambaku
English: Tobacco
The tobacco plant of commercial importance was introduced into India as late as the 15th Century A.D. by the Portuguese and that is perhaps why, there are no Hindu myths connected with the plant, rpr is it considered to be sacred by them. But a large number of tribal myths connected with the plant are current, though very likely they refer to the wild varieties of the plant. With slight variations, all the stories appear to be based on the same legend. There was a king who had an ugly daughter whom no one would marry inspite of all temptations of money and wealth offered by the Raja. The girl grew in years and when she realised that she would have to remain single all her life, she killed herself in desperation. At the time of her death, she was given a boon by the gods that in whatever form she came back to earth, she would be loved and desired by men. After her death, she was cremated and from her ashes grew the tobacco plant loved by most men.

Another type of stories concerning the tobacco plant are related to poverty. There was a very—poor family who could not afford the traditional Indian hospitality. The family killed itself rather than feel embarrassed at having nothing to offer to their guests. At their death, gods feel sorry for the poor people and promised to give them something inexpensive so that in future they did not feel the humiliation of having nothing to offer to their guests. And thus were bom the tobacco, the betel and the Areca nut, all inexpensive items which the poor in India offer to their guests. Another very interesting story relates to Mahadeva. Mahadeva was a little mad from the day of his birth. Soon after he married Parvati, he came home very hungry and asked for food and Parvati was late in getting his dinner. When he kept on asking for food, Parvati thinking that he wanted to take his pleasure with her kept on smiling at hirn. In this way ten years passed. Then Ganesh was born but Mahadeva still does not change. He kept on asking for food and Parvati got weary of him. At last when she could not bear his persistent demands of food any longer, she went to the forest and picking up a leaf, prayed to Vanaspad, the lord of vegetation and asked him to make her husband love her. Then she came home, rolled one leaf into a pipe, powdered another leaf and filled the pipe with it and left the pipe near the food she was cooking. When Mahadeva came home and asked for food, she put a little fire into the pipe and gave it to him. Mahadeva began to smoke and soon forgot about the food and Parvati cooked the food in her own good time. Parvati then grew the plant of tobacco in her garden so that Mahadeva could have his pipe. Since then tobacco became known to mankind.

NYCTANTHES ARBOR-TKISTIS
Family Oleaceae
Sanskrit: Parijata
Hindi: Harshingar
English: Tree of sorrow, Night Jasmine
The origin of the tree goes back to the churning of the milky ocean. When Hari, the preserver of the universe was approached by gods for protection from affliction, desires, troubles and grief, he assured them of renewed energy to fight evil and said: “Let all the gods in association with the Asuras cast all sorts of medicinal herbs into the sea of milk, take the serpent Vasuki for the churning rope, mount Mandara as the churning stick and churn the ocean together for ambrosia, depending upon my aid. Then drink the amruta thus produced from the agitated ocean and you will become immortal”. The gods in alliance with the asuras did as they were told and started churning the ocean. Vishnu himself provided the pivot by becoming a tortoise on whose back the stick was pivoted.

From the ocean thus churned by the gods and the demons, first arose Surabhi the celestial cow as a fountain of milk and curds; then appeared Varuni, the goddess of wine her eyes roiling with intoxication. Next arose the celestial Parijata tree perfuming the universe with its blossoms followed by a troop of Apsaras, the heavenly nymphs. Then came the cool-eyed moon which was seized by Mahadeva and adorns his head; then poison which would have endangered the sea but was seized by the Nagas or the snakes. The Lord of medicine, Dhanwantri, robed in white and bearing in his hand the cup of ambrosia came next. Then seated on a lotus flower and resplendent with all her beauty arose Goddess Sri.

The story of the churning of the ocean appears with slight modifications in several of the Puranas. The Parijata tree of the Matsya Purana list of articles secured from the churning of the milky ocean is considered as a Kalpa-vrksha, the heavenly tree which symbolises mind. As the name implies, it remains with each one of us from birth and whatever one desires under its shade one gets. The Parijata tree which arose from the milky ocean was taken by Indra and planted in his heavenly pleasure garden Vaikuntha. A demon called Andhaka, son of the sage Kashyapa and Dili, tried to cany it off and was slain by Siva. According to the Bhagavata Parana, Krsna took away the Parijata tree from Indra’s garden after subduing the gods. He was incited to do so by his wife Satyabhama who was desirous of possessing it Harivamsa mentions that Satyabhama was excited by Narada Muni’s presentation of the flowers of the celestial Parijata tree to Krsna’s chief wife Rukmini, and desired to possess the tree itself. With a view to see the tree for herself she paid avisit to Vaikuntha.

With the assent of Aditi, Indra conducted Satyabhama to the pleasure gardens of the gods where she saw the Parijata tree, the favourite tree of Sachi, the queen of Indra. This tree had a bark of gold, its young sprouting leaves were of a copper colour and it bore numerous clusters of small, fragrant flowers. On seeing the tree, Satyabhama taunted her husband Govinda and said: “If as you have always said that I am your favourite queen, then-transport
this ^ivine tree to Dwaraka where it wculd be the ornament of my mansion. I will shine among my fellow queens with the flowers of this tree adorning the braids of my hair”. When Satyabhama approached Krsna thus with her request, he took the Parijata tree and put it upon Garuda to take it away. The keepers of the garden remonstrated with him saying that as the tree belonged to Sachi, Hari could not take it away. It was audacity on the part of Krsna to dare such a thing and he would be punished for it. He should not provoke the wrath of Indra, otherwise there would be unpleasant consequences.

Satyabhama was enraged at this and said: “What right has Sachi and Indra to the Parijata tree. As it was produced at the churning of the ocean, it is the common property of all. Why should then only Indra possess it? Sachi, confident of her husband’s strength has kept it to herself. I will not submit to her. If her husband is obedient to her authority, let him prevent my husband from taking it from here. I challenge Sachi and say that I, a mortal will take this Parijata tree away from her”. Indra, taking an army of celestial beings, marched to the defence of the Parijata tree. The battle raged for long, the myriad darts and the innumerable missiles were spread far and wide. The air reverberated with the sound of shells and shafts; the arrows were scattered over great distances like fleeces of cotton from the pods of the Salmali (Salmalia malabaricum) tree. But ultimately Krsna’s discus Sudarsana cut Indra’s thunderbolt to pieces. Seeing Indra retreat, Satyabhama taunted hirn and said: “King of the triple world, it ill becomes the husband of Sachi to run away. Adorned with garlands made of the Parijata flowers, Sachi will approach you. Of what use is the sovereignty of heaven with the Parijata tree no longer there? And how will you then face Sachi who will meet you with affection? Nay, fly not, you must not suffer shame. Here take the Parijata tree; let not the gods get annoyed. I do not want the Parijata tree”. The king of gods, Indra, turned back at the reproach and answered: “I am not ashamed of being vanquished by him who is the author of Creation, Preservation and Destruction of the world”. On hearing this, Krsna told Indra that he did not want to take the tree and that it could remain in Indra’s garden. But Indra answered: “Let this Parijata tree be transferred to Dwaraka and it shall remain upon earth so long as thou abidest in the world of mortals”. The tree was then transported to Dwaraka where it was planted in Satyabhama’s garden. The fragrance of its flowers perfumed the earth for three furlongs and it is said that anyone who beheld the tree could recollect the events of his prior existence.

The name Tree of Sorrow’ or ‘arbor-tristis’ • refers to the night flowering habit of the plant. This name is connected with the following story. There was once a princess who fell in love with Surya-deva, the resplendent, handsome and shining Sun-god. He sported with her for a while and then deserted her. The princess ‘.as heart broken and in despair killed herself and her body was cremated. From where her ashes fell, arose this tree of sorrow. Since Surya-deva was the cause of the death of the princess, the tree is unable to bear the sight of the sun and in its natural habitat is found in deep forests. It blooms only at night and with the first ray of dawn, its orange centred while flowers are dropped. The flowers are usually offered to the gods of the forest for favouring the shikari in his km. They are also used for garlands and are commonly placed on biers.

ORYZA SATIVA
Family Gramineae
Sanskrit: Mana, Dhanya
Hindi: Dhan, Chaval
English: Rice
Rice is considered a fertility symbol the world over. In India, rice is used on all auspicious occasions. This is also because rice is a wholesome food, giving strength and virility to men. There is a strong belief that rice eaters are more fertile. To the Hindus, Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. Rice being the stable food of-the majority of Indians, it is also associated with wealth and therefore, rice is considered as the goddess Lakshmi and is offered in all religious ceremonies. Rice is worshipped as Lakshmi on the full moon day following the Durga puja. In Bengal the ritual of rice worship as Lakshmi is repeated on every Thursday of Agrahayana (Nov.-Dec.) or Magha (Jan.-Feb.) and paddy stalks or unhusked paddy is worshipped as the goddess herself. As was told to me by Mrs B. M. Patel, rice is held sacred by the Buddhists because when after long meditation, Siddharta’s body became emancipated due to starvation and austerities, it was rice cooked in milk that revived him. According to the story, Sujata milked one hundred cows and made fifty cows drink that milk. Then she milked those fifty cows and gave twenty five cows that milk to drink. Again she-milked those twenty five cows and-gave ten-cows-to— drink that milk. Ultimately she milked ten cows and gave one cow the milk to drink. It was the milk of this last cow that was very light and nourishing. Sujata cooked new rice thrashed by herself with sugar and the milk from this cow and gave it to Siddharta to eat and that revived his strength after the prolonged austerities he had undergone. Since it was the rice pudding that saved the life of Siddharta, rice came to be held sacred by the Buddhists. It is the new rice that is used for religious ceremonies and not the old rice which is preferred for cooking. Rice being one of the earlier cereals that were known to man, it started being associated with food and is often considered to be Prajapati or Janardana “and is worshipped as such. The custom of sprinkling rice on the bridal couple or offering of rice by the bridal couple to their patron household deity dates back to almost prehistoric times and is prevalent all over the world, this symbolic reference of rice to fertility being universal. Rice is believed to scare demons, particularly those that check the fertility of the union. From this belief perhaps stems the old marriage ritual of pouring rice into the sacrificial fire by the bride and the bridegroom and the usage of presenting rice tinged with tumeric powder as invitation to the wedding feast Among more affluent societies saffron is used instead of tumeric powder to colour the rice. In certain parts of India the bridal couple during the marriage ceremony, stand, each on a pile of rice and the guests silently throw a few grams of rice grain on the pile at the close of the recitation of each text. Whatever may be the local variations of ceremonies connected with marriages or for begetting offsprings, rice is always a part of the ingredients used on such functions. Rice being held sacred, it is used for all religious ceremonies, even at the time of oath taking of a king or at the namkaran or the ceremony of naming the child. Rice offering stands for the perception of Existence, Consciousness and Experience in all things.”

PANDANUS ODORATISS1MUS
Family Pandanaceae
Sanskrit: Ketaki
Hindi: Keura
English: Pine
One day Siva was playing a game of dice with his wife Parvati. Parvati defeated him. He felt ashamed of himself at having been defeated by a woman and hid in the Ketaki woods. To forget his humiliation, he got absorbed in deep meditation. Parvati sensed his feelings and wanted to bring him around. She approached him in the form of a young beautiful woman and tried to entice him back to herself. But with his eyes closed and absorbed deep meditation as he was. Mahadeva did not see her or feel her presence. Parvati then approached him wearing Ketaki flowers in her hair. The sweet scent of the Ketaki flowers attracted Siva’s attention and he was disturbed in his prayers. Getting annoyed at being thus disturbed, he cursed the Ketaki flowers.

Another legend giving the reason for Siva to curse the plant says that from the primordial waters arose a fiery linga that kept on growing in size. Both Vishnu and Brahma were astonished to see such a fiery sight and not knowing what the linga signified, decided to investigate the matter. Vishnu dived into the primordial waters to find its lower end and Brahma flew high up the heavens to reach its tip. He flew higher and higher but the linga kept on rising higher than Brahma could fly. Vishnu could not find its depth and Brahma could not reach its summit.Ultimately both Brahma and Vishnu came back without having found the secret of the linga. The linga then burst open and Siva appeared before them standing within the linga. Seeing Siva in the linga, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him, accepting his supremacy.

According to the story, Ketaki bore false witness to Brahma, saying that he had reached the summit of the linga and for rhis falsehood, Ketaki was rejected by Siva. According to Skanda Purana (1.1.6), Brahma was denied the worship for uttering this falsehood. The flowers of Ketaki are worn by girls in their hair to win lovers. But the Nair giris do not use its flowers for adorning their hair because the plant was cursed by Siva. Ketaki is a densely branched, rarely erect, evergreen tree growing in the low moist swampy places in the Andaman Islands and on the coastline of India. The plant with strong roots and with its trunk studded with short
prickles is aphrodisiac and induces Isleep. Its seeds are supposed to cure wounds of the heart, perhaps symbolic of heartaches. From the plant is prepared an essence called Keura which is used ‘extensively in the preparation of cooling drinks called sherbets.

PANICUM MAXIMUM
Family Gramineae
Sanskrit: Eraka
English: Rushes, Guinea Grass
At the holy place Pindaruka in Gujerat, Rishis Kanva, Viswamitra and arada were engaged in prayer. Some young boys of the Yadava race decided to play a prank on the holy sages. They dressed Samba, the son of Jambavati and Krsna, as a young girl and conducting him to the sages, asked with due reverence: “What child this female, the wife of Babhru, who is anxious to have a son, give birth to?” The sages by their divine wisdom had found out the trick played on them by the boys and were therefore, angry at this mark of disrespect shown to them. They answered: “She will bring forth a club that shall crush the whole of the Yadava race”. The boys were alarmed at this premonition and went and rtiated to Ugrasena all that had occured. After a while, a club was produced from the belly of Samba.

Ugrasena, who was afraid of the Rishis curse, got the club ground to powder and thrown into the sea but the particles of dust turned into rushes i.e. Eraka grass. But one part of the iron club which was like the blade of a lance could not be powdered by the Andhakas and Vrishnis and this piece when thrown into the sea was swallowed by a fish. The fish after a while was caught by a hunter called Jara and he extracted the iron piece from its body and used it to top an arrow. As the time for the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas neared, terrible portents of the impending calamity appeared. Day by day strong winds blew; streets swarmed with rats and mice; pots and pans cracked for no apparent reason; Sarikas chirped without a break; goats imitated the cries of Jackals; asses were born to Kine and elephants to mules. Cats were born to bitches and mouse of the mongoose. Brahmanas, Pitris and the deities were disregarded by the Vrishnis. Fires when ignited, cast their flames towards the left; innumerable worms of diverse types appeared in cooked food. The Constellations were seen to be struck by the planets. Death personified as a dark woman haunted every home. The Vrishnis, mixing with wine, the food that had been cooked for high-souled Brahmans, gave it away to the monkeys and then started drinking and dancing. Soon the festivities ended in rivalry; dance and music gave place to insults. And as they drank more, the destructive flame of dissension was kindled amongst them and fed with the fuel of abuse of each other and affected by the divine influence, they fell upon one another with missile weapons. Soon the weapons were all used up. Vrishnis then broke the rushes, Eraka grass growing high near the ocean, and started using them as weapons. The Eraka grass became thunder-bolts in the hands of the Vrishnis and they struck each other with its fatal blows. Krsna then took up a handful of Eraka grass and the rushes became a club of iron and with that he slew all those who came before him and in the fearful melee that took place, not a single Yadava was left alive except Krsna and Daruka. Krsna then instructed Daruka to go to Arjuna and inform him of the terrible slaughter that had taken place and to ask him to take the ladies and other survivors like the old and the infirm under his protection as Dwaraka was going to be engulfed by the ocean. Then Krsna looked for Balarama and saw him sitting under a tree and witnessed the soul of Balarama issuing out of his body in the form of a snake. The snake proceeded towards the ocean. In fact the ocean came to meet him as an offering of respect and thus the soul of Balarama entered the waters of the deep. Krsna set engaged in thought, resting his foot upon his knee. Jara, a fierce hunter came and mistaking Kesava for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft. The arrow was tipped with the piece of iron that could not be powdered and had been swallowed by a fish. Jara had caught the fish and had extracted the piece of iron. Krsna could only be killed through his feet as Atri’s son Durvasas had made his body “invulnerable” except”the soles of his feet. After the passing away of Krsna, the ocean engulfed the city of Dwaraka and thus ended the Andhakas and Vrishnis, all killed by the blades of Eraka.

With slight variations, the same story appears in the Buddhist Jatakas. Sage Kanhadapayana was blessed with divine vision. The sons of Vasudeva approached him to test whether this was true. They procured a young lad, dressed him like a girl and after binding a pillow round his belly to make him look as though he was with child, took him to Kanha-dipayana and asked him: “When will this woman be delivered?” The ascetic perceived through his miraculous vision, the hoak that was being played on him. Feeling insulted he answered: “This man on the seventh day from today will bring forth a knot of Acacia wood. With that will be destroyed the lines of Vasudeva’s, even though you burn the piece of wood and throw the ashes into the river”. The boys called the ascetic false as a man cannot bring forth a child and killed him. When the king heard of it, he was frightened lest the
prophecy came true and put a guard on the young man. When on the seventh day, he brought forth a piece of Acacia wood from his belly, it was burnt and the ashes thrown into the river. The ashes floated down the river and ultimately stuck to one side of the pastern gate and from that grew an Eraka plant.

One day, the king decided to sport in the water. He, with his followers went to the river. After they had eaten and drunk a lot of wine, singing and dancing started. Under the influence of drink, this soon led to quarrels. The quarrels became serious and finding nothing better to fight with, men plucked the leaves of the Eraka plant growing there. As the leaves were plucked, they became clubs, of Acacia wood in the hands of the men and with them they started fighting each other till one by one they were all killed except VSsudeva, Baiadeva, their sister Anjana and the chaplain. Taking a chariot, the four fled away and came to the forest Kalamattika. There a goblin called Muttika lived. Seeing Baiadeva come, he assumed the form of a wrestler and challenged Baiadeva to a fight. Vasudeva tried to prevent him from accepting the challenge but it was too late. The demon caught hold of Baiadeva and gobbled him up. Vasudeva then went away with his sister and the Chaplain and travelling all night, by morning’came on “the outskirts’of a village.” Sending Anjana and the chaplain to procure food, Vasudeva lay down in the shelter of a bush. At that time, a hunter by the name of Jara, perceived the bush shaking and presuming it to be a pig, shot at it with his spear and pierced the foot of Vasudeva, Vasudeva was over come with great pain and realised that his end had come. After giving instructions to those left, Krsna’s soul departed. Thus excepting Anjana, all the Vasudeva’s perished.

PLUMERIA ACUTIFOLIA
Family Apocynaceae
Hindi: Champa
English: Temple tree, Pagoda tree, Frangipani
According to the Hindus, Buddhists and the Mohammadans, the tree is an emblem of immortality, because of its extraordinary capacity of continuing to produce flowers and leaves even after it has been uprooted. For this reason the tree is frequently planted near temples by the Hindus and the Buddhists. The Muslims plant it near the graveyards, where daily, the fresh creamy blossoms fall upon the tombs. The, flowers are offered at the temples by the Hindus and Buddhists. The Latin name of the plant is derived from Plumeria, a Frenchman in search of means of getting rich quickly. A sooth sayer once told him to look Tor a tree whose flowers were the colour of a frail new moon; whose fragrance overwhelmed the soul at night and which grew near the graveyards and temples. Plumeria travelled far and wide in search of such a tree and finally reached India, where on making enquiries about such a tree, he was advised to go to a certain temple in South India at mid-night on a full moon night and when the scent of the flowers would steal over the garden, shake the tree and it would shed gold coins in plenty. Flumeria did as he was advised. He shook the branches of the tree and soon the flowers fell in a heap, glistening like gold coins in the moonlight and the sweet scent of the flowers wafted his thoughts to heaven. He then realised the wisdom of real riches in life: the beauty of sweet smelling flowers; the moonlit nights; the immortal skies. And he gave up the idea of amassing earthly riches. Champa tiee in flower is a favourite motif in temple sculpture.

POA CYNASUROIDES
Family Gramineae
Sanskrit: Durva ghas
Hindi: Darbha
Durva ghas is often mentioned in Rg-veda and Atharvaveda where it is used as a charrn against baldness and anger. There are many legends connected with the origin of this plant but they all spring from the same source namely the legend of the churning of the milky ocean to extract amrta. According to one story, when the sea of milk was being churned by the devatas and the daityas, with the help of the mountain Mandara as the churning stick and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope, in order to extract from the ocean amrta which could pfnder the drinker immortal, Durva ghas made its appearance, (see Nyctanthes arbor-tristis). According to another version of the same story, Vishnu, who in his turtle incarnation was supporting the mountain Mandara which was being used as the churning rod to extract the amrta, rubbed off a great .many of the god’s hair. These hair were cast ashore by the waves. They took root and became Durva ghas. The third story mentions that the gods got hold of the vessel containing the nectar of immortality and greedily drank it lest the Asuras snatched away the vessel from them. In the haste that took place, a few drops of the precious drink fell on the grass growing on the earth which thus became immortal. This grass was Durva. The fourth story mentions the appearance of a courtesan of exceptional beauty called Mohini, who in fact was Vishnu himself in disguise. Mohini carrying the vessel containing arnrta was the last one to emerge out of the ocean of milk. Seeing the vessel, a fight ensued between the Devatas and the Asuras for the possession of the nectar. Mohini, however, favoured the gods and supporting the precious vessel on her hips, distributed the contents to the gods. But a few drops of it fell on earth. From the place where they fell, arose the Durva grass. Durva grass is also considered sacred as it emanated from the perspiration
of the skin of god- The grass is considered to be a remover of all sins because in its roots Brahma resides; in its middle Vishnu and at the top Siva. The Vaishnuties consider the plant as Vishnu himself and therefore, its use in all religious ceremonies is considered essential as it possesses the virtue of purifying everything. The plant is also held sacred to Ganesh the god who removes all obstacles and is used in the worship of all gods and goddesses, but is never used in the worship of Durga. An annual feast is celebrated in honour of the plant on the eighth day of the moon in Bhadra (September) and is called Durva-ashtmi. By offering this grass as a sacrifice on that day, with its tips facing east, immortality and blessedness for ten ancestors is secured. The prosperity of the person making the offering increases and multiplies like the Durva grass which is a prolific multiplier of the vegetable kingdom. Durva grass which belongs to the genus Borage is commonly found everywhere except in damp marshy ground and grows to a height of two feet. It is extremely rough to touch and cuts the skin badly. Unlike mcjt sacred plants, Durva grass has no known medicinal or culinary properties. A pavitram or an amulet made of 3, 5, 7 stalks of Durva ghas, plaited together in the form of a ring is worn by Brahmins to scare away evil spirits and devils. The pavitram sanctified by dipping first in holy water and then placed on the ring finger of the right hand is most efficacious as it possesses the virtue of purifying everything that it touches.

PUTRANJIVA ROXBURGHII
Family Euphorbiaceeae
Sanskrit: Putranjiva, Jivaka
Hindi: Jayaputra
English: The child life tree.
Perpetuation of one’s clan or family has motivated so many traditions and beliefs that they are unsurpassed by any other. Though for the continuation of the human race both girls and boys are required, it is only for sons that men crave. The jubiliation at the birth of a son in India has no parallel anywhere in the world and the life of a Hindu household revolves mainly
round the male sex. From birth to death, he is entangled in customary ablutions and ceremonies and to this day, the funeral pyre can only be lit by a son and the ceremonies connected with ancestor worship be performed by him- Naturally therefore, the birth of a son is considered most auspicious. It is for this reason alone that the quality of begetting sons is attributed to a large number of plants, for man has from early times been in search of a solution for this predicament. One such plant is Jivaka. A medicine prepared from the tree is believed to be a sure recipe for begetting sons. The tree is therefore, sacred to Hindu women, particularly to womtn coming from orthodox families as their entire future depends on whether they can give birth to a son or not. The Hindu women worship the tree and rosaries made out of the stones of the fruit are used for keeping children healthy. Parents whose children do not survive use the rosaries as they have divine powers and keep the children in good health.

SALMALIA MALABARICUM
Family Malvaceae
Sanskrit: Salmali
Hindi: Simbal
English: Bombax, Silk cotton tree
Why the Salmali tree has thorns on its branches is described in a story in the Mahabharata.’Draupadi was the common wife of the five Pandava brothers. She had to be shared alike by all of them, and she was pledged not to show favour to any one of her husbands, it was her custom to massage daily each of her five husbands. But Bhim-sena, one of the brothers, got jealous of the other four and did not want her to massage them. But because of the vow, he could do nothing about it. To show his resentment, he decided to play a prank on Draupadi. One day he put a log of Salmali in his bed and covered it with a sheath. The Salmali tree till that time had smooth brandies with no thorns on them. He then sent for Draupadi to come and massage him as he was in great pain. Draupadi hurried to his bed chamber and without even removing the bed cover started massaging the log of wood thinking that it was her husband. She kept on massaging the log of wood for a while and finding it inert and getting tired of the effort, she removed the sheet and found that she had been massaging a log of wood. Bhim-sena had been hiding in the room all the while. Seeing her consternation at finding a log of wood instead of him, he burst out laughing. Feeling ridiculous and annoyed, Draupadi cursed the wood and said: “Let thorns grow on it so that no other woman is put in the awkward situation of having to massage it”. Draupadi’s curre came true; Bhima-sena took this piece of wood and planted it in his garden. It took root and grew into a tall tree but bears thorns on its branches till to-day.

Among certain Oriyan tribes, the tree is believed to be the favourite haunt of Butt Ambae, a female ghost who appears to young men in their dreams to rob them of their virility. Salmali is a favourite tree in Hindu mythology and often occurs in the Mahabharata. Once Yudhishthira sought the advice of Bhishma as to how a weak, worthless and light-hearted person, relying on his strength and having provoked by his speeches, a powerful foe residing in the vicinity, should act when the latter advanced against him in wrath with the intention of exterminating him. Bhishma answered by narrating the following discourse that once took place between a Salmali tree and Pavana, the wind. There was a large Salmali tree growing on the heights of Himavat. This tree had been growing for many centuries and its branches had spread far and wide, with a huge trunk and countless leaves. It was loaded with flowers and fruits and was the home of innumerable parrots. Under its shade, travellers from’far and wide, caravans of merchants; ascetics, going on pilgrimage as well as elephants and many other animals used to take shelter.

One day, Sage Narada seeing the wide spreading tree addressed him saying that he was delighted by its sight, particularly as birds of diverse types lived on its branches and animals rested under its shade. Seeing the intact branches and leaves of the tree, he attributed it to the friendship and goodness of Pavana, the god of wind, who normally by its great speed and force uproots the tallest and the strongest tree from its site and even the summits of mountains, not to speak of drying up rivers, lakes and seas, including the very nether regions. Narada kept on emphasising the goodness of Pavana and the friendship he showed to the Salmali tree which was responsible for the continued protection of the tree, Salmali being arrogant did not like Narada’s praise of Pavana and said: “The wind, O regenerate one, is neither my friend nor mate nor well-wisher. Indeed, he is neither my great ordainer that he should protect me. My fierce energy and might, O Narada, are greater than the wind’s. In truth, the strength of the Wind comes up to about only an eighteenth part of mine. When the Wind comes in. rage, tearing up trees and mountains “and other things, I curb his strength by putting forth mine. Indeed, the Wind that breaks many things has himself been repeatedly bfbken by me. For this reason, O celestial Rishi, I am not afraid of him even when he comes in wrath. Narada was infuriated at this reply of Saimali, and admonishing him at his arrogrance said: “Thy perception seems to be thoroughly perverse. There is no created thing which is equal to the Wind in strength. Even Indra, or Yama or Vaisravana, the lord of the waters is not equal to the god of Wind in might. What need, therefore, be said of thee that art only a tree? Whatever creatures in this world, O Salmali, does whatever act, the illustrious Wind-God it is, that is at all times the cause of that act, since it is he that is the giver of life-Thou art worthless and of a wicked understanding. O Salmali, I am certainly angry with thee for thy indulging in such speeches. Chandanas and Syandanas, and Salas and Saralas, and Deva ‘dams, and Vatasas and Dhanwanas and other trees of good souls that are far stronger than thou art, have never; O thou of wicked understanding uttered such invectives against the Wind. They know the might of the Wind and bow down their heads in respect of that deity. Thou, however, through folly, knowest not the infinite might of the wind. I shall therefore, repair to the presence~of thafgod for appraising him of thy contempt for him. Narada then went to the god of Wind and related the conversation he had had with Salmali and told him the derogative way Salmali had talked of Pavana. Pavana, wild with rage, approached Salmali and addressed him thus: “Know that I am the God of Wind. 1 had hereto shown thee grace because Brahma”, while engaged in creating the world, had for a time rested under thee. It is for this that thou standest unharmed and not in consequence of thy own might. I shall certainly show thee my power and might”.

Thus addressed, the Salmali laughed in derision and said: “By giving way to thy wrath, what wilt thou do to me? I am superior to thee in might. They are really strong that are strong in understanding ... not those who possess only physical strength”. Then night fell and the wind god said: Tomorrow I shall test thy strength”. Salmali left alone then realised that he was inferior tc the Wind God and to other trees so far as physical strength was concerned but considered himself more intelligent then the other trees. He then mentally concluded: “Relying upon my intelligence, I shall look at this fear that arises from the wind. If the other trees in the forest all rely upon the same kind of intelligence, then verily, no injury can result to them from the god of Wind when he becomes angry and that is why wind succeeds in shaking and tearing them up*. Having settled this in his mind, the Salmali, in sorrow, himself caused all his branches to be cut. Without its branches, foliage and flowers, the tree faced the Wind God in the morning as it came raging towards it and ready to tear down the tree. Seeing the forlorn state of Salmali, the Wind God addressed him: “Filled with rage, O Salmali, I would have done to thee precisely what thou hast done to thyself. Thou art now divested of thy proud top of flowers and thou art now without thy shoots and leaves. In consequence of thy own evil counsel, thou hast been brought under my power”.

After narrating the story of Salmali and Pavana to Yudhishthira, Bhishma continued: “Hearing these words of the Wind, the Salmali felt great shame. Similarly, a weak and a foolish person by provoking the enmity of a powerful one, is at last obliged to repent like Salmali had to”. Salmali is considered sacred because Brahma, the Creator, after completing the creative act was exhausted and rested under its shade. Kuta-Salmali is a tree (mythological) whose leaves are sharp as swords. Though its blossoms are of gold, it is loaded with thorns of iron and berryl.”It is called the Torture tree or the tree of hell. The treej|also called Yamadrumma, Yama being the god of death. This name is given because the tree puts forth a large number of flowers but no fruits fit to eat. Its wood is used in funeral
pyres.’ According to a forecast made in the Vishnu Purana, the principal tree of Kali-juga will be Salmali; A large Salmali tree grows in the mythical Salmalia-dvipa, thus giving the name to [he island. This dvipa is surrounded by the Sura Sea or the sea of wine. Salmali tree has various uses. A highly medicinal plant, it is used in local Aryuvedic medicine for curing tuberculosis of the lung. The calyx of the flower is used as a vegetable; its leaves and rwigs as fodder and the cotton from the pods used in filling mattresses.

SARACA INDICA
Family Lcguminoseae
Sanskrit: Asoka, Asopalava
Hindi: Asoka
English: Asoka, common Saraca
Trees in India have always been treated like human beings, endowed with a soul; a heart that weeps with grief and laughs with joy. They have feelings and aspirations like ordinary mortals. Asoka trees with its rich red blossoms: “shines like a young warrior bathed in the sanguine shower of the furious fight”. Asoka means ‘without grief and therefore, the Asoka tree is believed to be a remover of sorrow. Brahma said: “He, who eats eight buds of Asoka flowers on the eight day of the moon’s increase In the month of Chaitra (April), marked by the asterism Punarvasu suffers no bereavements in life”. There are instances in Indian literature where a tree is addressed as if it was alive and possessed feelings. In the Mahabharata for instance, Damyanti while looking for Nala goes into a. forest of Asoka trees. Approaching the first tree looking ‘charming with blrvwim its heavy load of foliage resounding with the notes of birds, Damyanti with tears in her eyes began to lament saying: “Oh, this grateful tree in the heart of the forest, decked in flowers, looketh beautiful like a charming king of hills.Oh, beauteous Asoka, do thou speedily free me from grief. Has thou seen king Nala, the slayer of foes and the beloved husband of Damyanti”. The tree is a great favourite for commuting suicides and many stories are current about the noose being hung from the Asoka tree. Asoka tree is sacred both to Hindus and Buddhists. Hindus worship it on the 13th day of the month of Chaitra. The tree was blessed to be immortal by Siva because his consort Parvati had worshipped him with the flowers of this tree and therefore, the tree remains evergreen. Its orange red blossoms are used for religious offerings. On Asoka Shasthi day, women of Bengal eat the flowers buds. Hindu women in general believe that by drinking the water in which flowers of Asoka have lain, they will protect their children from harm and grief. The tree is considered as a symbol of love and dedicated to Kamadeva,
the Hindu god of love. Kamadeva is worshipped with garlands of red Asoka flowers. One of the five arrows of Kamadeva is made of Asoka flowers. But according to another account the five arrows of Kamadeva through which he perturbs the five senses and inspires lust are made of five fragrant flowers. These are the Blue lotus, the jasmine, the mango flower, the Champak and the Sinsa.

There is a strange belief that the tree will flower only if grown on a spot where a chaste woman has tread. Another belief asserts that the tree blossoms only when vigorously kicked fay a young virgin. A SalabhanjTka or a young forest maiden is often depicted in sculpture kicking the trunk of an Asoka tree and the tree flowering profusely. So it is told that the Kurbaka covers itself with blossoms when a lovely woman clasps it; the Tilaka (Symplocos racemosa) when she looks at it; the Asoka when it is touched by her foot; the mango (Mangifera .indica) when her hand touches it; the Kesava or the Bekula (Mimusops elangii) when sprinkled with intoxicants from her mouth. The Asoka flower is believed to have certain charms in preserving chastity. It figures in the Indian Epic Ramayana, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, abducted Sita while Ramachandra and Lakshmana were away and took her to Lanka. She escaped from the caresses of the demon king and found refuge in a grove of Asoka trees and thus preserved her chastity. The Asoka tree is worshipped by the Buddhists because according to one account, Sakyamuni or Buddha was born under an Asoka tree. The tree is planted near temples both by the Hindus and the Buddhists and its leaves are used in all religious ceremonies. The tree is also associated with the attainment of omniscience of the Jain muni Mahavira. His initiation under this tree according, to the Jains was attended by gods. The tree is sacred to Siva and is planted on the south-east corner of the htfuse or the temple.

SESAMUM INDICUM
Family Pedatiaceae
Sanskrit: Tili, Tila
Hindi: Til
English: Gingelly
Tila has been in use in religious cerenomies from very early times. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma in answer to a query of Yudrmhthira as to what objects dedicated to the Pitas, become inexhaustible, said: “Pitris remain gratified for the period of a month if Tila seeds and rice and barley’and Mssha (Phaseolus Roxburghii), water, roots and fruits are given at Sraddhas. According to Manu, Sraddhas performed with a copius measure of Tila seeds become inexhaustible. Out of all kinds of food, Tila seeds are regarded as best. Tila offered with fishes at Sraddhas, the Pitris remain gratified for a period of two months; Tila offered with mutton they remain gratified for “three months and with the flesh of the hare for four. With the flesh of the goat they remain gratified for five months; with bacon for six months and
with the flesh of the birds for seven. With venison called Prishata for eight months and with that obtained from Ruru for nine months and with the meat of Gavaya for ten months; with the meat of a buffalo for eleven months; presented with beef at the Sraddha, their gratification lasts for a full one year. Payasa mixed with ghee is as much acceptable to the Pitris as beef; with the meat of the Vadrinara (probably a bull) for twelve years. Flesh of the Rhinoceros becomes inexhaustible. The potherb Kalasaka (Rumex visicarius or Corchorus Capsularis), petals of Kanchana (Bauhinia acuminata) and meat of a goat, thus offered proves inexhaustible”. After informing Yudhisthira, what objects should be offered to the Pitris at Sraddha ceremonies, Bhisma enlightened him about the objects that should not be offered and said: The species of paddy which should not be offered at sraddhas are those called Kodrava and Pulaka. Among articles used in cooking, Asofoctida, onion, garlic and the produce of Moringa pterygosperma, Bauhinia variegata, the meat of animals slain with poisoned shafts; all varieties of Cucurbits pepo, Cucurbits lagenaria, black salt, flesh of domestic animals, meat of the animals not slaughtered at sacrifices, Nigella sativum, salt called Vid, potherb Sitapaki (white Durva ghas), all sprouts like Bamboo, Traps bispinosa, fruits of jamvu (Syzgium cumini syn. Eugenia jambolena), Sudsrsana (Menisperma tomentosum). The offering of that man increases who stands every night for a full year under a Karanjaka tree with a lamp for lighting it and holds besides in his hand the roots of the Suvarchala (Linum utilissimum) plant The offering of Tila seeds is considered effective in removing sins. Sesame seeds sprang from the limbs of Rishi Kashyapa.”

SHOREA ROBUSTA
Family Dipterocarpaceae
Sanskrit: Sala
Hindi: Sal tree
English: Teak tree
As Siddharta Gautama who later became the Buddha was born under a Sala tree in the 9th century B.C., the plant is considered sacred by the Buddhists. When Maya Devi, mother of Gautama Buddha, sensed the time of his birth arrives, she experienced a desire to visit her parents. On her way to her parents home, she rested in a grove of Sala trees in the Lumbini
gardens. Alighting from her carriage, she went under a Sala tree and stretched her hand upwards to pluck some flowers. As she did that, Siddharta was born and the Sala tree showered flowers on the new born child. Gautama Buddha also breathed his last and attained Nirvana in a grove of Sala trees. According to a Buddhist Jataka story, when Brahmadatta ruled as a king of Benares, he wanted to have a palace built, supported by only one column. He called his architects and ordered such a palace. The builders travelled far and wide in search of a tree big and strong enough to support a palace and ultimately found such a one. It was the Sala tree growing in the palace grounds of king Brahmadatta. Getting the permission of the king to cut down the magnificent Sala tree, the builders first worshipped the tree in the customary manner with garlands of flowers, lamps and incense. They then prayed to the deities and vanadevattas who dwelt in the tree to go elsewhere and not to blame them for felling the tree and said: “On the seventh day from now, we shall cut down this tree”. The spirit of the Sala tree was overwhelmed with grieft not at his own impending destruction but at the thought that with his death would be destroyed all the young Sala saplings growing under him as well as the deities and the vandevattas that dwell on him. So he decided to plead with the king for the life of the vanadevattas and other tree spirits that dwelt on the tree. Having made this resolve, he visited the king at the hour of mid-
night, adorned in a divine splendour and addressed him thus: “In the past 60,000 years, I have dwelt in your kingdom, worshipped by all and considered a ‘Lucky Tree’. Many a king have come and gone; many a town and house they made, but no one has so far touched me”. The king answered by saying that he had never seen a tree with such a mighty trunk, thick and strong and fit for a king’s palace. It was the right trunk to make into the single column support for his palace. The tree spirit then said: “If you are bent upon killing me, then cut me up piece meal. Cut first the top, then the middle and lastly the roots and that way death would not be painful to me”. The king was astonished at the reply given by the tree-spirit and said: “Cutting limb by limb was the most painful of deaths, Why then, do you prefer such a mode of dying?” The tree spirit answered: “My kith and kin are sheltered by me; also so many deities dwell on me. If you cut me down at once, the crush of one big fall would kill them and that would really be painful to me”. When the king heard that, he was over come with emotion. The Sala tree was not worried about his own death jut about the pain that he would inflict upon his dependents by so Joing. The king then told the tree spirit that he would spare him and decided against building the magnificent palace of his dreams. In this story, Ananda was the king, the followers of the Buddha were the deities which were embodied in the young saplings of the Sala tree and the Sala tree itself was the Bodhisatta.

There is a Baiga tribal legend connected with the Sala tree and some other plants. The tale goes back to the swayamvara, i.e. the selecting of a husband by the mother Earth. At the swayamvara, the earth put the garland of victory round the neck of Nanga Baiga which annoyed the gods. Not happy with her choice of a husband, they threw dirt on them. After the marriage ceremony was over, Nanga Baiga took his bride, the mother Earth, home. On the way the mother Earth said to the Baiga that he had not taken her round the pole as was customary. There was a Sala tree growing by the road side. Nanga Baiga caught the plait of his wife and she caught the tuft of his scalp lock and thus they went round the tree seven times. Since then the Sala tree has become sacred to the Baiga tribe. When mother Earth and Nanga Baiga were going round the Sala tree, they went so fast that they fell down violently in opposite directions. The resuft was that the hair of the two came off and fell on the ground. From the hair of the Nanga Baiga appeared spear grass (Andropogan contortus) and the mother Earth’s hair turned into the thatching grass (Pollinea argentea). The Baigas till Jpday put the spear grass in the thatch of their roof which symbolically to them represents the hair of the Nanga Baiga, for which reason their women are not allowed to climb the roof, Sala tree figures in the Ramayana also. Ramachandra and Lakshmana were in search of Sita who had been abducted away by Havana, the demon king of Lanka. In their wanderings through the forest, they came across the vanquished and exiled monkey king Sugreeva. He had been defeated by his brother Vaali and exiled from his kingdom and lived in mortal fear of his brother whom he hoped to vanquish one day and recover his throne and his wife. But Sugreeva saw no way of defeating his brother who was mighty and brave like Indra and from whom he had received a divine necklace of great potency which made him invulnerable. Sugreeva on meeting Ramachandra and Lakshmana promised to place his entire host of vaanars i.e. monkeys at the service of Rama to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana, if Ramachandra first helped him to regain his kingdom and his wife. Rama promised to do so but Sugreeva who was aware of his brother Vaali’s valour and strength was apprehensive whether Rama’s strength would match that of his brother. This doubt assailed him again and again. The strength of Vaali was an impassable barrier for Sugreeva and even though Ramachandra had promised to side with him, Sugreeva still had his doubts about Rama’s strength. He wanted to measure Rama’s ability to kill Vaali but he could not be discourteous and betray his suspicions. One day he approached Rama-chandra and very cautiously told him of Vaali’s strength. Lakshmana, who was also present, understood  Sugreeva’s doubts. To give confidence to Sugreeva and to put an end to his doubts, he suggested that Rama should demonstrate his strength. Thus approached by Lakshrnana, Ramachsndra bent his bow and pulling the string, shot an arrow at seven trees, of Sala standing in a row. The arrow pierced the trees and then returned to Rama’s quiver. Seeing it is miracle, Sugreeva was happy and full of confidence at Ramachandra’s ability to slay Vaali. Since this was no ordinary feat, Sugreeva was convinced that Rama-chandra was no ordinary mortal. From that day Sala tree was associated with Vishnu as Ramachandra wai his incarnation and it is held sacred by Hindus. In India, those desiring offsprings worship the tree when it is in full biossom. In Bengal certain tribes use the branches of the Sala tree for marriage ceremonies and the tree in general is associated with marriages. It is one of the most valuable of India’s timber trees and the tribesmen eat the seeds and young leaves of the plant, and use the resin as incense.

STERCOSPERMUM SUAVEOLENS
Family Bignoniaceae
Sanskrit & Hindi: Patali tree
English: Bignonia
This is a tall, deciduous tree and possesses large purple coloured bilabiate, trumpet shaped flowers borne in trichotomous panicles. The plant is associated with Siva worship. According to a tale told in the Hari-Vansa, King Himavant and his wife Mena had three daughters. The eldest was called Aparna which means without a leaf and the two younger daughters were called Eka-parna and Eka-patali, both names meaning the same i.e. one leaf. These appellations were given to them as they practised extraordinary abstinence and austerities to win Lord Mahadeva as their husband. The two younger sisters managed to live on only one leaf of Bignonia but the eldest managed to subsist even without that. Every 2000 years Ekaparna performed penances under a Banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis) and Eka-patali performed penances under the wood of Cerasus puddam. This distressed her mother very, much and she was worried about her daughter’s health and life and in desperation cried out; ‘U-ma’, which means: oh don’t. Since that time Aparna came to be called Uma and won Mahadeva as her husband and the Bignonia leaf on which she and her two sisters subsisted came to be associated with austerity and Siva, and the Patali tree became sacred.

TAMARINDUS INDICA
Family Caesalpiniaaceae
Sanskrit: Tintrini
Hindi: Imli
English: Tamarind
The name Tamarindus is derived from the Arabic name Tamar Hindi, meaning Indian date. According to a Birhor tribal story, the reason why Tintrini leaves are so small is because Ramachandra, Lakshmana and Sita while on their exile of fourteen years came to a forest which grew Tintrini trees. The Tintrini those days had large, well developed leaves. Ramachandra, his wife and brother made a hut under it. The large leaves of the tree sheltered them well. Rama said that they were supposed to suffer privations and inconveniences during their exile: But this tree was sheltering them from rain and giving them protection from the intense heat and cold which were city comforts. So he ordered Lakshmana to shoot at the leaves and split them. Lakshmana did as he was told and shot at the leaves with his bow and arrow and since then the leaves are finely divided.

The Dhanwar tribal story is almost similar except that the reason for Lakshmana to srfoot an arrow at them is different. During the rainy season, Sita was cooking the food under a Tintrini tree but the rain kept on coming through the leaves and putting out the fire. Ramachandra was enraged at this and ordered Lakshmana, his younger brother to send a letter of protest to Lord Indra, the god of rain asking him to stop the rain. Lakshmana tied the letter of protest to an arrow and shot it at the heavens. The rain subsequently stopped but the arrow as it went passed the leaves, split them into shreds and since that time they have remained small and divided.

According to an Oriyan tribal tale, Bimma had planted a Plantain tree which has large leaves. Ramma was jealous of Bimma and to rival him, he planted a tree of Tintrini which those days also had large leaves. Bimma did not like Ramma planting a tree also. So he sent a parrot to break the leaves of the Tintrini tree into bits which he did and its leaves have remained small since then. Tintrini tree got fame in the Hindu mythology because of Usha, the daughter of Parvati and it is in remembrance of her that no salt is taken in the month of Chet (April-May) but instead food is seasoned with Imli i.e. the pulp of the Tintrini fruit which is sour to taste. The story goes back to the creation of Ganapati or Garsesha, the elephant headed god. One day Siva was coming after his bath when he saw his elder daughter Usha playing with his minor son Ganesha. Siva was in an angry mood and finding Usha and Ganesha playing and oblivious to his presence, his anger rose further and he cut off his son’s head. Parvati lamented the death of her son and insisted that he be brought back to life. To appease her, Siva replaced the severed head of his son by that of an elephant’s and thus revived the child. Usha, who witnessed the scene was so frightened that she hid herself in a barrel of salt When Parvati discovered her in a barrel of salt, she was annoyed with her for not looking after her brother who had to have an elephant’s head because of her negligence. She cursed Usha to be born on earth as the daughter of the demon Banasura of Tezpur in Assam. According to a slightly different version, Usha was the daughter of Banasura and he had given her to Parvati for adoption. In either case, Usha protested that on the earth she would die unrecognised and asked Parvati for forgiveness. But a curse once pronounced could not be revoked. Parvati, however, relented and gave Usha a boon that in her memory no salt would be taken in the month of Chet but instead the juice of the Tintrini fruit would be used to season the food. This was because Usha had hid herself in a barrel of salt to escape the wrath of Siva. Because of Parvati’s curse, Usha was bom on earth as the daughter of Banasura, a demon of Assam. She married Aniruddha, the grandson of Krsna and went to live with him in Dwaraka. Tintrini tree came to be associated with the memory of Usha. Chet is a warm month in India and the juice of the fruit of Tamarind is cooling and Usha’s memory is commemorated by saltless meals in this month. The fruit pulp is digestive, carminative, laxative and often given in Hver ailments. The fruit or flowers of the tree are not used for any auspicious ceremony as it is sour and there is a common belief that any ceremony where its fruit is offered will turn fruitless. Imli symbolises the wife of Brahma, the Creator.

TERMINALIA ARJUNA
Family Combretaceae
Sanskrit & Hindi: Arjuna
According to a story in the Bhagavate Parana Nalakubera and Manigriva were the sons of the Yaksha king Kubera, the god of-wealth. Power made them arrogant and disrespectful of other semi-divine beings. Once, intoxicated with drink, they were playing stark naked with the Gandharva girls in a river when Sage Narada passed by. The boys were so maddened with power, that they completely ignored Narada. Narada wanted to teach them a lesson and thought that poverty was the only remedy for those who thought highly of themselves. Since the sons of Lokapala Kubera were deep in ignorance, insolence and intoxication, he punished them by converting them into Arjuna trees. But he did not make them lose their memory. In fact he said that after one hundred Deva-years, the touch of Sri Krsna shall save
them. As a consequence of this curse, the sons of Kubera became a pair of Arjuna trees in Vraja. Once Krsna was fastened to the husking mill and his attention was drawn by the pair of Arjuna trees. He remembered the’ words of Narada and since he did not want Sage Narada to be proved wrong, he approached the trees, drawing the husking machine behind him and placing himself between the two trees, he uprooted them. As the trees fell down with a crash, two fiery spirits came out, illumining space by the splendour of their bodies. After praying to Krsna, they rose upwards. The Copies were engaged in their household duties and the crash of the two lofty trees attracted their attention. The Gopas who had witnessed the miracle, narrated to the people of Vraja, what had happened. The liberating of the sons of Kubera from the Arjuna trees and the fact that the two boys had lived as Arjuna trees for one hundred Deva-years, made the trees sacred.

TERMINALIA BELERICA
Family Combretaccae
Sanskrit & Hindi: Vibhitika
According to a story in the Mahabharata, Nala, the King of Nishadha and Damyanti’s husband was addicted to the game of dice. Once he lost everything, including his kingdom at gambling. Nala and Damyanti had no choice but to go away to live in a forest. Nala, feeling ashamed and not able to show his face to Damyanti, left her asleep in a forest and went away to seek his fortune in the world. After a lot of wandering about, he took up the service of the king of Vrihadaswa, as a charioteer under the assumed name of Vahuka. Damyanti, on waking up and not finding Nala besides her, went back to her father, the King of Vidarbha. Nala was known for his knowledge of horses and no one could excel him at handling them. As a charioteer of King Vrihadaswa, his fame soon spread and rumours about Vahuka’s proficiency in handling horses reached the ears of Damyanti also. Not sure if Vahuka was really Nala, Damyanti hit on a plan to get him to come to her father’s kingdom. She announced that since Nala was dead, she will choose another husband at a Swayamvara ceremony. To this ceremony, King Vrihadaswa was also invited in the hope that his charioteer would also accompany him. Damyanti’s plan worked and Vrihadaswa accompanied by Vahuka left for the Swayamvara of Damyanti, on the way, they came across a Vibhitika tree ladden with fruit on seeing the tree, the king said to the charioteer: “Stop the charioter and behold my proficiency in calculation. All men donot know everything, no one is versed in every science and art. Knowledge in its entirety is not found in any one person. The leaves and fruits of this tree that are lying on the ground exceed those that are on it by one hundred anemones. The two branches of the tree has 50 million leaves and two thousand and ninety five fruits.” Vahuka then addressed the king: “O King, you take credit in a matter that is beyond my perception. I will ascertain what you have said by the direct evidence of my senses by cutting down this tree. Then it will no longer be a matter of speculation.”

To this the King replied: “But there is no time to lose.” Nala assured Vrihadaswa that he would teach him in time for him to see the Sun rise but only after he had counted the leaves and fruits of the Vibhitika. The king desirious of reaching the swayamvara in time, reluctantly told Vahuka to count the leaves and fruits of that tree. Vahuka then speedily dismounted from the charioter and cut down the tree. He was struck with amazement upon finding the leaves and fruits after counting, to be what the king had said. The king then told. Vahuka that he was also proficient at dice. Hearing this, Vahuka begged the king: “You give me the knowledge of the dice and take away my knowledge in Equestrian science”. The king agreed to this arrangement and imparted the knowledge of dice to Nala. Nala upon becoming acquainted with the science of dice, Kali came out of his body, incessantly vomiting from his mouth the virulent poison of Kartotaka. When Kali afflicted by Damyanti’s curse came out of Nala’s body, the fire of that curse also left Kali’s body. Nala seeing Kali was going to curse her as she was the cause of his losing at dice and thus losing his kingdom, but she implored his forgiveness and entreated him not to curse her. Nala controlled his wrath at being thus addressed by Kali. Kali in fear of Nala then entered the Vibhitika tree and from that, the Vibhitika tree fell into disrepute. Charms or incantations that are made with a particular mantra, written with a crow’s quill, with a composition made of collyrium, the gum of the Ncem (Azardirachta indica) tree, poison and the marrow and blood of a human victim, are considered as destroyers of one’s opponents of all denominations if hung from the Vibhitika tree. Vibhitika fruits are used as dice; the shape of the fruit nuts forbids any side from being properly on the top.

TERMINALIA TOMENTOSA
Family Combretaceae
Hindi: Saja tree
The following story is recounted as told by Verrier Elwin. According to him, the Gonds of India worship the tree because they consider it as the traditional home of Bara deo. The reason why the Saja tree has no juice in its fruit and bears the mark of five fingers goes back to an anecdote involving two friends, a blind man and a hunch back that lived together. The hunch-back planted a tree of Saja and the blind man planted a Mahua (Bassia latifolia) tree. The Saja tree grew upto be crooked like the hunchback and the buds of the Mahua tree would not open. One day the two men went on a journey. Since the blind man could not see, he was led by his friend the hunchback. The hunchback after a while got tired of his companion and decided to get rid of him. With the intention of killing him, the hunchback cooked a snake for the midday meal and gave it to the blind man to eat. But the blind man smeHed the flesh of a snake and would not eat it. The snake flesh emitted some medicinal vapours which going into the nostrils of the blind man suddenly opened his eyes. Seeing that his friend had cooked a snake for him to eat, he was very annoyed and taking his stick, beat up his hunch back friend so hard that his crooked body became straight, When the two friends went home, they found that -the trunk of the Saja tree had become straight and tli buds of the Mahua tree had opened. When the Saja tree bore the fruit, it was sweet and juicy. The hunchback sucked the fruit and squeezed it so hard that it became dry and left the mark of his five fingers on it for eternity. Since then the fruit contains no juice and has five long lines on it The Korava tribe believes that TerminaUa catappa, another species of the same tree is a lucky tree because Rama made a bower beneath it when he was wandering through the forest on his fourteen years of exile with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.

ZIZYPHUS JUJABA
Family Rhamnaceae
Sanskrit: Vadari, Badari, Vadara
Hindi: Ber
English: Jujabe, Indian Plum
This tree has great significance as it is mentioned at more than one place in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. According to the Ramayana, the tree is hardy because when Ramachandra and Lakshmana were searching for Sita who had been abducted by the demon king Ravana, they came across a Vadari tree and asked him if he had seen Sita anywhere. The trees those days could see, hear and talk like human beings. On being thus questioned by Ramachandra, the tree answered in the affirmative and said that he had in fact tried to save her by holding on to her clothes. It pointed to a rag entangled in its branches and said that it was a part of her dress. The tree then pointed the direction in which Sita had been forced to go with Ravana. Rama blessed the tree for having tried to save Sita and gave it a boon that no matter how badly it was mangled and cut, it will not die and even if a single root of it was left, it will spring up again, putting forth fresh leaves and branches. And that is the reason for the tree’s hardiness and ability to grow in arid zones. The tree is also mentioned elsewhere in the Ramayana, A devotee of Ramachandra, a poor Bhilni called Sabari belonging to the untouchable caste, offered the fruit of the tree to Ramachandra while he was on his wanderings in the forest looking for Sita. The Bhilni first tasted each fruit, to find out if the fruit was ripe before offering it to Ramachandra. Ramachandra accepted the fruit which had been first tasted by the Bhilni, saying that if anything was offered to him with a purity of heart and with genuine feelings; it was as clean and pure as if untouched. Since that time, the fruit of Vadari has come to be held sacred and is included in many religious ceremonies and offered to various deities. Rishi Bharadwaja saw the large eyed Apsara Ghritachi one day, as she passed him by and seeing her youth and beauty his vital seed fell. The Rishi took his seed in his hand and placed it in a cup made of leaves. From his seed placed in the cup was bom a girl of unrivalled beauty. Her father, the great ascetic Bharadwaja, in the presence of gods and Rishis, named her Sruravati. He left her in the hermitage and repaired to the forest of Himavat. Sruravati, as she grew up, led the life of a Brahma-charm and started practising severe austerities to obtain Indra, the lord of the celestials as her husband. To obtain her desire, she observed diverse kinds of vows and penances. Atlast Indra assumed the form of the high-souled Risht Vasishtha and came to the hermitage. Beholding the foremost of ascetics, Sruravati addressed him: “O adorable one: O tiger among ascetics, tell me thy command. O thou of excellent vows, I shall serve thee according to the measure of my might I will not, however, give thee my hand in consequence of my regard for Sakra. I am gratifying Sakra, the lord of three worlds with vows and rigid observances and ‘ascetic penances”. Hearing this, the illustrious god answered: Thou practisest penances of the austerest kind. This is known to me. Everything is attainable by penances. Penances are the roots of great happiness. Those men that cast off their bodies after having practised austere penances obtain the status of gods. Bear in mind those words of mine. Do thou now, O blessed damsel, boil these five Vadari. To test the devotion of Sruravati, Indra obstructed the boiling of the Vadari. Sruiavati, having cleansed herself, began her task, and started boiling the five Vadari given to her by Sakra in the guise of Rishi Vasishtha. Sruravati was engaged in boiling the Vadari and after a while the day started waning and the fuel got all consumed but the Vadari were still not boiled. Seeing the fire about to die, Sruravati began to bum her own limbs to provide fuel for boiling the Vadari fruits. She first thrust her feet into the fire and did not at all mind her burning feet, nor did her face change under the painful process. The words of the Rishi: “Cook the Vadari well”, were fresh in her mind and she continued to cook those five Vadari fruits though the latter showed no signs of softening. At lasfner feet were consumed by Agni. Beholding this sacrificial act of hers, the lord of the three worlds appeared before her in his true form and addressing her said: “I am gratified with thy penance and the vows. The wish, therefore, O auspicious one that thou cherishest shall be accomplished. Casting off thy body, O blessed one; thou shalt in heaven live with me. This hermitage shall become the foremost of Tirthas in the world, capable of cleansing one from every sin and shall be known by the name of Vadarapachana and it shall be celebrated in the three worlds.

Another story that mentions the sacredne’ss of the Vadari relates to the visit of Siva to Amndhati, the wife of one of the Rishis. In the Tirtha of, Vadarapachana, lived the seven Rishis with Arundhati. Once, the Rishis left Arundhati and went to Himavat to gather fruits and roots for their sustenance. While they were living in a forest on the Himavat, a drought occurred extending for twelve years and the ascetics having already built an asylum for themselves, continued to alone, devoted herself to ascetic penances. Pleased at her devotion, the three-eyed Mahldeva, assuming the form of a Brahmana, visited her and asked lor alms, Arundhati told him that the store of food had been exhausted and asked him if he would eat the Vadari fruits. Mahadeva asked her to cook the Vadari for him Arundhati began to cook the Vadari as it pleased the Brahmana. She put the Vadari fruits on fire and started listening to a sacred discourse from Mahadeva and the twelve years of drought passed away as if it was a single day and Arundhati never even noticed that she had not eaten for all that period. At the end of the twelve years drought, the seven Rishis returned from the mountains after having procured the fruits. Mahadeva then appeared before them in his true form and praised Arundhati for her penances of cooking for twelve years and lasting all the time. He granted her a boon that the Tirtha Vadsrapachana would be the favourite resort of Siddhas and celestial Rishis. Vadari fruits are offered in worship mainly to Siva. Even though they are
associated with Indra also and he is invoked at most sacrifices, he is seldom worshipped separately. The holy river Ganges arises from the roots of a great Vadari tree on mount Kailash. Vadari or Badari is also sacred to Vishnu and Vishnu is also called Badarinath or the Lord of Badari, the Jujabe tree. The town called Badrinath, a place of pilgrimage at 10,294 feet above the sea derives its name from the Vadari or Badari tree. There is a sulphurous spring there and probably an ancient tree cult associated with it exists. According to the Atharvaveda and the Kaustka sutra, Kudi, identified as the twig of Vadari, was tied to the body of the dead to efface their traces, presumably in order to render the return of the spirit to the old home difficult. Though the Sikhs of India do not generally believe in the sacredness of trees, there is one tree of Zihyphus growing in the Golden Temple at Amritsar. which is known as the Tree which removes sorrow. This particular tree of Vadari is held sacred by the Sikhs.

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