Sacred Tree

 Origin and Importance

Once when the earth was submerged in the water, Lord Brahma was immersed in the meditation of Parbrahma (Almighty Vishnu). He was so overcome with emotion that tears started rolling down his eyes and fell on to earth. The Amla tree germinated from those tears.
The Amla tree had many branches and bore a lot of fruits. Since the Amla tree was the first tree to manifest itself on earth, it is also known as ADIROHA (the pre-eminent tree).
 Lord Vishnu and all the other deities became quite attached to this tree. One day while the deities was looking at this Amla tree, they heard a voice from the sky: "This Amla tree is the supreme among all the trees because it is dear to Lord Vishnu. The mere remembrance of this tree bestows virtues twice as much as donating a cow. The virtues attained by eating the Amla fruit are three times more than the donation of a cow. So efforts should be made for this tree’s preservation.”
Eating the Amla fruit is very nutritious for the body. Bathing in water mixed with Amla fruit juice has great curative values. The performance of 'Pindadana' under the Amla trees extends salvation to the souls of dead ancestors. Ghosts and other evil spirits do not trouble a house where Amla fruits are kept. One who is desirous of acquiring wealth should bathe in water mined with Amla fruits juice on a daily basis.
Those who wash their hair with Amla juice mixed with water attain 'Vishnuloka' by destroying all their sins of this Kaliyuga.
Anyone who eats food under an Amla tree in the Hindu month of Kartik is released from any ill effects of the food (annadosha) for one year.
 Sage Vyasa has described all of the above benefits of amla in the 'Skanda Purana'.

PEEPAL

The holy Fig Tree The concept of divinity, even in vegetation and trees, has been prevalent in Indian civilization since time immemorial and has been accepted as a tradition.

Lord Sri Krishna has said in the Bhagawad Gita that the holy fig tree personifies his own glory. The five-trees (Pancha-Vat) are considered very sacred in India and these include:

  1. Fig tree,
  2. A wild fig (Sycamore) tree (Gular),
  3. Banyan tree,
  4. Pakar (citron-leaved), Indian fig tree,
  5. Mango tree.

Among these the holy fig tree is considered the most sacred. A man who plants this tree goes to the abode of Almighty God after his death. He can neither be tormented by the miseries of 'Yamaloka' nor face any miseries in this world.
Lord Vishnu dwells in the roots of this tree, 'Keshav' (Krishna) in the trunk, Narayana dwells in the branches, Lord Shri Hari in the leaves, and all the deities dwell in the fruits. This tree is the personification of Lord Vishnu. Great men serve the virtuous roots of this tree. Protection of this tree liberates a man from all his sins and help in the accomplishment of every desire.

The cutting of a holy fig tree without justification is similar to cutting one's own ancestors. By doing so, one destroys one’s lineage. As far as sacred activities like 'Yagya' (sacrificial fire) are concerned, cutting the tree for this purpose is not sinful. On the contrary, it helps in the attainment of Heaven. The mere worship of this tree worships all the deities. (Parikrama) moving around a holy fig tree is reverence, and pouring water on it daily destroys all kinds of bad luck. Pouring water on the roots of this tree in the month of May (Vaishakh) gives immense virtues and worshipping it with devotion blesses one with a long life.

There is a rule regulating the three circumambulations of a holy fig tree. This tree should be planted on any auspicious day followed by giving it water for eight years, just as one would give to one’s son. Performing the sacred-thread (yagyopavita) ceremony around this tree and worshipping it with properly bestows undiminished wealth and fortune, continuation of lineage, long life, and the salvation of the souls of dead ancestors.
From childhood, Hindu girls observe numerous fasts connected with this tree. A girl whose horoscope indicates that she might be widowed must worship the holy fig tree. After her bath, she should purify the soil around the holy fig tree by cow dung paste, decorate the tree with threads and Ochre and worship it with the help of a Brahmin. She should invocate Lord Vishnu and Laxmi who dwell in the holy fig tree and worship them by chanting 'Purusukta' Mantras and by performing "Havana' and 'Tarpana'. Then she should circumambulate the holy fig tree for 108 times and tie a white thread around it.

The holy fig tree has medicinal properties as well. According to Ayurveda, this tree has both sweet and bitter taste and has a cooling effect on the body. Eating pieces of the bark, fruit and buds cures diseases such as phlegm, bile, inflammation swelling and indisposition etc. The soft bark and the bud of this tree cure 'Prameha' (a disease where sperms emanate through the urine).
The fig fruit when eaten in powder form increases appetite and cures numerous diseases. Therefore, the holy fig tree holds a very important place in Indian civilization.

THE HOLY BASIL (TULSI)

The holy basil plant has an important place in scriptures and science. That is why it is mentioned not only in the scriptures and in mythological texts but also in Ayurveda. The holy Basil is as holy as Lord Vishnu because it is also known as ‘Vishnupriya’, ‘Vishnukanta’ and ‘Keshavpriya’. The holy basil originated from the hairs of Tulsi who in her previous life was blessed by Lord Narayan.
In Hindu mythology a place where the holy basil plant is present is considered the most holy. This is the reason why every Hindu tries to have it in the house. Women have been worshipping it with the desire for good fortune and the well being of their family.
It is believed that the lord of death does not dare to enter a place a holy basil plant is present. Worshipping god with the new sprout of basil plants give salvation. Such a man is freed from the cycles of birth and death. Even deities desirous of attaining salvation get the basil plant’s assistance. Bathing in water in which basil leaves have been mixed gives virtues similar to that of all the pilgrimages put together.
The deities and places of pilgrimages have their dwelling places in the basil-plant from its root to its shade. Any ceremony performed in the vicinity of a basil plant enables a man to attain salvation.
Even the soil underneath the holy basil plant is of great importance. If it is applied on the forehead all sins are destroyed and one attains happiness, prosperity and numerous blessings. Wearing a string of beads consisting of basil-seeds makes a man free from the fear of death. If basil beads are used for chanting it helps one to accomplish even the most arduous tasks.
The use of basil leaves in ceremonies like ‘Shraddh’ and ‘Tarpan’ gives indestructible virtues to dead ancestors. The tradition of offering basil leaves to a person approaching death has been continuing since time immemorial. This act of offering basil-leaves terrifies the messenger of ‘Yama’ and helps the person is attaining to the abode of Lord Vishnu, after his death.
If the last rite of a dead person is performed with the wood of the basil plant it helps the soul to attain the abode of Lord Vishnu. Even if a piece of wood from the basil plant is kept on the burning pyre all the sins of that person get destroyed.

Although the use of stale flower and stale water is prohibited in worship, this is not applicable to basil leaves. However, there are some days when the use of basil leaves is prohibited - Sunday, the last day of dark lunar phase (Amavasya), the twelfth day of every Hindu month (Dwadashi), ‘Sanskranti’ and until 3 a.m. in the morning. Therefore the leaves should be collected well before the days and times mentioned above.
The importance of the holy basil also called ‘Tulsi’ in India is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartik every year. This celebration gives great virtues and benediction. The holy basil has the same importance in the Ayurvedic field as it has in the spiritual and religious fields. It has miraculous curatorial effects on numerous physical and mental ailments.
The holy basil plant keeps away germs capable of causing diseases from its vicinity. It also helps in the purification of the mind by purifying the atmosphere around it. This helps us to attain balanced physical and mental health.
All the parts of the holy basil plant such as leaves, sprout, stem, and the soil underneath, have great medicinal properties.