Hinduism

4000 BCE – Harappan and Dravidian cultures emerged as major trade centers for Lapis Lazuli, cotton, dates and water buffalo. They worshipped spirits, trees, animals and planets.

In Hindu tradition the Tree of Life is rooted in the heavens and bears its fruit on earth.  All the gods and goddesses, all the elements and cosmic principles are in its branches.  Each and every one is rooted in Brahman, who is identified with the stem of the sacred tree itself. Devi is the Divine Feminine from which the tree grows.

1400 – 1000 BCE – The Tree of Jiva and Atman appears in the Vedic scriptures.

pattachitra-painting-handmade-tree-of-life-01_1f948f8e-d9bf-47ad-b57e-dc7bc0d0325f_grande
Pattachitra painting of the eternal Tree of Jiva and Atman

Rig Veda samhita says: 1.164.20-22 “Two birds associated together, and mutual friends, take refuge in the same tree; one of them eats the sweet fig; the other abstaining from food, merely looks on. Where the smooth-gliding rays, cognizant, distil the perpetual portion of water; there has the Lord and steadfast protector all beings accepted me, though immature in wisdom. In the tree into which the smooth-gliding rays feeders on the sweet, enters, and again bring forth light over all, they have called the fruit sweet, but he partakes not of it who knows not the protector of the universe.”

c5d1896470a644387b3a649d367719d5

700 BC – 300 BC – Aranyakas – The Forest Books explains the meanings of rituals for yogi’s who had withdrawn into the forest and meditated among the trees. Sages sit under the shade to seek enlightenment.

images
Upside down Ashwatha Tree

500 – 300 BCE – The Bhagavid Gita was written. In the fifteenth discourse Lord Krishna compares the ultimate source of the visible universe to an inverted tree, with the fruits, leaves and branches coming from the earth. This ‘tree’ speaks to the illusionary nature of Maya.

Sri Bhagavan said: 15. 1 He who knows the Ashwatha tree (creation), which is said to be imperishable, with its roots upwards,(in the Primeval Being), whose branches are down and whose leaves are Vedas, he knows. 2 The branches of the tree extend both upwards and downwards fed by the Gunas and having sense objects for their leaves, its roots bind the soul according to its actions in the world of humans3 Its nature cannot be grasped. It has no beginning nor end. Cut this aswattha tree which is firmly rooted with a determined weapon of dispassion(non attachment).

628ab6dd508826f0a5c6241fcb92dcb1

Lord Krishna and his divine consort Radha are always depicted as standing under the kadamba tree. Krishna is shown as playing the flute and around Him are assembled the cows, the peacock, the gopis and Radha. The leaves of the kadamba tree are said to reflect the glow of the gopis’ love for Krishna.

240px-Indischer_Maler_um_1640_001
Krishna dancing over the subdued Kaliya Naag, and his wives asking Krishna for his mercy. From a Bhagavata Purana manuscript, c. 1640.

Legend has it that Krishna was also the slayer of Kaliya Naga, a giant snake whose breath was so venomous that all creatures that came within a few miles of it were destroyed. This serpent inhabited a poisonous lake and the only thing that grew on a small island in the middle of the lake was the kadamba tree. The story goes that the kadamba was able to survive there because Garuda, Vishnu’s eagle, had perched on it when he flew back from heaven after drinking the immortal nectar (amrita). As he sat on a branch of the Kadamba, he wiped his beak against its branches and a drop of amrita fell on the tree, making it immortal.

sri-santhana-srinivasa-perumal-temple-places-to-visit-in-chennai
Sri Santhana Srinivasa Perumal Temple places to visit in Madras (now Chennai)

The kadamba is also associated with the founding of the city of Madras. In ancient times, the god Indra killed the demon Vrinda. Vrinda was a Brahmin and so Indra was cursed for Brahmahatya, the slaying of a Brahmin. To shake off the curse he was told to find the most sacred spot on earth. Indra wandered all over the world and in his travels, he passed through a forest of kadamba trees. Suddenly the curse lifted from him and he became free. He looked around him to find out what this sacred spot could be. There reclining under the shade of a beautiful kadamba tree, was Shiva in the form of a Lingam. Indra built a huge canopy over this Lingam and thus, the first modern temple came into being. In time, the forest temple became the city of Madras.

Unknown

500 BCE – 1000 AD – The Agni Purana’s tells of how Banyan Tree symbolizes fertility. It is referred to as the tree of immortality in many Hindu scriptures.  Two types of fig tree, the Banyan and Peepal are considered to be the Trees of Life.  The Banyan tree spreads over huge areas by sending roots down from its branches.  When the roots anchor into the ground, they develop into stems.

371202015_b6c7efc99e

A single tree can create a whole forest. Walking among the “roots” of an old tree is like being in a natural cathedral. The appearance of this tree easily suggests the image of a tree rooted in the heavens.  It also perfectly symbolizes the idea of multiple Gods and Goddesses as being aspects of the one ultimate source.

Samsara is the wheel of life, a cycle of repeated birth and death. Reincarnation is a basic belief in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Moksha – liberation from the cycle of Samsara. The goal is moksha (liberation) from this perpetual cycle.  This occurs by becoming one with the eternal soul. Karma (actions in this life) is seen as the key influencer in ones ability to attain Moksha/Nirvana.

The Ashoka tree is another very sacred tree to Hindu’s, Jains and Buddhists.

220px-CunninghamBharhut
Yakshi under a stylized ashoka tree. Bharhut Stupa, 200 BCE, India

“Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.” – Bhagavad Gita

“Let us be united; Let us speak in harmony; Let our minds apprehend alike. Common be our prayer; Common be the end of our assembly; Common be our resolution; Common be our deliberations. Alike be our feelings; Unified be our heart; Common be our intentions; Perfect be our unity.” – the Rig Veda

“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.” – Swami Vivekananda

“Learn to be thankful to everyone, to the entire creation, even to your enemy and also to those who insult, because they all help you to grow” – Amma

“Apart from thought, there is no independent entity called “world.” Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and then withdraws it, likewise, the mind projects the world out of itself and then withdraws it back into itself.” – Ramana Maharshi

“Thought is the primary energy and vibration that emanated from God and is thus the creator of life, electrons, atoms, and all forms of energy.”  – Paramahansa Yogananda

“Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything.  And between the two my life flows.” – Nisargadatta Maharaji

“The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts, and that is where all our battles should be fought.” 
- Mahatma Gandhi

“Giving is the secret of abundance.” – Sivananda

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. 
As is your desire, So is your will. 
As is your will, So is your deed. 
As is your deed, So is your destiny.” – Upanishads 
 

“While the body perishes the Spirit is immortal. We are here to realize we are Spirit.” – Papa Ramdas

“There is only one religion, the religion of love. There is only one God, the light that shines in your heart.” – Satya Sai Baba

 “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi