Peepal, the sacred tree
Peepal tree , is considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. It is called ‘Vriksharaj’ which means the king of trees . The scientific name is Ficus religiosa. It is a big tree that grows up to 30 meters with many branches. The leaves are heart shaped with an extended tip. The fruits are small figs. The tree is widely planted near hindu temples as it considered sacred. In holy Bhagavat Gita , Lord Krishna says that of all trees he is the Peepal tree. The reason behind the movement of leaves even when there is no wind is attributed to presence of Gods. There is another belief the three Gods Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva are part of it. The roots being Bhrama, trunk Vishnu and leaves Shiva. So viewing and touching this tree will remove yours sins. It is also believed that Lakshmi devi’s sister resides in this tree and she visits this tree and women are told to worship the tree . The tree is grown near temples as it protects the temples against lightning.
It is a hindu custom to do circumambulation (pradashina)around the tree. The mantra to be chanted while doing pradashina around the holy Peepal tree is
Mulatho Bhrama rupaya
Madhyatho Vishnu rupine
Agratho Shiva rupaya
Vriksha rajayathe nama
Then do namaskara chanting the following
Yam Dhrishtamachuthe roghigay
Sprishshadvapa pie pramuchuthe
The tree is considered so sacred that Puranas advise one to plant a Peepal tree and consider it as the son, if one doesnot have a son. Cutting down the Peepal tree is considered as sin in Hinduism. People meditate under this tree. Buddhists call this tree Bodi tree. Buddha is believed to receive enlightment while sitting under this tree. For many hindu religious ceremonies like yaga fire is made by rubbing the wood of Peepal tree.The leaves and bark are of medicinal value and are used in many Ayurvedic preparations.