the geopiety of the vatavriksha.

            Under the banyan tree is a favorite saying. Since traders sit under the banyan tree the British called “Banyan” after the Bania—the trades people who used to sit under the tree to sell their wares. Or just take break during their travel.

The full moon of June saw the vata savitri vrta again an ancient concept of geo-piety.  This comes at the onset of rains, in the west coast of India this does not have as much promininece as the nariyal poornima, that heralds the new cycle.

             The vatavriksha, which is usually at the southern side of the village or the south facing wall of the temple, is the symbolic representation of spirituality.    The Banyan belongs to the family of the fig, whose most popular member is the ficus religosa or the pipal tree. This is particular significant to the Buddhist because the Gautama not only had his enlightment under this tree he also achieved Nirvana there.

            The vatavriksha tends with its vast limbs and Ariel roots make an eerie visual. The tree is non fruit bearing making it an outcaste in the frame work of a family oriented society. But it houses many birds, creepers and sometimes even plants. (The vatavriskha at Bhim Taal houses a cactus.)

            This tree symbolizes the eternity of the soul and the parallel mortality of some parts of the tree, or other dependent plant and animal life allows saprophytic cycle. This has made people believe that it houses vetal’s and Pischaas

            The Indian psyche recognizes the transient nature or rather the cyclic components of life everything immortal is revered so is the Banyan tree, it symbolizes immortality security and survival who better than lord of souls Yama is the person the tree is dedicated to.

            The banyan with is vastness marginalizes the sunlight thus it is not possible for smaller trees or grass to survive beneath it, this also makes not so comfortable for the grass eating animals. The story of vata savitri vrta the tale of savitri the daughter of the sun, the supreme symbol of knowledge, with the grace of wisdom again symbolized by the tree, rescues the lost soul of satyvan.

            The binding of the tree with a rope, and going round a tree that symbolizes immortality is again linking immortality to the marriage.

            There are two kinds of sacredness in the Indian ethos one of continuity the material reality and the other associated with spirituality the banana and its fleshy fruit symbolizes the former and banyan is the hermit of botanical life.

            Shiva is placed facing south as the south is the direction of change or death. He sits under the banyan tree the embodiment of eternal soul, unafraid of the change as he understands the world. At his feet sits the sages who seek wisdom so much so Shiva the dakishnamurti is always placed on the south wall of a temple.

            Vishnu the second of the Hindu triad accepts change, in a dynamic pattern; hence we refer to his work as “leela”. More dynamic, constant rejuvenating and re-inventing he is associated with fragrances, tulsi, champa and kadamba. He was pictured as the

Vata-patra-shayin

The baby on the banyan leaf was a vision seen by rishi Markendeya saw the vision of the dead flood and the entire world, symbolizing the transitory nature of life and the baby symbolizes the capacity of the new life to replace the old generation. This is possible only by the grace of Vishnu. The banyan leaf again represents eternity.

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