Jarjara– the arbor Mundi

Great aunt Kittadoddamma had her favourite narration of the samudra manthan and how the vatavriskha and the Kalpataru came out of it. She would explain to us how the Kalpataru was bejewelled and rich.
As usual Param-ajja would snort and he would tell us that the kalpataru was nothing but the coconut tree which contributed to the economic growth of mankind with every part of its structure. Grandmother Sringari told us that the Parijatha tree was the kalpvriksha later when I read the PadmaPurana I found the authentication.
As we grew older we heard that the Kalpataru was the Bodhi tree where the great Gautama attained Nirvana.
The Indian mythology, symbolism and spiritualism is inspired greatly by the trees. So much so the rigveda has a hymn to the tree
Moolahta brahma rupaya,madhyatha vishnuroopine
Argratha shiva rupaya vrksha rajaayate namah.
Under the banyan tree is famous by-line. The white man called the Ficus Benghalensis the Banyan tree as the Bania sat under it to ply his trade or travelling tradesmen rested beneath it. The peepal also belongs to the same family and is botanically called the Ficus Religiosa.
The ariel roots that descend down gives it an eerie appearance. This has inspired the folklore to say that it houses ghouls and ghosts. Befittingly the tree is dedicated to the lord of souls Yama. Yama reigns the south so the tree is found planted on the southern area of the temple or town.
At any given time the complex of tree would display the original bark, decaying descending roots, and rejuvenating roots. Though it does not provide edible berries it houses birds, nurtures creepers and sometimes allowing secondary vegetation on it.(a tree at the Bhimataal in Nainital shows a cactus growing on it.) this reinforces the cyclic concepts of Hindu philosophy and also inspires security and a sense of immortality.
The Indian ethos recognizes two kinds of spirituality, the continuity of material reality and the other spiritual reality. The banana with its fleshy fruits symbolizes the first, while the banyan is the hermit of the botanical life.
In relation to the Vedic trinity of Brahma Vishnu and Maheshwara, we have—
Shiva who sits under the banyan tree, the embodiment of eternal soul, unafraid of the change as he understands the world. At his feet sit the sages who seek this wisdom. So much so Shiva the dakishna murti is always placed on the south wall of the temple.
Vishnu of the triad accepts change in a dynamic pattern. His work is referred to as leela – the play. More dynamic constantly rejuvenating, re-inventing he is associated with fragrances like Tulasi,champa, kadamba. He is known as the vatapatra shaayi
As Rshi Markandeya saw of vision of the great deluge, dead species and Vishnu lying on the leaf of the vatavrksha floating on the great flood. This flood symbolizing the transitory nature of life, the baby symbolizing the capacity of the new life to replace the older generation, the banyan leaf again the symbol of eternity the lord himself gracing this cycle.
The language of symbols also refer to Yaksha’s the keepers of wealth. They live in cool, green areas that are near water bodies usually believed to be forests. The word yaksha is believed to have evolved from Vrksha hence Yaksharaja Kubra is the dance format is given the mudra of the tree.
These religio-mythological symbolization is translated to worship in the worship of the jarjara in the natyashastra. The direct symbolism is not mentioned by is implied. The jarjara is constructed as the principle vertical axis of the world.
It is the symbol of both the Axis Mundi and the Arbour Mundi(world tree.) The natyashastra substantiates the tree worship by giving it mythological equivalents.

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