- pipal tree
- The fig or pipal tree is foremost among the sacred trees of Indian tradition. This lush tree can grow to a huge size with a large canopy. It has large, rather thin leaves that make a rustling sound in a breeze, which tradition compares to the sound of the lute or veena. No one is allowed to cut down, remove branches, or tear off leaves from a pipal tree.Some associate the pipal tree particularly with VISHNU, who is said to have been born under one. Often a pipal tree is officially “married” to a margosa tree when they are planted together. A solemn ceremony mimicking an actual mar-riage ceremony is performed, often before an entire village. Sometimes the tree is also invested with the sacred thread, as a BRAHMIN is. The tree plays a role in certain brahminical rituals, and sometimes in marriage ceremonies. Branches of pipal wood were used in the VEDIC fire ritual. It was under a pipal tree that the BUDDHA reached his enlightenment. Many legends, myths, and stories in Indian literature refer to events and occurrences that take place under this, the most sacred of Indian trees.Further reading: James Fergusson, Tree and Serpent Worship (Delhi: Oriental, 1971); P. Thomas, Hindu Religion Customs and Manners, 3d ed. (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons, 1956).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.