The oldest historical tree in the world
Scientific classification of Budhi Tree
Sacred Fig, Bo-Tree, Peepal
Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) or Bo-Tree
Countless are the modes in which Nature crafts life and conserve it. Trees not only endow man with sustenance and shade but also add tint of color to the surroundings and are beyond doubt one of the most prized gifts of Nature.
The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) or Bo-Tree is a species of banyan fig.This plant is considered sacred by the followers of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, and hence the name 'Sacred Fig' was given to it.
Buddhist recounts that while the Buddha was yet alive, in order that people might make their offerings in the name of the Buddha when he was away on pilgrimage, he sanctioned the planting of a seed from the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya in front of the gateway of Jetavana Monastery near Sravasti in Gaya, which is situated 100 kms south of Patna, the capital of the Indian state of Bihar. It is believed that Shakyamuni Buddha or Gautama, attained enlightenment some 2500 years ago by sitting under this tree. Bodhi basically means wisdom; original tree was destroyed by Ashoka before his conversion to the faith and later its offshoots were nurtured at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in 245 BC, making it the oldest verified specimen of any angiosperm.
Ficus religiosa or Sacred Fig
India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indo-china.
It is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 m. The leaves are chordate in shape with a distinctive extended tip; they are 10–17 cm long and 8–12 cm broad, with a 6–10 cm petiole. The fruit is a small fig 1-1.5 cm diameter, green and on ripening, purple.
What Buddhists believe about the Bodhi Tree
The tree that plays the most imperative position in the cultural and religious life of the Buddhists of Sri Lanka is the Bodhi tree or Peepal. Every Buddhist temple in the island fosters a bodhi tree as it is one of the three sacred objects that every temple is self-righteous of, i.e.
- The stupa (that preserves the physical remnants of the Buddha or a sage)
- The budu-ge (a place where resides the Buddha images).
- Bodhi tree
Every bodhi tree in the Sri Lanka is well thought-out to be a close or far-off family member of the bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, the bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, receives its magic from two springs: firstly, from the verity that the Buddha achieved Enlightenment under its original tree in Buddha Gaya in India; secondly, from the belief that it is the house of a divine being known as Kalu Devata Bandara, the Black Bandara god. The bodhi tree at Anuradhapura is well thought-out to be the southern bough, of the original Indian tree. It was carried to Sri Lanka by the renowned Indian Buddhist preacher, Sanghamitta, the sister of sagacious Mahinda who initiated Buddhism to this Island and, daughter of Emperor Asoka who was influential in spreading Buddhism in South Asia. This branch was placed in the ground at Maha Meghavana, the Royal Gardens at Anuradhapura, where it lives to tell the tale till the present day, thus making it the oldest chronological tree in the world.
According to Buddhist myths, the world will re-emerge and the very first site that would be recreated would be the site of the bodhi tree. A bodhi tree is comes to life, Buddhists deem, on the similar day as that which in-scripts the dawn of the Buddha himself, who will be seated under that tree in his pursuit for Enlightenment. However, it does not die on the day the Buddha passes away. The tree stays till the very last part of the kalpa (a fabled interlude of time that is almost further than gauge). The birth, the development and the demise of a bodhi tree, according to Buddhist legends and tradition, is precipitous in ambiguity and the supernatural.
Magical powers of Bodhi tree
The bodhi tree appears to be a vital fraction of Buddhist sacrament because of its alliance with the life of the Buddha and thus of its magical wonders. Buddhists trust that this tree holds miraculous supremacy which no other tree in the world enjoys.
- It is usually assumed that neither fruits nor leaves of this bodhi-tree ever fall on to the ground. Buddhists believe that the leaves of the tree hover in the air, in anticipation to reach the Tisa vaeva, positioned a little space to the south-west of the tree. It thus averts human beings from walking on these golden leaves.
- Buddhists also believe that this tree radiates a spectrum of six colors. Usually it is the Buddha's body that has the supremacy to spring the six-colored rays, namely, blue, yellow, red, white, orange, and a blend of all. Since the bodhi tree is a symbol of the Buddha, the personas of the Buddha are accredited to the tree as well.
- An added thrilling power of the bodhi tree is its pre-eminence to cause rainfall. The belief that certain trees could cause rain is wide-spread trust among primal peoples. Frazer, in his book "The Golden Bough" records countless instances from folk cultures in which many rain-making rites and customs are related with trees. It is assumed that if one debilitated or injured a tree, the god or spirit residing in it would get hurt and would thus stop rain as a score of vengeance.
- The bodhi tree is gifted with a further mysterious control, the authority to endow children to unproductive women. This is also a relic of an ancient conviction found in many folk ethnicities, where women who try to have off-springs are taken in the vicinity of the tree and are asked to water it, hold it, or knot a string encircling it. If a woman gets a baby subsequent to making such a promise, she would return back, with the newborn and a tender coconut plant, in order to complete that promise.
- The bodhi tree also has the power to foretell the upcoming state of affairs. When the emperor or the state countenances an imminent jeopardy, it is thought that the first symbols of caution would emerge in the tree, such as the withering of one of its twigs, discharge of some oozing from its stem, a fact which country folk name as 'bleeding'. Since the contemptuousness of a bough means its 'death', this could point toward death for the ruler and hence he would do his best to look after the tree at all expenses.
Taboos in order to maintain its sanctity
A sanctified tree will always have a set of forbidden practices in order to preserve its sacredness. One such taboo shared to the knocking down of such trees or wounding down its branches. This was the problem that Emperor Asoka came across when he strong-willed to send a branch of the bodhi tree from India to Sri Lanka. The Bodhivamsa, the chronicle of the Bodhi tree, poses the questions that arose in the Emperor's mind, it states:
"Who will lay a sword on the body of this sacred tree full of miraculous powers? How will the sword touch this body? It is not possible to cut off a branch of the tree without a weapon. How will the branch that is not separated go to Lanka? How can a branch that cannot be touched with a sword be sent to Lanka?"
No Buddhist with belief will volunteer to cut down a branch of this tree, let alone fell it. Like a being, the tree also has a spirit and thus it could, when wounded or injured, feel pain, or even bleed. It could also be the house of a divine being. The Vinaya Pitaka, the Book of the Discipline, which lays down rules for the proper behavior of Buddhist monks, states specifically that there is an offence of expiation for the destruction of vegetable growth, by which is meant five different kinds of propagation:
- From roots
- From stems
- From joints
- From cuttings and
- From seeds.
If it became necessary to cut a branch or fell the tree, in order to protect an image or a building that is under it, then a special set of rituals are observed. For instance, monks will sing to the spirit in order to guard the man who carries out this task. Unless one is not ritually protected thus,
"Thou shalt not cut this tree!" , for it is the Buddha himself in emblem.
Uses of Sacred Fig
- The bark is refreshing and astringent and is useful in soreness and glandular swellings of neck.
- Root bark is excellent for stomatitis, clean ulcers and it is astringent in leucorrhoea and endorses granulations and is also good for lumbago.
- Roots are said to be good for gout and when chewed, prevent gum disease.
- The fruit is laxative, promotes digestion, aphrodisiac and checks vomiting. Ripe fruits are alexipharmic (an antidote or defensive remedy against poison, venom or infection), are good for foul taste, thirst and heart disease.
- The powdered fruit is taken for asthma.
- The seeds are cooling, laxative and refrigerant. Seeds are useful in urinary troubles.
- The leaves alone are used to treat constipation. The leaves and young shoots together are purgative (strong laxative). An infusion or decoction of the bark is used with some honey for the treatment of gonorrhoea, ulcers, skin diseases and scabies.