The mystique of trees

Tall trees, with their straight backs and serene appearance, soaring upward towards the sky, are mystical symbols of life, knowledge, sustenance and interconnectedness. The Kalpavriksh in Hindu mythology is giver of infinite abundance; this wish-fulfilling tree emerges during Samudra Manthan, the churning of the milky ocean. Native American tradition views trees as divine connectors of humanity and nature.

In Islam, the Tree of Life is the Tree of Immortality. The Gita in its 15th chapter speaks of the inverted tree, its roots on top, branches and leaves below, signifying the Divine essence (sap) above and the manifest world below (branches twigs and leaves). The essence (root) is endless, infinite and widespread, whereas the manifest world is temporary.

Trees have inspired imaginative works of art as, for example, Ompal Sansanwal’s artworks that define tree shapes variously as a cantering horse, as Krishna holding aloft the Govardhan hill, Christ’s Last Supper and so on. His works were recently displayed at Delhi’s Bikaner House, titled ‘Meditation on Trees’, along with a coffee table book of that name. Says Sansanwal, ‘In the banyan trees that I grew to love, I saw a quiet solemnity, a profound air of mystery and spirituality….’

Popular portrayals of masters like the Buddha and Mahavir show them seated under a tree, deep in meditation. Leaning against a tree, feeling its bark, say therapists, can work wonders to calm the mind, creating serenity.


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