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Magical Plants And Herbs India, Tradition Of Aryan



Though generally speaking, the idea of the identity of the plant with the deities belonged to the tradition of the Aryan immigration. Such as the association of the Soma plant with the moon, yet a large number of plants. Magical plants and herbs are associated with the deities belong to the traditional flora of India. Such as the association of Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) and Amalaka (Embelka myrobalam) with Vishnu. Bilva (Aegle marmelos) with Siva and the identification of Sri-Lakshmi with the lotus. In such cases the association of the plant with the deities would be pre-Aryan.

magical Plants And Herbs India

The reason of magical plants and herbs not having any commercial use and still associated with myths and traditions are difficult to understand. The only explanation for their association with religious beliefs can be that these plants. Perhaps because of the resemblance to the emblem of a particular deity or the name of a sage being associated with them, made the plants holy. For this reason alone a large number of plants are considered sacred in India.


To the Hindus, all plants having the trifoliate arrangement of its leaves. Like Crataeva religiosa of Family Capparidaceae and called Varuna in Hindi are associated with the Trimurti: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva. In South India, its trifoliate leaves are offered to gods. Also Bilva (Aegle marmelos) and Mandara (Erythrina inciica) have trifoliate leaf arrangement and are offered to Siva.

Magical Plants And Herbs In India


There are a large number of magical plants and herbs which are used by people all over India. Its to cures against witchcraft or to remove the effect of the evil eye. But the reasons for faith and belief in them is lost in antiquity.

  1. Cheilanthes tenuifolia belonging to the Family Polypodiaceae and called Dodheri by the Santhals of India is highly valued. As the root of the plant is prescribed in a preparation given in sickness attributed to witch-craft or the evil eye. 
  2. Similarly the nomadic tribes of Rajasthan tie the leaves of Pedilanthus to the neck of small children as an amulet to ward off the evil eye. 
  3. Among the Oriyan tribe Saoras, an amulet made of bits of the bark of Trewia nudiflora is used as protection against Danunkisum. Also a necklace made of the bark of the tree is believed to protect the nursing mother. 
  4. Similarly Euphorbia antiquorum of Family Euphorbiaceae and called Tridhara in Hindi, is supposed to possess the power of warding off lightning strokes. 
  5. Embelica officinalis is a tree sacred to the Hindus and is credited with magical properties by the tribesmen. 
  6. Seeds of syrian rue (Peganum Harmala) are burnt to drive away evil spirits or to avert the evil eye. The smoke emanating from the burning seeds cleanses the atmosphere of mosquitoes and germs. 
  7. Prisniparni, identified as Hermiontis cordifolia, also as Glycine debelis is used as a protection against sorcerers indulging in bringing about abortion. 
  8. Certain trees like Semicarpus anacardium, Diospyros melanoxyhn and Vitex negundox are believed to have magical potency and the branches of these trees are used by the Oroan tribes of India to avert the evil eye, repel evil spirits and other evil influences from standing crops. 
  9. Aparmarga (Achyranthes aspera) is used in witchcraft and for medical purposes against Ksetriyas. It is described in Atharvaveda as revertive. Because it has reverted leaves, it wards off a spell by causing it to recoil on its user.
  10. The utility of trees in a hot country was recognised by people from very early times. The merit of planting trees is given in many old texts. In Matsya Purana a legend says that Parvati planted an Asokan sapling and the gods asked her the merit that would accrue from planting trees. To this Parvati replied: A Vapi is equal in fruit to 10 wells, a pond to 10 Vapi’s; a son to 10 ponds and a tree is equal in merit to 10 sons. The merit for the performance of rite of consecration of trees and fruit gardens is also mentioned in Agni Purana.

There are a large number of magical plants and herbs like the Bodhi trees. Associated with the name of sages who received enlightenment under them, thus making the trees sacred. For instance Aswattha (Ficus religiosa) is the bodhi tree of Sakya Muni or Buddha. Nyagrodha (Ficus bengalensis) of Kasyapa, Udumbara (Ficus glomerata) of Kanaka muni. Sirisa (Albizzia labbek) of Krakuchhanda, Asoka (Saraca indica) of Vipaswi, Pundarika (Nelumbium speciosum) of Sikhi.

Reference

  • Plants Myths & Traditions in India. By Shakti M. Gupta, 1968.



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