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The Legend Birth of Plants And Penances Ten Brothers

Though generally speaking the Sikhs in India do not worship trees, the birth of plants, yet a few specimens are held sacred by them. One is a tree of Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) growing in the compound of the Golden Temple at Amritsar which is believed by the Sikhs to be a tree which removes sorrow. The trees grow wild in the eastern Caribbean, and are reported to exist in Jamaica and Trinidad as well. In Antigua and Barbuda, the fruit is called dumps. It is also known as 'pomme surette' on the French islands of the Caribbean. This fruit, more precisely known as Indian jujube elsewhere, is different from the 'jujube' fruit that is cultivated in various parts of southern California.

The Birth of Plants

Similarly, a tree of Carissa spinosa or the sacred Gama, growing in a village called Badal in the Hoshiarpur dis’trict of Punjab, is a tree of great antiquity and is held in great reverence by the Sikhs. Carissa spinarum, the conkerberry or bush plum, is a large shrub of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), widely distributed in tropical regions of Africa, Southern Asia, Australia, and various islands of the Indian Ocean.

Near Bareilly in Uttara Pradesh there is a tree of Amla (Embelica officinalis) one branch of which bears sweet fruits and the rest of the tree bears bitter-sour fruits. No doubt a case of mutation in the plant but the Sikhs hold the tree sacred under the belief that one of their Gurus once rested under this tree and the branch which gave him shade, since that time bears sweet fruits. 

The Birth of Plants

There is a mention of the birth of plants in Matsya Purana. The legend says that by the power of their penances, Rishis Prachetasa (ten brothers), had protected the plants but Agni burnt them. So the Rishis married Soma Kanya, Marisha, the daughter of Soma and from this union was born Daksha. Daksha in turn produced on her innumerable plants and trees. 

According, to the Vamana Purana the following plants arose as listed below: 
  1. Lotus (Nelumbium speciosum) from Vishnu’s navel. 
  2. Kadamba (Anthocephalus cadamba) from the forepart of the hand of Kandaripa. 
  3. Banyan (Ficus benghalensis) from Manibhadra, the chief of the Yakshas. 
  4. Datura (Datura fastuosa) from the chest of Siva. 
  5. Khadira (Acacia catechu) from the middle body of Brahma. 
  6. Bread fruit (adansonia digitata) from the body of Visvavarman. 
  7. Kurchi  flowers (Jasminum pubescens) from the palm of Parvati. 
  8. Sindhuvaraka (Vitex negundo) from the temple of Ganesha.  
  9. Palasa (Butea frondosa) from the right side of Yama. 
  10. Udumbara (Ficus glomerata) from the north-south side of Yama. 
  11. Vrsa drig (Pentapates) from Rudra. 
  12. Bamboo (Pentapates) from Skanda. 
  13. Aswattha (Ficus religiosa) from Ravi. 
  14. Sami (Acacia suma) from Katyani. 
  15. Bilva (Aegle marmelos) from Lakshmi. 
  16. Reeds (Arundo donax) from the lord of serpents. 
  17. Durbha (Poa cynosuroides) from Vasuki.

The cult of tree worship is as old or older than civilization, in fact almost the first objects to be worshipped were trees. In India this is borne out by a seal discovered at Mohenjodaro, now in Pakistan, which depicts Aswattha (Ficus religiosa) being worshipped. This seal dates back to the 3rd or 4th millennium B.C. The worship of trees in India is understandable as the trees not only provided shade in the hot scorching summers, food, and medicine and fuel but the forests Meant rain which was essential for a purely agricultural economy. 

The trees being beneficial to humanity, to protect them became a religion for men and the trees were converted into the abode of spirits, the Vanadevattas. To cut down a tree meant depriving the spirit of its home and very often if it became imperative to cut down any tree, special prayers for forgiveness of the tree spirit were performed before a tree was cut down or another abode offered to the Vaimdevatta. Invariably it is not the tree that is worshipped but the spirits residing in them.

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