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Mythical Plant Sami Tree, Sacredness Acasia Suma



Acasia suma, synonyms to Prosopis cineraria, mythical plant Sami tree in Hindi. Its a flowering tree which can grow up to 25 meters tall. Other named Sami tree, Shami wood, the native to Africa, India, the Indian Ocean and Asia, but it has also been introduced to the Caribbean. Acacia suma medicinal uses in roots and perhaps its bark. The root extract is useful for snakebites and is applied to wash the skin of children who are agitated at night time.

Mythical Plant Sami Tree

Since the time that Agni devatta concealed himself in the Sami wood, the tree became sacred. Sami is a Very inflammable wood and is therefore, used in all. sacred rites where the holy fire Homa is kindled. Sami is also considered as the goddess-incarnate. Since Sami has fire inside it and Kudra is an embodiment of fire, Siva or Rudra is conceived as a yupa post made of Sami wood. An evil spirit resides in it but he works evil only if a bed is made or repaired from Acacia wood. Such a bed can not be slept in. 

In ancient times, Kings sometimes performed sacrifices causing altars to be raised at small distances from one another. Those distances were measured by hurling a heavy piece of Sami wood from an altar. The site for the next altar was chosen at the spot the piece of Sami had fallen.

Mythical Plant Sami Tree


The story regarding the mythical plant Sami tree is told in the Mahabharata. An Asura called Taraka was afflicting the deities and the Rishis.  To get him killed, the deities and the Rishis approached Brahma. Brahma gave them his word that the vedas and the eternal duties will not be exterminated and he promised to do something to get rid of Taraka. The deities then reminded Brahma that because of his boon to Taraka, Taraka was incapable of being slain by the deities, Asuras or Rakshasas. For having tried to stop propagation in earlier days, the deities had also been cursed by Uma, the consort of Siva. 

As a result of that curse, they could not have any offspring. Brahma told the assembled company that at the time the curse was pronounced by Uma, Agni was not present and therefore he was free from the curse. Agni would begat an offspring who, transcending all the deities, Danavas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Nagas and the feathery creatures will slay Taraka. Continuing, he said: "Kama is identical with Rudra’s seed, a portion of which fell into the blazing form of Agni. That blazing substance will be cast by Agni into Gangs for producing an offspring upon her in order to effect the destruction of the enemies of the gods. Let the eater of sacrificial libations, who alone is Capable of killing Taraka, being free of Uma’s curse, be sought. Agni is the Lord of the universe. Will or desire is identified with Agni". 

The deities and the Rishis then searched for Agni in all corners of the three worlds but could not find him as Agni had merged himself into self i.e. water, for water is identified with Agni. Agni having entered the waters, the aquatic animals were scorched by the heat thus produced. A frog living in the water could not bear the heat anymore. As the deities were searching for Agni, the frog came above the water surface and informed them of Agni’s whereabouts. When Agni came to know of frog’s treachery, he cursed him by depriving is entire race of their organs of taste. 

Seeing the plight to which the frogs were reduced for having done them a service, the deities showed them a favour and said that inspire of all the inconveniences caused to them by the lack of tongues, the Earth would still hold them and they will no: starve. After bestowing this boon on the frogs, the deities went about searching for Agni but failed to find him. An elephant told them that Agni was hiding in the Aswattha tree (Ficus digiosa). Incensed by the betrayal of the elephants, Agni cursed them and said that their tongues would be bent backwards. The deities then said to the elephants that even with tongues bent inwards, they would be able to eat and make incoherent sounds. 

Having thus blessed the elephants, the deities resumed their search for Agni. Having issued out of the Aswattha, the deity of fire had entered the heart of Sami tree. His new abode was divulged by a parrot. Enraged with the conduct of the parrot, Agni cursed the whole parrot race and deprived them of the power of speech. The deities feeling compassion for the parrot blessed them and said that though their tongues had been turned back, they will still have speech, sweet and indistinct and confined to the letter. Then beholding the deity of fire within the heart of the Sami wood, the deities made Sami a sacred fuel fit for producing fire in all religious rites. From that time onwards, Agni is believed to reside in the heart of Sami; and men came to regard Sam; as the right wood for producing fire in sacrifices and to this day, the sacrificial fire is produced by rubbing together two sticks of Sami wood. 

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Sacredness Acasia Suma


Another story regarding the mythical plant Sami tree, in the krita age all the celestials approached Varuna and said: "As Sakra, the lord of the celestials always protects us from every fear, similarly be thou the lord of all rivers. Thou always residest, O god, in the Ocean, that home of Makaras. This Ocean, the Lord of rivers, will then be under thy dominion. Thou shalt then wax and wane with Soma." Thus addressed, Varuna answered: "Let it be so". 

Then according to the rites laid down in the scriptures, Varuna took his abode in the Ocean. The illustrious Varuna began to duly protect seas and lakes, rivers and other receptacles of water and all aquatic creatures. Because of Varuna haying his abode in the waters, these became a place of pilgrimage or Tirtha. Baladeva, the slayer of Pralamba and possessor ot great wisdom, after having bathed in the abode of Varuna i.e. the river, proceeded to the Agni Tirtha which was the spot where the god of fire, Agni, the eater of clarified butter, frightened at the curse of Bhrigu, had concealed himself within the entrails of the Sami wood. 

At this disappearance of the light of the world, the gods repaired to the Grandsire of the Universe and said: "The odorable Agni has disappeared for reasons unknown to us. Let not all creatures be destroyed, create fire, O Lord". Upon   the disappearance of Agni, all the gods with Vasava or Vrihaspati at their head, searched for the missing god and found him in the entrails of the Sami wood.  Having found Agni, the gods returned to their respective homes. Agni, henceforth, because of Bhrigu’s curse became an eater of everything. Balarama, after having bathed at Agni Tirtha the spot where Agni had entered the Sami wood, then proceeded to Brahmayoni where Brahma had exercised his functions of creation. 

Reference

  • Plants Myths & Traditions in India. By Shakti M. Gupta, 1968.
  • Prabuddha Bharata: Or Awakened India. By Smaranananda, Swami, 2001. 



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