Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Pipal Tree

 Ek pyara sa gaon
jisme Pipal ki chaon
gaon main ashiyan tha
ek chota makan tha
chod kar gaon ko ham
us ghani chaon ko ham
chod kar gaon ko
us ghani chaon ko
shehar ke ho gaye ham
bhid main kho gaye ham
ek pyara sa gaon
jisme Pipal ki chaon................ 

Every time i hear this song by Rajendra and Neena Mehta, i am transported back to my childhood in Allahabad. While i did not live in a gaon, i lived in a sprawling colony, spread over 106 acres,  in the suburbs of Allahabad, Bamrauli. We lived in CATC ( Civil Aviation Training College  ) Colony, where my father was in Government service.

106 acres is a lot of space, and the architecture of the colony was way ahead of its time. It was a self sufficient colony, complete with a huge Swimming Pool complex,  with an amphitheater where popular movies were screened, a KG school, A house club, Office and Training  space, and Residential houses. The best part was that it was a Green Colony which boasted of hundreds of nooks and corners and  gigantic trees of all kinds: Bargad, Pipal, Mango, Gulmohar, Neem, Jamun,  Imli, Guvava orchards and more.

Pipal, also called the Bo tree or Bodhi tree and Ashvatha in Sanskrit is also known as the Sacred Fig, its scientific name being Ficus Religiosa.  It is called the Bodhi tree as it is believed that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under the is tree in Bodh Gaya, India.

I have a stark memory of a giant Pipal tree which grew just three houses away from my home. A huge, gigantic towering tree, it was easily distinguished from  other trees for two reasons.  Firstly it was considered sacred,  and secondly its unique, heart shaped leaves with an extended fine tip made sure that we would never confuse it with another big tree.

As kids when we would  sneak out of the house for our little adventures , and  would pass by this tree and hear the sounds of its leaves rustling in the slightest wind.  The echo of 'sain sain' is still ingrained in my memory.

Almost every Hindu temple had a Pipal tree inside the boundary wall.  We would see women doing pradikhana ( circumambulation) of the tree as the tree is believed to be a symbol of both fertility and longevity.  A  Pipal tree in Sri Lanka , planted in 288 BC is still alive and flourishing and one of the oldest surviving trees in the world. Women also  tie  the sacred red-yellow thread called kaleva or mauli to be blessed with both fertility and longevity.

The shiny green leaves of the tree was very popular with camel and elephant owners.  On several occasions  we would see mahouts coming all the way from the nearby  village to take back huge bundle of leaves for their animals.

The Pipal tree which is a must in every village, as a meeting venue under its cool shade has great importance in Hinduism, just as it is revered by the Buddhists too.  It is believed that it is the dwelling place of the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara.  It is also believed that  Lord Vishnu was born beneath  a Pipal tree.  

The sanskaars ingrained in we kids remain  with me till date.  Every time i visit my neighborhood temple, i pray to the Pipal and do pradikshna.

The tree has a lot of importance in Ayurveda too.  Its bark, leaves, roots and fruit are used to treat more than 50 diseases including inflammatory disorder, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, infections, diarrhea nd more.

Pipal is regarded as the King of trees as per Hindu mythology and  religious scriptures. It is believed to be a symbol of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck.  

I left Allahabad at the age of 12 and have never gone back.  The city is definitely on my Holiday list.  So when i do plan a trip there, ill make sure ill walk again on those roads, visit the nooks and corners, the KG school and above all, the Pipal tree which i am sure still stands there, a silent witness to the happenings of 35 years gone by,  and go back in time and relive bits and pieces of my childhood in that beautiful colony.

So if you have a garden, albeit a small one in the city, the  Pipal tree should perhaps be your first choice to plant in your garden.  It will surely bring all good blessings your way and it is a beautiful gift to leave behind for your grand children :)

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  1. Nice post...Allahabad's a great place and I've been there once...hope the Allahabad of today's the same of what you remember it to be :)

  2. @ Sree Welcome to my Blog. Thanks!

  3. All my uncles and aunt live in Civil lines and Mumfordgunj, some in Naini...nostalgic post.

  4. @ Yes Alka. Allahabad is all about nostalgia for me :)

  5. I've never been to Allahabad but my dad always portrait it for me. Perhaps, in near future I'll visit Allahabad, for sure.

  6. @ Prateek It is one of the grandest cities of UP. U should surely plan a trip there :)

  7. That was a nostalgic post with a lot of info thrown in too. the pics are lovely. All the best for the contest :)

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