Sacred tree

individual tree, that is held sacred

A sacred tree is a tree which is considered to be sacred, or worthy of spiritual respect or reverence. Such trees appear throughout world history in various cultures including the ancient Greek, Hindu mythology, Celtic and Germanic mythologies. They also continue to hold profound meaning in contemporary culture in places like Japan (shinboku), Korea (dangsan namu), India (bodhi tree), and the Philippines, among others. Tree worship is core part of religions which include aspects of animism as core elements of their belief, which is the eco-friendly belief that trees, forests, rivers, mountains, etc have a life force ('anime' i.e. alive) and need to be conserved and used in a sustainable manner.


  • Do not the Hindus all over the country worship the tree? Tulasi, bilva, ashwattha are all sacred to the Hindu.
    • M.S. Golwalkar: Bunch of Thoughts, p.471-472. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • All the people of India used to prostrate themselves before stones, idols, trees, animals, cows and cow-dung.
    • Amir Khwurd: Siyaru’l-Auliya. Cited in P.M. Currie, The Shrine and Cult of Mu‘in al-Din Chishti of Ajmer, OUP, 1989, p. 30. About Shykh Mu‘in al-Din Chisti of Ajmer (Rajasthan) (d. AD 1236).
  • The king... breaks the temples and uproots tulsi plants… The bathing in Ganga is prohibited and hundreds of sacred asvattha and jack trees have been cut down.
    • Jayananda: Chaitanya-mañgala, (a biography of the great Vaishnava saint), about the Navadvipa region on the eve of the saint’s birth in 1484 AD. Quoted from Goel, S. R. (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India.
  • The trees were cut with axes and felled, notwithstanding their groans; and the Hindus, who worship trees, could not at that time come to the rescue of their idols, so that every cursed tree which was in that capital of idolatry was cut down to the roots…
  • Whenever the Muharram… chances to coincide with Hindu festivals... serious riots have occurred as the processions meet in front of a mosque or Hindu temple, or when an attempt is made to cut the branches of some sacred fig-tree which impedes the passage of the cenotaphs....
    • Jafar Sharif, Islam in India or the Qanun-i-Islam, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 8
  • [Suraj Mal concluded a peace treaty with the Mir Bakshi Salabat Jang in 1750, whereby latter promised:] ( a ) not to cut down pipal trees nor hinder the worship of that tree ; ( b ) not to offer any insult or injury to Hindu temples.
    • Raj Pal Singh, Rise of the Jat Power, also in Jain, M. (2010). Parallel pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim relations, 1707-1857.
  • "Indian government funded in part the work of ISKCON (Hare Krishna) in re-forestation of Vrindavan. Department of environment is supporting temples to maintain sacred groves. Ecological aspects of Sanatana dharma have been included in the school text books of at least one state, UP." ... Ms. Nanda has described how environmentalism in India is often clothed in Hindu language and symbolism. Thus, in trying to protect trees, women tie rakhis, the auspicious red threads which sisters tie around their brothers' wrists on the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, around these trees.
    • Meera Nanda, quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Return of the Swastika: Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007)
  • A person is honored in Vaikuntha for as many thousand years as the days he resides in a house where tulasi is grown.
    And if one properly grows bilva, which pleases Lord Siva, in his family, the goddess of riches resides permanently passes on to the sons and grandsons
    He who plants even a single asvattha, wherever it may be, as per the prescribed mode, goes to the abode of Hari.
    He who has planted dhatri has performed several sacrifices. He has donated the earth. He would be considered a celebate forever.
    He who plant a couple of banyan trees as per the prescribed mode would go to the abode of Siva and many heavenly nymphs will attend upon him.
    After planting neem trees a person well-versed in dharma attains the abode of Sun. Indeed! He resides there for a long period.
    By planting four plaksa trees a person doubtlessly obtains the fruits of Rajasuya sacrifice.
    He who plants five or six mango trees attains the abode of Garuda and lives happily forever like gods.
    One should plant seven palasa trees or even one. One attains the abode of Brahma and enjoys the company of gods by doing so.
    He who himself plants eight udumbara trees or even prompts someone to plant them, rejoices in the lunar world
    He who has planted madhuka has propitiated Parvati, has become free from diseases, and has worshipped all deities.
    If one plants ksirini, dadimi, rambha, priyala, and panasa, one experiences no affliction for seven births.
    He who has knowingly or unknowingly planted ambu is respected as a recluse even while staying in the house.
    By planting all kinds of other trees, useful for fruits and flowers, a person gets a reward of thousand cows adorned with jewels.
    By planting one asvattha, one picumanda, one nyagrodha, ten tamarind trees, the group of three, viz., kapittha, bilva, and amalaka, and five mango trees, one never visits hell.
    • Vrukshayurveda, authored by Surapala, translated by Nalini Sadhale, Agri-History Bulletin No.1, Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad
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