Unseen Passage: Ancient Tree Practices

In India, as perhaps in many other countries of the world, trees have been held in veneration since ancient times. Our rishis of yore retired to forests to meditate and to do penance amidst trees “far from the madding crowd”. Our forefathers loved trees and forests so much so that, they even deified and worshipped them as abodes of Vrikshadevata and Vanadevata. Many of them were not cut without good reason. In ancient India, groves of trees and flower gardens were reared with loving care.

In ancient Sanskrit literature, there are many references of young maidens kicking the Ashoka tree to make it flower. But in fact, the kick could be administered by anyone. The method seems to work, though nobody really knows why? Some say the kick interrupts the flow of water upwards, triggering a defence mechanism which causes the tree to flower.

In western countries people beat their walnut trees to encourage them to bear fruit. It is believed that a good beating ensures a good crop of walnuts. Like the Ashoka, the Walnut too is a tall tree. Perhaps all tall trees benefit occasionally from a beating sound.

In parts of Uttar Pradesh, they resort to another strategy to get mango trees to flower. If a tree has not given fruit in a particular year, the owner, accompanied by three or four friends, walks menacingly towards it with an axe and loudly announces his intention of cutting down the tree. His friends persuade him not to do so. When he has gone they berate the tree for not giving fruit and advise it to give plenty of fruit the next time if it wants to live. The method is said to give good results.

Q. Answer the following questions:

  1. Why did Rishis retire to forests?
  2. Why are walnut trees beaten in Western countries?
  3. In Uttar Pradesh mango trees are caused to flower by ____________.
  4. According to some people kicking ____________ the upward flow of water.
  5. Vrikshadevata and Vanadevata are referred to:
    1. The Sky
    2. The Sun
    3. The Earth
    4. The Trees
  6. In ancient times, young maidens used to kick which tree?
    1. The Ashoka
    2. The Walnut
    3. The Banyan
    4. The Neem
  7. One similarity between Ashoka and Walnut trees is that both are
    1. thick trees
    2. strong trees
    3. weak trees
    4. tall trees
  8. The word ‘menacingly’ in the passage means
    1. penance
    2. threateningly
    3. encourage
    4. amidst


  1. Rishis retired to forests to meditate and to do penance.
  2. Walnut trees are beaten in Western countries to encourage them to bear fruits.
  3. advising them
  4. interrupts
  5. The Trees
  6. In ancient times, young maidens used to kick the Ashoka tree.
  7. tall trees
  8. threateningly.

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