Unseen Passage: Sacred Trees

Sacred trees form an important part of the ecological heritage of India. Most temples, towns, villages—and sometimes even Muslim dargahs— are associated with trees. Some plants are sacred to the individual deity; others are sacred to the place… Several plants have been worshipped in India from time immemorial. Wherever the tulsi grows—from the Indo-Gangetic plains to the shores of the Indian Ocean at Kanyakumari— it occupies a position of pride in the central courtyard of the house, tended to, carefully, by the housewife.

Apart from the elaborate myths connecting it to Krishna, the tulsi plant has several medicinal properties. To protect and revere this plant with so many medicinal properties, it was designated as sacred, a fitting tribute to its role in providing invaluable healthcare. The worship of plants is an ancient phenomenon in India. It is probably the oldest form of worship. The association of a single tree with a sacred sthala or sthana is reflected in the chaitya vriksha and sthala vriksha or literature and society.

When people turned to food production, the Mother Goddess or the Earth Mother became the chief deity. Fertility, creation, and the world of plants and animals became her blessings to her devotees. The worship of the tree was the adoration of her creative abilities, symbolising fertility so essential or the survival of the early people. Spirits—good or bad—were believed to reside in trees. If the trees were worshipped, then the resident spirits were pleased. As sacred forests were replaced by agriculture, a single tree was left and was designated as ‘sacred’ tree.

The earliest temples were little more than images placed under trees. Later, the tree and the image were enclosed by a fence made of wood, followed even by stone. Numerous references are made in literature to trees as abodes of gods.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the passage given above, answer the following questions.

  1. __________ form an important part of the ecological heritage of India.
    1. Indo-gangetic plains
    2. Mother Goddess
    3. Sacred trees
    4. Kanyalcumari
  2. The worship of plants is an __________ phenomenon in India.
    1. ancient
    2. invaluable
    3. immemorial
    4. elaborate
  3. The __________ has several medicinal properties
    1. chaitya vriksha
    2. sthala variksha
    3. tulsi plant
    4. sacred tree
  4. Tulsi was designated as sacred
    1. to protect it
    2. to respect it
    3. as it has many medicinal properties
    4. all of these
  5. The most important things given by the mother Earth to us are:
    1. air and fire
    2. creative abilities
    3. plants and animals
    4. spirits
  6. All trees except one were felled down by the early people for:
    1. their shelter
    2. agriculture
    3. earning money
    4. fuel
  7. A single tree left by the early people which was designated as __________.
  8. The worship of plants has been started by the modern people. (True/False)

Answer

  1. Sacred trees
  2. ancient
  3. tulsi plant
  4. all of these
  5. plants and animals
  6. agriculture
  7. Sacred
  8. False

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