India, the Punyabhoomi is home to great saints, myths, traditions, and culture. It is abundantly rich in holy and spiritual places whose practices rem...
The hallowed Hindu religion is known for its benign approach towards nature. The Vedic Gods are connected with the management of nature. Hindu Civilization thrived on the banks of rivers, forests, and urban centers which indulged in trade and commerce. The multifaceted Hindu civilization was much more advanced than it was thought to be. Hindus understood that nature was omnipotent, and they revered it.
The ancient Hindus believed that coexistence with nature will make life happy. Therefore, they included nature, in all their activities. Be it fire worship or cooking, nature and prayers connected with it were extremely important. A special set of people were nurtured in order to maintain the fire required in a locality. One would be bewildered to observe the different kinds of herbs, twigs, and flowers used in rituals and prayers. The Ganesha Chaturthi is a time when different types of leaves are offered to the Lord.
The faithful began to revere nature long ago. It is no small wonder to observe that every temple has its own tree. In fact, the earliest temples were nothing, but icons of deities placed under trees. The wise Hindus believed that worship of nature will help them to live happily ever after. Sages who worked on science during the sojourns in the forest deciphered the benefits that may arise out of the trees connected with the birth stars of individuals.
There are twenty-seven stars in Vedic astrology. These are nothing but 27 constellations which begin from Ashwini and go on until Revathi. Each of these stars has four parts and they are known as Pādaṃ-s (legs). Therefore, there are 108 Pādaṃ-s in total. It is interesting to note that the sages have identified a beneficial tree for each Pādaṃ. This is well documented in the book on ‘Vṛkśa Ṣāstraṃ’. The time has come, and Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ-s or tree temples should be created all over the world. Now, let us look at the layout of the proposed Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ.
The Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ should first of all be surrounded by a creeper fence and the gates should be made of Bamboo. Each of the four corners should be endowed with eco-friendly structures that would enable fire worship, congregational worship, meditation, and lectures. The tree temple can be circular or elliptical. Well, the plants and trees representing the nine planets should be placed. The sun is represented by the lotus and therefore, the Lotus pond would be at the heart of whole tree temple.
Two and half stars make up each sign of the Zodiac and there are trees/plants for each of the Pādaṃ-s of these stars. So, the trees and plants can be planted in accordance with this order. A name board could be placed in front of each of them and people born under a particular star could circumambulate their star-tree regularly. The entire tree area should be maintained in perfect silence, offerings should be nothing but organic manures, and the waters of all the holy rivers found in our country.
Contributions placed in this Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ should be used for afforestation. A tree nursery and a Sattvic cafeteria should be found at the entrance of this Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ. Recycled stuffs and ecofriendly goods should be sold here, and a part of the proceeds could be used for greening up the planet.
Our scriptures and prayers are full of incantations connected with nature and the tree temple can display this within its campus. ‘Viṣnu Sahasranāmaṃ’ of Bhiṣmācāryā has 108 verses and each verse is said to be beneficial for one Pādaṃ of a star. Devotees offering prayers at their respective trees by circumambulating can be encouraged to recite the appropriate verse within their heart.
Lord Vishnu is found as Vaṭapatraśāyī, while the world transits from a deluge to creation. Human greed and indulgence during Kali Yuga causes climate change and Bhūmi gets submerged due to global warming. For a moment, it is water, water, everywhere. All of a sudden, a glug is heard and one gets to see Lord Viṣnu, in the form of a baby suckling his toe thumb while lying down on a Banyan leaf (Vaṭapatraṃ), therefore, he is known as Vaṭapatraśāyī. Creation begins once again, and the tree signifies procreation too.
The ‘Śrībālamukundāṣṭakaṃ’ talks about this form of Viṣnu. The good lord is astonished to see droves of people touching his feet and he wonders why they do so. Therefore, he pulls his feet towards his mouth in order to discover the taste of the ingredients that draws Bhagavatās towards him. The concept of Śaranāgati cannot be better understood than through the sweet ‘Śrībālamukundāṣṭakaṃ’. The temple of Vaṭapatraśāyī is found at Srivilliputthur in Tamil Nadu. Poetess divine, Āṇḍāḷ hails from this town. The temple tower of Sriviliputthur happens to be the state symbol of Tamil Nadu.
The Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ is the need of the hour and has to be replicated all over the globe. Let us join hands and create these Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ. The tree temples will help us to understand the importance of nature and also the power of the divine.
Individuals and organizations are welcome to contact The Verandah Club (Rajesh Govindarajulu - 9244403188) in order to make this Vṛkṣa Mandiraṃ a reality.
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