by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Greatness of Ashvattha Tree which is chapter 247 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc.
3-5. Devas became agitated due to fear and sought refuge in Brahmā. After bowing down to their father (i.e. grandfather) all the Devas with Bṛhaspati as their leader eulogized him and stood with palms joined in reverence. Pitāmaha spoke to them: “Why have you come to my abode with pale faces? You have come along with Vahni, Indra and the Vasus. May the reason thereof be told immediately?
The Devas said:
O dear father, we have been defeated in the battle by the Daityas of wonderful feats.
6. All of us have been overwhelmed (with defeat). Hence, we have sought refuge in you. O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, save us who have sought refuge in you.
7. On hearing it, Lord Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, said: “It is not possible for me to take the side of any group of people.
8-10. I shall suggest a means to be placed before you all who have taken resort to excellent Dharma (righteousness).
Once devotees of Śiva had a great dispute. They quarrelled with the devotees of Keśava. They wanted to gain victory over one another. Thereupon, even as his devotees were watching, Lord Rudra assumed a wonderful form with an idea of bringing about peace with the Gaṇas of Viṣṇu. With the halves of each boḍy he assumed the form of Hari-Hara.
11. With the half of a body, he became Hara and with the other half Viṣṇu. He had the symbols of Viṣṇu on one side and those of Hara on the other.
13. On the right side it was white like camphor. Similar to the unity of the two, there was unity in every part of the universe.
15. They abandoned their separate ways and proceeded ahead along the path of salvation. That form on Mandara, the most excellent one of the mountains, was always eulogized.
16. That infinite form is the seed of the universe. It is the cause of creation, maintenance and annihilation. Even today it remains steady along with the Pramathas and other Gaṇas.
17. The form wherein Maheśa and Viṣṇu are united is destructive of sins when remembered. It is worthy of being meditated upon by Yogins and adored always. Though it is the basis of the Sattva (Guṇa or living beings) it is beyond all the Gaṇas (attributes).
18. By meditating on it those who desire salvation attain the greatest region. If a man meditates on it especially during Cāturmāsya, he becomes superhuman.
19. To those who go there that Lord makes arrangement for (the accomplishment of) everything.”
After saying thus to them the Lord vanished there itself.
20. Those Devas too beginning with Vahni went to the Mandara mountain. They wandered here and there seeking Maheśvara.
21. They sought Pārvatī stationed in Bilva tree and Lakṣmī present in Tulasī.
Formerly, at the outset the entire universe was full of trees.
22. All these trees were great and excellent. All of them originated from the parts of the Lord. One is liberated from all sins by the very touch of these.
23a. Especially during Cāturmāsya they remove clusters of great sins.
23b-24. When the Devas did not see the Lord of the three worlds, an ethereal voice spoke to the Devas truthfully. “Out of compassion for all the living beings, Īśvara has stationed himself on this tree.
25. At the advent of the Cāturmāsya, he shows mercy on all living beings. Hence Aśvattha tree should be resorted to always and particularly on a Saturday.
26-27. By constantly touching the Aśvattha every day, sin gets split into a thousand pieces. If the devotees offer libation with milk or sprinkle devoutly with gingelly seeds mixed (with it) that causes salvation to the ancestors. Sin perishes by the very sight of the. tree.
28. Pippala, if worshipped, seen, resorted to, is conducive to the destruction of sins and ailments. It is especially so during Cāturmāsya, Aśvattha duly watered and adored causes happiness to all living beings.
29a. It quells all ailments and all sins.
29b-33. If men glorify the name itself of the Aśvattha tree, they will never have the fear of the world of Yama on their way (to the other world).
O Pippala, O favourite of Hari, do destroy evil dreams, wicked anxieties, sins and the attack of pernicious fever. If Devas worship Pippala uttering the Mantra, Dharmarāja (god of Death) shall become obedient to their orders.
If even the word ‘Aśvattha’ is uttered it bestows knowledge on men.
34. If it is heard it removes sin incurred ever since the birth and until the death.
Resorting to Aśvattha is meritorious, especially during Cāturmāsya.
35. When asleep, the powerful Lord re?orts [resorts?] to the middle of the tree and appears to drink the entire ouantity of water present on the earth.
36. The water is Viṣṇu himself. In the form of water, Viṣṇu himself is the great Rasa (bliss, juice). Hence Viṣṇu present in the tree.during Cāturmāsya, is destructive of sins.
37. Viṣṇu, present in all the living beings, promotes the welfare of the universe; he who bows to Viṣṇu present in Aśvattha shall never fall into Naraka.
38. If any man remains pure and grows a seedling of Aśvattha on the earth, thousands of his sins perish instantly.
39. Aśvattha is the most sacred of all the trees. It is attended with all auspiciousness. It accords salvation. If meditated upon and grown during Cāturmāsya it is destructive of sins.
40. If anyone places his foot on an Aśvattha, he incurs the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. If, without any reason, it is cut or trimmed, one is certainly cooked (tortured) in Naraka.
41. Viṣṇu is always present at its root. Keśava is always present in the trunk. Nārāyaṇa is present in the branches and Lord Hari is in the leaves.
42. There is no doubt that Acyuta is present in its fruit, accompanied by all the Devas. If anyone worships the tree, especially during Cāturmāsya, he attains salvation.
43. Hence Aśvattha should always be resorted to assiduously. If a man does so devoutly, a sin incurred by him on that day, perishes.
44. Viṣṇṇ is the tree itself. It is the form of Viṣṇu. Its meritorious root is resorted to by noble souls. He who has the tree as his support destroys thousands of sins of men. He is the yielder of desires. He possesses all the good qualities.
Footnotes and references:
For the cult of ‘Hari-Hara’ see G.V. Tagare: ‘Śaiva-darśana (pp. 226-229). Their identity is found on the coins of Huvishka (106-138 A.D.). Instruction for making such a joint icon are given Matsya P. 269.22.27.
Their identity is preached in other Purāṇas also e.g. Kūrma I 15.89-91.