Banyan Trees: The Mystery Behind It And Its Role In Indian Culture


According to a legend, it was around 550 years ago when Kabir, the poet-sage, found himself in an island in the middle of the Narmada River in India. After brushing his teeth using a piece of twig, he threw it on the ground and out of nowhere a gigantic tree sprouted high and its crown is so wide that it provides shade to the entire space of land. Up until this day, the tree Kabir created is considered one of the biggest on the whole world. Its story is as extraordinary as the myth itself.

The tree was named banyan with a scientific name of Ficus benghalensis and is only one of the hundreds of other species of fig trees. Though there are many other species of trees, the figs have the most colorful and the riches stories when it comes to folklore and faith. No other tree can compare to the majesty that the banyan tree has to offer. A closer look at its structure will reveal that everything in itself is connected. All is connected to a single tree. The Sanskrit name for banyan is nyagrodha which means down-grower and bahupada meaning one with many feet. These names are clues to the mysteries behind the tree.

Years ago, another tree is standing where the banyan tree of kabir is. The tree has an unfortunate fate after another animal, which has previously eaten a ripe fruit from the banyan tree, pooped on the said tree. After which, the tree died and with the animal’s poop came the banyan seed which took hold on a moist nook. After a few weeks, the seed opened up to revealed a firm stalk and its collar has two small green leaves. It slowly grew its root and took hold of the earth below it until the tree that was there before it has been smothered and no sign was left of it. As it grows bigger, its branches also created its own roots which dangle down.

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