The Canopy Project
The Sacred Connection Between Trees and Hinduism
February 14, 2023
“Do not trouble trees. Do not uproot or cut them. They provide protection to animals, birds, and other living beings” – Rig Veda.
Hinduism originated in India and is the world’s third largest religion with over 1.2 billion followers. Regarded as one of the oldest religions, dating as far back as 7000 BCE, Hinduism holds sacred, ancient beliefs about nature, specifically regarding the religious significance of trees.
In the religious text known as Puranas, trees experience happiness and sorrow, have a conscience, and are living beings. Just like humans, trees are a part of samsara, also known as the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Stemming from the ancient Vedic religion, Hindus hold great reverence towards nature and believe trees are the origin of life. Trees hold high religious significance in Hinduism. In fact, every tree has a tree deity, or a god/goddess, who is to be worshiped, respected, and given offerings.
However, some trees possess more importance than others such as those that have direct associations with principal deities. For instance, the goddess of poxes, Shitala Mata, a minor deity, resides within a neem tree. The pipal, a sacred fig, is likely the most worshiped tree in all of India. Lord Brahma, the universe’s creator, is associated with the tree’s roots. Lord Vishnu, the world’s protector, relates to the tree’s trunk and Lord Shiva, the world’s destroyer, links to the tree’s leaves.
Furthermore, the banyan tree, otherwise known as the tree of life, is a symbol of life and fertility. Hindu women who hope to have children worship the banyan tree and married women present offerings to the tree of life to pray for their husbands and sons to have long lives.
With deforestation on the rise and the consequences of climate change affecting certain parts of the world more than others, it is imperative we not only plant more trees, but incorporate a level of value and respect for our environment as do Hindu practitioners. Through EARTHDAY.ORG’s campaign, The Canopy Project, more trees are planted in communities whose environment is in dire need of rehabilitation.
In India, Hinduism’s birthplace, there are projects underway to protect and plant more trees that provide significant resources to the local communities. With your donations to The Canopy Project, we can continue to conserve as well as seed trees that are deemed the foundation for life for many people and religions.