Mangaluru: ‘Trees of K’taka and their Connections in Religion, Medicine, Astrology’-Talk by Jaya Reddy-USA

Mangaluru: Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development, in association with Lions Club-Ashoknagar, Mangaluru hosted a very informative and unique Talk by Jaya Reddy, Department of Religion, University of Florida on Friday, 7th August 2015 at MSW Seminar Hall, School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya here in the City.

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Vidya Dinaker-coordinator of Citizens Forum for Mangaluru Development and a activist welcomed the gathering and also introduced the guest speaker. In her presentation Jaya discussed the ways in which plants are considered sacred. She then explored the plant associations and correspondences in religion, medicine, and astrology. Using plants as examples Jaya demonstrated how these systems of knowledge are not static but interact dynamically. She said that some of these trees directly create a healthy and sound physical, mental, psychological and spiritual beings. Which is the ultimate and absolute bliss to oneself and to the earth too. “It also shows how significant are the trees for our survival that our sages and saints have woven the trees in our life in such a way so that we realize their significance in every possible way and are eager to protect the jungles and trees. They are also the source of Oxygen –prana yaau without which no life can exist on earth apart from being source of medicine and wood” she added.

Reddy said that sciences of astrology, plants/trees and medicine are associated with each other, and many believe that there are many health benefits from these plants/trees if used. “As per Hindu religion, plants are used in Puja (worship) or as objects of worship. Even some of these plants are considered as the ‘Abode of God’- for example trees like Dodda Sampige Mara found in Bandipur, and Neem tree found in Gadag. Some plants/trees are considered as “God Himself”- like Banni Mara worshiped as ‘Devi’ in Gadag. Ashoka tree is also considered ‘Sacred’, where women believe that it relieves sorrow” said Reddy.

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Among many plants/trees Reddy described through power point presentation,about their importance towards religion and medicines was Amla tree-“Consuming amla you can say yes to good heath. – Amla works as a hair tonic and is an essential ingredient for hair care. It not just helps in strengthening of roots of hair, but also enriches hair growth. It also prevents dandruff and premature graying of hair. – Amla juice is helpful in relieving constipation in piles. Also, it helps in regulating bowel movements and cures chronic constipation. It is very useful in improving eyesight. It also counters diseases like reddening, itching and watering of eyes. – Amla strengthens heart muscles and is a remedy for heart problems. – And last but not the least, daily intake of amla juice helps in fighting bad breath and strengthens teeth” Reddy said.

Jamun tree -known as the fruit of god represents Rohini-Besides its sweet, sometimes astringent, edible fruit, the seed is also used in various alternative healing systems like Ayurveda (to control diabetes), Unani and Chinese medicine for digestive ailments. The leaves and bark are used for controlling blood pressure and gingivitis. Wine and vinegar are also made from the fruit. It has a high source in vitamin A and vitamin C. Jamun is quite hardy tree and does not require much care. It can tolerate frost as well as long spells of summer. The tree may even be used to reclaim water-logged sites. seeds powder is good for swollen gums .

Peepal or Ashwatha tree is of great importance in Ayurveda. It is believed to cure diseases such as gonorrhoea, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, dysentery, gastrohelcosis, neuralgia and inflammations. Peepal tree is of religious importance and according to Indian mythology, it is believed that lord Vishnu was born under the tree and it is his favourite tree.The leaf extracts of peepal contain anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties which are effective in controlling rheumatic pains and arthritis. Peepal fruit extracts had reduced convulsions resulting from the electrical shocks and chemicals. The extracts were also helpful in inducing deep sleep on the subjects. The leaf extracts of Peepal showed wound healing properties.

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Ashlesha by nag champa -As per Hindu Religion this flower is used for the prayer (Puja) of Lord Shiva. Nag Champa is an Indian fragrance containing frangipani and sandalwood. It may be used in incense, soap, perfume oil, essential oils, candles and personal toiletries, and is common in ashrams. Makha by Banyan tree-While there are several therapeutic properties of the tree’s produce, its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties are most recognized amongst Ayurveda followers. In India, banyan tree is believed to be very sacred and there are many mythological references about this tree. Buddha is believed to have enlightened meditating under banyan tree at Bodhgaya. The juice and fruits are useful as externally applied medicines for cuts, bruises, sores and ulcers. Banyan fruit and juice are used in rheumatism, lumbago, tooth and gum aches. They can also be taken internally to cure diarrhoea and dysenter

Ashoka tree is believed to be sacred and apart from Ramayana, Ashoka tree is mentioned in Buddhism and Jainism as well. Charaka Samhita which is believed to have been composed in 1000 BC describes about Ashoka tree -Ashoka bark provide evidence of its several health benefits- It can fight fever, cold and infections as it possesses anti-bacterial properties, and used as a remedy for internal hemorrhoids. It is also recommended against dysmenorrhoea.

Following the talk by Jaya Reddy, the Forum also raised the voice against MCCs move to widen the Kankanady-Nandigudda road, during which many trees could be axed down. It was decided that a meeting would be held on August 13 to discuss on a model road project that will prevent axing down of trees on either side of the road stretch.

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About the speaker :

A native of Karnataka, Jaya Reddy did her B.A. at Vermont College in the United States, with a dual concentration in Religious Studies and Medical Anthropology. She completed her Masters in Languages and Cultures of Asia at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jaya is currently a Ph.D. Candidate and Graduate Teaching Instructor at University of Florida, Gainesville. Her areas of specialisation are Religion & Medicine, Religion & Ecology.

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