Ashoka Tree /(Saraca asoka)


Ashoka tree (Saraca asoka)  is one of the sacred trees in Hinduism. In Sanskrit "Ashoka" means "without grief", hence this tree is popularly called as  "sorrow- less tree". The pink tender leaves that looks like handherchief turns to dark green foliage by maturity.  It blooms from Feb - April with mild scented clusters of yellow & orange four petaled florets.
These evergreen trees are planted  infront of Hindu temples & Budhist monastries & their flowers are used  for decoration.
All parts of this tree are  used in Ayurvedic medicine. The bark is used to prepare "Ashokaristam" an ayurvedic medicine to treat female sterility.

aso2Ashoka Tree is referred in Hindu Mythology. In Vishnu Purana, Kamadeva (God of Divine Love) is portrayed as a handsome man with wings carrying bow & arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane with a  string of honeybees. His arrows are adorned with 5 fragrant flowers.  Ashoka flower represents fertility, lotus represents purity, blue lilly for peace & tranquility , jasmine for seduction & mango flowers for prosperity & fulfilment.

It's also associated with  Yakshini (symbol of fertiliy). Yaksha & Yakshini are guardians of Kubera (God of Wealth). Yakshini is sculpted with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of a flowering Ashoka tree.  Yakshini's sculptures are found at the gate of  Hindu temples & Budhist monastries.

Queen Maya gave birth to Sri Budha  under this divine tree. It's said that the Ashoka tree is still there at Kapilavasthu.

Ashoka tree is also mentioned in Indian epic poetry Ramayana:

ramaaaaKing Dasharatha (King of Kosala ) decided to hand over his reign to his eldest son Prince Rama. But his second wife Kaikayi reminded him of the promise he made at her marriage that their son would become the future king of Ayodhya. She also wanted him to exile Rama to the forest for the next 14 years.
During a battle Surpanaka (demon princess) tried to entice Prince Rama. But he refused and remained faithful to his wife Sita. Humiliated  demon princess attacked Sita, but Lakshmana (Rama's half brother) cut off her nose. Furious Surpanaka seeks the help of her brother Ravana ( King of Lanka) & told him to abduct & wed Sita. Ravana decided  to take revenge by kidnapping Sita to Lanka. Sita refused to stay at Lankapura (Queen Mandodari's palace). So Ravana placed her in captivity at  Ashoka vanam / Asoka Vatika ( Ashoka forest).
Meanwhile in search of Sita, Rama met the Monkey king Sugreevan. He decided to help Rama by sending Hanuman (minister with magical powers) to Lanka. Hanuman spotted Sita under an Ashoka tree & told her that he came to save her. But the princess thought that he was a demon in disguise. He showed Rama' s ring & proved that he's Rama faithful friend. With the help of the Monkey army Rama killed demon king Ravana & rescued Sita.

Today is Grandma's Day .
Remembering my loving Granny who narrated  Ramayana. 
The pictures of Ashoka flowers are clicked from my Granny's home.
Bonne fête à toutes les Grands Mères !