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Akshayavat

 

Akshayavat

Akshayavat or Akshay Vat ("the indestructible banyan tree") is a sacred fig tree mentioned in the Hindu mythology.

According to a legend, once the sage Markandeya asked Lord Narayana to show him a specimen of the divine power. Narayana flooded the entire world for a moment, during which only the Akshayavat could be seen above the water level.[1]


A sacred fig tree located within the Patalpuri Temple at the Allahabad Fort is worshipped as the Akshayavat by Hindus. As of 2011, a permission from the Commandant of Allahabad Fort's Ordnance Depot is needed to visit this tree. On one day during the Kumbh Mela, the site is open to all the pilgrims.

According to the local belief, the sage Shukdeva narrated Srimad Bhagavatam to the king Parikshit under this tree.

In The Encyclopaedia Asiatica (1976), Edward Balfour identifies a banyan tree mentioned in Ramayana with this tree at Prayag, Allahabad.[2] Rama, Lakshmana and Sita are said to have rested beneath this tree.[1]

The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang mentions a tree (a stump with few branches[2]) which was said to be the home of a man-eating demon. As part of a custom, some pilgrims would offer themselves at the nearby temple. Tsang mentions that the tree was surrounded with the human bones. General Cunnigham identifies this tree with the Akshayavat.[1]

Rishabha (Jain tirthankar) is also said to have practised tapasya beneath the historical Akshayavata at Prayag.

Other places

A tree at Gaya, Bihar[2][3] and another tree at Varanasi are also worshipped as the Akshayavat. The Bodhi tree is said to be a manifestation of the Akashayavat at Prayag.[4]

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Buddha is said to have planted a seed of the Prayag's Akshayavat next to Mount Kailash on a mountain known as the Palace of the Medicine Buddha.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c W. Crooke (2004). The Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India (reprint ed.). Kessinger. p. 98.  
  2. ^ a b c Frederick J. Simoons (1998). Plants of life, plants of death (illustrated ed.). University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 80–81.  
  3. ^ The Sacred Complex in Hindu Gaya, Concept. Page 9.
  4. ^ a b "Akshaya Vata: The Eternal Banyan Tree". The Himalayan Institute. 2001-12-01. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
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