The Ficus religiosa or Sacred fig tree or Peepal tree called Pipal tree in Hindi and Raavi Chettu in Telugu is certainly the most revered tree among Hindus and Buddhists all over the world.
The top three photographs are of us at the highly venerable Peepal tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, which is popularly known as Bodhi tree meaning in Sanskrit “The wisdom tree”. This is the place; and it is under this tree that Gautama Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment that is Bodhi or Nirvana. The sacred tree of that period has perished but the present Bodhi tree has arisen from the root of the original tree.
The two pictures you see at the very end of this article are that of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, a tree that is grown by planting a branch of the original Bodhi tree, in the year 288 BC! This is the oldest (2300 year old) surviving human-planted tree in the world! with a recorded planting date.
In Hindu religion too the Peepal tree is revered and perhaps has a lot more importance. Its worship is found from the times of the Indus Valley Civilisation (3000 BC – 1700 BC). Peepal tree is considered highly sacred as it is associated with most Hindu Gods and Goddesses. One belief is that the tree is home to the Trinity of Gods, the root being Lord Brahma, the trunk Lord Vishnu and the top portion / leaves representing Lord Shiva. The tree is also worshipped as a dwelling of Goddess Lakshmi. It is considered as a tree of life. Worshippers pray at the tree and circumambulate for fulfilment of their wishes and well-being and longevity of their family members.