Kalpavriksha (Devanagari: कल्पवृक्ष), also known as
kalpataru, kalpadruma or kalpapādapa, is a wish-fulfilling divine
tree in Hindu mythology. It is mentioned in
Sanskrit literature from
the earliest sources. It is also a popular theme in
Jain cosmology and
Durvasa and Adi Shankaracharya, meditated under the
Kalpavriksha. The birth of Ashokasundari, the daughter of
Parvati, is attributed to the
Kalpavriksha tree. Another daughter
Aranyani was also gifted to
Kalpavriksha for safekeeping.
Kalpavriksha originated during the
Samudra manthan or "churning of
the ocean of milk" along with the Kamadhenu, the divine cow providing
for all needs. The king of the gods, Indra, returned with this tree to
Kalpavriksha is also identified with many trees such as Parijata
(Erythrina variegata), Ficus benghalensis, coconut tree (Cocos
nucifera), Acacia, Madhuca longifolia, Prosopis cineraria, Bassia
butyracea, and mulberry tree (Morus nigra tree). The tree is also
extolled in iconography and literature.
1 Religious beliefs
1.1 In Hinduism
1.2 In Jainism
1.3 In Buddhism
2 Identification with other trees
3 In iconography
4 In literature
5 See also
Kalpavriksha is an artistic and literary theme common to the Hindu
Bhagavatas, the Jains and the Buddhists.
Kalpavriksha with Flowers in Ranchi, Jharkhand
Kalpavriksha, the tree of life, also meaning "World Tree" finds
mention in the Vedic scriptures. In the earliest account of the
Samudra manthan or "churning of the ocean of milk" Kalpavriksha
emerged from the primal waters during the ocean churning process along
with Kamadhenu, the divine cow that bestows all needs. The tree is
also said to be the
Milky way or the birthplace of the stars Sirius.
The king of the gods,
Indra returned with this
Kalpavriksha to his
abode, the paradise and planted it there. Tree also finds mention in
Sanskrit text Mānāsara, part of Shilpa Shastras.Another
myth says that
Kalpavriksha was located on earth and was transported
to Indra's abode after people started misusing it by wishing evil and
wrong things. In Indra's "Devaloka" it is said that there are five
Kalpavrikshas, which are called Mandana, Parijata, Santana,
Kalpavriksha and Harichandana, all of which fulfill various wishes.
Kalpavriksha, in particular, is said to be planted at
Mt. Meru peak in
the middle of Indra's five paradise gardens. It is on account of these
wish-granting trees that the asuras waged a perpetual war with the
devas as the heavenly gods who exclusively benefited freely from the
"divine flowers and fruits" from the Kalpavriksha, whereas the
demigods lived comparatively in penury at the lower part of its "trunk
and roots". The
Parijata is often identified with its terrestrial
Indian coral tree
Indian coral tree (Eyrthrina indica), but is most
often depicted like a magnolia or frangipani (Sanskrit: champaka)
tree. It is described as having roots made of gold, a silver midriff,
lapislazuli boughs, coral leaves, pearl flower, gemstone buds, and
diamond fruit. It is also said that
Ashokasundari was created from
Kalpavriksha tree to provide relief to
Parvati from her
Parvati after much painful discussions
while parting with their daughter
Aranyani gave her away to the divine
Kalpavriksha for safe keeping when the demon
Andhakasura waged war.
Kalpavriksha to bring up her daughter with "safety,
wisdom, health and happiness," and to make her Vana Devi, the
protector of forests.
Main article: Jain Cosmology
The wall painting of Kalpavruksha in Saavira Kambada Basadi,
Kalpavrikshas are wish-granting trees which fulfill the desires of
people in initial stages of worldly cycle as per Jain Cosmology. In
initial times children are born in pairs (boy and girl) and don't do
any karma. There are 10 Kalpavrikshas which grant 10 distinct
wishes such as an abode to reside, garments, utensils, nourishment
including fruits and sweets, pleasant music, ornaments, fragrant
flowers, shining lamps and a radiant light at night.
According to Jain cosmology, in the three Aras (unequal periods) of
the descending arc (Avasarpini), Kalpavrikshas provided all that was
needed, but towards the end of the third ara, the yield from them
diminished. Eight types of these trees are described in some texts,
each of which provided different objects. Thus from the "Madyanga
tree" delicious and nutritious drinks could be obtained; from the
"Bhojananga", delicious food; from "yotiranga", light more radiant
than the sun and the moon; while from "Dopanga" came indoor light.
Other trees provided homes, musical devices, table ware, fine
garments, wreaths and scents.
Tiloya Panatti give the following list: Pananga, Turiyanga,
Bhusananga, Vatthanga, Bhoyanga, Alayanga, Diviyanga, Bhayananga,
Malanga, Tejanga with excellent drinks, music, ornaments, garments,
edibles and ready-made dishes, mansions to live in, lamps, utensils
and garlands of flowers respectively while the last type, namely
Tejanga, seems to be self-luminous, serving the purpose of heavenly
Buddhism a small wish granting tree is depicted decorating the
upper part of the "long-life vase" held by "longevity deities" like
Amitayus and Ushnishavijaya. The goddess Shramana devi holds jeweled
Kalpavriksha in her left hand.
Worship of the Nyagrodha tree as a form of non-human worship is
depicted in a Buddhist sculpture at Besnagar. This sculpture in
Besnagar, also known as Vidisa (Bhilsa), is dated to third century BC
and is exhibited in the Calcutta Museum.
In Myanmar, where Theravada
Buddhism is practiced, the significance of
Kalpavriksha is in the form of an annual ritual known as Kathina
(presenting a robe) in which the laity present gifts to the monks in
the form of money trees.
Identification with other trees
Kalpavriksha in Mangaliyawas (near Ajmer,
Rajasthan in India)
Parijata tree at Kintoor, Barabanki.
In different states of India some trees are specifically referred to
as the Kalpavriksha. These are stated below.
The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), also called Nyagrodha tree,
which grows throughout the country is referred to as
Kaplaptaru because of its ability to amply provide for human
The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) found in most regions of the country
is called "Kalpavriksha", as every part of it is useful in one way or
the other. The coconut water inside the nut is a delicious drink. In
dried form it is called copra and is used to manufacture oil. The
coconut husk, called coir, is used to make rope. Leaves are used to
make huts, fans, mats.
Palm sugar is made from budding flower. The
dried midrib is used to make boats.
Ashwatha tree (sacred fig tree) is also known as Kalapvriksha where
the deities and
Brahma are stated to reside, and it is where sage
Narada taught the rishis on the procedure for worshipping the tree and
Mahua tree (Madhuca longifolia) holds an important place in the
day-to-day life of the tribal people. It is like the
tree called madhu (Madhuca indica).
Shami tree (Prosopis cineraria), found in desert areas of the country,
called in local dialect as khejari or jaant is called Kalpavriksha. In
Rajasthan desert area its roots go deep to a depth of 17–25 metres
(56–82 ft). This checks the erosion of the sandy soil of the
desert. For this reason the tree stays green even drought conditions
of weather. People of
Rajasthan hence regard this tree as
Kalpavriksha, because at the time of drought when no grass or fodder
is found anywhere the animals are able to sustain by eating its green
Chyur tree in the high altitudes of the
Himalayas growing at an
altitude between 500 and 1000 m, known as the Indian butter tree
(Diploknema butyracea), is called a Kalpavriskha, or tree of paradise
by the people of the mountainous region as it yields honey, jaggery
and ghee. It is in the shape of an umbrella.
Uttarakhand a mulberry tree, which is said to be 2400
years old, is renowned and revered as the
Kalpavriksha as it was the
location where, in the 8th century,
Adi Sankaracharya did "penance"
under the tree as he considered it an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
It is also believed that sage
Durvasa meditated under this tree, in
Urgam. The mountain slopes of
Kailasa are stated to have a
profusion of Kalpavrikshas.
At Mangaliyawas near Ajmer, Rajasthan, there are two revered trees
(Male and Female) which are more than 800 years old, known as
Kalpavrikshas. They are worshipped on an
Amavasya day in the Hindu
month of Shraavana. In Ranchi (Jharkhand, Ranchi, India) there are
three Kalpavrikshas. They are at a locality called Hinoo. In Tamil
Nadu's culture, tala (
Borassus flabellifer) a variety of Palmyra palm
(Borassus), also known as toddy, is referred to as Kalpataru as all
its parts have a use. This tree is also native to
Asia and South East
Asia, has normally a life span of 100 years, grows up to 20 metres
(66 ft) height; its leaves in the shape of a fan are rough
texture. The leaves were used for writing in the ancient times.
In the Harivansh Puraan, the Parijata, baobab tree, is called a
Kalpavriksha, or wish bearing tree, which apart from the village of
Kintoor, near Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, is only found in heaven. The
tree has mythological link with prince
Arjuna of the
Pandava clan who
is said to have brought it from heaven. His mother
Kunti after whom
Kintoor is named used to offer flowers from this tree to
worship Lord Shiva. It is also said that Lord
Krishna brought this
tree from heaven to please his wife Satyabhama.
Kalpalatha is another wish fulfilling tree, a creeper, which was
extolled during the later part of the Aryan period. It is said that a
person standing below this tree would be blessed with beautiful
ornaments, dresses and even unmarried girls.
In iconography, Kalpavriksha, the wish-fulfilling tree, is painted
within a picture of a landscape, decorated with flowers, silks, and
suspended with jewelry. It is a pattern which has a prominent
symbolic meaning. Ornamental
Kalpavriksha design was a feature that
was adopted on the reverse of the coins and sculptures in the Gupta
Kalpavriksha is also dated to the
Dharmachakra period of Buddhism. The
paintings of this period depicting the tree with various branches and
leaves have a female figure painted on its top part. The female figure
is painted from mast upwards holding a bowl in her hand. Similar
depiction of female figure with tree representing it as presiding
deity was a notable feature during the
Sunga period as seen in the
image of "Salabhanvka" in the railing pillars.
In most paintings of
Parvati are a common
feature. It forms a canopy over Shiva. In one painting Paravati is
paying obeisance to Lord
Shiva with her hands held up in adoration
when she is blessed with a stream of water from the Kalpavriksha.
Kalpavriksha is mentioned in the
Sanskrit work Mānāsara as a royal
insignia. In Hemādri's work Caturvargacīntama, the
said to be a tree of gold and gem stones.
Kalpavriksha is compared to
Lakshmi as its sister emerging
from the sea. It is born to the Naga King Kumuda, the fifth descendant
of Takshaka, along with his sister Kumudavati. It emerged from below
the bed of the Sarayu River challenging Kusa considered an incarnation
Vishnu just in the disguise as a son.
Kalidasa, in his poetry
Meghadūta epitomizing wish-fulfilling trees
found in the capital of the Yaksha king extols the virtues of
Kalpavriksha as "the dainties and fineries for the fair women of
Alaka, coloured clothes for the body, intoxicating drinks for exciting
glances of the eyes, and flowers for decorating the hair and ornaments
of various designs".
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kalpavriksha.
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