The idea of plants, bracketed with it being sacred, dates back to ancient times. In India, where plants and trees are worshipped till date, it comes as no surprise that India’s history encompasses this idea since the Vedas were scripted. From amongst the four vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda, Rigveda and Atharvaveda trace the history of plants and its uses, since the ancient civilisations. In addition to this, the state religion of India is Hinduism. Hinduism, since the relics, believes in trees being deities and hence, tree-worship has been a long established tradition. In the earlier times, since the civilisations were more interwoven with the nature, they were also dependant on it significantly. From basic uses like, lighting fire to cook using the branches of trees to plants being used as Bhesaja,i.e, drug for medication purposes, Hindus believe that they’re indebted to trees. Not forgetting that trees and plants also lie at the source of our survival, by providing us with oxygen to breathe. The medicinal and religious importance of trees and plants have co-influenced each other, in establishing their significance.
Cannabis in Ayurveda
Ayurveda, a sub-script of Atharvaveda, recognises cannabis plant as one of the five sacred plants in the Vedas. Ayurvedic scripts mention cannbis or marijuana as vijaya, translated from Sanskrit. Cannabis, otherwise know as ganja, bhang is well-known for its connection with Lord Shiva, is believed to have been introduced to the humankind by Lord Shiva. Citations in history write Lord Shiva, known as the lord of vijaya, once stormed off to the fields after a feud with his family. It was only then that he was enchanted by an aromatic smell, which calmed his nerves. His intriguing nature, led him to further investigation of the plant. And soon, due to the plant exhibiting properties of acting as a driver into the higher consciousness, it was also used by many great sages for their advancement in spirituality. Indian hemp, cannabis sativa, is being cultivated since then, as a source of oil and medicine, since its non-psychcoactive constituent CBD, exhibit properties of being highly nutritious and therapeutic. Vetvier, organic name of cannabis grass, is hailed for its actions of that of an antidepressant, women hormones balancer, analgesic, appetizer and many more.
The nutritional composition of Indian hemp seed is approximately 20-25% protein, 25-35% oil, 20-30% carbohydrates and 10-15% insoluble fiber. This composition, when filtered for its unwanted constituents, such as small amount of THC in it, does not only act as a cure for diseases but also as a source of raw material for manufacturing products, such as CBD oil, which has been ingested by many in a vaporizer, as it dissolves in the bloodstream, producing better effects. The cannabinoid, terpenes, in cannabis plant, is also used for it’s fragrance in the perfume industry.
The other sacred plant in Vedas, found in every Hindu household is Tulasi plant. Also known widely as the Holy Basil, is regarded with the same respect as that of a goddess. The commencement of every Hindu religious practice is marked with Tulasi leaves. Worshipped by all Hindus, Tulasi plant is revered as a symbol of purity. It also acts a herbal remedy for mild infections as well as for common cold.
Sandalwood, used in temples, as a sign of Hindu custom, can be seen on a Hindu forehead, on any average day. Since aeons, sandalwood is famous for its enchanting scent and hence, is widely used in perfumery. Sandalwood paste, is advised by almost every other skin doctor, when it comes to skincare. One of the sacred plants, that is acclaimed all over the world, Australia has been trying to grow sandalwood plants and harvest on its properties.
Jasmine, also identified with Lord Shiva, according to the Vedic texts, is effective in controlling the mind, by acting on the receptors in mind through it’s aroma. Jasmine, as a sacred plant, also has ample medicinal qualities, such as, it offers cure for breast cancer, by acting on the lymphatic system. The part of jasmine, most extensively used, is its flowers.
Neem, also called the Indian Lilac, is the fifth sacred plant, written about in the Vedas. Neem tree, stands for it’s resemblance in appearance to Goddess Durga. Hence, also sometimes referred to as Devi. Neem, even in the 21st century, is an ingredient in a range of products from hairoil to skincare cosmetics to medicinal ointments. For centuries and civilisations, neem continues to be heralded as much as before.