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Kalpavriksha (Devanagari: कल्पवृक्ष), also known as kalpataru, kalpadruma or kalpapādapa, is a wish-fulfilling divine tree in Hindu mythology. It was mentioned in Sanskrit literature from the earliest sources onwards. Sage Durvasa meditated under the Kalpavriksha. Shiva's daughter Ashokasundari was created from Kalpavriksha tree by Parvati, to alleviate her loneliness.
The 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 his paradise.
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 provides for all needs. The tree is also said to be the Milky way or the birth place of the stars Sirius. The king of the gods, Indra returned with this Kalpavriskha to his abode, the paradise and planted it their. Tree also finds mention in the Sanskrit text Mānāsara. In Indra's "Devaloka" it is said that there are five Kalpa-vriskhas, which are called Mandana, Parijata, Santana, Kalpavriska and Harichandana, all of which fulfill various wishes. Kalpavriska in particualr 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 exclusively benefited freely from the divine flowers and fruit from the Kalpavriksha, whearas the demigods lived in relative penury at the lower level of its trunk and roots. The Parijata is often identified with its earthly counterpart, the Indian coral tree (Eyrthrina indica), but is most often depicted like a magnolia or frangipani (Sanskrit: champaka) tree. It is described as having golden roots, a silver trunk, lapislazuli branches, coral leaves, pearl flower, gemstone buds, and diamond fruit. It is also said that Shiva created his daughter Ashok Sundari from a Kalpavriksha tree to provided relief to Parvati form her loneliness.
In Hindu mythology Shiva and Parvati after much painful discussions while parting with their daughter Aranyani gave her away to the divine Kalpavriksha for safe keeping. Parvati requested Kalpavriksha to bring up her daughter with "safety, wisdom, health and happiness," and to make her Vana Devi, the protector of forests.
Kalpavriksha are wish-granting trees which fulfills 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 Kalpavriksha 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 items. Thus from the Madyanga tree delicious and nutritious drinks could be obtained; from the Bhojananga, wonderful food; from Jyotiranga, light more radiant than the sun and the moon; while from Dopanga came indoor light. Other trees provided houses, musical instruments, plates and dishes, fine clothes, garlands and perfumes.
In Buddhism a small wish granting tree is depicted decorated the upper part of the "long-life vase" held by longevity deities like Amitayus and Ushnishavijaya. The goddess Shramana devi holds jeweled branch of Kalpavriksha in her left hand.
Worship of the Nyagrodha tree as an anthropomorphic worship is depicted in a Buddhist sculpture at Besnagar. This sculpture in Bishnagar also known as Vidisa (Bhilsa) is dated to third century BC and is exhibited in the Calcutta Museum.
Identification with other trees
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 Kalpavriksha or Kaplaptaru because of its ability to amply provide for human needs.
The coconut tree found in most regions of the country is called "Kalpavriksha" (wish-fulfilling tree), as every part of it is useful in one or the other way. The liquid (coconut water) inside the nut is a tasty drink. In dried form its is called copra and is used to make oil. The coconut husk called coir is used to make rope. Leaves are used to make huts, fans, mats. Leaf midrib is used to make. Palm sugar is made from young flower. The dried trunk is used to make boats.
Shami tree (Prosopis cineraria), found in desert areas of the country, called in local dialect as khejari or jaant. In Rajasthan desert area its roots go deep to a depth of 17-25 m. This checks the erosion of the sandy soil of the desert. For this reason the tree stays green even when there is a drought. People of Rajasthan regard this tree as Kalpavriksha, because at the time of drought when no grass or fodder is found anywhere the animals are able to survive by eating its green leaves.
Chyur tree in the high altitudes of the Himalayas growing at an altitude between 500 to 1000 m, known as the Indian butter tree or Bassia 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.
In Joshimath in 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 are more than 800 years old, known as Kalpavrikshas. They are worshipped on an Amavasya day in the Hindu month of Shravan.
In Tamil Nadu's culture, tala (Boarassus 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 life of 100 years, grows up to 20 m height; Its leaves in the shape of a fan are rough. The leaves were used for writing in the ancient times.
- There is a Kalpavriksha tree (Male and Female) which are more than 1000 years old in Banswara District of Rajasthan.
In iconography, Kalpavriksha, the wish-fulfilling tree, is painted within a picture of a landscape, decorated with flowers, silks, and suspended with jewellery. It is motif which has a prominent symbolic meaning. Ornamental kalpavriksha design was a feature that was adopted on reverse of the coins of is Gupta period.
Kalpavriksha is also dated 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 Kalpavriksha Shiva and 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.
In poetry 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 of Vishnu just in the disguise as a son.
Kalidasa in his poetry epitomizing wish-fulfilling trees found in the capital of a 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".
- Kalpataru Day
- Wish Tree
- Cassia fistula the Golden Shower Tree which is special in Thai culture.
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