Sitting leisurely under a tree is a luxury, that
I miss in USA. Even at Hyderabad there are a few places on the roadside where you can sit under a tree and relax. In many village corners trees with bases welcomes you not only for an evening chit chat but also as bus stops and also for gramakoottam or village gatherings. In the Olden days tree bases served as education and medication centers.
Serious discussions used to take place, disputes used to be settled and financial transactions finalsed under the tree bases. Even now the village panchayats are conducted under the trees.
Gautama Budha was famously seated under a pipal tree—now known as the Bodhi tree—in Bodh Gaya, India, when he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. Bodh Gaya now is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment.
The Dakshinamurty ashtakam composed by Adi Shankara is a treasure house of advaitha thathwams and scholars have written volumes about its lyrical beauty and philosophical contents.
चित्रं वटतरोर्मूले वृद्धाः शिष्या गुरुर्युवा ।
गुरोस्तु मौनं व्याख्यानं शिष्यास्तुच्छिन्नसंशयाः ॥३॥
Citram Vatta-Taror-Muule Vrddhaah Shissyaa Gurur-Yuvaa |
Guros-Tu Maunam Vyaakhyaanam Shissyaas-Tuc-Chinna-Samshayaah ||3||
It is indeed a strange picture to behold; At the root (i.e. base) of a Banyan Tree are seated aged Disciples in front of an Young Guru.
The Guru is Silent, and Silence is His exposition (of the Highest Knowledge); and that (Silence) is severing the doubts (automatically) from the minds of the Disciples.
We can see sculptors of Dakshinamoorthy seated under the banyan tree along with
disciples , on the walls of many temples.
Like mountains and rivers big trees like peepul, Bilwa etc were revered by our elders and that practice still continues. A small statue of Ganesha under the tree converts it to a shrine.
In the file picture below, I was with my sister, under the tree opposite to Hemambhika Temple, Kallaikulangara, during our visit last year. I have an emotional attachment with that tree, as I have seen many Kathakali programs under that tree, lead by my father when I was a child.
While sitting there, I imagined several colorful Kathakali characters like Dussana, Nala and Bheemasena were passing before me and I was also hearing sounds of Maddalam and chengala and the songs too! If my sister were not with me, I would have got up and moved my eyes and hands and legs in preparation to imitate an actor. She is, unlike me, a down to earth woman, and would have never tolerated my expressions of emotions which for her are nothing but ‘ nonsense’