By- Major Surendra Mathur (Sena Medal) Retd
Oak tree is the most popular and revered tree in Europe and other continents and is deeply associated with their, culture and beliefs. In Hindi it is called Shahbatul, Batul or Banj. Present days, we seldom find mention of this tree being found in India. Many books are available on it in Europe, especially because this tree has been the center of religious feelings and beliefs there. It is definitely mentioned in Ayurveda, that too because of being of medicinal value and not because of any religious beliefs. This tree is found in Himalayas in India. From Akhand Bharat point of view, it is abundantly available in Hindukush region. No mention of its worship is found in our scriptures.. We worship many trees in the places of worship, such as Kalpavriksh, Ashok, Bambu, Banana, Hemp, Coconut, Lotus, Mango, Neem, Sandalwood, Tulsi, Vatvriksha, Peepal, Bell, Dhatura etc. for performing religious rituals of Sanatan Dharma. Many temples and religious places are located in clumps of trees like Vatavriksha or Peepal etc. In many religious rituals, festivals, there is a method of worshiping these trees. But nowhere the Oak tree finds any mention.
In Europe, Oak is the most sacred and revered tree. The Ashrams of the elders (Gurus) are located in clumps of (Oak) and this practice is legendary. Why this tree is the most worshiped in Europe and what are the beliefs is a matter of consideration. In the biological language it is known as Quercus. It has many characteristics. This tree comes amongst the tallest trees and its height can reach more than one hundred feet. Its age can also be more than thousand years. It is a very dense and its root stem is huge. This tree gives shelter to many birds, insects and animals. The tree starts giving fruit only after about fifty years. From this we can estimate how huge, dense and useful this tree is. We can compare this tree with the Vatvriksha tree worshipped by the Hindu. Its fruit is known as Manjunphalam in Ayurveda and is very useful in making medicines. Its flower is small and has no special smell. Many species of this tree are found in Europe. It is believed that more than six hundred species of this tree have been found so far. The fruit has different names. It is called (Quercus infectoria) in Latin. In English it is called (Oak Galls) and different names are prevalent in different regions.
Oak tree has many utilities, such as its wood is used in Europe for making furniture. Its wood is considered to be very strong and durable. It’s importance is also prevalent in the society from the cultural point of view. This tree is also considered a symbol of fertility. Many examples of this tree are found in the compositions of poets in Europe. An orchid on this tree, know as Asrohini / Akash Bell / Amar Bell and called Mistletoe in English, is considered very auspicious for lovers to stand under this tree. Orchid Mistletoe and Oak are auspicious for lovers. Very interesting and beautiful details of Oak tree are found in the compositions and fantasies of European poets. This vine Mistletoe is fully cultivated by Oak, her roots takes full diet from the tree and it seems as if they are for each other. This is mentioned in many poems of Shakespeare. Oak is considered as a sign of love, affection and fertility. This tree is the king of the jungle in Europe and is so huge that it is considered a symbol of patience, strength, perseverance. There is a Guru-disciple tradition in Europe too. In Ashrams of the Guru, disciples lived in clumps of Oak trees. It was considered a holy place. Indian social traditions, in which society was based on Panch tradition, similar traditions were also prevalent in Europe. The Panchayat in Europe used to address public interest litigation and problems under the Oak tree. The society used to accept the decision of the panchayat taken under this tree. This whole process was similar to that, followed in India. In India too, most of the religious ashrams have been in the clumps of the tree. At ashram, Guru used to teach his students. These Ashrams used to be the focal points of faith, education and social order of Sanatan Dharma and Samaj. Knowing such a parallel process, assumptions are made that Oak's faith has remained similar to that of Vatavriksha in India. We have come to the conclusion that this tree is the hallmark not only of the vastness but also of a strong, sustenance of animals, useful medicinal, symbol of nature, masculinity, religion and culture. That is, we can fully compare it with the Vatavriksha associated with the Sanatan culture. The only difference is in trees, however imagination and beliefs are the same.
Despite the mythological cultural similarities of Europeans and Indians, why Oak is not mentioned in our religious texts. Oak is more popularly known for its furniture. Foreign invasions and encroachments destroyed Oak groves in Europe, like in India. The ashram system in India was also destroyed. Religious, cultural and educational systems, which were based and organized in most ashrams, were severed. All social systems and beliefs had almost disappeared. All this happened due to foreign invasions. The same happened with European communities. Religious ashrams were destroyed. Restrictions were imposed to change and destroy beliefs. Ashrams and faith centers which were in clumps of Oak trees were also banned. Even orders were given to cut those trees. But the society of Europe awakened and they revolted. This rebellion was so vast and widespread that the invaders had to retreat. The Church did not think good in destroying these trees and decided not to destroy them, but started using this tree and its religious insignia in its own propaganda. Vatvriksha is also as big as Oak and the root stem is also very strong. More than the original stem, the roots originating from the branches spread to the ground and make the tree strong and large in its own form. Vatavrksha is also a symbol of fertility and the tree of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma is the creator and the subject seems to be associated with fertility. It seems that both have similarities in every respect but why the tree is different. Another example of the importance of this tree appears in European countries. Its symbol is also used as a national symbol of many countries, including the United Kingdom and America. The national flag of many countries, the national emblem in military dress, etc. have also been popular. This tree is also the national tree of many countries. Keeping in mind all these, it can be concluded that the culture, civilization in Europe, Oak has been a very important symbol of religion. Just as we connect the Vatavriksha to Lord Brahma, in Europe, the Celts associate Oak tree with their god Lugh.
Features of Lugh: - The Celts consider this deity to be a mythical hero and an emperor. He is praised to save them from other world spirits. He is considered full of all virtues. He is considered a great warrior god of thunder, lightning, and rain. This deity is also considered as a trickster. They also consider him the god of Indra Dhanush and Akash Ganga. I think Lugh as Indra or the Sun god. I likewise marked the characteristics of the god Indra.
Characteristics of Indra Devta: - Lord Indra is considered to be the presiding deity of other gods and resides in heaven. Indra is the king of gods and ruler of heaven. He leads the gods who build and maintain heaven. He leads elements such as Agni, Water and Surya and constantly battle against the opponents of the gods. Indra is the god of Vajra and Varsha and the great warrior, the symbol of courage and power and the god of war. The weapon of Indra is the Vajra. He also use bows, nets and hooks. He rides a white elephant named Airavat. He drives a chariot drawn by four horses capable of passing through the air. Indra also appears as a trickster in mythological folklore. In Hindu mythology, the rainbow is called the "Bow of Indra". Indra is the god of light, thunder and rain.
An analysis of Lugh and Indra makes it clear that Lugh is a synonym for Indra deity. Analyzing these two gods, it is concluded that there are many similarities between them. The question arises as to why Celts associate Oak with reproduction. Even in Sanatan culture, there is such a fantasy in which Vatavriksha, the tree of Lord Shri Brahma, who created the universe, is considered as a tree of reproduction. Vatavriksha can also be considered as a symbol of fertility due to its being connected with the creation. This is why women worship this tree. When the clouds thunder and the arrival of the rain is intertwined with the lightning on the earth, then this huge tree of oak becomes the supreme means of bringing that strong lightning to the earth and absorbing it. Electricity is the medium to bring the power from the sky to the earth. Earth becomes fertile again due to this electricity and rain, we see greenery everywhere. For this very reason, it must have been considered as the medium of reproduction. It is the concept of “Prakrati ” and “Purush”. For this reason it may have been added for lovers as well, where it has been said that when lovers are under the Oak tree, on whose trunk Mistletoe is creeping, it is auspicious sign for them. Oak and Mistletoe also mark “Prakrati” and “Purush”. Mistletoe is completely dependent on Oak. Lord Brahma is the creator and his tree is the Vatvraksh tree. The difference is only in trees and gods but the imaginations are similar.
It is becoming clear that according to the Celts, the god of Oak is Lugh, same as god Indra. The tree of Brahma is the Vatvraksha . To end this dispute, our ancestors abandoned the Oak and granted the recognition of the tree of Brahma to the Vatavriksha. The dispute was with the Brajwasi over god Indra since Lord Krishna advised not to worship god Indra. This topic is still effective in India. All the others, except for a few tribes, still do not celebrate any festival in the name of the god Indra. But it also becomes a controversial subject whether the Oak tree must have been worshiped in the mythological period. Indra was the supreme deity of the Vedic period. Why did this change happen in India. One reason may be that the Oak tree has disappeared from most of the forests in India, and the other is recognising a similar tree for creator god. Second, it may also be that in India during the Mahabharata period, it has been said that at the behest of Lord Krishna, the worship of the God of Indra was hindered because he tortured the Gokul dwellers and raged them. At that time Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhana mountain with his finger and gave protection. The worship of god Indra was terminated at the insistence of Lord Krishna.
Keeping all these subjects in mind, it can be said that the Oak tree symbolizing Lord Indra must have been in the Vedic period which is still the most revered in the whole of Europe and other continents and is also a symbol of Lugh. Oak tree is the symbol of eternal culture. This tree will prove to be the bridge to connect Europe and Indian eternal culture.