Adi Sankara, Andal and Alangium hexapaetalum (Post No.4825)

Written by London Swaminathan 



Date: 17 MARCH 2018



Time uploaded in London – 13-52


Post No. 4825

Pictures shown here are taken by London swaminathan






Great men think alike! So, no one would believe that one copied it from the other. But there is a strange coincidence between Andal and Adi Shankara. Andal has composed two poems Thiruppavai and Nachiar Thirumozi. Adi Shankara mentioned a plant known as Azinjil in Tamil and Ankola in Sanskrit, in his hymn Sivananda Lahari. Though Andal did not mention this plant in her hymn Nachiar Thirumozi, a commentator has mentioned the plant and its strange properties.

In the commentary to Nachiar Thirumozi (4th Thirumozi, Fourth poem), Periyavachan Pillay says the following:

“The Kadamba tree which was burnt down due to the poison spit by the Kaliya snake, came back to life at the touch of Krishna’s feet. One may wonder how was it possible. Don’t you know that the mango seed smeared with Ankola (tree) oil becomes a tree at once and bears fruits? If it is so, cant Vishnus’s feet which secretes Amrita (elixir of life, ambrosia) for ever revive a tree?


The common belief is that the seeds of the Ankola (azinjil in Tamil) tree falls on the ground and when the lightning strikes the seedS go and stick to the tree. If the seeds (fruits) are collected at that time and crushed into oil and used on the mango seed, it would sprout into a full tree IMMEDIATELY and bear fruits. Another example is Rama’s feet turned a stone into a woman ( Ahalya)…… The commentary continues……………


So the miraculous properties of the Ankola tree are used by the commentators and composers for at least 2000 years.


My Visit to Singaperumal Koil

When I went to Singaperumal Koil in the first week of March 2018, I was surprised to see this tree in the hillock around the temple. It was written on the rock that Nachiar Thirumozi commentary speaks about the miraculous property of this plant. It also says that those wanted to become a genius or those who wanted to get married quickly or get an issue, have to take a thread from their clothes and hang it on the tree! As soon as I saw the tree, I remembered my old article about this plant (Please see below)


Following is my research article published in this blog on 21st August 2013.

Adi Shankara & Alangium hexapetalum


Adi Shankara, the greatest philosopher of India uses lot of similes from nature to illustrate Advaita philosophy. In one sloka he used four birds. I have written about it in my earlier post. One of his interesting observations is about a tree called Ankola in Sanskrit, Alinjil in Tamil and Alangium hexapetalum in botanical term. Its other variety is Alangium salvifolium.


‘’ True Bhakti or devotion is explained with the help of Ankola tree and magnet in Sivananda Lahari and Viveka Chudamani of Adi Shankara.

Ankolam nijabeejasanthathi syaskanthopalam suchika………… (Sivananda Lahari, verse 61)



Sri Shankara has explained what real Bhakti is. The relation between the devotee and Iswara(God) is explained with reference to five examples. They are the tree known as Ankolam and its seeds; the magnet and the needle; a chaste woman and her husband; a creeper and a tree; and a river and the ocean.


The ankola tree (Azinjil in Tamil) is found in the forest. It is said that when its fruits fall to the ground, the seeds, liberated from the fruit by some compelling force within, move close to the trunk of the tree, gradually climb up, and get inseparably attached to the tree. During my travels, I was shown this tree in a forest. I saw the seeds sticking o the trunk of the tree, though I was not able to observe the actual movement of the seeds from the ground to the tree. This example of the seeds which fall away from the tree struggling back and attaching themselves to the tree, is denoted by the words ‘’aankolam nija beeja santatih’’.

—- Kanchi Paramacharya’s Talk on February 8, 1958 in Madras (Page 90/91 ‘Acharya’s Call Part 2)


Later Tamil literature Seevaka Chintamani refers to this tree. This tree and its parts have got medicinal properties. It has got anti microbial activity. It is traditionally used for tonic and treatment of haemorrhoids (Piles complaint).

Andal posted by Ponnambalam Stapathy

Leave a comment


  1. There was once a discussion on this sloka of Viveka Chudamani between Sri Ramana Maharshi and Kavyakantha Ganapati Sastri. Sri Ramana took Sri Sastri into the interior of the forest on the Hill and showed him the tree! I hope the tree still stands there!
    The Aruna Hill is so much abused, the (then) forest is so denuded, one hesitates to mention such facts, for fear that people may start invading what little remains in search of the tree. But we have to know that such a tree really existed.


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