Tansen and Tamarind Tree! Ghosts in Tamarind Trees! (Post No 2666)

tansen tomb


Research Article by london swaminathan


Date: 26 March 2016


Post No. 2666



Time uploaded in London :– 16-32


( Thanks for the Pictures)




(for old articles go to tamilandvedas.com OR swamiindology.blogspot.com)





1.There is a tamarind tree in Gwalior at the tomb of Tansen, the great singer of Moghul period. People believe that whoever chew the leaves of the tree will get a sweet voice. This, they believe due to the presence of the tomb of Tansen.


Nammalvar and Tamarind Tree

2.There is another famous tamarind tree at Azvar Tirunagari in the far south of Tamil Nadu. Maran Sadagopan, later known as Nammazvar, one of the 12 great Tamil Vaishnavite saints, was deaf and dumb from his birth. He became very eloquent after 16 years and sang the best verses among the Azvars. His fame was known to the world through another saint named Madurakavi. When he went towards North India in search of a Guru, a beam of light lead him to far south Tirukkurukur (Alwar Tirunagari) where he met Nammazvar. Like Buddha attained wisdom under the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa), Nammazvar attained wisdom under this tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica).


Tirumangai and Tamarind Tree

3.There is one more story of another tamarind tree linked with another Vaishnavite saint known as Tirumangai Azvar. He wanted to refurbish and build a new temple for Vishnu at Sri Rangam. He needed lot of money for it. Someone gave him an idea to plunder the golden Buddha statue at Nagapattinam. When he went there he sang a verse to change it into a statue of base metals and leave the gold cwith him. Thus he got the gold and on his way to Sriranagam, he was very tired and slept under a tamarind tree after hiding the gold under the bush. He ordered the tamarind tree not to sleep during night. Tamarind trees used to close their leaves in the night which the Tamils think they have gone to sleep. He overslept and the farmers came to their fields to plough the land. At once the tamarind tree shed all the leaves on him and woke him up. He thanked the sleepless tamarind tree and went on his way. This happened at Tirukkannankudi.


Ghost in Tamarind Trees

4.Like many cultures around the world Tamils also attribute lot of things to trees. There is a common belief that ghosts reside on tamarind trees. So people never sleep under these trees. Though there is no scientific evidence to suggest the bad effects of a tamarind tree, it is believed the acidic leaves never allow other plants to grow under it. Moreover it may emit more carbon di oxide than other trees. During day time it is other way round. Plants take carbon di oxide from the atmosphere and emit oxygen.


5.Tamarind Trees that never sleep!

Several temples in Tami Nadu have tamarind trees that never sleep i.e. they never close their leaves during night. Normally they should close. There are two explanations to it. One is that certain type of tamarind trees do not close the leaves like other trees. Another explanation is that it is a miracle of god of that particular shrine.

6.True Ghost story!

Sri Anantha Rama Dikshitar was the most famous religious speaker of yesteryears. He had created his own style of delivery which became very popular. He was a great devotee of Krishna of Guruvayur who cured his disease of leprosy completely. He wrote about the greatness of his forefathers in the 8th part of his book Jayamangala Stotra. Here is a true ghost story:

If a Brahmin commits suicide or involves himself in big crimes he becomes a ghost known as ‘Brahmarakshas’. One of the wealthy families had a big problem from a Brahmin ghost. Wife of one of the rich men of Sengalipuram village was possessed with this particular ghost. The family underwent lot of difficulties due to this. Her husband spent enormous money to drive away this ghost. One famous magician did a big puja and threatened the ghost to leave with some ‘bali’ (sacrifice). Immediately the ghost told him that it did not want anything other than a blessing from the eldest in the family who is known as Big Muthanna. His actual name was Vaidhyanatha Dishitar. All of the family members went to him and begged to come to the spot and ‘bless’ the ghost so that it would be released from the bondage of ghosthood. Though he hesitated to do such non-religious things in the beginning, he came forward to save a family. The ghost immediately told him it would leave the house. The magician asked what proof they would get to know that it had left. It told him that it would leave the tamarind tree at the backyard in the night and they can hear the noise of breaking branches. To every one’s amazement, the ghost left with a big noise in the night and when they went to the garden in the backyard in the morning they saw a big broken branch of the tamarind tree. Then the lady of the house had no ghost problem at all. (This is a rough translation of what Sri Anantharama dikshitar gave in Tamil in his eighth volume of Jayamangala Stotra).




Vaishnavite Saint NAMMALWAR

Nammalvar Tamil Poet

Post no 915 date 18th March 2014

(The Supreme Vaishnava Saint and Poet)
By C .Subrahmanya Bharati
(July 1915, ‘Arya’)

Maran, renowned as Nammalwar (“Our Saint”) among the Vaishnavas, and the greatest of their saints and poets, was born in a small town called Kuruhur in the southern most region of the Tamil country – Tiru – nel –veli (Tinnelvelly). His father, Kari, was a petty prince who paid tribute to the Pandyan King of Madura. We have no means of ascertaining the date of the Alwar’s birth, as the traditional account is unworthy and full of inconsistencies. (See my comments at the bottom:-swami)

We are told the infant was mute for several years after his birth. Nammalwar renounced the world in early life and spent his time, singing and meditating on God, under the shade of a tamarind tree by the side of the village temple. It was under this tree he was first seen by his disciple, the Alwar Madhura Kavi – for the latter is also numbered among the Great Twelve –“lost in the sea of Divine Love”. Tradition says that while Madhura –kavi was wandering in North India as a pilgrim, one night a strange light appeared to him in the sky and travelled towards the south. Doubtful at first what significance this phenomenon might have for him, its repetition during three consecutive nights convinced him that it was a divine summons and where this luminous sign led, he must follow. Night after night he journeyed southwards till the guiding light came to Kuruhur and there disappeared.


Learning of Nammalwar’s spiritual greatness he thought that it was to him that the light had been leading him. But when he came to him, he found him absorbed in deep meditation with his eyes fast closed and, although he waited for hours, the Samadhi did not break until he took up a large stone and struck it against ground violently. At the noise Nammalwar opened his eyes, but still remained silent.

Madhura –kavi then put to him this enigmatical question, “If the little one (the soul) is born in to the dead thing (Matter), what will the little one eat, and where will the little one lie?”. To which Nammalwar replied in an equally enigmatic style, “That will it eat and there will it lie”.

Subsequently Nammalwar permitted his disciple to live with him and it was Madhura –kavi who wrote down his song as they were composed. Nammalwar died in his thirty fifth year, but he has achieved so great a reputation that the vaishnavas count him an incarnation of Vishnu himself, while others are only the mace, discus, conch etc., of the Deity.

From the philosophical and spiritual point of view, his poetry ranks among the highest in Tamil literature. But in point of literary excellence there is a great inequality; for while some songs touch the level of the loftiest of the world poets, others, even though rich in rhythm and expression, fall much below the poet’s capacity. In his great work known as Tiru – vay – moli (The Sacred utterance)which contains more than a thousand stanzas, he has touched all the phases of life divine and given expression to all forms of spiritual experience. The pure passionless Reason, the direct perception of the high solar realm of Truth itself, the ecstatic and sometimes poignant love that leaps in to being at the vision of “Beauty of God’s Face”, the final Triumph where unity is achieved and “I and my father are one” – all these are uttered in his simple and flowing lines with a strength that is full of tenderness and truth.

tamarind tree

Tamarind Tree at Alwartirunagari (Kuruhur)

The lines which we have translated are a fair specimen of the great Alwar’s poetry; but it has suffered considerably in the translation, — indeed the genius of Tamil tongue hardy permits of an effective rendring, so utterly divergent is it from that of the English language.

A footnote about the enigmatical question and answer:

The form of the question reminds one of Epictetus’ definitions of man, “Thou art a little soul carrying about a corpse”. Some of our readers may be familiar with Swinburne’s adaptation of the saying, “ A little soul for a little bears up the corpse which is man”.

Source: AGNI and other Poems and Translations & Essays and Other Prose Fragments, C.Subrahmanya Bharati, Madras, Year 1980.

My comments: Bharati has translated some of the poems of Nammalwar and Andal. I will give them separately. Regarding the age of Alwars, Wikipedia gives fanciful dates around 4000 BC!!!!
Nammalwar is placed in the later part of the ninth century AD by the historians.

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Magic of Trees!

Picture shows Newton under Apple Tree


Hindu Saints composed Upanishads under the Himalayan Trees

Buddha attained wisdom under the Bodhi Tree

Vaishnavite saint Nammalvar attained wisdom under a Tamarind tree

Sanatkumaras attained wisdom under the banyan tree

Saivaite saint Manikkavasakar attained wisdom under a Kuruntha Tree

Sita Devi saw Hanuman under Asoka Tree

Hanuman lives under Parijatha Tree

Plato and Aristotle attained wisdom in the Olive groves of Greece

Issac Newton discovered Laws of Gravity under an Apple tree!

From time immemorial Hindus have been worshipping trees of wisdom .Three trees from the same genus Ficus  (belongs to the family Moraceae) have been mentioned in the Vedas, Upanishads and later Hindu scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahsranama etc. They are Banyan Tree, Peepal tree and Udumbara tree. Brahmins performed their fire rituals (Yagas, Yagnas, Havans and Homas) with particular types of wood only- mostly Peepal ( also known as asvaththa, Bodhi ). Tamils called this peepal tree as the King of Trees (Arasa maram). They installed gods’ statues under Peepal or Banyan (Arasu and Aal in Tamil அரச, ஆல மரம்) only. Krishna says he is Asvaththa among the trees in Bhagavad Gita. Buddha who was born a Hindu followed the Vedic tradition and did his penance under this tree.

Hindus used these trees for some scientific reasons. More the leaves, more oxygen they produce in the day time. Ficus Indica (Banyan tree) and Ficus religiosa (peepal/aswaththa) are huge and produce more oxygen, so as Ficus glomerata (udumbara in Sanskrit and Aththi in Tamilஅத்தி). Sangam Tamil literature and Gatha Sapta Sati (Prakrit book of verses) describe the gods under these trees. Some of the trees themselves were considered sacred. Wood Nymphs are also described in these literatures. Sanskrit literature goes one step ahead and speaks about ‘love with the trees’. (The botanical terms for these plants are given at the bottom):

Picture shows Sanatkumaras and Lord Shiva under Banyan Tree


If you touch Saptaparna (ஏழிலைப் பாலை), it will bloom

If you taste Makizam (மகிழம்), it will bloom

If you scold (tiff) Pathiri (பாதிரி), it will bloom

If you laugh to Mullai (முல்லை), it will bloom

If you dance around Punnai (புன்னை), it will bloom

If you hug Kura (குராபக), it will bloom

If you kick Asoka (அசோகு), it will bloom

If you sing to Kurukkaththi (குருக்கத்தி), it will bloom

If you look at Mara (மரா), it will bloom

If your shadow touches Shenpaka செண்பகம், it will bloom.

Picture shows Sita under Asoka Tree

Paalai= Wrightia Tinctoria or Alstonia Scholaris; Makizam= Mimusops eEengi; Paathiri =Stereospermum Suaveblens; Mullai= Jasminium Auriculatum; Punnai= calophyllum inophyllum; Kura= holarrhena antidysenterica; Asoka = Saraca Indica; Kurukkaththi= Hiptage Madabloata; Mara=Shorea Talura; Shenpakam= Michelia Champaka.

Veppa maram=Azadirachta Indica

Puliya maram= Tamarindus Indica

Picture shows Kuruntha Tree and Saint Manikkavasakar

(Kanchi Shankaracharya, Paramacharya swamikal who attained Samadhi at the age of 100, had said the above in one of his lectures. Greatest of the Indian poets, Kalidasa, refers to these trees in several places.)

Great Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar added one more to this list Anicham flower that is not satisfactorily identified yet. If you smell it, it withers.

Udumbara/Aththi/Ficus glomerata: This tree was worshipped by the Romans according to the Bible. North Indians worship it as Dattatreya.

There are hundreds of golden sayings about trees in our scriptures:

“Asvattha  is the manifestation of Vishnu, Palasa (Butea Monosperma)of Brahma, Nyagrodha (banyan) of Shiva and Udumbara of Yama”—Mahabharata (Xiii-1-49-101)

Recently India has started exporting Neem (margosa வேம்பு) tree leaves to Japan for its medicinal properties. Japanese drink neem based water instead of green tea.Tamils have been using Neem (Veppa Maram in Tamil வேப்ப மரம்) for ages to stop the virus of small pox. If one takes it from young age in the prescribed quantity, even snake bite wouldn’t affect the person. One kilo neem leaves fetch Rs100.

Red sandal wood is exported to Japan for nuclear plants. They stop the radiation spreading like the metal lead. Sandal’s cooling effect is praised by Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

Picture shows Nammalvar under Tamarind Tree

Scientific facts: 121 Drugs from plants!

Different size trees produce different amount of oxygen. It differs from 200 pounds to 400 pounds per tree a year. Man of average size consumes 400 pounds oxygen per year. Ocean algae ( Katal Paasi in Tamil கடல் பாசி) produces 90 percent of world’s oxygen!

Tropical forests are considered “Lungs of Earth”. The US National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 121 prescription drugs sold today are produced from plants. Vincristine, extracted from the plant Periwinkle is one of the worlds most powerful anti cancer drugs.

Trees help us to fight cancer, small pox, may be even AIDS. Let us respect, worship and save TREES.

A Sanskrit sloka describes the relationship between the women and the trees. It is slightly different from the list given above:

Nalinkithak kuraapakas thilako na drushto

No thadithscha charanai sudrasaam asoka:

Siktho na vakthram athunaa bahulaas cha saithre

Chitram thathaapi bhavathi prasava avakirna

Picture shows a tree hugger

Meaning: பெண்கள் உதைத்தால் பூக்கும் அசோக மரம், பெண்கள் சிரித்தால் பூக்கும் செண்பக மரம், பெண்கள் பேசினால் பூக்கும் நமேரு மரம், பெண்கள் தழுவினால் பூக்கும் குராபக மரம், பெண்கள் பார்த்தால் பூக்கும் திலக மரம்).

Read my earlier posts on trees: Indian Wonder: 1.The Banyan Tree (Hindus worship Banyan Trees);  2.இந்திய அதிசயம்: ஆல மரம்; 3.ஒன்றுக்கும் உதவா உதிய மரமே 4.நெல்லிக்காய் மகிமை; அவ்வையாரும் ஆல்பிருனியும் அருணகிரிநாதரும் 5.பொம்பளை சிரிச்சா, உதைச்சா, பார்த்தா போச்சு 6.இளநீர் மகிமையும் தென்னையின் பெருமையும் 7.கலித்தொகையில் ஒரு அதிசயச்செய்தி 8. Lie detectors in the Upanishads 9. Three Apples that Changed the World 10. Two Mangoes that changed the Tamil World 11.வியப்பூட்டும் அதிசய மரங்கள்

Pictures are taken from various websites. Thanks. contact: swami_48@yahoo.com