As members of a species that hopes to thrive well into the future, we might take a lesson from the ecological success that trees have achieved by choosing the communal, rather than the individual, life. Despite the extensive deforestation of the US by the mid-20th century, very few of its hundreds of native tree species have been lost in the wild. Globally, forests still claim around 30 per cent of Earth’s land area. When a farm or lot is abandoned, except in extremely cold or dry areas, trees are what come back – and fast. If through global warming, nuclear war or other means we ever make Earth uninhabitable for us, trees will still be here.
The banyan tree enjoys huge cultural importance in India. It is considered sacred among the Hindu population with temples and shrines being built under its shade quite often. Banyan tree is commonly symbolic of an eternal life as it has a very lengthy lifespan. Married Hindu women often practice religious rituals around the banyan tree to pray for long life and well-being of their husbands. The Hindu Supreme deity Shiva is often depicted as sitting and meditating under a banyan tree surrounded by sages. The tree is also considered a symbol of the Trimurti, a confluence of the three supreme deities of the Hindu mythology - Lord Brahma is represented in the roots, Lord Vishnu is believed to be the trunk and Lord Shiva is believed to be the branches. According to Buddhist beliefs, Gautam Buddha attained Bodhi by meditating under a banyan tree and the tree thus holds tremendous religious significance in Buddhism as well. The banyan tree is often the focus of a rural establishment. The shade of the banyan tree provides a soothing backdrop for peaceful human interactions. The banyan tree prevents anything from growing under its shade, not even grass. For that reason the banyan tree or its parts are considered inauspicious in cultural ceremonies like marriages.