Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Pious holy tree

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In undivided Bengal this banyan tree was named Krishnabot

Krishna had a great weakness for Nani in his childhood. Sometimes that weakness would increase a little more. He would often steal Nani (butter) and eat it secretly, avoiding mother Yashoda. One day Yashoda stole Nani’s meal and watched it. At once little Krishna hid his hand with Nani. There was a hanging banyan branch with leaves. As Nani tried to hide in the wrapped leaves by wrapping the leaves, a pocket was formed on the tip of the leaves, which the devotees call Nani’s cup. Nani hid Shri Krishna in that pocket. Since then, pockets continued to form in that banyan tree for ages. Still being made today. The story probably originated from people’s accumulated love and respect for Lord Krishna. Ancient Hindus believed in this story. The tree was therefore considered sacred by the devotees.

The story does not end here. The slightly melted Nani tumbled down from Krishna’s hands. Believers used to think that the dust that emerges from the branches or leaves of the banyan tree is another form of Nani falling from the hands of little Krishna. Believers think that the Nani stolen by Lord Krishna is still present in the body of that bot. Since then in undivided Bengal this banyan tree was named Krishnabot. In English they are called Krishna Fig or Krishna’s butter cup. In Hindi it is called Makhan Katori or Krishnabat.

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Banglabot (Ficus benghalensis) and Krishnabot are trees of the fig family. Krishnabot was initially considered a variety of Banglabot. That is why Krishnabot was named Ficus bengalensis var. krishnae). It was assumed that, except for the leaves, this bot tree is similar to the Banglabot tree in all other respects. Both species of bots belong to the Moraceae family. Later, Ficus krishnae became a synonym of Krishnabot. The taxonomic status of Krishnabot has long been uncertain. It is also sometimes considered a subspecies of Ficus benghalensis.

Earlier it was thought that only the cup-shaped leaves distinguished Krishnabot from Bengal bot. Later, by collecting specimens of Krishnabot from different places and examining them more precisely, it was found that Ficus krishnae i.e. Krishnabot is clearly very different from Ficus benghalensis or Banglabot. Examining their leaf cup, plant height, aerial root, stipule, petiole, chromosome number, DNA study, stomata, parenchymatous cell and node anatomy, etc. showed that this black bot is very different from Bengal bot. Based on morphological, anatomical, cytological and DNA test results, krishnabot was reinstated as Ficus krishnae and is believed to be the correct species.

Usually this black bot tree is close to Bengal bot in size. The stems or trunks of trees are slightly curved but usually grow parallel to the ground. The branches are covered with light white bark. The branches of the tree have many aerial roots. These roots eventually become propagating roots and later descend to the ground to form woody trunks. Like the Bengali bot, the black bot spreads through creeping. Krishnabot is considered an indigenous species of India. Evergreen tree. Leaf size is smaller than that of Banglabot. Both sides of the leaves are velvety when young. Cup-like pockets on the leaves distinguish this plant from other species of the Ficus genus.

The small red fruits of the blackthorn are eaten by birds and pass through their digestive tracts and travel far and wide in the soil. Like the Bengal bot, they spread like this. Usually Indian myna (Indian myna) does this work. The germination of their seeds is facilitated by passing through the digestive system of birds.

Black bot is on the endangered species list. A few krishnabat plants exist in various botanical gardens and other places in different parts of India. I saw Krishnabot for the first time in Dhaka’s Baldha Garden in the eighties. The study tour was in Baldha Garden with the teachers and classmates of the Department of Plant Science of Dhaka University. The status of the garden was maintained by the authorities with diligent maintenance of the garden and good governance. Walking around the garden felt like visiting a holy place. Acharya Babu used to look after the garden. He was looking around the garden. He stopped in front of Krishnabot. He introduced the tree. I first heard the myth of Krishna from his mouth.

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