Ameretat or Amardad (Immortality) is the Seventh Amesha Spenta – Divine Energy/Force of Ahura Mazda which Zoroastrians call the “Bounteous Immortals.” In the Zoroastrian tradition, each Amesha Spenta has guardianship over a Good Creation of Ahura Mazda, thus representing the Presence of God in the physical world. Ameretat or Amardad represents Plants.
A devout Zoroastrian in ‘Homage unto Plants’ prays, “Nemo urvarayao vanghuyao Mazda-dhatayao ashaonyao” meaning “Homage (be) unto the good (and) holy plants created by Hormazd.”
Iranian Zoroastrians consider a number of Cypress trees in Iran to be holy and worthy of worship. For example, at Abr-koh near Yazd, in Iran, there is a 4,500 – 5,000 year-old Cypress tree.
In the courtyard of the Atash Kadeh in the village of Cham (Yazd), there is another Cypress tree said to be about 1,500 years old. A number of legends are associated with this tree. Many years ago, the enemies of the Good Religion tried to destroy the tree. However, according to folklore, the moment the axe hit the trunk of the tree, it began to bleed, or so the local folk lore goes. This frightened the oppressors who immediately fled, never to return. Even today, local Zoroastrians worship at this tree and light oil lamps near it, by day and by night. There is nothing pagan about this form of reverence, since all Zoroastrians have been enjoined with a sacred duty to look after, respect and revere all the good creations of Dadaar Ahura Mazda.
Even in England, there are many sacred old trees. The individual spirits of trees were worshipped by the Druid priests of ancient Europe. Trees were regarded by these ancients as “residences of the earth spirit”. They also believed that the earth spirit finds its receptacle / residence in springs, wells, rivers, rocks and caverns.
Trees have always had a place of honour in Indian mythology and folklore. From the little Tulsi to the giant Banyan, most trees used to be conserved with devotion and love, until unscrupulous contractors and timber thieves were given a free run of the country. The wood of the apple tree is believed to be the favourite of Shiva. Tribal people worship the Karam tree. Great men are often compared with the Banyan which gives shelter and shadow to the traveler.
The ‘Upanishads’ say, “Sarvan khalu dam Brahma” or “Everything existing in the Universe has God-consciousness”. The ‘Rig Veda’, ‘Yajur Veda’ and ‘Atharva Veda’ seek the blessings of trees, especially the Bilva, Neem, Banyan, Arasu and Audambar. The tenth Canto of Narayaneenam, the first shloka says, “God created trees”. Gautam Buddha gained Nirvana under the Bodhi tree. The Corinthians say, “Trees belong to the Lord in all their glory.”
Even today, at Alandi and Nerur in Maharashtra, it is believed that Sant Gnyaneshwar and Sadashiva Brahmendra bless devotees through trees. The sacred river Narmada has her origins at Amarkantak in the roots of a sacred tree. In Kalidasa’s ‘Abhigyan Shakuntalam’, Shakuntala says farewell to every tree in the Ashram before leaving for Dushyant’s palace. In 1993, in his keynote address at Chicago’s World Religious Conference, the Dalai Lama warned, “Destroying trees is a dangerous game we are playing.” Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution envisages the fundamental duty of a citizen, “to protect and improve natural environment, especially trees.”
In Theosophy, it is believed that trees radiate universal life, light and love. The whole world is inter-connected and what pervades the entire Universe is ONE – a single Consciousness. Quantum physics also appears to support this theory! They say, to remember someone is to “keep the memory green”. Green is synonymous with plant and vegetation and plants and vegetation is presided over by Amardad, the spirit of perpetuity or forever. What a happy coincidence!.
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