By MANEKA GANDHI
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Additional info for Brahma's Hair: On the Mythology of Indian Plants
Vishnu and Brahma grew very agitated. Shiva had made his form so huge that they could not find his feet or his head. Vishnu and Brahma decided to search in different directions. Vishnu became a boar and went to the lowest region of Patalaloka. He dug up the earth furiously but he could not find Shiva’s feet. Brahma got on to his swan and flew to the highest regions but he could not find Shiva’s head. Vishnu failed in his search and returned to the forest. As Brahma was coming back to the forest he saw a Ketaki flower falling from the sky.
They waited until dark and then buried her in a corner of the garden. The brothers returned after a few days and were told of Chameli’s death. They were shocked and saddened and they wept. But none of them suspected anything was wrong, for all the wives told them that Chameli could not bear the separation from her brothers and died from grief. At the place where Chameli was buried grew a tall, elegant tree with beautiful silvery flowers that perfumed the air. The brothers loved the tree but their wives grew increasingly afraid of it.
She will seek refuge under your shade. One day Hanuman, the divine monkey, will sit on you while he consoles the grief-stricken Sita. On that day her grief will disappear and all your previous sins will be washed away. ” And that is how the Ashoka tree came to be. It is a small to medium sized evergreen tree with an erect trunk. The bark is dark brown, sometimes tending towards black. The leaves grow alternately on the branches. Each leaf is about a foot long and is divided into four to six pairs of leaflets attached to a smooth round midrib.
Brahma's Hair: On the Mythology of Indian Plants by MANEKA GANDHI