The Four Bo Leaves represent the four virtues of Buddhism.
Mettha (loving kindess)
In India, the pipal (Bodhi Tree) has a rich heritage of traditional medicinal uses. The juice from the leaves (extracted by holding them near a fire) was dripped into the ear as a remedy for an earache.
The powdered bark has been used on wounds. In Ayurveda, decoctions of powdered bark are used externally as an astringent and antiseptic-for example, for wounds and ulcers, and to treat infections of the uterus and vagina.
SYMBOLISM: Enlightenment | Compassion
DIVINE ASSOCIATION: Buddha | Kuan Yin
ASTROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: The universe
Kuan Yin- Universal Compassion
Pipal or Bo (Ficus religiosa)
CULTURE, MYTH and SYMBOL
“He who worships it (the pipal tree) will receive the same rewards as if he worshipped me in person.” -Buddha
The pipal is one of the most sacred trees not only in India but also in Sri Lanka and Nepal. More than 2,600 years ago, the Indian Prince Siddartha Gautama, weary of the profane life at court and looking for deeper truth, came to the sanctuary of Both Jaya in the province of Bihar, in northeast India, and its huge pipal trees. At this time, the pipal was the sacred tree of Vishnu, the eternal divine being, and it was, by Brahma’s word, the appointed ruler over all trees.
Siddartha chose this tree under which to seek the knowledge that might release all beings from suffering. He found the ideal position under the tree- = this physical place under the World Tree being symbolic of the perfect point of balance in the mind.
From this point of stillness and non- attachment, he could see the wheel of the world spin. The sacred tree became his all-supporting mid-point, and the pairs of opposites all around came together in the centre, like the spokes of a wheel radiating from the hub.
After he had succeeded in finding the “ultimate and unconditional truth” (bodhi), Siddartha became Buddha, “the Enlightened One”, and the tree that had given him shelter and strength was called the Bo or Bodhi Tree- the “tree of awakening”.
Buddha’s sacred pipal at Bodh Jaya was still thriving in the seventh century CE, when the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang (603-664) described the sanctuary. The pipal was 40-50 feet high, and its roots were bathed in scented water and perfumed milk at an annual festival. The sounds of music and the fragrance of flowers and incense filled the air, while tens of thousands of pilgrims joined in the ceremonies.
Buddha himself had encouraged the worship of the pipal. He had asked his disciple Ananda to take a branch from the pipal tree under which he had found enlightenment, and to plant it in the court of Vihara at Sravasti.
In the third century BCE, King Akosha (268-232 BCE) took a cutting (some sources say a fig) from Buddha’s pipal and sent it as a gift to King Tissa of Sri Lanka. It was planted in Anuradhapura by the king himself, who prophesied that it would thrive forever. It is still standing today and many sacred bodhi trees in temple gardens throughout Sri Lanka are believed to be cuttings from this pipal.