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Book: Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion

Chapter: 5. The Bodhi Tree and Other Plants in the Pāli Tipiṭaka

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30832


In this chapter, Antonella Comba discusses the place of plants in the
Pali Tipiṭaka. Although Indian Buddhists came to regard plants and seeds
as insentient beings, the respect and love the Buddha felt for living plants
was so deep that he did not allow monks to destroy plants, to pick fruits
from trees, or to eat living seeds as these could generate new plants. Trees
are ubiquitous in Buddhist narratives, and the forest is praised as the most suitable place for an ascetic to let go of any distraction and obtain awakening.
Preaching the dhamma, the Buddha used many similes from the vegetable
kingdom, because he was speaking to ascetics who like him were
living in the forest and had direct experience of the inspiring power of
that milieu.

Chapter Contributors

  • Antonella Serena Comba ( - acomba) 'University of Turin'