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The Botanical Mythology of the Hindoos

    Abstract

    AT a recent meeting of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, Dr. Dymoke read a very interesting paper entitled “The Flowers of the Hindoo Poets,” in the course of which he referred to the mythical conceptions which have gathered round trees and plants in the minds of the Hindoos. The ancient Eastern poets saw in the tree a similitude with the heavens and with the human form; in the “Gitagovinda” a comparison is drawn between the clouds and the thick dark foliage of the Tamala. These fancies gave rise to the numerous poetical myths concerning the tree of life, of knowledge, of the Amrita or Ambrosia, as well as those concerning cosmogonic and anthropogonic trees. The Soma or Amrita is represented as the king of plants, the eternal essence which constantly sustains and renews the life of plants and animals; it is the symbolical drinking of this eternal essence as a holy ceremony to which constant allusion is made in the Vedas:—

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