How imperialism turned a tree of longevity into a tree of death.

How the Imperial Power Tried to Turn the Sacred Tree into a Horror Tree.
“Volunteer hanging parties went into the districts and amateur executioners were not wanting to the occasion. One gentleman boasted of the numbers he had finished off quite ‘in an artistic manner, with mango trees as gibbets and elephants for drops, the victims of this wild justice being strung up, as though for pastime, in the form of figures of eight.”

UNSPLASH:- BRITISH LIBRARY (In this painting from the time of the British Raj, a monk can be seen performing religious rituals under a Banyan tree.) 

The Banyan tree has got the status of the National tree of India. It is found in abundance in almost all of South Asia. Many religious customs and festivals of Hindus are associated with this tree.

 How did the Banyan tree get its name?


 VAT VRIKSHA : The Vat Vriksha is also called the Banyan tree. There is a story behind it. The Banyan tree is huge, due to which many shopkeepers used to set up their small shop under the Banyan tree in the village, countryside, naturally the Banyan tree also protected them from heat, winter rain, and for this, they had to spend no money. Or no special effort had to be made. In India, the merchants are also called Baniya, for this reason, the British started calling this tree by the name of Banyan.


Due to Corona, it has become difficult to get outside. Children’s schools are closed. (Thanks to information technology classes, banks, offices have arrived at home.) One day I had to go out of the house for some important work. A flyover was being constructed near my house. After many months, I saw the flyover the construction was almost complete. Then my attention shifted slightly away from the flyover. There was an old Banyan tree. Seeing the Banyan tree at that place, I breathed a sigh of relief. I am not opposed to development but I had a spiritual relationship with that tree. That tree was a treasure trove of memories for me, a time machine, to remember my childhood days. Whenever I used to come early in the morning to pick up my son on the school bus, seeing this Banyan tree used to remind me of my childhood days. Now Banyan trees are seen less in cities, or I have been brought up in small towns, and there was no shortage of Banyan trees in small towns and cities. The Banyan tree has been attracting me a lot since its inception because of its unique structure. Banyan trees do not perish quickly, perhaps it is their historical nature that attracts me the most. When I came to know from the school books that there is life in the trees, then an image was born in my child’s mind, I consider every old tree to be a witness to some historical event, and think that this tree must have seen those events, If ever in the future the technology of communicating of trees is developed, then we will hear the live depiction of many historical events. Once I mentioned this to my friend Atul while going to school, he ridiculed me a lot, due to which I did not tell this to anyone again.

IMAGE :Wikimedia


Some women were performing religious rituals there. I noticed that today is Vat Savitri puja. There must have been two or three women. All were wearing masks, and at a reasonable distance from each otherCorona changed so much. On this day, it is a practice among Hindu women to fast and worship the banyan tree for the long life of their husbands. Surely this tradition must have started in ancient times, influenced by the vastness of the Banyan tree, and its long life. In Hindus, in such religious festivals, there is an association of that festival with some ancient event. There is a famous story related to this Vat Savitri Puja which I we have been reading since childhood. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal it is known as Vat Savitri Puja and in Maharashtra and South India, it is known as Vat Purnima. The story and belief of celebrating this festival in both the places are the same, but there is a slight difference in the dates of the festival of both the places. The burden of old tradition? the struggle to keep the tradition alive in modern times? a lot of thoughts started coming into my mind.  FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :-

 Sita is typical of India— idealized India. The question is not whether she ever lived, whether the story is history or not, we know that the ideal is there. Swami Vivekananda



In ancient times there was a king named Ashwapati. He had a daughter named Savitri. In ancient India, girls were free to choose their bridesmaids. On being of marriageable age, the king asked Savitri to choose his groom. Even after meeting many princes, Savitri did not find any of them suitable for her. During this time Savitri went to a forest where Savitri met Satyavan, the son of an exiled king Damatyasen.

Savitri gave her heart to Satyavan. When she reached her palace, Savitri informed her father of her wish. Savitri’s father Maharaj Ashwapati discussed this matter with the great sage Narada of that time. Narada Rishi was aware of the future events. He told Savitri that Satyavan will die the next year, so he urged Savitri to reconsider his decision. Savitri stood firm on her decision, and she rejected the idea of ​​Narada Rishi. After marrying Satyavan, Savitri went to the forest. And got engaged in the service of her husband like a truly chaste woman. Days slowly passed by. One day Satyavan went to the forest to cut wood, as usual, Savitri was also with him because of her fear. While chopping a tree, Satyavan suddenly fell and died. Yama, the God of death, came to take away Satyavan’s soul. Savitri started following him. Yama realized that Savitri was following him. He urged Savitri to return. Savitri asked him that how can I leave my husband and go? Please take me too, Yama said that this was against the rule. Seeing Savitri’s insistence, Yama asked her to ask for something other than Satyavan’s life. Savitri asked Yama for the lost kingdom of her father-in-law, Yama granted such a boon. After some time Yama again heard footsteps, he found Savitri chasing again, Yama requested Savitri to return, and asked her to ask for another boon, this happened many times, once again as she was following him Yama asked Savitri to ask for the last boon but this time she was also asked to return once he granted the boon, Savitri expressed her desire to have a son and told Yama that she will return once he granted this boon. Yama gave this boon. Savitri said…

“O God of death, you are taking away the soul of my husband, so how is it possible for me to have a son”? Yama became unanswered by Savitri’s words and returned the life of Savitri’s husband.


like every Indian middle-class family, we used to go to our grandfather’s house when the examination was over and it was summer vacation. My grandfather was a lawyer, and his knowledge of history was excellent. Although he did not have time, in the morning he used to go for a long walk. Sometimes there was a change in his daily routine, he used to go to bathe in the Ganges with my grandmother, this was something that I loved the most. No one wanted to lose the chance to bathe in the Ganges river. In the morning we all brothers, sisters (my elder sister and cousins)and my Grandfather used to go to Ganga Ji with Daadi. (Grand mother)While going to Ganga Ji, some old buildings would come on the way, my grandfather used to tell the history of those old buildings. One such grand British-era building fell on the way, a grand red colored building, but submerged in silence, built on some height, my grandfather told us while pointing a finger at a Banyan tree inside that building That some people were hanged here in the British Raj. Once he explained in detail that the tree from which people used to hang people in the British Raj here has been destroyed long ago, but the present Banyan tree would undoubtedly have grown from the seeds of the same tree here. I got acquainted for the first time with the first freedom struggle of 1857 and the atrocities on Indians during that period. Later there was a chance to know about these events in detail in the history books. Surprisingly, there is no mention of these events in the history we are taught in the school, college, and university curriculum. Some writers who wrote many stories on the Banyan tree, there is only a romantic description of the Banyan tree. One such famous author is Ruskin Bond. With the independence of India, the British people left the country and went to their home country, it was also natural, Ruskin Bond preferred to stay in India, and adopted the profession of a freelance writer. At present, very few writers will be as good as Ruskin Bond’s hold on India’s social, political, economic, and traditions, rituals. Being British in origin, some famous and historical stories have been written by him on the conditions of the times of the British Raj. Surprisingly he hasn’t written on this topic. Undoubtedly the story of Ruskin Bond is the best in literary terms. Two stories written by Ruskin Bond, I think every school-going Indian child is familiar with are “The Banyan Tree” and “The Kite Maker” as they have been included in children’s course books.

A Knowledge of History, even of the darkest past, can be quite useful, even for the future. (Anatoly Markusha, Miracles on wheels)


Every Indian who was not fighting for the British became a murderer of women and children. Some British historians also wrote about this cruelty in their books.  Kave and Malleson’s History of the mutiny.  Thompson and Garrett’s Rise and fulfillment of British rule in India. 

 These incidents of “mass hanging from trees” can only be compared to the Lenin-backed communist assassination gang during the Russian fake Revolution.  Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru has mentioned the incident of the hanging of Allahabad in his famous book THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA. GENERAL NEILL HELD HIS BLOODY ASSIZES:- 

 Soldiers and civilians alike were holding Bloody Assize, or slaying natives without any assize at all, regardless of age or sex. It is on the records of our British Parliament, in papers sent home by the Governor-General in Council, that ‘the aged, women, and children are sacrificed as well as those guilty of rebellion. They were not deliberately hanged, but burnt to death in villages-perhaps now and then accidentally shot?

 Volunteer hanging parties went into the districts and amateur executioners were not wanting to the occasion. One gentleman boasted of the numbers he had finished off quite ‘in an artistic manner, with mango trees as gibbets and elephants for drops, the victims of this wild justice being strung up, as though for pastime, in the form of figures of eight.

  •  pixabay:- Banyan Tree

 Mostly Banyan tree was used to hang people, apart from this Peepal, and Neem tree was also used. (All these three trees are considered very sacred for Hindus.)

 Mangal Pandey: – Considered the hero of the first freedom struggle. The rebellion was started by him . He was posted in the Thirty-fourth Infantry of the East India Company. He have branded a rebel and was hanged on a Banyan tree on 8th April. 

Bareilly:- 20 March 1860, 257 people were hanged on a Banyan tree.

Kanpur: Old Banyan witnessed a brutal incident, 133 people were declared as rebels and hanged on this old Banyan tree.

Shamshabad :- 130 people were hanged on the Banyan tree.

Such incidents had happened in almost every city of Uttar Pradesh.

A rural temple under a Banyan tree( THE SACRED TREE OF THE HINDU GAYA BIHAR)

Banyan and Peepal trees were used in hanging all over the country mostly in Uttar Pradesh. Was this just a coincidence? Or it was done under some well-thought-out planning. Many Hindu temples were demolished during Muslim imperialism, due to which Hindus devoted their allegiance to trees. In addition, there was another reason devotion to nature has been shown in the oldest religious texts of the Hindus, the Vedas. The sense of world welfare is inherent in the devotion towards nature. FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT :- Even today there will be hardly any village in India especially in North India where a small temple is not under the Banyan tree .

There is hardly any village in North India where such scenes are not seen. Offering flowers to God is a common practice.
A flower shop adjacent to the temple

It seems to me that this was done with a well-thought-out strategy. This was a conspiracy, to break the morale of Hindus, to prove their religion weak. The Indian soldiers of the East India Company were mostly Pandits coming from Uttar Pradesh (Awadh). They were mostly village residents and followed religious customs very faithfully. One of the main reasons for the revolution of 1857 was religious discrimination in the army of the East India Company, and the use of cartridges containing cow fat. Cows meat-eating is strictly prohibited among Hindus. Similarly, the worship of the Banyan tree, which was the custom in almost every village of Uttar Pradesh, hanging people from the Banyan tree, was to defile that tree and to create fear among the people, it was not only a feeling of fear. It was to be brought deeply into the hearts of the people of the village, but also to the people of the village who were in the army of the East India Company, what could be the result of the revolt.

The execution on the Banyan tree was organized like a carnival, people from far and wide were forced to see it so that these events could be publicized and no one could think of a revolt in the future.

This was a savage attack on the notion of village-God of Hindus, on the tradition of thousands of years in the villages of Hindus. There is no doubt that it took a long time to come out of this shock, and the feeling of inferiority had developed among the Hindus for a few years. But soon the light of the thoughts of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Arvind Ghosh again infused enthusiasm among the Hindus. This golden period is also known as the Renaissance period of Hindus. Shri Krishna chanted the mantra of Shakti during Kurukshetra, encouraging Arjuna the war-bearer. After a long time, those mantras again filled the youth with hope. In his novel Anand Math, Bankim Chandra wrote the valor of the revolutionaries who challenged the British and made the Indians realize that freedom is their first right, which is the solemn duty of every Indian to achieve. The novel, based on the revolt of the monks of Bengal against British imperialism, had a song on the worship of the motherland. The title of this song was —- Vande Mataram. Later this title became the epitome of opposition to British imperialism. Its popularity can be understood from the fact that it was accepted for greetings throughout the country. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT PLEASE VISIT :-

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience in writing in various journals, from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write on international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

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