By Shakti M. Gupta

The writer discusses forty-five most crucial timber and crops and describes the myths and customs hooked up with each one. Specimens of Indian sculpture illustrating a number of the myths are reproduced on quite a few plates. this is often the 3rd revised and enlarged version.

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The rest of the fruit continues to grow and ripens for a very long time. As the fruit continues to ripen after it has been cut from the creeper, it is called Immortal or Amar. According to a story, the fruit revolutionised the life of Raja Bhartarihari of ancient India. An ascetic gave the fruit to the Raja. The Raja decided to present the fruit to his wife Bhanumati. Unknown to the king, the queen had a paramour and she in turn passed the fruit to him. But this man in turn was not faithful to the queen and gave the fruit to a prostitute.

He lived like a beggar or a sadhu practising austerities all the time. her husband and now that she was married to him, she, like all women wanted to adorn herself in jewellery and took attractive. But to Siva these were unnecessary adornments. He did not see the worth of such earthly enjoyments, considering them superfluous and childish. The time he did not spend in practising austerities, he spent in a samadhi, which usually lasted for years on end ... a time when he was oblivious even to the presence of his wife Parvati.

This is called the full pitcher Purnakumbha which is symbolically invoked as gods and goddesses for the successful end to any mission undertaken. As often happens with customs the world over, the meaning behind a ritual is lost but the symbol is retained. So it is with the offering of the coconut fruit. Long, long ago, human sacrifice used to take place in India to propitiate the deity, particularly at the temple of Bhadra-Kali. But as time passed and people got enlightened, human sacrifice gave place £o animal sacrifice and ultimately to the symbolic offering of a coconut which with its round and fibrous outer covering, the epicarp, resembles a human head and the two dark spots on it represent the two human eyes.

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