Bodhi Tree Symbolism

bodhi tree symbolism. Image borrowed from Alexander Education (click picture to go to that website)


Tree Symbolism and Meaning of the Bodhi

The bodhi tree was symbolic of "awake-ness" long before Prince Siddartha Gautama entered the opening of enlightenment beneath its leaves in 528 B.C..

Indeed, the name bodhi or (also known as bo) means "awakening." Even the scientific world recognizes the spiritual associations with this tree as its botanical name, ficus religiosa, means "religious fig."

The bodhi tree is sacred in India, and venerated in Bodhgaya where it is said the descendant of the original tree where the Buddha experienced spiritual awakening still grows.

Even before the Buddha's spiritual expansion sparked the revolutionary religious teachings of Buddhism, the bodhi tree symbolism was associated with Vishnu, a major archetypal Hindu god. Vishnu is the sustainer of the universe and part of the holy trinity with Brahma and Shiva completing the divine triad.

Ancient Indian art depicts Vishnu nestled amongst the delicate leaves of the bodhi, peering out through the universe with his infinite spiritual vision. It makes me wonder if the bodhi was a source of energy for Vishnu.

Looking at the bodhi, it wouldn't be an unreasonable assumption. It exhudes a high, bright, fine energy. It speaks of playfulness and thoughtfulness. Its leaves are lively and just as the ancient Celts utilized the dance of the aspen as an augury, I'm quite sure Buddist monks can interpret the sign language of the lilting bodhi leaves.

Additionally, the bodhi moves its body in wild rhythmic contortions, forming organic twists that curl up in our imaginations. When we look upon it with childlike eyes we can see whirling clouds, dancing maidens, and beautifully wrinkled faces of old sages laughing in the bodhi bark.

Furthering it's honorable status, the tender bodhi leaves provides nourishment to elephants, a sacred animal to India.

Silkworms are also considered very auspicious and they too enjoy the fruits of the bodhi.

Symbolic Meaning of the Bodhi Tree

  • Joy
  • Play
  • Luck
  • Light
  • Calm
  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Charm
  • Patience
  • Laughter
  • Softness
  • Brilliance
  • Patience
  • Endurance
  • Awakening
  • Longevity
  • Innocense
  • Tranquility
  • Preservation
  • Sustainment
  • Enlightenment

Video on the Ananda Bodhi Tree at Jetavana Monestary

I hope you have enjoyed this page on the symbolic bodhi tree meaning. Please continue your adventure into the realm of symbolic tree meaning by clicking the links at the end of this page.


An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings

Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.

This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."

Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)

As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!



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