The importance of coconut in Hindu religion

Hinduism is an old religion. It believes and thrives on the fact that every human being and every religion is the same. Hinduism teaches about universal brotherhood and how to attain peace within our own selves. There are many interesting rituals that are followed in Hinduism. One of it is to offer coconut to the Gods. Coconut is an integral part of all Hindu traditions.

Today we will try to understand why this unique custom is being followed in Hinduism for thousands of years. Another thing maybe that coconut was easily available. It was economical and anyone could afford it. Many houses had coconut trees planted in their gardens. It is not clear why coconut was chosen.

Why coconut?

Well there are many fruits that are an integral part of pujas in India. However, just close your eyes and think of a puja scene. The first thing that will come to your mind is a pot with a green coconut on the top.

Just imagine you bought a car and the car dealers themselves will perform a small puja and break a coconut before you drive the car for the first time. It is true that coconut is a fruit that is easily available in all the parts of the country and in all the seasons. This is why maybe coconut was found to be an ideal choice.

Sriphala: Fruit of Gods

In Sanskrit coconut was referred to as the “sriphala”. Sriphala means the fruit of God. As coconut was considered to be the fruit of God’s maybe it was used by the people to represent god itself. The fruit itself is the symbol of God. The coconut is a pure fruit.

It is considered to be the satvic fruit. It has many good properties that cannot be found in any other fruit. It can give health. Even doctors recommend that coconut water is a very good thing to have in various illnesses. Having a glass of coconut water can never harm you.

Not only in Pujans

Coconut is not only seen in pujas. Whenever a new work is about to start coconut is broken. In all auspicious occasions like marriage, birth of a child, grih pravesh and the list just goes on a coconut will be used.

The fact is when a green coconut is placed on a pot and it is worshipped it is considered to be equivalent to god itself. When a homa is performed a coconut is broken and offered to the god of fire before the homa starts. The coconut is commonly used as Prasad as it can be used to make various kinds of sweets. When you visit a temple you will notice that a coconut is often returned back by the priest to the devotee as Prasad.

Comparison to Lord Siva

There are three holes like features on the top of a dry coconut that is why it is compared to the Lord Shiva. Shiva is the most important god in Hinduism he can fulfil all desires of the devotees.

Another story that is associated with an extensive use of coconut in all religious ceremonies is the fact that Adi Shankara who was a great spiritual guru was against the idea of offering innocent human lives to please the gods. He said that instead of offering humans it will be better to offer coconuts. That will please the Gods more.

Hinduism does not teach violence so practicing “narabali” (human sacrifice) was against the concept of Hinduism. The breaking of a coconut would be equal to narabali as it symbolised the act of killing all human desires.

How could a coconut be compared to a human?

Adi Shankara said that a coconut does look like a human head. It is very tough and not easy to break. The coir that you see outside does look like the human hair. The water inside can be compared to blood and the kernel as the mental space.

Adi Shankara also claimed that there is one more way of looking at the coconut. The outer shell can be compared to the physical body and the inner kernel as the subtle body. No matter what explanation Adi Shankara gave he was able to convince the religious followers that sacrificing a human could be replaced with a coconut as it was a nobler act.

Killing an innocent cannot be liked by god who gave life to each and every one of us. With these teachings of Adi Shankara slowly people all over the country started to break coconut and it became a religious practice that would not harm anyone.

There are many mention of coconut tree in Indian Mythology that makes it clear that coconut has survived for many years and it has evolved itself to adapt with the changing environment.

Story of King Satyavrata

King Satyavrata wanted to go to the swarglok (heavens) with his mortal body being intact. This was not possible anyone who was alive and had a physical body could not be allowed in the sawrglok. The king Satyavrata was a great king and he started the dynasty of the sun.

He was loved by his people but his desire to reach the Swarglok was very strong. It is said that the great sage Vishwamitra actually came up with a coconut tree, we will explain how. Once the King Satyavrata helped the family of Vishwamitra.

Vishwamitra was away to some forest doing tapasya. His family was dying of hunger so Satyavrata came to the rescue of the family and offered them food. Satyavrata’s act of kindness was well appreciated by the sage and he thought that he will help the king full fill his one desire. However, the Gods sent him back as he could not enter the heavens in a mortal body.

The sage Vishwamitra started a yajna and he sent the king to the heavens. The Gods in the heaven got angry and they sent the king back. As the king was falling down he called sage Vishwamitra for help. The sage Vishwamitra used a spell and ensured that the king is suspended between heaven and earth.

The sage Vishwamitra got very angry at the gods because they did not want to fulfil the desire of the king. He said that he will redesign the whole cosmos and will make another heaven for the king Satyavrata. The Gods knew that sage Vishwamitra was very powerful and could do this. They decided to let the king be in the mid-air. Sage Vishwamitra was not convinced.

He thought that once his spell weakens the king may fall to the ground. That is exactly why he came up with a long pole that would support the body of the king that was stuck in mid-air. After many years the pole actually became the trunk of the coconut tree and the body of the king Satyavrata became the fruit and the leaves. The king got the epithet Trishanku as he was hanging between heaven and earth and he belonged nowhere. This is how the coconut tree actually came into existence as per the Hindu mythological tales. Slowly the coconut tree was compared to the fruit of god that could help people in many ways.

Lord Ganesha

If we look at more stories that are told about the coconut there is a popular concept that the coconut is actually like the Lord Ganesha. Why we say so? Lord Ganesha is the Siddhi Vinayak he ensures that the devotees get success in whatever they are doing.

That is exactly why before starting something auspicious it is necessary that a coconut is broken. This ensures that all the hurdles that can come in the path of success in the particular work are actually removed. The coconut is also offered to the lord of the fire so that the god can full fill the vows of the people. The coconut does look like the head of a person.

When a coconut is broken in front of an idol all the vows of the person is fulfilled. In weddings the coconut is used as a symbol of the womb. It is a symbol that the couple getting married should have healthy off springs. You will also notice that during traditional baby showers the bride is blessed with a coconut. This is to ensure that the bride has a normal delivery and the baby she delivers is healthy.

There is an interesting custom that is followed in Gujarat. In this custom the groom is presented with a coconut soon after the marriage. The groom is supposed to preserve this coconut forever.

Medical uses

The coconut is a very useful fruit. The water of coconut can be very helpful to a person who is suffering from urine track infection or from dehydration. It can also relieve the problems of intestines and kidney. That is exactly why it is recommended to all no matter what the age of the person is.

It is absolutely safe to have coconut water. There are many home remedies and treatments where coconut water is used with other ingredients in order to ensure a speedy recovery. It can kill the worms in the stomach when combined with olive oil. It can relieve the body of harmful toxins.

Coconut water can also dissolve kidney stones. It is definitely a good idea to have coconut water on a regular basis for a healthy life. Maybe the various benefits of coconut led to it being worshipped as God. In India it is not right to put your feet on a coconut as it is considered to be pure and the fruit of God.

Over hundreds of years coconut water has been used as a way to resolve many health problems. A study was conducted to understand what the side effects of coconut water are but no proof has been found that can say coconut water is not good for consumption. Even pregnant women and children can have coconut water.

Finally…

The younger generation who are addicted to the electronic devices and gadgets have started to lose faith in our religious believes. We are just trying to ensure that we can help the new generation understand and appreciate the essence of the rituals that form such a vital part of Hindu religious believes.

Hinduism is not just a religion it is a science and it tells the followers about what is the correct way to live life. If coconut is considered to be the fruit of the god in Hindu mythology then there are definitely reasons good enough to support this and we have tried to discuss almost all the reasons here. We are trying to revive our traditions and we hope that the readers have found this article informative. Do keep posting your feedback so that we can improve our posts.

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