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Rare Buddhist Flower Found Under Nun's Washing Machine

A rarely seen Buddhist flower, which blossoms every 3,000 years, has been discovered under a nun's washing machine, reports The Telegraph, London.The Udumbara flower was found in the home of a Chinese nun in Lushan

PTI [ Updated: March 03, 2010 16:35 IST ]
rare buddhist flower found under nun s washing machine
rare buddhist flower found under nun s washing machine

A rarely seen Buddhist flower, which blossoms every 3,000 years, has been discovered under a nun's washing machine, reports The Telegraph, London.

The Udumbara flower was found in the home of a Chinese nun in Lushan Mountain, Jiangxi province, China.

The rare Youtan Poluo or Udumbara flower, which, according to Buddhist legend, only blooms every 3,000 years, measures just 1mm in diametre.

Miao Wei, 50, was cleaning when she discovered the cluster of white flowers under the washing machine.

At first she thought the barely-there stems were worm eggs, however, the next day she discovered that the stems had grown 18 white tiny flowers on top and smelled "fragrant".

Local temples believe the mini blooms are specimens of the miraculous Youtan Poluo flower - called "Udumbara" or "Udambara" in Sanskrit, meaning "an auspicious flower from heaven."

In Biology, Ficus racemosa  is a species of  plant in the Moraceae family. Popularly known as the Cluster Fig Tree or Goolar Fig, this is native toAustralasia, South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It is unusual in that its figs grow on or close to the tree trunk. In Vietnam, it is called sung.

It serves as a food plant for the caterpillars of the  butterfly the Two-brand Crow (Euploea sylvester) of northern Australia.

In the Atharva Veda, this fig tree  (Sanskrit : Udumbara)  is given prominence as a means for acquiring prosperity and vanquishing foes. For instance, regarding an amulet of the udumbara tree, a hymn (AV, xix,31) extols:

The Lord of amulets art thou, most mighty: in thee wealth's

ruler hath engendered riches,

These gains are lodged in thee, and all great treasures. Amulet,

conquer thou: far from us banish malignity and indigence,

and hunger.

Vigour art thou, in me do thou plant vigour: riches art thou, so

do thou grant me riches.

Plenty art thou, so prosper me with plenty: House-holder, hear

a householder's petition.

It has been described in the story of Raja Harischandra of the Ikshvaku dynasty, that the crown was a branch of this Udumbura tree, set in a circlet of gold. Additionally, the Throne (simhasana) was constructed out of this wood and the royal personage would ascend it on his knee, chanting to the gods to ascend it with him, which they did so, albeit unseen.

Both the tree and the flower are referred to as the udumbara in Buddhism.

Udumbara can also refer to the blue lotus (Nila udumbara) flower. The udumbara flower appears in chapters 2 and 27 of the Lotus Sutra, an important Mahayana Buddhist text. . The Japanese word udonge was used by  Dogen Zenji to refer to the flower of the udumbara tree in chapter 68 of the  Shobogenzo ("Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma‎"). Dōgen places the context of the udonge flower in the Flower  Sermon given by  Gautam Buddha on Vulture Peak.

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