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Symbolism of the Inverted Tree in Hinduism - Upside Down - Inverted Tree Of Life

In Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, the cosmic tree is represented as a huge inverted tree also known as inverted tree of life or upside down tree. It is a symbol that the entire universe originates from a single source. The roots of the tree are in the skies. Wisdom and creative energy is dispensed to earth through the branches.


The inverted cosmic tree is always represented by the pipal tree. It is an image of the living cosmos and is considered to be the center of the world. The cosmic tree connects the sky, the earth and the netherworld.

The inverted cosmic tree also represents the path of spiritual ascent.

It is also a symbol of the ultimate spiritual experience.

Ignorance is when forget the true source (roots) and cling to leaves and branches – whose existence is depend on the roots.

The tree of life has its unseen roots in Brahman. The tree and the branches represent Brahman in Its manifested forms. The tree grows upside down. It has its roots above (in the spiritual realm) and branches below (in the material realm)

Inverted Tree in Hindu Scriptures

In the Katha Upanishad, an inverted tree appears as a symbol of the world itself: The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below. In this analogy, the physical world is rooted in Brahman. The pure root of the tree is Brahman, the immortal, in which the three worlds have their being.

The Bhagavad calls the cosmic upside down tree the Ashvattha tree. The tree has roots above and the branches below (Chapter 15 verse 1). The leaves of the tree is likened to verses of poetry. Krishna identifies himself with the Ashvattha Tree (Chapter 10 verse 26) and states that He is the foundation of human life. “Permeating the soil, I support beings by my vital energy (Chapter 15, verse 12).

Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada talks about the upside down tree symbolism

The root of this material existence is upward. This means that it begins from the total material substance, from the topmost planet of the universe. From there the whole universe is expanded, with so many branches, representing the various planetary systems. The fruits are the results of the living entities activities. They include religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. (Bhagavad Gita As It Is (1972) – Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada – page 228 published by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust New York.)

Another Symbolism


The tree of life has its unseen roots in Brahman. The tree and the branches represent Brahman in Its manifested forms. The tree grows upside down. It has its roots above (in the spiritual realm) and branches below (in the material realm). ( Ram K. Piparaiya)




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