Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion

Plant Life in South Asian Traditions

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Fabrizio M. Ferrari, Thomas Dahnhardt
  • Sheffield, UK: 
    Equinox Publishing Limited
    , June
     256 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Plant life has figured prominently in Indian culture. Archaeobotanical findings and Vedic texts confirm that plants have been central not only as a commodity (sources of food; materia medica; sacrificial matter; etc.) but also as powerful and enduring symbols. Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion: Plant Life in South Asian Traditions explores how herbs, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables have been studied, classified, represented and discussed in a variety of Indian traditions such as Vedism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, indigenous cultures and Islam. Moving from an analysis of the sentience of plants in early Indian philosophies and scientific literature, the various chapters, divided in four thematic sections, explore Indian flora within devotional and mystic literature (bhakti and Sufism), mythological, ritual and sacrificial culture, folklore, medicine, perfumery, botany, floriculture and agriculture. Arboreal and floral motifs are also discussed as an expression of Indian aesthetics since early coinage to figurative arts and literary figures. Finally, the volume reflects current discourses on environmentalism and ecology as well as on the place of indigenous flora as part of an ancient yet still very much alive sacred geography.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Fabrizio M. Ferrari is Professor of Indology and South Asian Religions in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester.

Thomas Dähnhardt is Lecturer in Hindi and Urdu Languages and Literatures, Department of Asian and Mediterranean African Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.



Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.