Sri  Guru Granth Sahib(SGGS) is, for all time, the guide for the Sikhs; held in deep reverence. The revelations and teachings are a veritable treasure-house for all humanity. In SGGS, Divine Spirituality and Nature symbiotically peripheralized one another. The Divine is perceived in the natural order. SGGS is the repository of naturalists's understanding as well as a vast knowledge of the flora of this world. Being the holy Magnum opus of the Sikhs, this scripture is the sacred repository of all sciences, SGGS has assimilated botanical treasures in the form of plants, trees, fruits, flowers, herbs, shrubs, etc to a great extent. Ecological Orientation is a recurring theme in this religious scripture. The human life without flora is unthinkable.

Plant symbolism and imagery is a powerful and vital source of botany. Few pockets of this world enjoy such a varied landscape as that of India, and the diversity of Nature reflects the wonderfully rich flora. What is flora? It is a "Collective term used to describe all the plants that are found in a particular area, or that occurred at a particular time. "(Philip's Nature Encyclopedia). In simple words, it is a study of the plants, flowers, trees, herbs and shrubs, etc. One emerges absolutely enthralled after a detailed study of floral references in SGGS. We will discuss some flora images alphabetically:

acacia tree.jpg

Acacia:- Acacia (A. Arabica. A. Jacquemontii) is a thorny evergreen shrub or tree, widely found in tropical and subtropical regions. Leaves are compound, flowers are white or yellow. It is about 4-59 feet in height.

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਲੋੜੈ ਦਾਖ ਬਿਜਉਰੀਆ ਕਿਕਰਿ ਬੀਜੈ ਜਟੁ॥

Farid, the farmer, plants the tree of Acacia Arabica and desires the grapes of Bijour. (SGGS: 1379).


Asafoetida: It is a perennial herb of Afghanistan and Iran. A milky juice exudes from cuts made at the base of the stem and root. This resin is obtained mostly during the rainy season. It is a herb of strong odour. It is full of medicinal properties, especially for stomach, cough, worms, etc. Sometimes it is used for flavouring food products. Scientific name is Ferula asafetida, Punjabi name is Hing or Heeg.

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਰਹੀ ਸੁ ਬੇੜੀ ਹਿੰਙੁ ਦੀ ਗਈ ਕਥੂਰੀ ਗੰਧੁ॥ (SGGS: 1379)

Farid, she remains smeared with asafoetida and loses the fragrance of musk. (SGGS: 1379, 718)


Banana:- Banana (Musa paradisiaca L) is a long curved fruit, yellow or reddish when ripe, having soft, creamy flesh. Tree is 10-30 feet in height. The flowers develop into bunches of 50-150 fruits. Bananas ripen on the tree in 75-100 days. About 100 varieties are cultivated world-wide:

ਕਦਲੀ ਪੁਹਪ ਧੂਪ ਪਰਗਾਸ॥ (SGGS: 1162)

The Lord shines in the plantain, flower and the sun-shine. (SGGS: 1162) (SGGS: 718, 1369)


Banyan Tree:- Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) is an evergreen large tree. Its branches move downwards like aerial shoots that take root, forming new trunks. These trunks form a single tree. The height of the tree is 70-100 ft. It is an indigenous plant of peninsular India. In ancient Indian Literature, its mention is well known. Its age is guessed as 100 years:

 ਖਟਕ ਬੀਜ ਮਹਿ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਓ ਜਾ ਕੋ ਤੀਨਿ ਲੋਕ ਬਿਸਥਾਰ॥ (SGGS-340)

He whose expanse is the three worlds, is contained in the seed of banyan-tree. (SGGS: 340).


Bermuda Grass:- It is a perennial grass from Asia and Europe, but now spread worldwide. Being a creeping grass, it spreads widely through the net-work of Rhizomes and Stolons  and pasture grass become an invasive weed. Scientific name is Cynodon dactylon. Its leaves are small and soft Worldwide, it is known by many names such as Dab grass, holy grass, Greenery, Star grass, Lawn grass, Bamba grass, Devilgr etc.

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਥੀਉ ਪਵਾਹੀ ਦਭੁ॥ ਜੈ ਸਾਈਂ ਲੋੜਹਿ ਸਭੁ॥ (SGGS 134) 

Farid, if thou long for the Lord of all, then become like the spear grass (Bermuda) of the path. (SGGS: 1378),


Flame of the Forest:- It is commonly known as the palash tree (Butea Frondosa or B. Monosperma). A small or medium deciduous tree having grey or light brown bark. Flowers are large, olive green or velvet dark in color. Platters, cups etc are made up from the leaves of this tree. The tree is also cultivated in gardens. The name Butea was coined by Koeing or Roxburgh in honour of John Stuart, 3d Earl of Bute who "for several years lived in retirement in Bute, engaged in agricultural and botanical pursuits". (Encyclopedia Brit, 4:459, 1959). The specific name frondosa means 'leafy' or 'full of leaves".

ਸੰਗਤਿ ਸੰਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਲਗਿ ਊਚੇ ਜਿਉ ਪੀਪ ਪਲਾਸ ਖਾਇ ਲੀਜੈ॥(SGGS: 1325)

As Butea frondosa becomes part and parcel of the Ficus religiosa, similarly meeting with the saint's society, one becomes Sublime, (SGGS: 1325)


Castor Plant:- Castor plants (Ricinus dichotoma L) seed is extracted and yellow oil is obtained which is used for burning and beneficial for machine parts. It has many medicinal properties especially for Arthritis, Cough, Swelling, Pimples, etc. It is known in the Punjabi language as Arind, Rind or Rindi. It is also used to make someone vomit or delicate:

ਤੁਮ ਚੰਦਨ ਹਮ ਇਰੰਡ ਬਾਪੁਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਤੁਮਾਰ ਬਾਸਾ (SGGS 486) 

Thou art Sandal and I am the poor Castor plant, dwelling close to thee. (SGGS: 486)


Celandine:- Celandine (Chelidonium majus) has serrated leaves, yellow flowers and narrow seed pods. Its yellow sap was used to cure warts. This plant is commonly found in Asia, Europe, Britain and the United States. It has some medicinal properties.

ਖਖੜੀਆ ਸੁਹਾਵੀਆ ਲਗੜੀਆ ਅਕੁ ਕੰਠਿ॥ (SGGS: 319) 

The Celandine fruits look beauteous, attached to the parent stalk. (SGGS: 319, 147, 148, 1286).


Cloves:- Cloves (Caryophyllus aromaticus L) is a small, aromatic, evergreen tree that is native to the Moluccas. Flowers are very small, appear in Clusters. Its dried flower buds are widely used in cookery. Oil of cloves is distilled from the stems. Height of the plant is 1-4ft. It is a healing medicine for mouth and stomach illness. It is virtuous to diseases of sex-Vigour, Paralysis, Deficiency, etc.

ਕਿਨਹੀ ਬਨਜਿਅ ਕਾਂਸੀ ਤਾਂਬਾ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਲਉਗ ਸੁਪਾਰੀ ॥ (SGGS 1123)

Some deal in bronze and copper and some in cloves and betel-nuts, (SGGS: 1123).

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Coarse Grain:- It is a bush resembling Chenopodium album, whose coarse grains are used by poor people. Its scientific name is Paspalum Scrobiculatum. In Punjabi its name is Kaudra,Kauday, Kaudara, Kaudo, etc.

ਛੋਟੇ ਨਾਕਨ ਟੂਟੇ ਕਾਧਨ ਕੋਦਉ ਕੋ ਭਸੁ ਖਈਹੈ॥ (SGGS: 524) 

With a torn nose and maimed shoulder, thou shall eat the straw of coarse grain. (SGGS: 524, 990, 1381) 


Coconut Palm:- Coconut palm (Cocos Nucifera L) is a member of the monocotyledonous tree found in tropical and subtropical regions. The leaves are Palmate (fan like) or pinnate feather like). All palms produce Drupes, such as dates or Coconuts. Tree is about 10-25 meters in height; The oil is extracted from the dry copra known as Coconut oil or Coconut butter. In Punjabi, it is known as Giri, Khupa, Narial, Nariel, etc.

ਗਰੀ ਛੁਹਾਰੇ ਖਾਦੀਆ ਮਾਣਨਿ ਸੇਜੜੀਆ॥ (SGGS: 417 

They eat coconut dates and enjoy themselves on the couches. (SGGS: 417,718, 1382)


Colocynth (Gourds):- It is an annual vine and ornamental, hard shelled fruit. It resembles a watermelon. It bears certain medicinal properties. In Punjabi it is known as Kauram, Kaura Dhuma. The shape of the fruit is almost spherical, irregular or bottle shaped.

ਮਨੁ ਪਵਨੁ ਦੁਇ ਤੂੰਬਾ ਕਰੀ ਹੈ ਜੁਗ ਜੁਗ ਸਾਰਦ ਸਾਜੀ॥ (SGGS: 334)

My mind and breath, I have made the two gourds of my fiddle and the Lord of all the ages I have made it frame. (SGGS: 334, 147, 338, 403, 708, 1375, 1413)


Datura:- Datura (Datura Stramonium) is a poisonous annual weed. It has foul-smelling leaves. Flowers are large white or violet coloured. It produces usual drugs, one of which is used in the treatment of asthma. Some plants are ornamentals worldwide. It is also known as thorn- apple.

ਤੁਮੀ ਤੁਮਾ ਵਿਸੁ ਅਕੁ ਧਤੂਰਾ ਨਿਮੁ ਫਲੁ॥ (SGGS 147)


Garlic:- Garlic (Allium Sativum) is a bulbous herb, having a bulb made up of cloves. It is commonly used for flavouring. Its foliage resembles an onion. It bears some medicinal properties.

ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਐਸਾ ਹੈ ਜੈਸੀ ਲਸਨ ਕੀ ਖਾਨਿ॥ (SGGS: 1365)

Kabir, as is a piece of garlic, so is an infidel. (SGGS: 1365) 


Gram:- Gram bean (Cicer arietinum) is a leguminous plant. It is rich in protein. The seeds of this plant is commonly used for

human or animal food. It has different varieties like Broad bean,French bean, Soya bean, etc. Sometimes, this name applied to non-leguminous plants. 

ਜਿਉ ਕਪਿ ਕੋ ਕਰ ਮੁਸਟਿ ਚਨਨ ਕੀ ਲੁਬਧਿ ਨ ਤਿਆਗੁ ਦਇਓ॥ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਕਰਮ ਕੀਏ ਲਾਲਚ ਸਿਉਂ ਤੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਗਹਿ ਪਰਿਓ ॥ (SGGS 336)

As a monkey, through greed does not let go of a handful of grams in its hand and is thereby entrapped, so do all deeds done by man through greed they ultimately become halter round his neck (SGGS: 336)


Grapes:- Grapes (vitis Vinifera L.) is a native of Asia, grows in temperate and subtropical climates. It's fruit's is eaten raw, dried. Its quality is wholly dependent on soil, climate, topography and cultivation methods. Punjabi name for it is Dhak, Kishmish, etc.

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਲੋੜੈ ਦਾਖ ਬਿਜਉਰੀਆਂ ਕਿਕਰਿ ਬੀਜੈ ਜਟੁ॥ (SGGS: 1379)

Farid, the farmer, plants the tree of Acacia Arabic and desires the grapes of Bijour (SGGS: 1379)


Gularia Tree:- Gularia tree (G. agallocha L) is a member of genus plants native to South Africa. It has fleshy leaves with spiny-edges. They have clusters of yellow or orange or red drooping flowers. It is commonly known as Aloe.

ਚੰਦਨ ਅਗਰ ਕਪੂਰ ਲੇਪਨ ਤਿਸੁ ਸੰਗੇ ਨਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ॥ (SGGS 1018) 

Sandal, aloe, camphor-paste, the earth loves them not. (SGGS:1018, 14)


Holy Basil Plant:- It is a tropical plant of the mint family. Its leaves are used for flavouring. Flowers are white or purple in colour. Scientific name in Ocimum bassillicum or 0. Sanctum.

ਖੇਚਰ ਭੂਚਰ ਤੁਲਸੀ ਮਾਲਾ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਪਾਇਆ॥ (SGGS 973)

Breath- control, fixation and wearing of the rosary of sweet basil, these I have found contained in the Guru's grace. (SGGS: 973)


Lotus:- It is the common name for any water lily of the genus Nelumbo and several tropical species belonging to the genus Nymphaea. The Nelumbo Pentapetala has worldwide distribution. It is known by different names, viz. Lotus Lily, Pond nuts, Wonkapin, Water Chinquapin. The leaves float at the surface and showy flowers of white, red, pink, blue or yellow. Edward Sylvester of Chorley was the first man who introduced this flower. The stalk of this flower is upto 30 feet and width 10 inches. It is the sign of "Heart and Truth".

The Lord's lotus feet are the support of their soul. (SGGS: 181 13, 23, 24, 59, 85,181, 189, 249, 254, 263, 272, 340, 352, 454, 496, 534, 857, 898, 938,925, 974, 975, 990, 1209, 1245, 1267, 1293, 1381, 1402


Jasmine:- Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is an evergreen or deciduous shrub. It has fragrant yellow, pink or white flowers. Its oil is used in different perfumes. Height of the shrub is 20 feet.

ਪੀਤ ਬਸਨ ਕੁੰਦ ਦਸਨ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਸਹਿਤ ਕੰਠ ਮਾਲ ਮੁਕਟੁ ਸੀਸਿ ਮੋਰ ਪੰਥ ਚਾਹਿ ਜੀਉ॥(SGGS:1402)

Thou wearest yellow robe, hast teeth like the Jasmine flower, abide with thy love, hast rosary upon the neck and eagerly embellish thy head with the crown of the peacock feathers. (SGGS: 1402)


Madder:- Madder (Rubia tinctorum) is a perennial vine native to Asia and Europe. It has greenish-yellow flowers. In ancient times, a red dye was produced from its roots. Height of the plant is upto 3.9 feet.

ਨਿਰਮਲ ਸੋਇ ਬਣੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਨੁ ਨਾਮਿ ਮਜੀਠੈ ਰੰਗਨਾ॥ (SGGS 1081)

By means of the Divine Gurbani, immaculate repute is obtained and the soul is imbued with the Name madder. (SGGS 108, 54, 311, 346, 400, 454, 644, 708, 721, 722, 729, 731, 777, 786, 985 1051, 1212, 1279, 1379).


Jasbir Singh Sarna

Jasbir Singh Sarna

Native of Kashmir, Independent historian, poet, Journalist. A well known writer with 62 published books in Punjabi and English. Retired Agriculture Officer

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