An Immortal Tree and a Pilgrimage Tradition at the Holy Confluence of Rivers: A Study of Akshay Vat and the Kumbh Consciousness

Amit Singh (Ambedkar University Delhi)

The city of Prayag in North India attains significance in people’s consciousness primarily because of its location at the holy confluence of three rivers: Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, which has also at its periphery various symbols that comprise significant part of the narratives that define this space. One significant example of such symbols is Akshay Vat, i.e. the “Immortal” Bunyan Tree, which has narratives that span through the deluge story to cultural exchange across national boundaries to fertility rites to crematoriums and funeral rites to abode of man-eating demon to hermitage to pilgrimage routes to death of humans and gods to salvation and so on. I propose to investigate the significance of this “Immortal Tree” in the context of the narratives that define this space and re-center multiple and diverse traditions.

Part of 01-07 Pilgrimage and Place, Thursday, October 13, 8:00 am–10:00 am