The author in a sal forest in Dera Dun, India.
Sal is the modern English and Hindi name for the tree called sàla in the Buddhist scriptures. The sal is a common north Indian tree having the botanical name Shorea robusta. It is described as being a huge tree with dark-green leaves, a straight trunk and beautiful to see (A.III,44; Ja.V,251). Sal flowers are of an orange-yellow color and have a pleasant perfume. The Buddha passed away at Kusinàrà while lying between two sal trees, which spontaneously burst into blossom, even though it was not the flowering season, and then sprinkled their petals over him out of reverence for him. The Buddha took this opportunity to make a very important point. He said: `These sal trees have blossomed out of season and sprinkled their petals over me out of reverence. But the monk or the nun, the lay man or lay woman who lives by the Dhamma and perfectly fulfils it, it is they who honour me with the highest reverence'(D.II,137-8).