| Encyclopedias &|
Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (p. 3)
1. akṣa, as, m. an axle, axis (in this sense also am, n., L.); a wheel, car, cart; the beam of a balance or string which holds the pivot of the beam; a snake, L.; terrestrial latitude (cf. -karṇa, -bhā, -bhāga); the collar-bone, ŚBr.; the temporal bone, Yājñ.; N. of a measure (= 104 aṅgula); [cf. Lat. axis; Gk. ---; Old Germ. ahsa; Mod. Germ. Achse; Lith. assis.]
2. akṣa, as, m. (√ 1. aś Uṇ.) a die for gambling; a cube; a seed of which rosaries are made (cf. indrākṣa, rudrākṣa); the Eleocarpus Ganitrus, producing that seed; a weight called karṣa, equal to 16 māshas; Beleric Myrobalan (Terminalia Belerica), the seed of which is used as a die; a N. of the number 5; (am) n. sochal salt; blue vitriol (from its cube-like crystals), L.
3. akṣa, am, n. an organ of sense; sensual perception L.; (as) m. the soul, L.; knowledge, religious knowledge, L.; a lawsuit, L.; a person born blind, L.; N. of Garuḍa, L.; of a son of Rāvaṇa; of a son of Nara, &c.
Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (p. 978)
m. (or ī f.) the tree Terminalia bellerica; n. its berry (used as a die) ŚBr. MBh. &c.
Dymock, Warden, Hooper: Pharmacographia Indica (vol. II, pp. 5-6, 9-11)
Terminalia belerica, Combretaceae
Fig.- Beleric myrobalan (Eng.)
This tree, in Sanskrit Vibhita and Vibhitaka (fearless), is avoided by the Hindus of Northern India, who will not sit in its shade, as it is supposed to be inhabited by demons. Two varieties of T. belerica are found in India, one with nearly globular fruit, 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, the other with ovate and much larger fruit. The pulp of the fruit (Beleric myrobalan) is considered by Hindu physicians to be astringent and laxative, and is prescribed with salt and long pepper in affections of the throat and chest. As a constituent of the triphala (three fruits), i.e., emblic, beleric and chebulic myrobalans, it is employed in a great number of diseases, and the kernel is sometimes used as an external application to inflamed parts. On account of its medicinal properties the tree bears the Sanskrit synonym of Anila-ghnaka, or "wind-killing." According to the Nighantas the kernels are narcotic. Mahometan writers describe Balilaj (the beleric myrobalan) as astringent, tonic, digestive, attenuant, and aperient, and useful as an astringent application to the eyes. As long as the doctrines of the Arabian school prevailed, myrobalans were used medicinally in Europe, having been introduced by the Arabs from India. The -*- of the classical Greek and Latin writers was a fruit from which the perfumers obtained oil for their unguents. According to Theophrastus, the outer cortical portion was pounded to extract the oil, as that part only was sweet smelling. It is uncertain was this fruit was, but it appears to have been something similar to that of the African oil palm (Elloesis guineensis), the outer fleshy coating of which yields an oil of the consistence of butter, having a rather pleasant violet-like odour when fresh. The later Greek physicians apply the terms -*- and -*- to Indian myrobalans.
T. belerica produces a quantity of gum of the Bassora type, which is collected and mixed with soluble gums for sale as country gum.
Toxicology.- Roxburgh and Graham notice the popular belief that certain trees of T. belerica bear fruit the kernels of which have intoxicating properties; these trees are said by some to be always those of the large fruited variety. Native evidence on this point is conflicting, some people say that they have eaten both kinds of the seeds freely without experiencing any narcotic effects, but that when water is taken after eating them giddiness and a sense of intoxication is experienced. If vomiting occurs these symptoms soon pass off. There is no doubt that children often spend many hours under these trees eating the seeds, and it is quite possible that severe attacks of indigestion may follow such excesses.
Dr. Burton Brown says that Terminalia belerica is sometimes added to spirit in bazaars, in conjunction with the Chebulic myrobalan (hara) and the Emblic myrobalan (avola), so that it is possible that an accident might occur from the use of spirit so drugged.
Royle and Birdwood merely say that the seeds of the Terminalia bolerica are eaten as nuts. O'Shaughnessy, however, adds that they "are deemed intoxicating." (Chevers.)
As regards the seeds eaten in moderation, our experiments lead to the conclusion that they are perfectly harmless; one of us has eaten kernels without any effects. In one of our experiments we injected into a cat's stomach an alcoholic extract from 9 grams of the kernels with negative results. In another experiment we mixed 13.2 grams of kernels, equal to about 35-40 kernels, reduced to a fine pulp, with about 30 grams of raw meat, also pulped; this mixture was readily eaten at 11:05 a.m. by a cat which had been fasting for many hours; when the laboratory was closed at 4 p.m. the cat appeared in its usual condition, no symptoms having been induced, and on the following morning it appeared to be perfectly well. We learn that Jogis consider that one kernel eaten daily increases the appetite for sexual indulgence. Our experiments appear to be fairly conclusive that these kernels do not possess any toxic properties.
Commerce.- Myrobalans are one of the principal forest products of India; they are collected in large quantities on Government account, and yearly auctions are held by the Forest Conservancy Department. Both chebulic and beleric myrobalans are largely exported for tanning and dyeing.