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Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (p. 571)
m. (rudh = ruh), ”growing downwards” the Banyan or Indian fig-tree, Ficus indica (it belongs to the kṣīra-vṛkṣas q.v.; fibres descend from its branches to the earth and there take root and form new stems) AV. &c. &c.; Prosopis spicigera or Mimosa suma, L.; a fathom (measured by the arms extended), L.; N. of a son of Kṛishṇa BhP.; of a son of Ugra-sena (also -dhaka) Hariv. Pur.; of a Brāhman, a monastery and a village Lalit.; (ā) f. Salvinia cucullata or some other plant Car.; (i or -dhikā) f. id., L.; -kṣīra n. the milky juice of the Indian fig-tree Suśr.; -parimaṇḍala mfn. being a fathom in circumference MatsyaP.; -la-tā f. the having a waist like a fig-tree, (with Buddh. one of the 32 signs of perfection Dharmas. 83); (ā) f. an elegant woman, L.; -pāda m. N. of a man; -dhaka mfn. g. ṛṣyādi (cf. also above); -dhika, and -dhin mfn. g. kumudādi and prekṣādi.
Tamil Lexicon, University of Madras (p. 247)
ālamaram: Banyan, l. tr., Ficus bengalensis
Dymock, Warden, Hooper: Pharmacographia Indica (vol. III, pp. 337-341)
Ficus religiosa, Ficus bengalensis, Ficus tjakela, Ficus glomerata, Urticaceae
In the KÄthaka Upanishad am eternal and cosmogonic AĹvattha or Pippal tree is described; this tree is said to have its roots above and branches bellow (ĹŤrdhvamĹŤlo 'vÄkĹakha esho 'Ĺvatthah sanÄntanah); it bears the names of 'seed,' 'brahman,' 'amrita'; the worlds rest upon it; beneath it there is nothing. The wood of the AĹvattha when rubbed against that of the Sami (Acacia Suma) engenders fire, which is symbolic of reproduction, the former representing the male and the latter the female energy. At the marriage ceremony of the Hindus, both of these plants are necessary. To this mythic tree, which represented the macrocosm, wonderful medicinal properties are ascribed in the Atharvaveda; the medicine chest of the Vedic physician, and the cup to contain the Soma, are to be made of it; its branches are the Vedas. In the VÄlakhilya, a collection of apocryphal hymns in the Rigveda, the marriage of the actual tree with Tulasi is enjoined; it is worshipped on Saturdays in the month of Sravan and on Somvatis or "lunar days." Women perform Pradakshina, "walking round it from left to right," to secure the survival of their husbands and good luck generally, as Savitri, the wife of Satyavan, is said to have recovered her deceased husband by its worship. The thread ceremony and marriage of the tree with the Durva (Cynodon dactylon) is also performed by women. Sacrificial spoons are still made from its wood. F. religiosa is the Budhidru, or tree of wisdom, of the Jains and Buddhists, who relate that at the birth of the Buddha an enormous AĹvattha sprung from the centre of the universe, an offshoot, no doubt, of the Vedic and cosmogonic tree. In the RÄja Nirghanta it bears the synonym of YÄjnika "sacrificial," Srimana "fortunate," Vipra "wise," Sevya "worthy of worship," &c. Its root-bark, together with that of the three other species of Ficus placed at the head of this article (F. bengalensis, F. Tjakela, F. glomerata), and the root-bark of the Neem, form the Panchavalkala or "five barks," and a decoction of them (panchavalkala kashÄya) is much used as a gargle in salivation, as a wash for ulcers, and as an astringent injection in leucorrhoea. The powdered root-bark of the AĹvattha, rubbed with honey, is applied to aphthae and unhealthy ulcers to promote granulation.
F. bengalensis, the Vata or Nyagrodha, has been sometimes confounded with the AĹvattha; both trees bear the synonyms Bahupada "many-footed," and Sikhandin "crested," but the Vata is specially described as Skandaja "born of the trunk," Ava-roha-ĹÄyin "sending down branches," Skanda-ruha "growing from its own trunk," PÄda-rohana, &c. In Indian mythology an enormous Vata tree is supposed to grow upon mount SupÄrĹva, to the south of the celestial mount Meru, and to cover eleven yojanas; in the Vishnu Purana we find a similar account of the Pippala growing on mount Vipula and covering eleven hundred yojanas. Devaki, when pregnant with Krishna, is said to have taken refuge under a Vata tree from Kansa, who had destroyed her first six children. The tree was a special favourite of the Buddha, and Arrian speaks of the Indian sages as sitting under it. There is one famous tree mentioned in the Ramayana, the Uttara Rama-charita, the Kurma-purana, and elsewhere, which still grows on an island in the Nerbudda; it is said to have been planted by the sage Kabira some two thousand years ago, and is popularly known as the Kabir Bar. Owing to the peculiar growth of these trees, there is no reason why they should not last for an indefinite period.
The figs of the Udumbara (F. glomerata) are considered to be astringent, stomachic and carminative, and are given in menorrhagia and haemoptysism, in doses of one tola of the dried fruit with sugar and honey. The fresh juice of the ripe fruit is used as a vehicle (Vern. anupÄn) for metallic preparations. The juice of the root is used as a tonic, is applied to glandular swellings (It is interesting to note that the juice of the F. Sycomorus, the -*- of Dioscorides, and the JumÄŤz of the Arabs, was used by the Greeks, and is still used in Egypt for a similar purpose, and that both trees have much the same habit. /Dios., i, 148, and Prosper Alpinus, p. 20./ The Indian Mahometans use F. glomerata as a substitute for F. Sycomorus.), and is given in doses of four tolas with cumin and sugar in gonorrhoea. The small blister-like galls, which are common on the leaves, are soaked in milk and mixed with honey as a remedy for pitting in small-pox. This tree bears the synonyms of Yajniya "sacrificial," Pavitraka "purifier," &c., and is much used in Hindu ceremonial. According to the Grihya Sutra, a married woman in the fourth month of pregnancy should be rubbed with the fruit to fortify the germ.
Mahometan and European physicians do not add much to out knowledge of the medicinal properties of these trees. Ainslie, speaking of F. glomerata, says: -"From the root of the tree, which in Tamil is called attievayr, there exudes, on its being cut, a fluid, which is caught in earthen pots, and which the Vytians consider as a CĹŤlpÄm (Tam.), that is, a powerful tonic, when drank for several days together. This CĹŤlpÄm is termed attie-vayr tannic." (Mat. Ind., ii., p.30.)
Ainslie also states that the seeds of F. religiosa are supposed to posses cooling and alterative qualities, and quotes the following passage from Bartolomeo's Voyage to the East Indies: "Pulverised, and taken in water for fourteen days together, the fruit removes asthma, and promotes fruitfulness in women." The tree is the AreÄlu of Rheede, and the Arbor conciliorum of Rumphius. (Mat, Ind., ii., p. 25.)
The white glutinous juice of F. bengalensis is applied as a remedy for toothache, and to the soles of the feet when cracked and inflamed. The leaves, after they have turned yellow, are given in the Concan with roasted rice in decoction as a diaphoretic; dose three leaves.