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The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) is a species of banyan fig native to Nepal and India, southwest China and Indochina east to Vietnam. It is known by a wide range of local names, such as Bo or pou (from the Sinhalese bo), Pipal (peepal, peepul, pippala, pimpal, etc.), arali or Ashvastha tree. It is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3m. The leaves are in shape with a distinctive extended tip; they are 10-17cm long and 8-12cm broad, with a 6-10cm petiole. The fruit is a small fig 1-1.5cm diameter, green ripening purple.The Bodhi tree and the Sri Maha Bodhi propagated from it are famous specimens of Sacred Fig. The known planting date of the latter, 288 BC, gives it the oldest verified age for any angiosperm plant.This plant is considered sacred by the followers of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, and hence the name 'Sacred Fig' was given to it. Siddhartha Gautama is referred to have been sitting underneath a Bo Tree when he was enlightened (Bodhi), or "awakened" (Buddha). Thus, Bo Tree is well-known symbol for happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. Today in India, Hindu Sadhus still meditate below this tree, and in Theravada Buddhist Southeast Asia, the tree's massive trunk is often the site of Buddhist and animist shrines.
Plaksa Plaksa is a possible Sanskrit term for the Sacred fig. According to Macdonell and Keith (1912), it rather denotes the Wavy-leaved Fig tree (Ficus infectoria).In Hindu texts, the Plaksa tree is associated with the source of the Sarasvati River. The Skanda Purana states that the Sarasvati originates from the water pot of Brahma and flows from Plaksa on the Himalayas. According to Vamana Purana 32.1-4, the Sarasvati was rising from the Plaksa tree (Pipal tree).D.S. Chauhan in Radhakrishna, B.P. and Merh, S.S. (editors): Vedic Sarasvati, 1999, p.35-44 Plaksa Pra-sravana denotes the place where the Sarasvati appears.Pancavimsa Brahmana, Jaiminiya Upanisad Brahmana, Katyayana Srauta Sutra, Latyayana Srauta; Macdonell and Keith 1912 In the Rigveda Sutras, Plaksa Pra-sravana refers to the source of the Sarasvati.Asvalayana Srauta Sutra, Sankhayana Srauta Sutra; Macdonell and Keith 1912, II:55
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