AskDefine | Define pipal

Dictionary Definition

pipal n : fig tree of India noted for great size and longevity; lacks the prop roots of the banyan; regarded as sacred by Buddhists [syn: pipal tree, pipul, peepul, sacred fig, bo tree, Ficus religiosa]

Extensive Definition

The Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) is a species of banyan fig native to Sri Lanka, 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), Bodhi (in Thai Language), Pipal (peepal, peepul, pippala, pimpal, etc.), arali or Ashvastha tree. It is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 m.
The leaves are cordate 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 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).
Plaksa Pra-sravana denotes the place where the Sarasvati appears. In the Rigveda Sutras, Plaksa Pra-sravana refers to the source of the Sarasvati.



External links

pipal in Tosk Albanian: Pippal-Baum
pipal in German: Pappelfeige
pipal in Spanish: Ficus religiosa
pipal in Persian: انجیر معابد
pipal in French: Figuier des pagodes
pipal in Indonesian: Pohon bodhi
pipal in Italian: Ficus religiosa
pipal in Malayalam: അരയാല്‍
pipal in Telugu: రావి
pipal in Vietnamese: Bồ đề (thực vật)
pipal in Chinese: 菩提树
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