At a time when trees are merely considered logs of wood, not many of them are treated as the pipal tree that finds respect in many cultures of Asia. Before discussing this mighty tree in detail, let's first take a look at its scientific classification.
Species: F. religiosa
Species: F. religiosa
Historically, the pipal tree holds a lot of significance. It's amongst the oldest known depicted trees. The first reference of this tree was found on a seal discovered at Mohenjo-daro, one of the major cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, which shows the pipal being worshiped. Remains of a pipal leaf-shaped well were also found in the excavation where once the ancient city stood.
The pipal is one of the longest living trees, which is elaborated by the fact that the Shri Maha Bodhi tree, located in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar, has a known planting date of 288 BCE. This is the oldest verified age of any angiosperm or flowering plant. As claimed by many, it was this very tree in Gaya under which Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, achieved enlightenment, or bodhi, and came to be known as Gautama Buddha. Even Lord Buddha has quoted: "He who worships the Pipal tree will receive the same reward as if he worshiped me in person." It is for these precise reasons that this tree is so sacred for the followers of Buddhism.
Hindus also hold this tree, also called Asvattha, in high regard. They believe that Lord Vishnu was born under this tree and Lord Krishna died under it. Also, since the Vedic period, Hindu holy men have been known to meditate sitting under this tree. Hence, it is also sacred for the followers of Hinduism.
This tree, is scientifically known as Ficus religiosa. it is a species of the banyan fig, native to the region extending from the Indian subcontinent to Indo-China and Southwest China. Its leaves are cordate or heart-shaped, with a distinctly extended tip. It is an average-sized tree and sports a large crown with branches that spread spectacularly wide. It is a deciduous tree that grows up to 100 feet in height, with a trunk which is almost 10 feet in diameter. The tree sheds its leaves in the months of March and April, which sums up the spring season in and around the Indian subcontinent. The pipal bears a fruit, a small fig, which ripens in the month of May. These figs grow in pairs just below the leaves and look like purple berries. The bark of this tree is light gray, smooth, and peels off in patches.
- Raw juice of the leaf of this tree is very effective in arresting excessive bleeding. 50 ml of juice or 1 tablespoon of dry leaf powder taken with water can work wonders towards this cause. This recipe, when consumed with equal quantity of tender leaves, coriander leaves, and sugar, can act effectively against dysentery.
- Pipal leaves are also used for the treatment of mumps and boils. The leaf daubed in ghee or butter can be bandaged over the affected part.
- A popular remedy for excessive urination in jaundice patients is soaking a piece of pipal bark in water overnight and consuming the water the following morning.
- Juice extracted from the leaves of this tree when they are held close to fire can be used as ear drops.
- The leaves are effective against many heart diseases. For this, soak the leaves overnight in water, distill the water the next morning, and then store it. About 15 mg of this solution can be administered thrice daily. It is known to be effective in the treatment of heart palpitation and cardiac weakness.
- Juice from the root bark of pipal is effective against gout and stomatitis, heals ulcers, and enhances granulations. Chewing the roots is known to prevent gum disease.
- Pipal is an excellent remedy for the neck disease scrofula, that causes swollen lymphatic glands. A paste prepared by mashing its roots under water is applied on the affected region of the neck.
- Pipal leaves have been used against bruises and wounds for years. Finely ground leaves mixed with jaggery are made into pills. One pill taken daily with milk is an effective pain killer.
- The fruit of this tree is also useful in treatment of many diseases. Powdered dried fig fruit is extremely beneficial against asthma.
- Bark of this tree can be used to manufacture tannin, which is used for leather treatment. Dark red dye is extracted from the bark.
- In India, dried pipal leaves are used for decoration purposes. The leaves are collected, cleaned, dried, and then painted with gold acrylic color in order to preserve them for the future.
- The leaves are also used as camel and elephant fodder because of their nutritional and medicinal values.
This concludes the brief insight into this highly beneficial tree. Pipal trees benefit the human race in multiple ways, and now you have a fair idea how. I hope this heart-leaved sacred tree resides in your heart forever.