The Story of Fig Tree in Hinduism (Post No.11,902)


Post No. 11,902

Date uploaded in London – –  14 APRIL 2023                  

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सुलभः सुव्रतः सिद्धः शत्रुजिच्छत्रुतापनः ।
न्यग्रोधोऽदुम्बरोऽश्वत्थश्चाणूरान्ध्रनिषूदनः ॥ ८८॥

sulabhaḥ suvrataḥ siddhaḥ śatrujicchatrutāpanaḥ,
nyagrodho’dumbaro’śvatthaścāṇūrāndhraniṣūdanaḥ. (88) Vishnu Sahasranama

1.     Nyagrodhaḥ: Ficus Indica or Ficus bengalensis (That which remains above all and grows downward. That is, He is the source of everything that is manifest.)

1.     Udumbaraḥ: Ficus glomerata (One who as the Supreme cause is ‘above the sky’, that is, superior to all).

1.     Aśvatthaḥ: Ficus religiosa (That which does not last even for the next day.)

Hinduism is the only religion in the world where flora and fauna on earth are part of their day to day worship. They can’t think about God without flowers or leaves or plant twigs. Tulsi and Bilva (Vilva) are found in all Vishnu and Shiva temples. Whenever Hindus use one flower or plant leaf or twig, it means there is some medicine in it.

Lord Krishna also said

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति |
तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मन|| BG-26||

patraṁ puṣhpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayachchhati
tadahaṁ bhaktyupahṛitam aśhnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

BG 9.26: If one offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I delightfully partake of that item offered with love by My devotee in pure consciousness.

Hindus are great botanists that they selected three plants from the same genus of same family in botany and named them after Vishnu. In the Vishnu Sahsranama of Mahabharata ,we see the plants of Ficus genus of family Moraceae. Leaves and flowers are part of their worship.

Of the three Ficus plants, the story of Ficus glomerata is very interesting. It is called Aththi  in Tamil or Udumbara or cluster fig (Ficus glomerata or Ficus racemosa).

We have the magical properties of this tree praised in the Atharva Veda (3000 BCE) and later Satapata Brahmana (1000 BCE)

During the days of Atharva Veda they used it as an amulet. Hindus used its sticks to kindle ( Yaga, Yagna) sacrificial fire. Sacrificial posts, ladles were also made from its wood.

Harichandra, Hindu King , Embodiment of Truth, used it for his throne.

Atharvana Veda 19-31 reports its magical properties in 14 mantras. It is used as a charm to get wealth, cows, grains, victory, and general prosperity.

Later prose work in Sanskrit, Satapatha Brahmana ,reports how Indra created the three important plants of Ficus genus, namely Fig, Banyan and Pipal trees in addition to Rice from his body parts. These came after he drank magical Soma herbal juice. This indicates the magical herbal properties of Soma Juice and the importance of Ficus plants.

The story doesn’t stop there. Buddha used one of these three Ficus plants, Ficus religiosa,( pipal, Peepul) tree to attain wisdom. The same genus plant, Ficus glomerata (Fig Tree), helped Lord Dattatreya  and his disciples to attain wisdom.

Here is the story of Fig Tree :

It is in Guru Charita, a 15th century work in Marathi , later translated into Sanskrit

Swami Narasimha Sarasvathi was the disciple of Lord Dattatreya, who is considered the Avatara of Tri Murtis- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Gangadhar Saraswati wrote Guru charitra in Marathi first time in 15th century. Then Vasudevananda Saraswati translated it into Sanskrit. It gives the story of Sri Narasimha Sarasvathi (1378- 1458). He is considered the second avatara/incarnation of Dattatreya.

In 20th chapter the glory of Audumbara was described thus.


“When Lord Vishnu manifested himself as Narasimha in Narasimha Avatara to protect Prahlada and for destroying Hiranyakasyapa (Hiranyakashyapu), he had to make use of his nails (claws) to kill him. He tore open the belly of Hiranyakashyapa with his claws. In the stomach of Hiranyakashyapa, there was the Kalaloota poison. The nails of Narasimha were drenched with the poison when he tore the stomach and entrails of the demon. As a result, Narasimha’s nails were seething with great heat and pain. Goddess Lakshmi, seeing the suffering of Her Lord, plucked some fruits of the Audumbera Tree which she happened to find nearby. The Lord stuck his nails into the fruit deep into it’s pulp. The Lord’s pain vanished instantly by this. Lord Vishnu was immensely pleased and blessed the AudumberaTree and said it would from then onwards be as powerful on earth as the Kalpa Vriksha tree in the heaven. He said that whoever worship the Audumbara Tree, would get all desires and wishes fulfilled. Thus, the Audumbara Tree had become a wish fulfilling Tree, by Vishnu’s grace.

Narasimha swami did meditation for 12 years under the tree. The tree is considered the seat of Lord Dattareya. Now in the temple of Narasimha swami in Narasimhawadi, a village in Maharashtra, only his Padukas ( Shoes in wood), are worshipped under the sacred Udumbara/ Fig tree.

(Nrusinhawadi commonly known as Narsobawadi or Narsobachi Wadi is a small town in Shirol Tahasil in Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. Narsobawadi gets its name from the presence of ‘Shri Nrusinha Saraswati’, the Avatar of Lord Dattatreya. It is at the junction of River Krishna and Pancha Ganga).

The Datta cult devotees never cut the fig trees. They view it with great reverence. Those who got to Narasmihawadi temple recite Guru Charitra for a week or more following all fasting and Vrata rules. They believe that all their wishes will be fulfilled.

 I believe Hindus built lot of cults or stories around plants to save plants of medicinal values. Every plant worshipped by Hindus has a great medicinal value.

Even their proverbs have old wisdom about the plants.

Beat your Body with Kadamba wood (Udambaik Kadambaal Adi) is a Tamil proverb. The meaning is Kadamba wood is good for making cots and beds. My grandma died on the Kadamba Cot at her ripe old age without any health problem.

Another proverb is about women who long for issues for a long time. If there is a fertility problem, elders used to advise Hindu women to go around Ficus religiosa tree (Peepal, Peepul, Pipal). In Tamil they used to say After going around the Pipal Tree she put her hands in the abdomen (to see whether she is pregnant)  (Arasa Maraththai Surrivittu Adi Vayitrai Thottup Paarththaalaam) . The fact is you have to do such rounds everyday around the tree to attain it. It means good exercise and good inhalation of oxygen. Ficus trees give out large amount of Oxygen. This will help or expedite one becoming pregnant. In Tamil Nadu, all Ganesh statues are placed under the Ficus genus trees.

Even in Maharashtra and border Karnataka, women go around Fig trees to become pregnant.

An old book says, “It is much worshipped and women desirous of getting sons go round it a thousand times every morning. Its dry wood is used for producing sacrificial fire.”

These stories help the humanity to save the flora and fauna of earth.


Tags- Fig Tree, Ficus trees, Udumbara, Ficus glomerata, Dattatreya, Guru Charitra, Narasimha Swami, Vishnu Sahsranama, Audumbara

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