Ashvattha, aka: Aśvattha, Āśvattha; 15 Definition(s)

Introduction

Ashvattha means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit terms Aśvattha and Āśvattha can be transliterated into English as Asvattha or Ashvattha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

One of the Hands indicating Trees.—Aśvattha (pipal), the Alapadma hand, waving the fingers

Source: archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Ayurveda (science of life)

Ashvattha in Ayurveda glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is a Sanskrit word referring to Ficus religiosa (bodhi tree), in the Moraceae family. Certain plant parts of Aśvattha are eaten as a vegetable (śāka), according to Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Āyurvedic work. The plant is therefore part of the Śākavarga group of medicinal plants, referring to the “group of vegetables/pot-herbs”. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic value of the plant.

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is the name of a tree (Pīpala tree) that is associated with the Nakṣatra (celestial star) named Puṣya, according to the second chapter (dharaṇyādi-varga) of the 13th-century Raj Nighantu or Rājanighaṇṭu (an Ayurvedic encyclopedia). Accordingly, “these [trees] are propounded in Śāstras, the secret scriptures (śāstrāgama). These pious trees [viz, Aśvattha], if grown and protected, promote long life”. These twenty-seven trees related to the twenty-seven Nakṣatras are supposed to be Deva-vṛkṣas or Nakṣatra-vṛkṣas.

Source: Wisdom Library: Raj Nighantu
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Dharmashastra (religious law)

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is a Sanskrit word, identified with Ficus religiosa (the holy fig tree) by various scholars in their translation of the Śukranīti. This tree is mentioned as bearing good fruits. The King should plant such domestic plants in and near villages. He should nourish them by stoole of goats, sheep and cows, water as well as meat.

The following is an ancient Indian recipe for such nourishment of trees:

According to Śukranīti 4.4.105-109: “The trees (such as aśvattha) are to be watered in the morning and evening in summer, every alternate day in winter, in the fifth part of the day (i.e., afternoon) in spring, never in the rainy season. If trees have their fruits destroyed, the pouring of cold water after being cooked together with Kulutha, Māṣa (seeds), Mudga (pulse), Yava (barley) and Tila (oil seed) would lead to the growth of flowers and fruits. Growth of trees can be helped by the application of water with which fishes are washed and cleansed.”

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Ashvattha in Purana glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

1a) Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ).—The sacred tree under which Kṛṣṇa is said to have sat in contemplation on the eve of his departure to Heaven.1 Growing out of Śami tree; by attrition Purūravas created fire and made it threefold for sacrificial purposes.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa III. 4. 3 & 8; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 11. 35 & 109; 13. 29; IV. 43. 17; Vāyu-purāṇa 35. 33; 91. 44.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 6. 85-94.

1b) The tīrtha sacred to Vandanīya.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 13. 51.

1c) A follower of Māyā.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 179. 69.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. XIII.4.27, XIII.4) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Aśvattha) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Rasashastra (chemistry and alchemy)

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ).—Another name for Pippala, which is the name of a plant, possibly identified with the peepal tree, or, Ficus religiosa. It is used in various alchemical processess related to mercury (rasa or liṅga), according to the Rasārṇavakalpa (11th-century work dealing with Rasaśāstra).

Source: Wisdom Library: Rasa-śāstra
Rasashastra book cover
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Rasashastra (रसशास्त्र, rasaśāstra) is an important branch of Ayurveda, specialising in chemical interactions with herbs, metals and minerals. Some texts combine yogic and tantric practices with various alchemical operations. The ultimate goal of Rasashastra is not only to preserve and prolong life, but also to bestow wealth upon humankind.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Ashvattha in Hinduism glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ)—Sanskrit word for the plant “pīpal fig tree” (Ficus religiosa).

Source: Wisdom Library: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is the name of the tree (vṛkṣa) associated with Gahvara: the northern cremation ground (śmaśāna) according to the Saṃvarodayatantra 17.38 and the Śmaśānavidhi 6. The tree associated with the north is sometimes given as Bodhi. As a part of this sādhana, the practicioner is to visualize a suitable dwelling place for the goddess inside the circle of protection which takes the form of eight cremation grounds.

These trees (eg., Aśvattha ) that are associated with the cremation grounds are often equated with the eight bodhi-trees of the Buddhas (the current buddha plus the seven previous one). According to the Śmaśānavidhi each tree has a secondary tree (upavṛkṣa) that is depicted as lovely and covered in vaṅga flowers and fruit. In each tree lives a naked rākṣasa who is wrathful in form, who eats human flesh and who has the animal face or the mount of the dikpati in his cremation ground.

Source: Wisdomlib Libary: Vajrayogini
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Ashvattha in Jainism glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) is the name of the caitya-tree under which the parents of Ananta are often depicted in Jaina iconography, according to both the Śvetāmbara and Digambara tradition. The term caitya refers to “sacred shrine”, an important place of pelgrimage and meditation in Jainism. Sculptures with such caitya-trees generally shows a male and a female couple seated under a tree with the female having a child on her lap. Usually there is a seated Jina figure on top of the tree.

Ananta is the fourteenth of twenty-four tīrthaṅkaras: enlightened beings who, having conquered saṃsāra (cycle of birth and death), leave a path behind for others to follow. His father is Siṃhasena and his mother is Suyaśā according to Śvetāmbara or Sarvayaśā according to Digambara, according to the Ācāradinakara (14th century work on Jain conduct written by Vardhamāna Sūri).

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) refers to a kind of tree (vṛkṣa) commonly found in the forests (vaṇa) of ancient India, mentioned in the Jñātādharmakathāṅga-sūtra. Forests have been a significant part of the Indian economy since ancient days. They have been considered essential for economic development in as much as, besides bestowing many geographical advantages, they provide basic materials for building, furniture and various industries. The most important forest products are wood and timber which have been used by the mankind to fulfil his various needs—domestic, agricultural and industrial.

Different kinds of trees (eg., the Aśvattha tree) provided firewood and timber. The latter was used for furniture, building materials, enclosures, staircases, pillars, agricultural purposes, e. g. for making ploughs, transportation e. g. for making carts, chariots, boats, ships, and for various industrial needs. Vaṇa-kamma was an occupation dealing in wood and in various otherforest products. Iṅgāla-kamma was another occupation which was concerned with preparing charcoal from firewood.

Source: archive.org: Economic Life In Ancient India (as depicted in Jain canonical literature)

1) Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) or pippala refers to a “Ficus religiosa Linn.”: one of the five udumbara fruits considered forbidden to eat for Jain laymen, as listed under the khādima category of forbidden food (āhāra), according to Amitagati in his 11th century Śrāvakācāra (v6.96-97). The udumbaras, perhaps because they live long and have nutritive fruits, perhaps because of their milky latex, have been identified with the source of all fertility, and possibly owing to the ceaseless rustling of their leaves have been regarded as homes of the spirits of the dead.

2) Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ) refers to the caityavṛkṣa (sacred-tree) associated with the Asura or Asurakumāra class of the bhavanavāsin species of Devas (gods), according to Jain cosmology. They are defined according to the cosmological texts, such as the Saṃgrahaṇīratna in the Śvetāmbara tradition, or the Trilokasāra in the Digambara tradition.

Source: archive.org: Jaina Yoga
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Ashvattha is the name of a tree mentioned in the Kathasaritsagara by Somadeva (10th century A.D).—Fig-trees are always mentioned in the forests on the Vindhya mountain.

Somadeva mentions many rich forests, gardens, various trees (eg., Ashvattha), creepers medicinal and flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees in the Kathasaritsagara. Travel through the thick, high, impregnable and extensive Vindhya forest is a typical feature of many travel-stories. Somadeva’s writing more or less reflects the life of the people of Northern India during the 11th century. His Kathasaritsagara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Ashvattha, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravahanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyadharas (celestial beings).

Source: Shodhganga: Cultural history as g leaned from kathasaritsagara
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Ashvattha in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

Aśvattha (अश्वत्थ).—[na śvaściraṃ śālmalīvṛkṣādivat tiṣṭhati sthā-ka pṛṣo. nityasa. Tv.]

1) The holy fig tree; ऊर्ध्वमूलोऽवाक्शाख एषोऽश्वत्थः सनातनः (ūrdhvamūlo'vākśākha eṣo'śvatthaḥ sanātanaḥ) Kaṭh.; the tree of this world; ऊर्ध्वमूलमधःशाखम- श्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् (ūrdhvamūlamadhaḥśākhama- śvatthaṃ prāhuravyayam) Bg.15.1. (Mar. piṃpaḷa).

2) A kind of the Aśvattha tree (nandīvṛkṣa; Mar. nāṃdurakhī.)

3) Name of another tree गर्दभाण्ड (gardabhāṇḍa) (Mar. lākhī piṃparī)

4) The constellation Aśvinī.

5) The time indicated or presided over by Aśvinī अश्वत्थो मुहूर्तः (aśvattho muhūrtaḥ) Sk. on संज्ञायां श्रवणाश्वत्थाभ्याम् (saṃjñāyāṃ śravaṇāśvatthābhyām) P.IV. 2.5.

6) A vessel made of the अश्वत्थ (aśvattha) tree (Ved.).

7) The fruit of the sacred fig-tree; अश्वत्थस्य फलमश्वत्थः (aśvatthasya phalamaśvatthaḥ) Sk.

8) The time at which it bears fruit; अश्वत्थफलयुक्तः कालोऽप्यश्वत्थः (aśvatthaphalayuktaḥ kālo'pyaśvatthaḥ) P.IV.3.48 Sk.

9) An epithet of the Sun.

1) Name of a people; Bṛ. S.14.3.

-tthā The day of the full moon in the month of Āśvina, (in which month the fruits of the sacred fig-tree generally become ripe).

-tthī [kṣudro'śvatthaḥ alpārthe ṅīp] A small fig-tree.

Derivable forms: aśvatthaḥ (अश्वत्थः).

--- OR ---

Āśvattha (आश्वत्थ).—a. (-tthī f.), [āśvatthika] (- f.) [अश्वत्थस्येदम् अण् ठक् वा (aśvatthasyedam aṇ ṭhak vā) P.IV.2.22]

1) Relating to or made of the holy fig-tree.

2) Relating to the fruit-bearing season of this tree, as a मुहूर्त (muhūrta).

-tthā The night having the अश्वत्थ (aśvattha) Nakṣatra.

-ttham The fruit of the holy fig-tree.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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