Me mum recently gifted me an entire forest worth of bodhi trees which she had grown. My job was to distribute them to the dance students. Then the pleading cries for "more information" came pouring in, so here ya'll go with your info on the ficus religiosa:
At the western side of Bodhgaya in India, stands a large and historic Pipal Tree (ficus religiosa) known throughout history as the Bodhi Tree, under which the Shakyamuni Buddha, then known as Gautama, attained Enlightnment 2500 years ago.
The Buddha, had been practicing austerities for six years in the area near Bodhgaya. Finally understanding that this could not lead to realization, he abandoned his austerities and in the nearby village of Senani (now also known as Sujata) the Brahmin girl Sujata offered him milk rice. Strengthened by this, he took some kusha grass for a mat and sat under the Pipal Tree facing east. He resolved not to rise until he attained Enlightenment.
As he sat in deep meditation Mara, Lord of Illusion, symbolizing the delusions of one's own mind tried tirelessly to distract him from his purpose. Buddha then touched the Earth, calling it to bear witness to the countless lifetimes of virtue that led him to this place.
The earth shook confirming the truth of his words. Mara unleashed her army of demons to distract and tempt him from his purpose, but Gautama triumphed over the inner obstacles and the power of his compassion transformed the demons' weapons into flowers. His mind was utterly subdued.
For seven days after the Enlightenment, Buddha continued to meditate under the tree without moving from his seat. Another week passed in walking meditation, and for a third the Buddha contemplated under the Bodhi tree.
The earliest records on the tree are in the 'Kalingabodhi Jataka', which gives a vivid description of the tree and the surrounding area prior to the Enlightenment, and the 'Asokavadana', which relates the story of King Asoka's (3rd century B.C) conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent worship under the sacred tree apparently angered his queen to the point where she ordered the tree to be felled. Ashoka then piled up earth around the stump and poured milk on its roots. The tree miraculously revived and grew to a height of 37 metres. He then surrounded the tree with a stone wall some three meters high for its protection.
The bodhi tree is a representation of our journey to infinity. As the seed which begins tiny and hard grows open and free, so should the mind and heart. The tree is rooted in the ground but grows beyond the ground, as it perceives its environment, cares about it, and ultimately leaves the limitations of the body and matter behind. The branches reach towards the heaven yet the vines of the banyan reach towards the earth. Such is the state of mankind - always being pulled in many directions.
Plants Subkingdom Tracheobionta
Vascular plants Superdivision Spermatophyta
Seed plants Division Magnoliophyta –
Flowering plants Class Magnoliopsida
Dicotyledons Subclass Hamamelidae
Mulberry family Genus Ficus L.
fig Species Ficus religiosa L. Height:
over 40 ft. (12 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7� C (35� F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5� C (40� F)
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater