Thursday, May 26, 2011

Importance of Ficus Religosa (Peepal) tree in our environment.

Peepal is also a pollution indicator tree.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The Ficus Religosa (commonly known as Peepal tree in India) is one of the best known trees of India; it is planted in most villages of the country, and is held in high esteem by the people of India. Hindus and Buddhists hold the tree in veneration. The name religosa has reference to the tree often found near temples or shrines.

This is a tree that reaches very large proportions, it is in fact about the largest of our indigenous trees. The leaves are generally pendulous, that is , hanging down, and are such that a slight breeze sets them all quivering and trembling. There can hardly be a more peaceful scene than a peasant, at the end of a long day of toil in the fields, sitting under the village Peepal and being lulled to sleep by the rustling of its leaves.

Every villager in India knows that the Peepal has a very long life, compared with other common trees. There are records, however, of a tree taken to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from Northern India in 288 B.C.; at the end of the 18th century the tree was still doing well; in 1852 it was, not just supposed, but known to be 2147 years old. There seems to have been a tradition in Sri Lanka that the ruling dynasty would last in power as long as the sacred Peepal (Ficus Religosa) remained alive. It was according to tradition, under this tree that Gautam Buddha, sat in meditation at Bodh Gaya in Bihar State of India.; unfortunately the original tree has disappeared, and is now replaced by a successor. There is a saying that it gives more oxygen than any other trees. It is an important host plant for the summer brood of lac insect. An aqueous extract of bark shows antibacterial activity.

Propogation of the Peepal is very easy, it may be done by seeds or by cuttings; natural regeneration takes place through the seeds scattered by birds. Cuttings, even large pieces, can be used with advantage. Peepal is good avenue trees, it is also used as fodder, fuel, fruit and medicinal. Protein concentration is high in Peepal trees. Hence integration of peepal tree with agricultural crops could play an important role in meeting the fodder requirements of animals. Peepal not only produce fodder, but also balance climatic conditions, control soil erosion, improve soil structure and its fertility. It is also dust and sound absorbent. It can also grow on highly degraded and poor soils and still provide useful out put for animal food, fuel wood and timber. Peepal tree is also known as pollution indicators. In recent study, researchers observed that pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and dust choke the roots, steam, flowers and fruits of the plants. Leaves are particularly sensitive to pollution. Earlier studies have shown a quantitative decrease in the chlorophyll A and B pigments in peepal tree by air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide.

Peepal trees have many medicinal uses. Juice extracted from the leaves is used for eardrops. The bark is used to heal inflammations of the neck and glandular swellings. Chewing the roots of a peepal tree is said to help prevent gum disease.

Its fruit is laxative which promotes digestion and checks vomiting. Its ripe fruits are good for the foul taste, thirst and heart diseases. The powered fruit is taken for Asthma. Its seeds have proved useful in urinary troubles. The leaves are used to treat constipation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Megaliths site in Jharkhand State of India.

Jharkhand state is very rich in ancient and historical sites.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The above photographs are from Chatra district. Photos were send by Mr. Ujjal Ghosh.

Different Megaliths site has been identified by different workers in Jharkhand State of India. The sites are mainly concentrated in Hazaribagh, Lohardagga, Singhbhum, Chatra districts etc. Jharkhand state is very rich in ancient and historical sites which need urgent care and importance. Most of the sites in state are still unexplored and needs more research to disclose its mysteries.

Megaliths are the most unfortunate relics of our country's prehistory. Although they are found in almost the entire expanse of the country, still they are not regarded as a source of our prehistory perhaps owing to their tribal origin. But as they are found in almost the entire sacred land of India, these ancient monuments are therefore our truest archaeological heritage.

Megaliths are large stone structures or groups of standing stones which are located at sites in various parts of the would and believed to have religious significance. The term "megalith" means "great stone" which is derived from the Greek words "megas" ('great') and "lithos" ('stone'). However, the general meaning of megaliths includes any structure composed of large stones which includes tombs and circular standing structures. Such structures have been found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America.

Their origins and purposes have tantalized experts and ordinary people for centuries. There is a general consensus that many were built in the Neolithic and early Bronze Ages.

Those found in India date from the first centuries of the Christian era. The megaliths on Easter Island, in the South Pacific, probably are contemporary with the Medieval period of Europe.

The general speculation as to their purposes is that megaliths were used for religious activities, burial sites, and astronomical observatories for the sun and other celestial bodies. Some megaliths are said to possess supernatural or electromagnetic forces.

Megalithic burials are found in Northeast and Southeast Asia. They are found mainly in the Korean Peninsula. They are also found in the Liaoning, Shandong, and Zhejiang in China, Kyūshū in Japan,Dong Nai province in Vietnam and parts of India. Some living megalithic traditions is found on the island of Sumba and Nias in Indonesia. The greatest concentration of megalithic burials is in Korea. Archaeologists estimate that there are 15,000 to 100,000 southern megaliths in the Korean Peninsula.

Megaliths were used for a variety of purposes. The purpose of megaliths ranged from serving as boundary markers of territory, to a reminder of past events, to being part of the society's religion.

Amongst the indigenous peoples of India, Malaysia, Polynesia, North Africa, North America, and South America, the worship of these stones, or the use of these stones to symbolize a spirit or deity, is a possibility.