The Audumbar Tree, also known as the Gular, Goolar, Oudumbar, is the Indian fig tree which holds much significance in India and the various religions that have spawned in that region. Its scientific name is Ficus Racemosa, a plant in the family of Moraceae. One strange thing about this plant that one notices at first glance is the fact that its figs grow directly on the bark, or in some cases, near it. These figs are edible and are a delicacy in the South-Asian part of the world, where these trees grow in abundance.
Role In Indian Culture
There is cultural context behind the various religious uses of this tree and its parts. The fourth Veda, the Atharva Veda regards this tree as one that acquires prosperity and establishes dominance over the rivals of the person who has this tree planted in their home. A hymn from the Atharva Veda says this about the Audumbara tree:
The Lord of amulets art thou, most mighty: in the wealth’s
ruler that engendered riches,
These gains are lodged in them, and all great treasures. Amulet,
conquer thou: far from us banish malignity and indigence,
Vigour art thou, in me, do thou plant vigour: riches art thou, so
do thou grant me riches.
Plenty art thou, so prosper me with plenty: House-holder, hear
a householder’s petition
There are also stories about King Harishchandra’s crown; about how it was made of a branch of the Audumbar tree, set in gold. The King’s throne, too, was made of this tree and the leaves of this tree were frequently used in prayers and havans.
In the 20th chapter of the Gurucharitra by Gangadhar Saraswati, which was written in Marathi in the 15th century, this is said about the Audumbar tree:
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 Audumber Tree which she happened to find nearby. The Lord stuck his nails into the fruit deep into its pulp. The Lord’s pain vanished instantly by this. Lord Vishnu was immensely pleased and blessed the Audumbera Tree and said it would from then onwards be as powerful on earth as the kalpavriksha tree in the heaven. He said that whoever worships the Audumbara Tree, would get all desires and wishes fulfilled. Thus, the Audumbara Tree had become a wish-fulfilling Tree, by Vishnu’s grace.
Audambar Tree Mantra
It is a prevalent notion in Indian Culture and mythology that the Guru Dattatreya, who is considered the omnipresent Guru of all Gurus, blesses anyone who worships the Audumbar tree. There is a certain method of praying to Guru Dattatreya through the Audambar Tree Mantra, which is easy to understand and follow. This is known as the Dattatreya Mantra Sadhana. To follow this, the worshipper or Sadhak, must begin the prayer on what is considered the most auspicious day in Vedic Astrology, the Ravi Pushya Yoga. Part of the Audumbar tree root must be obtained for the prayer or the prayer must be held underneath an Audumbar tree.
The prayer lasts 21 days and needs to be performed without a break. If the Sadhak is performing the prayer underneath the tree, then he/she must clean the place, face the east direction, sit on a white mat while wearing white clothes and procure a photo or statue of Guru Dattatreya and place it in front of him/her. Offerings of incense clarified butter, white flowers, and white sandalwood must be made to the statue or photo.
The Audambar Tree Mantra that is chanted during this prayer is known as the Dattatreya mantra. It says,
‘Om Dram Dattatreya Namah’.
This Audambar Tree Mantra must be repeated 108 times and a Rudraksha mala must be used to count the repetitions.
If performing the prayer at home, the Sadhak must place part of the Audumbar root in front of the photo or statue of Guru Dattatreya and complete the process described above.
After the prayer, the Sadhak must maintain a Satvik diet, remain celibate, and avoid alcohol for 21 days to finish the entire procedure.
If the procedure is being performed at home then after 21 days the Audumbar root must be immersed in any flowing body of water, such as a river.
Audambar Tree Benefits
Apart from its use in prayers and havans, the Ficus racemosa tree has plenty of other uses and benefits:
- The latex produced by the Audumbar tree is used externally to treat infected wounds, pain, edemas, etc.
- The leaves of the tree can be turned into a paste and applied on the skin to lighten complexion.
- Boiling the leaves in water and then applying the liquid to wash wounds is an essential benefit of the Audumbar tree.
- Boiling the bark of the tree and ingesting it is useful in treating diarrhea, dysentery, and ulcerative colitis.
- The ripe fruit is an antidiuretic, which means it helps diabetes patients.
- The decoction of the leaves helps reduce swelling, chronic wounds, and abscesses, etc.
- The use of tree latex mixed with sugar is useful in relieving sexual debility in men.
- The juice of the fruit is a useful remedy for hiccups while the powder of the bark skin works as an anorexiant.