[Advaita-l] fig trees??????????????

ken knight hilken_98 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 9 05:06:35 CDT 2003

Namaste all,
I have posted this request for help on the advaitin
site as well but am setting my net as wide as

I have been preparing a study day for some friends who
wanted to look at 'I am' sayings in various
traditions....there is an excellent 'Mountain
Path'(1992) article on this subject that is on the
web. These people coming all have an interest in
advaitin teachings.

My own studies into the Vedic and Vedantin aspects of
'I am' have introduced me to new topics as well as
extensions to the background of others.
In the latter case, my pesent questions have arisen
from the famous 'Two birds' in the Mundaka and
Svetasvatara Upanishads.
I had recently found the background to these in the
fuller image in RgVeda I.164.20-22 and had been
intrigued by the reference to the Father in verse 22. 
This led me to attempt a translation of the Sanskrit
and hence began an enquiry into the fig-tree and its
sacred place in the context of the Indian
environment...also the parallels with the tree of life
and knowledge in the Garden of Eden stories.

The next step came when I was looking at the 'I am'
statements in the Bhagavad Gita. When I read in 10.26
'Among trees I am the holy fig' I looked at the
Sanskrit and found aShvatTas. 
"What has fig trees got to do with horses?" I
wondered.  Then lo and behold the next verse begins,
"Know that I am of horses,Ucchaishravas  born of
It was time to get out the dictionary and Monier
Williams tells me that aShvatTa means 'under which
horses stand' and that Ucchaishravas means 'long-eared
and neighing loud' and is the name of Indra's horse.  

By now all the symbols were getting to me so I
searched the net for the text of the story and for
some insights.  All very interesting but so far only
diversions have appeared so I decided to seek help
from the members of this site who have a greater
understanding of these traditions.

I can make my own speculations, but in an advaitin
context can anyone please comment on the following:

Who is the Father in the Rgvedic hymn and why do the
Upanishads omit this aspect of the image?
Why does a 'horse' emerge from the churning?
Why is it that the name of the fig tree...'ficus
religiosa'...... used in the Gita have the idea of
horses sheltering under its leaves? Why not monkeys,
for example? Is it to do with the Sanskrit ucchaiH
meaning lofty, high, loud, powerful?
In translating the RgVedic hymn I keep coming across
possible meanings to do with sound and language. Any
thoughts on this?

If my questions are too weird and I am best left to my
own churning then please ignore the above.

Added bit.
A sufi master once asked my name and giggled
contentedly when told 'Knight'.  He asked, 'Do you
ride your horse or does your horse ride you?'  Upon
questioning one of his close aides later that day I
asked what he had meant.  
Apparently the horse represents the ego in the Sufi
teaching tales.
I have also found this meaning in some stories told in
India but cannot make it fit the above questions.

Thanks for your attention,

Ken Knight

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