Re: [INDOLOGY] The Significance of the Iṅgudī Tree?

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at
Tue Apr 25 02:27:21 UTC 2017

Dear Jonathan,

     Is this Samudrasaṃgamaḥ available as a pdf?  If so, can you send it to
me.  Looks fascinating.

Madhav Deshpande

On Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 10:06 PM, Jonathan Peterson via INDOLOGY <
indology at> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I’m curious about the significance of the Iṅgudī tree (Balanites
> roxburghii?) and how the translator of the Majma’ al-Bahrain might choose
> this tree in particular as a stand-in for the ‘blessed olive tree’
> (shajaratin mubārakatin zaytunat). Dārā Shikoh in the Majma’ al-Bahrain,
> section IX, tells of the similarity between the light of Brahman
> (brahmaprakāśa) and the light of God using Qur’ān 24.35, the famous āyat
> an-nūr, as a metaphor. As the Qur’ān says:
> "'God is the light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His light
> is as a niche wherein is a lamp - the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were
> a glittering star - kindled from a blessed tree, an olive that is neither
> of the East nor of the West whose oil well-nigh would shine, even if no
> fire touched it; light upon light. God guides to His light whom He wills.
> And God strikes similes for men, and God has knowledge of everything.”
> (Q24:35)
> The olive tree and its fruit have broader significance in Islamic mystical
> literature, and Dārā Shikoh holds fast to the olive tree to complete his
> metaphor. The Sanskrit translation of the Majma’ al-Bahrain, the
> Samudrasaṃgamaḥ, renders the āyat an-nūr fairly faithfully, but substitutes
> the Iṅgudī tree, fruit, and oil for the olive tree. The Sanskrit reads as
> follows:
> "tad uktam asmadvede śuddhaṃ brahma prakāśaḥ pṛthivyākāśayoḥ saḥ prakāśo
> yathā gavākṣadīpaḥ kācaghaṭīmadhye kācaghaṭī ca prakṛṣṭaprakāśatārāvat
> prakāśate sa dīpaḥ prajvālita iṅgudīphalatailena sa ceṅgudīvṛkṣā na pūrve
> na vā paścime / nikaṭe tu śobhamāneṅgudītailaṃ prakāśate vinâgnisaṃyogena /
> prakāśasyopari prakāśaḥ / mārgaṃ jñāpayati parameśvaraḥ svaprakāśasya yam
> icchati"
> As far as I know, the Iṅgudī fruit and oil have medicinal uses, but I’m
> wondering if anywhere it takes on broader mystical or metaphysical
> significance like the olive tree does for certain mystical Abrahamic
> traditions.
> Thanks a lot,
> Jonathan Peterson
> Department for the Study of Religion
> Centre for South Asian Studies
> University of Toronto
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