Parkaṭī, Plakṣá and their descendants

Posted on December 7, 2018


In Sanskrit Parkaṭī and Plakṣá are words designating the trees of the Ficus (or fig) specie.


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Ficus Virens or pilkhan

The Sanskrit “Parkaṭī”  and “Plakṣá” derived from PIE *perku, which is generally interpreted as “oak-tree”; however, PIE *perk could have been root word for a generic large tree. Which is attested in Latin as quercusoak” : *prek — s — in prakṣá which due to common tendency of not differentiating in sounds of ‘l’ and ‘r’ in Old Indo-Aryan leads to the word Plakṣá. A variant of *perku as PIE. *perk –u — in *perk–ṭī has descended to Sanskrit as attested पर्कटी (parkaṭī; feminine), to mean “white fig-tree”, (Ficus Infectoria / Ficus Virens which is also known as पिलखन (pilkhan)).

Pilkhan is descended from  PIE *preku –sprakṣá which is attested in Sanskrit as plakṣá or plāˊkṣa ( as vr̥ddhi) to mean Ficus infectoria / or in Atharva Veda as Ficus religiosa. In Pali / Prakrits this was taken as pilakkha (svarbhakti and Sanskrit kṣ ⇒ kk in vernaculars) — m. ʻ Ficus infectoria ʼ; Prakrit. palakkha — , pilakkhu — , pilaṁkhu — , piliṁkhu — , pilukkha — , piluṁka <-> m. ʻthe banyan or Ficus indica ʼ; Old Hindi. pilakhana m. ʻ Ficus infectoriaʼ, Hindi pīlkhã̄ m. ʻ a kind of treeʼ; Punjabi palākh m. ʻ Ficus infectoriaʼ and Hindi ‘pākhal’ m. with metathesis. [1]

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Ficus benghalensis or baragada

However, Bhojpuri pākaṛi ʻa fig treeʼ; Hindi pāk(h)aṛ, pākar m., pākariyā f. ʻ Ficus infectoria ʼ (→ P. pākhar f.); — Mythili pāk(h)aḍ m., pākhar f. (← Hindi) ʻthe scandent plant Clypea burmanniʼ and Bengali pākuṛ ʻ Ficus infectoria ʼ and Oriya pākuṛa are descendent of PIE *perkṷ–ṭī via Sanskrit Parkaṭī.

The etymology of बरगद (baragada), the Hindi name for the tree Indian Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), is said to be ultimately from Sanskrit वट (Vaṭa), however there is no intermediate steps are specified[2]. I propose as a
baragada as derivative of Sanskrit parkaṭī.

Masculine form of parkaṭī is पर्कटिन् (parkaṭin), which could be used to represent a bigger tree of the same specie, i.e., “banyan” tree (Ficus benghalensis), which can grow quite large. In masculine form, it is possible to represent parkaṭin as parkaṭa and with the loss of retroflex as *parkata. From this few attested sound-shifts, viz., p ⇒ b; k ⇒ g and t ⇒ d; and svarabhakti parkata becomes बरगद (baragada).

Update: Dec. 15, 2018

My suggested etymology for baragada is flawed; read here why?


  1. A Comparative Dictionary of Indo-Aryan Languages: plakṣá Retrieved on Dec. 12, 2018.
  2. Etymology of बरगद, Retrieved on Dec. 12, 2018.
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