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According to tradition, Buddha Gautama reached enlightenment sitting beneath a tree – what sort of tree was that?
He sat under a fig tree of the species Ficus religiosa – abanyan tree – native to India and the area around India, and South East Asia. The banyan tree has religious significance for Hindus, Buddhists and Jainists.
The tree under which Buddha Gautama sat is called the Bhodi tree, the "tree of awakening". The term “Bhodi tree” is also used for some other sacred trees of the species Ficus religiosa.
There is still a Bhodi tree where Buddha Gautama sat, but it is not the same tree, it has been replaced a number of times. However, the present tree is probably a direct descendant of the original Bhodi tree.
In Archaeological Survey of India, volume one, Alexander Cunningham wrote (1862):
“The celebrated Bodhi tree still exists, but is very much decayed; one large stem, with three branches to the westward, is still green, but the other branches are barkless and rotten. The green branch perhaps belongs to some younger tree, as there are numerous stems of apparently different trees clustered together. The tree must have been renewed frequently, as the present Pipal is standing on a terrace at least 30 feet above the level of the surrounding country. It was in full vigour in 1811, when seen by Dr. Buchanan (Hamilton), who describes it as in all probability not exceeding 100 years of age.”
Alyosha, Ivan, Dimitri, and Smerdyakov – four brothers whose family name gave name to a novel, a world classic. What is the name of this famous novel, and who is the author?
The novel is “The Brothers Karamazov”, and the author is Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881).
This novel has a reputation of being extremely heavy reading - but despite its very deep philosophical discussions, I never found it “heavy”. Yet, even people professionally reading or knowing about literature, often continue to praise its value without ever reading it. It's a pity, because it's really a great read.
Okay, I admit it, I'm biased. As a fan of Dostoevsky's literature, I once undertook to learn Russian in order to be able to read him in original language. I just love this literature. You might find “The Brothers Karamazov” heavier than I do, but it is still a book every well-read individual should have read. A true classic.
The painter is Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), and the man on the picture is... Vincent van Gogh! This is a self-portrait from 1889. The original can be found at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In French history, one can find the title “Dauphin”, which has been held by a number of people (although never more than one at the same time). But who would become “le Dauphin”, what did this title mean?
Dauphin was a title for the heir apparent (the crown prince) to the French throne 1350-1791 and 1824-1830. The name comes from Dauphiné, a seigneurie being a part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was sold to king Philippe VI of France in 1349. However, there were conditions as well: that the heir apparent to the French throne adopt the title “le Dauphin”; and that Dauphiné must never become a part of France. Initially it remained a seigneurie of the Holy Roman Empire, however, Louis XI still united it with France in 1461.
Strictly, le Dauphin of France should be called The Dauphin of Viennois. Dauphin was initially a nickname for the count of Vienne, because he had a dolphin (dauphin) on his coat of arms. But this happened before the area was sold to the French king.
An important mineral, which, among other functions, serves as an antioxidant in the body, is also light sensitive. This sensitivity has and has had technical applications. To which mineral am I referring?
This is a woodblock print from 1795 by a great Japanese artist. Indeed, his woodblock prints are still the most expensive ones to acquire. Who was the artist? (His name is a pseudonym, nobody knows who he really was.)
The portrait shows a kabuki (a sort of theatre) actor, Nakamura Nakazo II, playing prince Koretaka, who (in the play) plays the farmer Tsuchizo. A complex portrait, showing all the three characters.
Can you tell me the name of a sugar alcohol with sweet taste that is good for teeth and gums? Indeed, it is so beneficial for the teeth that the Finnish, who discovered its dental effects, once called it the solution of the caries problem. If it is that good can be questioned, we don't really know that yet, but it is undeniable that its effect is strong. For oral health, it's mostly used in toothpaste and chewing gums.