A banyan spelled "banian", is a fig that begins its life as an epiphyte, i.e. a plant that grows on another plant, when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice of a host tree or edifice. "Banyan" specifically denominates Ficus benghalensis, the national tree of the Republic of India, though the name has been generalized to denominate all figs that share a common life cycle and used systematically in taxonomy to denominate the subgenus Urostigma. Like other fig species, banyans bear their fruit in the form of a structure called a "syconium"; the syconium of Ficus species supply shelter and food for fig wasps and the trees depend on the fig wasps for pollination. Frugivore birds disperse the seeds of banyans; the seeds are small, because most banyans grow in woodlands, a seedling that germinates on the ground is unlikely to survive. However, many seeds fall on the branches and stems of other trees or on human edifices, when they germinate they grow roots down toward the ground and may envelop part of the host tree or edifice.

For this reason banyans bear the colloquial name "strangler fig". A number of tropical banyan species that compete for sunlight of the genus Ficus, exhibit this strangling habit; the leaves of the banyan tree are large, glossy and elliptical. Like most figs, the leaf bud is covered by two large scales; as the leaf develops the scales abscise. Young leaves have an attractive reddish tinge. Older banyan trees are characterized by aerial prop roots that mature into thick, woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the primary trunk with age. Old trees can spread laterally by using these prop roots to grow over a wide area. In some species, the prop roots develop over a considerable area that resembles a grove of trees, with every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the primary trunk; the topology of this massive root system inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system "Banyan VINES". In a banyan that envelops its host tree, the mesh of roots growing around the latter applies considerable pressure to and kills it.

Such an enveloped, dead tree decomposes, so that the banyan becomes a "columnar tree" with a hollow, central core. In jungles, such hollows are desirable shelters to many animals; the name was given to F. benghalensis and comes from India, where early travellers observed that the shade of the tree was frequented by Banyans. In the Gujarati language, banya means "grocer or merchant", not "tree"; the Portuguese picked up the word to refer to Hindu merchants, passed it along to the English as early as 1599 with the same meaning. By 1634, English writers began to tell of the banyan tree, a tree under which Hindu merchants conducted their business; the tree provided a shaded place for merchants to sell their goods. "banyan" became the name of the tree itself. The original banyan, F. benghalensis, can grow into a giant tree covering several hectares. Over time, the name became generalized to all strangler figs of the Urostigma subgenus; the many banyan species include: Ficus microcarpa, native to Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, the Malay Archipelago, New Guinea, Ryukyu Islands and New Caledonia, is a significant invasive species elsewhere.

The Central American banyan is native to Central America and northern South America, from southern Mexico south to Paraguay. The shortleaf fig is native to southern Florida, the Caribbean Islands, Central America, South America south to Paraguay. One theory is that the Portuguese name for os barbados, gave Barbados its name; the Florida strangler fig is native to southern Florida and the Caribbean Islands, distinguished from the above by its coarser leaf venation. The Moreton Bay fig and Port Jackson fig are other related species. Due to the complex structure of the roots and extensive branching, the banyan is used as a subject specimen in penjing and bonsai; the oldest, living bonsai in Taiwan is a 240-year-old banyan tree housed in Tainan. Banyan trees figure prominently in several Asian and Pacific religions and myths, including: The banyan tree is the national tree of India, it is called Indian or Bengal fig. This tree can be seen near a temple or religious center, it is a big tree and gives shade to travelers in hot summer months.

An old custom offers worship to this tree. In Hinduism, the leaf of the banyan tree is said to be the resting place for the god Krishna. In the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna said, "There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down, the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas." Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down; the branches go downward and the roots upward. This material world is a reflection of the spiritual world; the material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there is substance and reality; the banyan tree is considered sacred and is called vat vriksha in Sanskrit, in Telugu known as: మఱ్ఱి చెట్టు. The god Shiva as Dakshinamurthy is nearly always depicted sitting in

Law Enforcement Alliance of America

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America is a non-profit, conservative gun rights corporation in the United States, headquartered just outside Washington, D. C. in Springfield, Virginia. Its membership is composed of active duty and retired law enforcement officers, crime victims, other interested civilians. LEAA publishes a magazine, a newsletter, "The LEAA Advisor", it works to highlight incidents of civilian self-defense like that in which Harry Beckwith interrupted seven criminals in the process of stealing firearms from his gun store, ensuring six of them could be safely arrested by police. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America is a non-profit organization under IRS Code Section 501. Due to LEAA’s legislative activities, contributions to LEAA are not tax-deductible as a donation or business expense. Dues and contributions are not refundable. Critics have said that the organization is a "stealth PAC," funneling corporate monies into state judicial elections; the organization was sued in Texas in 2002 for failing to disclose campaign contributors.

The group was very active in unseating West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw. In 2002, LEAA spent $1.5-2 million to air ads against Democratic candidate Kirk Watson's bid for Texas Attorney General. At the time, they spent money in support of two other Democratic candidates' bids for the Texas State Legislature, one of whom was Mike Head. In 2003, Watson and Head filed a complaint in state court, accusing LEAA of using corporate funds in a political campaign in violation of Texas law. LEAA contends the ads did not coordinate directly with any candidate's campaign. In 2007, Buck Wood, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said that he was to pursue the litigation in federal court. In 2004 the LEAA got most of its money from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who had said in numerous interviews that he would do "whatever it takes," to get rid of Maag. LEAA web page


Madhu and Kaitabha, Rakshasas or demons of Hindu mythology, are associated with Hindu religious cosmology. They both originated from one of the ears of God Vishnu, while he was in the deep sleep of Yoganidra. From his navel, a lotus sprouted on which Brahma, the creator, was found sitting and contemplating the creation of the cosmos. Bhagavata Purana states that during the creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma and deposited them deep inside the waters of the primeval ocean. Vishnu, in his manifestation as Hayagriva, killed them, retrieved the Vedas; the bodies of Madhu and Kaitabha disintegrated into 2 times 6 —, twelve pieces. These are considered to represent the twelve seismic plates of the Earth. According to another legend and Kaitabha are considered demons, designed to annihilate Brahma. However, Brahma spotted them, invoked the goddess Mahamaya. At this point, Vishnu awoke, the two conspiring demons were killed; this led to Vishnu being called Madhusudanah - the killer of Madhu and Mahamaya came to be known as Kaitabhi.

Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend by Anna Dhallapiccola