A medium-sized to large tree, 15-30 m in height with smooth light grey bark having dark patches; leaves simple, opposite, variable in shape, about 2.5 cm broad about 7.5-15 cm long, acuminate, nerves joining in a distinct intermarginal nerve, gland-dotted, smooth and shiny; flowers greenish-white in trichotomous panicles; fruits oblong or ovoid-oblong, dark purple with pinkish juicy pulp; one-seeded. Flowering-fruiting February to July. (Ashok Sheth (Ed.). 2005 The herbs of ayurveda vol.4 Gujarat : Ashok Sheth. p1082)
जम्बूकुञ्जप्रतिहतरयं तोयमादाय गच्छेः ।
अन्तःसारं घन तुलयितुं नानिलः शक्ष्यति त्वां
रिक्तः सर्वो भवति हि लघुः पूर्णता गौरवाय ॥ २० ॥
The river’s current is fragrant from the bitter passion of the wild elephants;
The Jambū bush is obstructing the stream and storing water;
You are exhausted from giving rain, so take the water from there and go.
O dense and dark, now that you have the engine inside, the wind cannot lift you up.
All what are empty will be regarded light, and what is full shall be given weight. (20)
At the Revā river, in the cloud’s journey. Jambū here is serving like a boul or a glass for the cloud to drink water. I have translated ‘passion’ but the term Mada actually also has a specific meaning of “an ichorous fluid exuding from the temples of elephants in rut” (Kale 1999: 40). It seems to me that the powerfulness of the now-full cloud may derive partly from the sexual scent added to the water.
[Reference: Kale, M. R. 1999. The Meghadūta of Kālidāsa. Corrected Edition. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited]
पाण्डुच्छायोपवनवृतयः केतकैः सूचिभिन्नैर्
संपत्स्यन्ते कतिपयदिनस्थायिहंसा दशार्णाः ॥ २३ ॥
The country of Daśārna will rejoice your approach;
The Ketakas’ split points lighten the garden hedge white,
Sparrows start nestling and gay the sacred village trees
(while enjoying domestic oblations),
The Jambū forest at the border darkens with its fruits ripe,
And the Hamsa swans will stay for days. (23)
An evergreen, woody unarmed glabrous showy shrub, with pale grey or whitish bark; leaves simple, bright green, ovate, entire below, irregularly and coarsely serrate towards the top, glabrous on both sides, minute stellate hairs on the nerves beneath; flowers showy, solitary and axiliary, pedicles jointed with pistils & stamens projecting from the centre, anthers reniform or kidney shaped; 1 – celled. Flowering throughout the year. (Ashok Sheth (Ed.). 2005 The herbs of ayurveda vol.3 Gujarat : Ashok Sheth. p602)
सांध्यं तेजः प्रतिनवजपापुष्परक्तं दधानः ।
नृत्तारम्भे हर पशुपतेरार्द्रनागाजिनेच्छां
शान्तोद्वेगस्तिमितनयनं दृष्टभक्तिर्भवान्या ॥ ३६ ॥
After that, embrace from above the forest trees extending like arms,
While you wear the sunset light, as red as a fresh Japā flower.
The Beast Lord Śiva has a desire for the blood wet skin of an elephant;
But your devotion will take it away at the beginning of his dance,
Witnessed by his consort Bhavānī, whose eyes are steady from her fear calmed. (36)
In the cloud’s journey. “When Śiva killed Gajāsura (Elephant-demon), he wore his skin dripping with blood, and danced about and wore it afterwords as a trophy. … Śiva is described as wearing this skin whenever he has his Tanḍava dance” (Kale 1999: 69-70). Since a cloud resembles grey elephant skin, the cloud may replace it and calm Śiva’s covet for the skin. The Japā-red colour shone by the sunset light serves as the elephant’s blood.
[Reference: Kale, M. R. 1999. The Meghadūta of Kālidāsa. Corrected Edition. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.]