1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Banyan
BANYAN, or Banian (an Arab corruption, borrowed by the Portuguese from the Sanskrit vanij, "merchant"), the Ficus Indica, or Bengalensis, a tree of the fig genus. The name was originally given by Europeans to a particular tree on the Persian Gulf beneath which some Hindu "merchants" had built a pagoda. In Calcutta the word was once generally applied to a native broker or head clerk in any business or private house, now usually known as sircar. Bunya, a corruption of the word common in Bengal generally, is usually applied to the native grain-dealer. Early writers sometimes use the term generically for all Hindus in western India. Banyan was long Anglo-Indian for an undershirt, in allusion to the body garment of the Hindus, especially the Banyans.
Banyan days is a nautical slang term. In the British navy there were formerly two days in each week on which meat formed no part of the men's rations. These were called banyan days, in allusion to the vegetarian diet of the Hindu merchants. Banyan hospital also became a slang term for a hospital for animals, in reference to the Hindu's humanity and his dislike of taking the life of any animal.