Hindu pujas are never complete without the offerings of fresh flowers and fruits, and prasad made for Gods and Goddesses. Amongst the flowers like marigold, rose, and white lilies what also finds a place of pride is a Bilva leaf.
The science of Ayurveda values the Bilva leaf highly for the medicinal properties contained in its root, fruit and leaves. According to Swami Sivananda, it is a healing tree which cures all diseases caused by vata (wind) and gives strength to the body.
According to the scriptures and Ayurveda, Belpatra has great medicinal values. It’s trifoliate shape signifies the three components or ‘gunas’ namely the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Sattva guna is the positive energies while the Tamas is the negative forces. It is believed that the centre part of the Bilva leaf has the natural characteristic to attract the Sattva or the positive energies towards itself. So, when a person affected by negative energies touches the Belpatra, the positive energies are transferred to him/her.
Origin of the Bilva leaf
According to several legends,Goddess Parvati became tired due to her sports and drops of sweat appeared on her forehead which fell on the ground of the Mandara mountain, from which grew the bel tree.
It is said that Girija lives on the root of the tree, Maheswari on its shoulder, Dakshayani on its branches, Parvati among its leaves, Katyayani in its fruit, Gowri in its flowers, while in thorns the numerous Saktis find a home. It is also believed that Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, also lives in the bel tree.
Also several hindu scriptures claim that Paravati herself said that, “Since this tree pierced through the ground and rose up near me, let it be named Bilva. If anyone approaches this tree devoutly and collects the leaves, he shall certainly become a king of the earth. If anyone with perfect faith worships me with its leaves, he will realize whatever desire he may cherish. If a person, after seeing the leaves of Bilva, at least maintains faith in the rite of adoration, I shall undoubtedly be the bestower of wealth on him. If anyone makes his mind to eat the tip of the leaves, thousands of his sins perish automatically. If a man places the tip of the leaf on his head, no torture of Yama will give him pain.
Those who perform the puja of Shiva and Parvati devoutly, using the leaves, will be endowed with spiritual powers.
”Lakshmyaascha stana utpannam Mahaadeva sadaa priyam,Bilva vriksham prayachchhaami eka bilvam Shivaarpanam.Darshanam bilva vrikshasya sparshanam paapanaashanam,Aghorapaapasamhaaram eka bilvam shivarpanam.”
”Born from the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is ever dear to Mahadeva. So I ask this tree to offer a Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva. To have darshan of the Bilva tree, and to touch it, frees one from sin. The most terrible karma is destroyed when a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva.Sri Bilva AShtakam”
”Tridalam TrigunakaramTrinetrancha TriyaayudhamTrijanma Paapa SamharamEka Bilvam Shivarpanam.
”Offering of a bilvapatra to the three eyed god Shiva who holds a Trishula will wash away the sins committed in the past 3 lives.”
It is also said that the shade of this tree should not fall on the building and the people should never rest under the shade of these trees, Bel trees should not be planted in the open space surrounding the building as per Vastu Shastra. Except Neem most other trees including Bel emit carbon dioxide at night. Carbon dioxide is harmful to the human being .It is advised that Bel trees must be planted on roadside.