Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A leaf for the love of the lord

As a country, we are full of little eccentricities, but that is perhaps what makes us so different. Like our country Hinduism as a religion is bestowed and enriched with many little nuggets of wisdom, faith and stories that in some quiet and happy simplistic way seek to reinforce what some of us know and that which some don't.

A very long time ago, we had Bael tree in the house, for some reasons the perfect threesome of the Bael leaf reminded me of the three eyed Shiva and this was at a time when I wasn't really aware that as a tree the Bael was very relevant to Hindus. In my adolescent games, the tree was fun because it was the only fruit that the crows could not crack open, an exercise I watched with a lot of amusement, till the day one of them accidentally managed to drop the fruit and it cracked!

The hardness of the Bael fruit always reminds me of the tradition among st Nepalese people where young girls are married off to the Bael tree. A very hardy tree that can survive many odds, the significance here on its strength can hardly be ignored. It served the purpose of bettering the faith of girls who became widows, because girls married to the Bael were not considered widows, even if their husband dies in reality and were perhaps spared the pathetic life of a widow.

Since time immemorial the Bael leaf has been associated with the worship of Shiva, because the holy trinity of the leaf is supposed to signify the lord's trident. But there is another quite charming story to it. Apparently a hunter after a long tiring day of hunting, fell asleep on a Bael tree. Just below the tree where he slept was a Shiva Linga. Towards the early morning, the dew drops accumulated on the leaves touched the hunter and then rolled down to fall on the head of the Linga. The easy to please Shiva was so happy at the pouring of love even through water that the leaves of the Bael became dear to him.

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