Bilva is a sacred tree and most loved by Lord ShivA. It is called “bael” in hindi and “vilvam” in tamil.
Its fruit is also called “Sri phala”, meaning plenty.
Its fruit is also called “Sri phala”, meaning plenty.
The Bilva tree (Aegle Marmeolus), also called wood apple tree/stone apple tree grows in almost all parts of India, irrespective of the nature of the soil, and is bitter, astringent and dry by nature. Its leaves are used in the worship of Lord Shiva and Goddess Mahalakshmi. Bilva leaves are said to be the vegetal form of Lord Shiva.
A confluence of three leaves (trifoliate) is called “bilva dala”. It is a symbolic representation of Lord Shiva’s weapon Trident (trishool) which destroys the sins of past 3 births. There are also penta-foliate Bilva dalAs having 5 leaves known as panchadaLa patra found on some Bilva trees and we may find 7 or 11 leaves also.
Lighting a lamp under the tree bestows knowledge and enables the devotee to merge in Lord shiva.
1. In “chapter 1.1.21, Shiva PurAnA”, Sage Romaharshana expounds to the sages of naimishaaranya :
Bilva fruit is considered to be an embodiment and manifest form of Lord Shiva himself. It is believed that all the places of pilgrimage dwell at the base of “Bilwa vrukshA” The sacred tree can only be known to a limited extent. Adored by all the Gods, its importance is difficult for anyone to comprehend. If a devotee removes a new leaf from the branches and worships the tree with it then, he would be free from vice.
2. The famous poem “Bilvaashtakam”, Verse 6 says:
“lakshmyaascha stana utpannam mahaadeva sadaa priyam, bilva vriksham prayachchhaami eka bilvam shivaarpaNam”
Born from the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is always dear to Mahadeva. So Lord Lakshmi is also worshipped with an archanA of bilva leaves, especially on Fridays and especially in “shraavan” month. This would shower the worshipper with abundant wealth and prosperity.
3. The “shree sooktam” eulogizes Goddess Lakshmi as…
“aadityavarNE tapasOdhijaatO vanaspatistava vrukshOtha bilvaha
tasya phalaani tapasaa nudantu maayaanta raayaashcha baahyaa alakshmeehi ||”
Oh Lakshmi, who is as bright as the sun, that noble tree, Bilva was brought forth by your devout austerities (tapas). May the fruits of the tree drive away my misfortunes and poverty both internal and external.
In “mahALakshmi ashTotara shatanaama stotram” we find Goddess Lakshmi described as “bilva nilayaM” the one who dwells in the Bilva Tree. -”Bilva nilayAm varArOhAm yashasvinIm”.
4. There is significance of Bilva-leaf in “Lord Venkateshwara” & consort “alamElumangA’s” worship –
To overcome financial problems, devotees chant a powerful “stotrA” called “Shree Venkateswara Mahishi Mahalakshmi Stotram” while offering Bilva leaves.
In Sri Venkateshwara Ashtottara Sathanaamaavali, we find Lord Venkateswara referred to as “Bilvapatraarchana priyaaya nama:”!
At Tirumala temple there is a tradition to worship Lord Venkateswara with Bilva patrAs during “dhanurmaas”corresponding to “dec-jan”and also on Fridays.
5.. In the “atharva vEdA” the Bilva tree is described as being so sacred that its wood may not be burned for fuel.
1. The 1.1.22 Chapter of Maha Shiva Purana narrates ” The trifoliate Bilva Patra is so sacred to Lord Shiva & is therefore a symbol of the Lord. Those who meditate upon Lord Mahadeva in His form of linga at the root of Bilva obtain Moksha & become purified souls by attaining Shiva. Such are the marvels of this sacred Bilva.”
2. The fascinating “Bilvaashtakam” would be the most appropriate poem to learn about the fruits of worshipping Lord Shiva with Bilva leaves.
- tridalam trigunaakaaram trinEtram cha triyaayudham,
trijanma paapa samhaaram Eka Bilwam shivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva,Which has three leaves,
Which causes three qualities, Which are like the three eyes of Shiva
Which is like the triad of weapons, And which destroys sins of three births.
- trishAkhai Bilwapatraishcha achidrai KOmalai Shubai,
Shiva Poojam Karishyami, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, Which has three shoots,
Which do not have holes, Which are good and pretty, And worship Lord Shiva.
- Akhanda Bilwa Patrena Poojithe Nandikeshware,
Shudhyanthi Sarva Papebhyo, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, For if an uncut leaf is offered,
To his steed the god Nandi, We get cleaned of all our sins.
- shaalagraama shilaamEkaam vipraanaam jatha Cha arpayEt,
sOma yagya maha puNyam, Eka Bilwam shivaarpaNam
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, For it is equal to, offering a shaalagraamA to a wise Brahmin,
Or the great blessing got out of performing Soma Yaga,
- danti kOTi sahasraani vaajapEya shataani Cha,
Koti Kanya Maha Danam, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, For it is equal to gifting thousand elephants,
Or the performing of hundred fire sacrifices, Or giving in marriage billions of daughters.
- Lakshmyaashcha stana Utpannaam MahaadEvasya Cha Priyaam,
Bilwa Vruksham Prayachchaami, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, For it is equal to giving a tree of Bilwa,
Which was born from the breast of Lakshmi, And which is very dear to the Lord Shiva.
- Darshanam Bilwa Vrukshasya, sparshanam paapa naashaanam,
aghOra paapa samhaaram, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, As seeing and touching of a tree of Bilwa,
Washes away ones sins.
- Kaashi Kshetra nivaasam cha Kaala bhairava darshanam,
Prayaga Madhavam Drushtwa, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam 8
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, After living in the city of Kaashi,
Seeing the Kala Bhairawa, And also visiting the temple
Of Maadhawa in Allahabad.
- Moolato Brahma Roopaaya, MadhyatO Vishnu RoopiNE
Agrata Shiva Roopaaya, Eka Bilwam ShivaarpaNam.
I offer one leaf of Bilwa to Lord Shiva, As Brahma resides at its bottom,
Lord Vishnu lives in its middle, And Lord Shiva lives in its tip.
- BilwaashTakam idam puNyaam, ya: paTet Shiva Sannidhou,
Sarva paapa nirmuktaa Shiva Loka Maapnuyath.
Reading this holy octet of Bilwa, In the altar of Lord Shiva,
Would save one from all sins, And in the end take him to the shiva LOkA.
3. The one who feeds a devotee under the Bilva will grow in virtue.
a. Ladies and gents can worship Goddess Mahaalakshmi with bilva leaves every Friday and other auspicious days by doing “archanA”.
b. Ladies and gents can do puja to Lord Shiva with bilva leaves.
1. A Garden of Bilva trees (Bilva Vanam) is equivalent to Kaashi kshEtrA. It is very auspicious to have a Bilva tree at home.
2. According to Vastu-Sastra (Science of Architecture or Construction), a house with Bilva Tree in the
North East – Bestows all kinds of wealth & removes unforeseen dangers.
East – Blesses with happiness, peace and good health.
West – Blesses with healthy progeny.
South – Protects from troubles caused due to Yama.
1. While plucking Bilva leaf the following sloka is chanted:
“namastE bilva taravE shree phalOdaya hEtavE
svargaapavarga roopaaya namO moortitrayaatmanE
samsaaraviSHa vaidyasya saambasya karuNaanidhE
archanaartham hariSHyaami tvatpatram tat kshamasva mE
2. A worshipper should offer the three leaves together called Bilva dalam. Make sure that the bilva dala has all the three leaves attached to the stem and that they are uncut.
3. The number of leaves in the bilva dalam should be 3, 5 or 7….i.e. odd number of leaves.
4. Bilva leaves offered once in Shiva Pooja can be re-used or re-offered to God the next day by sprinkling few drops of water on them. A devotee can offer the same Bilva dalam for 15 continuous days. Even though Bilva-leaves become dry, one can still use the dried ones.
1. Bilva leaves must be plucked early in the morning before sunrise.
2. Worship of Shiva with Bilva leaves can be done on PradOsham day and Shivaraatri night to get special blessings of Lord Shiva.
3. The bilva fruit can be plucked early in the morning before sunrise and its pulp can be consumed with buttermilk. This is especially useful the day after Shivaraatri as it is good for the stomach which has fasted and stayed awake the whole previous night.
4. In a conversation between Lord Vishnu and Paarvati which occurs in Shiva Rahasya, named as “Bilva ashtOttara shata stOtram”
“ashTaayaam sOmavaare cha pradhOsha shiva raatrishu,
aardhraayaam guru vaare cha tridalai bilva patrai
ashtotara shatam karyam archanam Shiva mastake ,
tEna swargamavaapnOti Shiva saayujyamaapnuyaat”
If one worships with the three segmented Bilva leaf ,on ashtami (Eighth phase of moon) , Monday , PradhOsha or Shiva raatiri or on star Arudhra or Thursdays with 108 leaves on Lord Shiva’s head, He would go to heaven and would be near Lord Shiva.
1. Based on belief, the changes in nature on the pournami (full-moon) or amaavaasya (new-moon) days are considered to affect the bilva tree. Hence, the leaves of the bilva tree are not plucked on these days.
2. In the Bilvapatra, the Chakra and the Bajra should not be there. The Chakra is a white mark made by the insects on the BilvaPatra, while the Bajra is the thick portion towards the stalk. This part should be broken. The Bilvapatra half-eaten up by the insects is also not considered good for worshipping Shiva.
The “Bilva” tree’s leaves, roots and fruits are highly valued by Ayurvedic science.
In the “Saankhyayana AraNyakA”, chapter 13, verses 4-8, the use of the wood of bilva tree as an amulet or a charm (ornaments worn around neck or hands to ward evils) to protect oneself against diseases, poverty and premature death is emphasised.
In the “Garuda PurANa”, chapter 1.168.46″, bilva is mentioned as one of the “mahat pancha mulAs” meaning one of the 5 great roots which are used as a medicine to promote digestion in kaphaa-vaataa individuals.
“bilva: shONA cha gambhAree paaTalaa gaaNikaarikAnam deepanam kaphavaataghnam panchamoolamidam mahat”
According to Swami Sivananda ,
1.” The unripe fruit is roasted with a covering of mud, and the softened pulp mixed with water and sugar or buttermilk. It is more medicinal than the ripe fruit, particularly if dried in the sun. This is highly beneficial in sub-acute and chronic dysentery or diarrhoea, and is particularly useful in irregularity of bowels in children, because it acts as a mild stimulant to the intestinal mucus membrane and therefore stops diarrhoea, acting as a laxative when there is constipation. The unripe fruit cures indigestion, stomach ache and dyspepsia. It is a healing tree which cures all diseases caused by vaata (wind) and gives strength to the body.”
2. “The fresh juice of the leaves is given with the addition of black pepper in cases of jaundice.”
3. Asthma can be controlled when a mixture of dry bel leaf powder & honey in equal parts is consumed daily
4. The ripe fruit acts as a laxative, and is aromatic and cooling. The juice is an appetiser and blood purifier. The fruit juice made by mixing it with jaggery and cardamom (elaichi) powder helps to quench excessive thirst and also prevents bad breath. Not just that, this drink also can be used in case of bleeding gums.
5. A face pack made of Bel fruit helps in skin tightening..
and much more immeasurable benefits.
Science and spirituality – what a boon to mankind?