A little bit about the one of the most favorite things of Lord Shiva (Bel Patra).
The famous Bilvashtakam extols the virtues of the vilva leaf and Shiva’s love for it. Why is the vilva so revered? By common knowledge, we know that the tree has been held sacred for many millennia and offerings made to Shiva are incomplete without vilva leaves. There are many symbolisms attributed to this leaf: the trifoliate leaves or tripatra are believed to represent various trinities – creation, preservation and destruction; or the three gunas or qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas; or the three syllables that make up AUM, the primordial sound that resonates Shiva’s essence. The three leaves are also considered to indicate Mahadeva’s three eyes, or the trishul, his emblematic weapon.
tridalaṃ triguṇākāraṃ trinĕtraṃ ca triyāyudhaṃ
trijanma pāpasaṃhāram ĕkabilvaṃ śivārpaṇaṃ
I offer one leaf of Bilva to Lord Shiva
Which has three leaves (a Bilva leaf has 3 leaves as a cluster)
Which represents the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas, Tamas)
And represents three eyes of Shiva
Which is like the triad of weapons he bears
And whose very thought or uttering of names destroys one’s accumulated sins.
The Bilvashtakam chant has been very dear to me from the time I first heard it 7 years ago and has always been absolutely overwhelming in my experience, bringing tears of inexplicable ecstasy each time!
Have you listened to it? What’s your experience?