Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vilvam (Bel)

It is always a hunt for the Vilvam leaves during the Shiva Rahtri and Marghazli Poojai. My husband visits each temple in the quest, for Vilvam leaves during this time frame...

In the mean time, I inquire for the Vilvam plant in all the the nurseries that I visit.....I was so involved in the search of the Vilvam plant to the extend of, even my colleagues were sourcing out with their contacts... and finally 3 months ago, one of my colleague, got me not 1 but 2 plants which his mother n law bought from her contact....

What was interesting was, that during this search, I was explaining what was Vilvam, the significance of the leave to Lord Siva, so much so that, my colleagues are also now looking for Vilvam to plant and use the leaves for the prayers..

I visit these plants that I have planted, daily after work and pray that they'll survive. And now, finally both the trees are growing, 1 tree is growing much healthier than the other one. I pray both the trees will grow well. In fact I've used 3 leaves for the New Year prayer, on the 13th April ... I was so over joyed, that I could finally be able to shower Vilvam leaves to my precious Sri Lingam...
I know, for next year's Shiva Rahtri, there'll be plenty of Vilvam leaves and I am planning to distribute some to my colleagues...

I have read somewhere that this tree should not be planted in the house premises.....but I guess, it is up to the individual...
Below are some information, I have gathered from the web,
Research Note - Pankaj Oudhia
Bel is an important non-wood forest produce of Chhattisgarh. The forests of all parts particularly the dense forests of southern part of Chhattisgarh are rich in natural population of Bel. As non-wood forest produce, all parts of Bel is collected and supplied to the traders at national and international drug markets. There is a fairly high demand of Bel fruits. Bel is an essential herb in home gardens. It is not under cultivation at commercial level as horticultural crop. Dhamtari, a city situated 70. kms. far from Raipur, is famous market for naturally collected Bel herb. During season, several truckloads of different parts of Bel herb are supplied to traders at Kolkata city every week. The traders at national and international drug markets are well aware of natural occurrence of Bel in Chhattisgarh. For the traditional healers and natives of Chhattisgarh, Bel is a valuable herb. They use the Bel in different worship ceremonies as offering. The natives prefer to plant atleast one Bel tree in their homes because it is common belief among them that the presence of this tree in home gardens make them prosperous and healthy for ever. In order to root out the bad effects of other herbs in home gardens, the natives also plant this tree. In ancient Indian literatures it is mentioned that one should offer the Bel leaves to the Lord Sun (Surya Devta) to make him happy. It is also mentioned that the Lord Sun likes the flowers of Kaner (Nerium sp.) but one Bel leaf is having more potential as compared to thousand Kaner flower. The natives are aware of this information. The natives having financial problem, perform special worship. In this special worship, the Bel leaves are offered to the fire, with uttering of mantras.

Common names of Bel
  • Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese Bael
  • Gujarati Bili, Bel
  • Kanarese Bilva, Belpatra, Malura
  • Sanskrit, Bilva
  • Malayalam, Maaredy
  • Oriya, Belo
  • Tamil, Vilvam
  • English, Wood apple

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Bel is a storehouse of nutrition. A fully ripened bel contains 60 per cent moisture, 0.7 per cent protein, 0.7 per cent fat, 16.2 per cent carbohydrate and 9-20 per cent tannin. It has vitamin C and a small amount of vitamin b-complex, calcium, phosphorous and iron.

Old medical texts mention not only the uses of the fruit but also describe medicines prepared from its roots, tender leaves and flowers. In Ayurveda bel is termed tridosh har- remedy for three disturbances- bile, wind, phlegm.

The raw and ripe fruit have different properties. The former is bitter and pungent, its attributes are light and its potency hot. On the other hand, the mature fruit is sweet, heavy in its attribute and its potency is soothing.

The raw fruit is recommended for persons suffering from gout or arthritis since it generates heat in the body.

The ripe fruit on the other hand is cooling and a sharbat made from its pulp has a cooling effect.

The half-ripe fruit is effective in diarrhoea and dysentery. On the other hand, the effect of the mature or ripe fruit on the digestive system is absolutely different.

Bel is a traditional summer tonic - a soother for disturbed tummies and a cooling pick-me-up that improves sluggish appetite. The ripe fruit is cooling and sharbat made from its pulp wards off heat stroke and other fiery afflictions.

The fruit is high in tannin, an astringent which was commonly added to the water used to wash burns and abrasions.

Bel leaves too being rich in tannin, prove effective in ulcers. The leaves are soaked overnight in water and this water is taken in the morning. It helps to form a coating on the stomach's internal lining and helps in healing ulcers.

Diluted bel pulp with turmeric, sandalwood powder and mustard powder mixed into a paste acts as cleanser and skin toner. This paste is also good for sluggish skin. Apply the paste on the body and leave it for half an hour before a bath. This will help open the pores.

Bel is an effective remedy for spastic colon and chronic constipation. It is used as a laxative. The micro-nutrients of this fruit correct digestive disturbances. About 70 gms of pulp should usually be taken for this purpose. The juice of its leaves when taken with black pepper relieves constipation.

Bel leaves have an extraordinary high chlorophyll content. Like neem, bel is a deep breather: it inhales lots of atmospheric gases like monoxide and exhales a lot of pure oxygen.

This is all from me for now....Anbe Sivam


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


About Baburam’s purity, the Master used to say, “He is pure, pure to the very marrow of his bones.”
Baburam Ghosh (Premonastic Name of Swami Premananda) was born at 11:55 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 December 1861, at Antpur, a village thirty miles from Kolkata. His father, Taraprasanna Ghosh, and mother, Matangini Devi, came from two well-to-do and aristocratic families of the same village.
Baburam studied for a few years in his village and after that his mother sent him to his uncle in North Kolkata to continue his education. Where he was admitted to Banga Vidyalaya, then to Aryan School and finally to Metropolitan School, Shyambazar, where Master Mahashay (M.) was the head master, and Rakhal (Swami Brahamananda) was his classmate.
Baburam first met with Sri Ramakrishna with Rakhal, probably on 8 April 1882.
In 1885 Baburam was preparing for his Entrance examination, but after meeting the Master he cared very little for study. Baburam failed his Entrance examination, when Vaikuntha told Baburam’s bad news to the Master; he made a light of it. “Well”, he said, “that is very good. You have failed to pass; now you are free from all passes.” (In Bengali, “pass” is the same word as “fetter”)
On 7 March 1885 the Master said to M. in front of Baburam: “I have been seeking one who has totally renounced ‘woman and gold’. When I find a young man, I think that perhaps he will live with me; but everyone raises some objection or other.” Baburam had no objection, so the Master called him daradi, the companion of his soul.
Baburam was deemed a proper attendant for Sri Ramakrishna because of his absolute purity. He was one of those fortunate souls whose touch the Master could bear during Samadhi.
After passing away of Master all brother disciples took vows of renunciation at the country home of Baburam at Antpur, Narendra gave Baburam the name “Premananda”, meaning “bliss of divine love”, remembering the Master’s remark that Sri Radha herself, the goddess of love, was partially incarnated in him.
Swami Vivekananda made Swami Premananda the manager of the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order. Apart from his regular worship service, he trained the monks, entertained the devotees and visitors, supervised the kitchen, dairy, and garden, took care of sick monks, collected money for the maintenance of the monastery, and sometimes went on lecture tours.
Swami Premananda’s life depicts how a person acts, and lives in this world after God-realization. His heart swells with love and compassion for people’s suffering, and he acts without any ulterior motive of selfishness. Work turns into worship for him. Sometimes Swami Premananda gave his food to the devotees and went without. Devotees would sometimes come after dinner was over, and he himself would go to the kitchen and start cooking.
Once in the trustee meeting Swami Shuddhananda read the financial report and told Swami Brahamananda that there was a four hundred rupee deficit in connection with the service to the devotees. Swami Brahamananda asked, “Brother Baburam, how shall we tackle this deficit?” Swami Premananda replied, “Maharaj, I have spent this money for serving the devotees, so I shall collect it by begging.”
Because Swami Premananda was so loving to all, he was often referred to as the ‘Mother of the Math’
Swami Premananda was a magnetic and powerful speaker, and he talked based on his experience. Every year from 1913 to 1917, Swami Premananda visited East Bengal. He emphasized Swami Vivekananda’s karma yoga, practical Vedanta, and concluded that the religion of this age is to serve mankind.
A real teacher must be ready to sacrifice himself and to set an example for others. Swami Premananda’s favorite saying was: If you want to be a Sardar (leader), be Sirdar (ready to sacrifice one’s head).
Either because of physical exhaustion in Dhaka or from eating tainted food, Swami Premananda contracted high fever, doctors diagnosed it as kala-azar, a malignant fever that was then difficult to cure and frequently fatal.
On Tuesday, 30 July 1918 Swami Premananda passed away.
Teaching of Swami Premanandaji

“I do not harbour the idea that I am good. I have come to learn. There is no end to learning. May the Master give us right understanding- this is my prayer. By observing the faults of others we gradually become infected by them. We have not come to look at their faults and to correct them. It is only te learn we are here. Lord, Thou art everything. Whom should I scold? Everything is He; there is only a difference in the quantity of dust that covers the gold.”
“If you are convinced that God knows all your needs and will fulfill them, then you don’t have to pray. But many pray to God for the fulfillment of their worldly desires, for material things. Is it not wise too pray to him for the eternal instead of the evanescent?”
“You must build your own character; you must make the whole world your own through love, so that people may find inspiration from your selflessness, renunciation, and purity.”
“What is wanted is character, purity, steadfast devotion to God. If you have them, you will prosper, otherwise you will totally fail.”

Friday, April 11, 2008


Jogindra Nath Roy Chaudhury was born into a well to-do aristocratic family at Dakshineshwar on 30 March 1861. Jogin was sent to a Christian missionary school in Agarpara, a few miles from Dakshineshwar. During his final year of School he met Sri Ramakrishna and began to visit him daily.Jogin left for Kanpur, probably in 1884. He tried for several months to get a job but did not succeed, so he spent most of his time in prayer and meditation. This thing alarmed his uncle, who with family members of Jogin, arranged marriage of Jogin. In spite of his unwillingness to get married, Jogin married for the sake of his mother. After marriage Jogin and his wife never slept in the same bed. Later, Swami Vivekananda remarked, “If anyone amongst us who has conquered lust in all respects, it is Jogin”. Sri Ramakrishna mentioned that six of his disciples, including Jogin, were Ishwarkotis.

A few weeks after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Jogin left for a pilgrimage with Holy Mother. Jogin and other young disciples of the Master took final vows of renunciation, Jogin became Swami Yogananda. Yogananda did not care much for studying. He loved to be in solitude, and would practise japam and meditation for many hours.
In 1891 Yogananda went to Varanasi, where he lived in a small cottage in a solitude garden. He spent most of His time in meditation.
Because Yogananda was pure like the ever-free Shukadeva, the Master engaged him to do errands for Holy Mother. “Jogin and Sharat belong to my inner circle,” said Holy Mother, “None loved me as did Jogin. If anybody would give him any money, he would save it, saying, ‘Mother will use it for her pilgrimage’.
From 1895 to 1897 Yogananda arranged the birth anniversary festival of Sri Ramakrishna on a large scale at Dakshineshwar. In 1898 he organized a similar celebration at Dahn’s temple complex of Belur. On 1 may 1897 Vivekananda inaugurated the Ramakrishna Mission at Balaram Basu’s house in Kolkata. He made Swami Brahmananda president and Swami Yogananda Vice-President, of the Ramakrishna Order.
Yogananda led an ideal life, and he taught by his example. He did not lecture or do any spectacular work. Although married and born into a rich family, he demonstrated how to practise renunciation and purity.
Swami Yogananda passed away in Samadhi at 3:10 p.m. on 28 March 1899.
When Yogananda breathed his last, Holy Mother burst into tears and said, “My Jogin has left me - who will now look after me?” Swami Vivekananda was so stunned that he did not go to the cremation ground, grief stricken, Swamiji did not go to Sri Ramakrishna’s shrine for three days. He remarked, “A beam is down and now the rafters will fall one after another.”

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam

Me and my friend, were talking the other day, and the topic somehow drifted to detachment.... DETACHMENT...Yeap, we are so attached to many things in our lifes... My husband, My children, My family,My career, My achievements and the list is endless....What have Sri Ramakrishna said about DETACHMENT, to people like us, who are known as the householders......Below are some that I have gathered :

Detachment in everyday life: This is what Sri Ramakrishna said to M,on how to live in the world.

Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all - with wife and children, father and mother - and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.

A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her master’s children as if they were her own. She even speaks of them as ‘my Rama’ or ‘my Hari’. But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all.

The below are also from Sri Ramakrishna :

Live in the world like a mud fish. Do your duties in the world. Fix your mind on God.

Develop a strong sense of renunciation. Give up at once to what you know to be unreal—name, fame, position, wealth, etc.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Swami Brahmananda (1863-1922)
For today, I have posted on Swami Brahmananda, who is also known as the `Spiritual Son' of Sri Ramakrishna.
Swami Brahmananda was the first president of the Ramakrishna Order. Known as Rakhal Chandra Ghosh in his premonastic days, he was born at Sikra, a village near Calcutta, on the 21st January 1863, of aristocratic parents. During the High School days of Calcutta he came into contact with Narendranath ( Swami Vivekananda ) which developed into an intimate lifelong friendship.
Even from his child hood days he was given to devotional moods bordering on mysticism, which naturally led to indifference to studies. His father got him married at an early age to ward off the religious pursuits from his mind and fix him up in the world. Strange to say, this very tie of marriage brought him to Sri Ramakrishna who at once recognized in him his `spiritual Son' as per the vision vouchsafed to him by the Divine Mother.
Thus started a course of spiritual intimacy and intensive training under the loving care of the Guru, which resulted in several exalted mystic moods and spiritual experiences. After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna, Rakhal , along with Narendra and other brother-disciples, embraced monastic life under the name `Swami Brahmananda.' He spent several years as a wandering monk, visiting places of pilgrimage and practicing severe austerities.
A little before the return of Swami Vivekananda from the West, he came back to the Baranagore Math and started living there. After his return and establishing the Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Vivekananda made over the responsibility of running the organization, to him remembering that Sri Ramakrishna had once remarked that Rakhal had the capacity to rule a kingdom. His uncanny sense in solving even knotty problem and spiritual eminence of Himalayan heights took the organization to new levels of glory and development. It was a long stewardship marked by work and worship remarkably blended together. During his tenure as the Head, he also guided many earnest spiritual seekers by taking them under his protection, thus fulfilling Swami Vivekananda's prophetic remark that Swami Brahmananda was veritably a spiritual dynamo. He passed away on 10th April 1922.


Initiation into a mantra helps concentration of mind; otherwise your mind will change and fluctuate.

The mind is susceptible to suggestions. It learns whatever you teach it. If through discrimination you can impress upon it the joy and fullness of life in the spirit and the folly of worldly attachments, then your mind will devote itself more and more to God.

The way of steadying and purifying the mind is to retire into solitude, control all cravings and engage yourself in contemplation and meditation.

Work and worship must go hand in hand... Why are you afraid of work? Work for Him. You can overcome all disinclination for work if you consider it as dedication to God.
Taken from a book by Swami Harshanandaji, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, India