Bel Tree (Wood Apple)

June 3rd, 2020 by Jashodhara Purkayastha

Four decades ago my mother-in-law planted a Bel tree near our flat. It grew into a big tree full of Bilva patra(Bel leaves) and bears fruits throughout the year. The bel fruits take almost a year to ripen. It is smooth and light green in colour when tender and turns yellow when ripe. It has a speciality of its own; it drops down automatically when ripe. The fruit is yellow in colour with lots of seed and it is a fibrous fruit. After breaking the outer part of the fruit, pulp can be extracted. Though it is a labourious task to separate seeds from the fruit, yet it is refreshing and used as medicinal drink.The tree is thorny and evergreen.My mother once said, that Nandi (The Bull) and Bhiringi(Bhrigu) clean up the place under the Bel tree That is why you will find that there are no leaves under the Bel tree.The leaves are trifoliate and very smooth. It is said that Bilvapatra is used for diabetic patients. Once a man came and asked me, “Can I take some leaves from the tree”? I thought, my tree is full of leaves, let him take few. I answered, “Yes you can take”. One day, during the dawn, I saw the same man with a stick in his hand. I was watching him from inside. Suddenly, I saw that he was trying to pull the raw fruit from the tree. I really got annoyed and asked him, “That day you took permission for the leaves but today, you are hitting the tree so hard. Don’t you know that trees get hurt and they cry? Please throw the stick at once”. The man answered with a low voice, “I know, they get hurt & I thought you were sleeping. I’m a diabetic patient and raw juice is very good for diabetes. The juice of the leaves is good for ulcers and intestinal aliments and very soothing for the eyes. The fresh leaves act as a mild laxative in fever. The root is used to cure heart palpitation. The bark of the tree is also used for intestinal aliments. It is said that the bel fruit juice is used in curing diarrhoea, dysentery and used as a laxative”. Listening to all the advantages, I greeted him with a Namaskar and said, “if you can climb on the tree, you can take one”. “I’m an old person. I cannot climb on the tree even. This is a thorny tree”. the man said with a low voice. I went inside but couldn’t see whether he took or not. Next day ,in the evening, he came near my window and called me. I told him,”you can take leaves or fruit whatever you want. He said, “if you don’t mind,I want to tell you two sentences about its religious values.The religious value of bilvapatra is that without these leaves worship of Lord Shiva is incomplete. One offers bel leaf (with three leaves) to Shiva. It should be kept on the Shiva linga with its back facing upwards and stalk pointing towards the worshipper”. I smiled and said ,”The intention is to draw the combined energy from these three leaves towards oneself”. I could not see him for some weeks. I was little worried and look for him here and there. A month later, he came for leaves. I asked him, “What happened to you? Are you not feeling well? Where is your family members?” He smiled. His answer surprised me a lot. He said, ” From last, few years, I always prayed to God that, I want to see Lord Shiva before my death. Today when I was sleeping, I saw a man with a robe in front of me. My bed was fully lighted with the rays”. I curiously asked him,” was he a thief”? He smiled and said,” Lord Shiva came near me today and said, you always wanted to see Me. I’ve come here to meet you. Lord gave some rays on my head and disappeared.” The man said, “You helped me a lot with bel leaves and with it’s a fruit” and said goodbye and went away. I was smiling in my mind that Lord Shiva had left His tiger skinned dress now and started wearing a robe! 🤔 He knew that today’s people loved such dress. In the afternoon, people from the area ran towards the gate and found that the same man had collapsed. People try to take him to the hospital but he left his last breath there. I don’t know whether God comes or not but I have a similar wish to see Him once before my death. When I heard about the man who died on the spot, I just thought that man might have died when he was talking to me. Thinking about the incident, I opened my door. Immediately, my neighbour also opened her door and told me about the demise of the same man in the afternoon. I replied to her, “It can’t be possible. He came near my bel tree and talked to me regarding bel tree and its flowers. I can’t believe that he died in the afternoon”. I told my neighbour, “everyday morning while praying, I ask God to forgive me if I have done anything wrong with anyone. Today morning, I saw a yogi on a video.I thought, how can the yogi collected so much energy within. Then the thought came in mind that everything may be possible if we know & trust our inner energy. We can join the outer and inner energy to know the hidden energy within. The soul can travel but come as the same body is really unexplored till date”. We both smiled at each other and closed the door. I went near the window and watched my bel tree lovingly and just promised in my mind that from today, this tree belonged to everyone. When everything of this tree is useful for mankind, why I should use it selfishly. “Save Tree, Save Humanity”

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