Thursday, February 9, 2017

960. Kusha, the Divine Grass....!

There is a grass which is held in high regards by one section of people following Sanatana Dharma. Its botanical name is Desmostachya bipinnata and  commonly known in English as Halfa grass. It is found in damp marshy and low-lying areas. Normally Hindus always keep them in their houses. It is used in auspicious ceremonies to purify. It grows to a height of about two feet and is thinly pointed at the top. It has extremely rough surface and if rubbed the wrong way, it can cut through the skin. 

The Sanskrit word for it is Kusha meaning sharp may be keeping in the view that it does have sharp edge. The one who fetch this grass for the ceremonies was also referred as Kushala (expert).  This grass is used since Vedic period and is considered a sacred plant. It is believed to block the positive energy accumulated by sitting in the seat of silence from draining out of body into ground. It is also believed that Bhagavan Buddha had spread this grass under him while he was sitting under Bodhi Tree. In Ayurveda this grass is regarded as having medicinal value. It is used to treat dysentery and menorrhagia. It is used as diuretic too. 

It is said to have originated at the time of Samudra Mathana. There is a belief that this grass is the hair of Varaha the third incarnation of Maha Vishnu.

There is an interesting story on how this grass got the status of being Pavitra vastu (auspicious material) for the rituals. 

 Sage Kashyapa had two wives, Vinata and Kadru. Vinata was the mother of Garuda and Aruna. Kadru was mother of thousand Nagas. Both of them did not get along well. One day they happened to see Uchisravas, the white horse. Vinata expressed her joy of seeing the whiteness. Just for the sake of disagreement Kadru claims that the tail of the horse was black. After a lot of argument they decide to check about it the next day. The bet was that if the tail was indeed black Vinata had to be the slave of Kadru. Kadru knew that she was wrong so she called her thousand Nagas and told them to wrap around the tail of the horse to make it look dark. Thus Vinata becomes a slave to Kadru. When Garuda pleaded the Nagas  to release his mother. Nagas put forth a condition that Vinata would be released if Garuda brought them Amrita (Ambrosia) from the Devaloka (celestial land). 

Garuda brought the ambrosia after overcoming numerous hurdles. Nagas were delighted by the look of Ambrosia. Garuda placed the pot on Kusha Grass. Vinata was set free. The Nagas went to take bath before could Relish Ambrosia. When they return they found the pot missing, Indra had taken it away. 

A few drops of Ambrosia fell on the Kusha Grass. The Nagaa feverishly tried to lick up the drops of Ambrosia that had fallen on the Kusha grass. They didn't get much nectar, but the sharp blades of the grass slit their tongues. Snakes ever since have had forked tongues. Kusha with the few drops of Ambrosia on it became sacred.

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