We have all noticed that when a dog experiences indigestion, it eats grass and throws up to gets its stomach clear. It is an instinctive action which none has taught it. The metabolism in the dog drives it to search for the grass. And most importantly it is no ordinary grass the dog looks out for Durva grass which is commonly known as Bermuda grass.
The botanical name of this grass is Cynodon Dactylon. In the West it is considered as a weed and there are so many means to eradicate it. We here in India have given it a special place. It is one of the most important components of ritualistic worship of Ganesha, the God of Wisdom.
To make us understand the importance of this grass our puranas have given us a story too.
It was the time when a Asura (Demon) was in his atrocious high. He had a unique talent of spitting fire and burning down everything and everyone around him. For his ghastly act he was called “Analasura”. Anala in Sanskrit is fire. This Asura created havoc and terrified the inhabitants of all the three worlds. Unable to withstand the outrage the Suras (Divine Beings) went to Ganesha requesting him to save them from the Asura.
Ganesha took the Cosmic form and swallowed the Asura in one gulp. Analsura started to emit fire within the stomach. As Ganesha had assumed the Cosmic form the heat inside the stomach reflected on the universe and the whole terrene started to feel the heat.
Now it was the tremendous task for Devas to cool the fire in the stomach.
First it was the turn of the Moon to cool him down. The attempt went futile. Lotus which Maha Vishnu was holding and the Snake around the neck of Maharudradeva too failed to bring chill in the stomach of Ganesha. Then the Saptarishis (Seven Sages) brought Durva grass from Bhuloka (Earth) and placed it on the stomach of Ganesha. Immediately the whole of the cosmos could feel the cool. Durva grass according to ancient Rishis is the strand of hair of Virat Purusha. There is Durva Sukta in Krishna Yajurveda.
Ayurveda and Siddha school of medicine has recognized the medicinal values of this Durva grass and are using it in preparing their medicine.
Charaka, the father of Ayurveda refers to Durva grass as the complexion promoter and is titled it as “Sahasra virya” denoting its thousand fold strength and versatility in use, such as complexion enhancer, astringent, moisturizer, demulcent and cooling for the skin.
The coolness in the Durva grass is good for eyes and is therefore regarded as a good ophthalmic drug.
Today, Bhadrapada Shukla Astami is Durva Astami.