Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shakambari- Poornima

Shree Matre Namaha
Dedicated to : Shree Devi Shakambari –Mother of Grains, Greens –All Food
for Shakambari Poornima 19th Jan 2011
It is said that in times of famine, Goddess Durga comes down and gives vegan food, (shaaka comes from Sanskrit. means vegetables and vegan food. Ambari means one who wears or bears) , to the hungry. That is why she is called "Shaka" + "Ambari" = 'Shaakambhari'.
Actually Shakambhari comes from Shakam joined with the root Bhri(Shaka = vegetables or food and root bhri = to nourish)

Share & Care is within reach--and in many ways -No doubt,very sobering thoughts at the beginning of a new year, but this Cooperative Effort for Collective benefit of Mankind is what is what have to factor in.Sankaranti ushers in a new period of rejuventaion and so we take up the Yajna Spirit. We in India Culture actually developed the Yajna Principle-applicable to all walks of life viz.Work, Share Cooperate, Receive ...Give--- back cycle...

Today whether it is tree planting or water conservation,the Yajna Principle is seen
Sustainable Living and Working will be the only way to deal with challenges Ahead- 

Introduction Part 1-
The term “BAHUVIDA YAJNA” is  prescribed in our Scriptures. This approach benefits all as wealth produced therefore goes to the collective benefit of the entire world and all its denizens and thereby the “balance of nature” without exploitation, misuse or abuse gets established.  Ecology, Environmental protection, etc. have been recognised in the last two decades after the last century of gross misuse of all resources resulting in de-forestation, pollution, water scarcity, floods, droughts, temperature changes – global warning, etc.
All this has been “Scientifically” recorded and acknowledged. 

When we-family, organisation, or society work together in a “Cooperative Endeavour” the collective enterprise becomes a Yajna; the outcome  is “Lok-Sangraha” which helps all. 
Co-operation is at several planes and is not confined to the material plane only. 
Thus subtle plane of existence and the powers that rule over are respected in the Panch Maha Yajnas. This is the path of long term good for all-  “Shreyas”.   

Modern Management often refers to this as “Sustainable Development” and thereby the  Interdependence of Man and Nature which is an expression of the Divine as Natures balance (Prakruti) in so many forms is established..Thus ‘Yajna’ is seen as the “Kamadhenu”-- that fulfils all needs.All this, extends the Spirit of Yajna to a state of  economic importance. i.e. the Artha aspect of the Purusharthas.

The principle of Parasparam is best illustrated in –
annad bhavanti bhutani
parjanyad anna-sambhavaha
yajnad bhavati parjanyo
yajnah karma-samudbhavaha
from Srimad Bhagavad Gita 3.14
“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.”
Understanding parasparam bhava and Yajna
The Growth of a blade of Grass- sees the following all supporting and Cooperating.
1) Earth gives space to support growth. 
2) Wind & Birds help in spreading the seeds. 
3) The Sun - Rivers- Sea – Ocean, in fact all water bodies jointly workout an Evaporation & Condensation cycle  for  Rain clouds.
4) Finally again the Wind assists to blow clouds across and then these Rain showers spread across to help it grow. 
                                 These  pics taken in my garden teach me this lesson so well.
From the genesis of sowing a seedling, germination, formation the growth of a single  blade of grass gets this benevolent assistance from all of Mother Nature- Surely we all can take the lead from this simple example-


Friday, January 28, 2011

Trees , Plants & Herbs of traditional kitchen gardens of South India esp Kanaras

3) Add in the cooking herbs and plants  viz. Vaali ( the creeper of leaf spinach), Bimbla, Sasambara ( Karpooravalli)  - Karavi pillai (Curry-patha)  and few more like the large Cucumber on the stalk -vine.  Fruit trees to suit local conditions like Guava & Chickoo ( Sapota). This almost gives a complete Kitchen Garden  to live on.
4) Homes, Temples- Fields, Garden and work places all were in close proximity of each other  and our forefathers lived in close contact with Nature.
5)Will we some day go back to this way as Metros have become overcrowded, very  costly and suffocating; more difficult to live in and manage, especially as we age. 

For study -thought.
                                                                 Our Puttur Temple-
                                                       Shreemath Anantheshwar, Vithal-

Mangalore  city has  changed much in the last 10 years ..
Heritage Buildings almost all lost --now in debris---and yet in these narrow lanes--- esp. Hampankatta-GT Road  these Temples alone stand testimony to yester year --
Thank GOD

Roads have improved and Hampankatta sees  a good concrete road now.
In most areas we found the roads have been improved finally.
Motoring along is much better and easier now.
Modern constructions springing up all over sees over development -over crowded..
However when we go outside the city limits, it  is still so scenic, peaceful and clean; 
trees laden with jackfruit and  mangoes of several varieties. The overall cover of vegetation with sheer lush greenery ..rivers,  water fed green fields gives an ambience which is always me with a experience of being  rested and rejuvenated .
All these are relatively clean and unpolluted areas. 
There is a simple quietude here that takes us to the Divinity of Nature.  
Mother nature in all her splendour. 

The early monsoon rains washes away the dust frequently;the land does not have the arid look seen in many places in Tropical India  ...of the heat and dust!!
These  places with their simple way of  life is still very good.
Life is slow and peaceful.
There is time to stop and  appreciate--

Also, as the  poet said on Flowers " A thing of Beauty is a Joy for ever "  
Below -Pic taken of Bimbla tree at Jogeshwari on 22nd Jan 2011-(tree was not yet in fruit)-
Bimbla - the home grown sour fruit used for Pickles and in cooking in South.

Tree was not yet in fruit-
Hence fruits pic from sites, with  their kind courtesy: 

PIC: File:Averrhoa_bilimbi_fruit_by_Sugeesh.jpg

Note: Also refer to this site on Bilimba-

BILIMBI (Averrhoa Bilimbi)-pic from a site on fruit trees 
Bilimbi click to Enlarge

This fruit is shaped like a miniature cucumber and 2 to 3 inches long. It is yellow when ripe. Fruit is sour and used as a relish or for pickling. Tree is upright and decorative. Will get 15 to 20 feet and and 10 feet wide.
The Amla -India Gooseberry is shown below, is a different variety seen throughout India and is extensively used in Ayurveda. 
The  gooseberry called "Nellikai" in Tamilnadu  is a different species, as in pic below. 
                                                Pic. credit to calender of Shree Sathya Inst.
Typical home in Kanaras- from my Archives.

The Kitchen Garden and trees provided most of the daily needs- The Rice came from the fields.
Gobar gas (from the home plant) was used for cooking -very efficient. Every part was used-
The best example is seen in the coconut tree which is a classic example of maximum intelligent usage and with no wastage. A Coconut is used daily for for adding in many dishes inc sweets and savouries, the tender coconut is a cooling drink, the item most used  in poojas and in offerings at Temples, copra for crushing out cooking oil , dry leaf stem for making brooms, dry branches for fuel, outer shell for coir fibre-- in many ways inc carpets, mats etc .
The Humble Coconut   provides for an industry all by itself-
 Plucking Mangoes from a tree -my Aunt showing my Grandson : in my Uncles house in Udipi
The Mango is a veritable delight-used in cooking and juices, in pickle making and even dried and eaten .
                                                   Pic. credit to calender Shree Sathya Inst.
 Tulasi at the front of the house entrance- a  lamp is lit to symbolise: "Tamaso ma Jyotir Gamaya"
(At Chennai 2010. in the compound of our old house, our neighbours still maintain tradition ) 

Mango trees in bloom and fruit in 2009 May -
At my uncle's house, in Udipi  
The cow comes  daily for Rice Kanjee and water . 
My grandson Keshav at my Uncles house, Udipi -having fun in the garden.
Children who experience this life are so elated-contact with the Divime Nature
Traditional homes  -
this pic is of the house where we lived in Puttur, 65 years ago, remains unchanged. 
My parents were married here in 1944.The Tulasi pot in red in the front of the house and the kitchen garden at the side is symbolic of a time tested way of Life.

City-Metro life and the old world living in smaller towns and villages of India !
Q:Why do we tend to forget our life with the pristine Nature 
Q:Why do we confine ourselves indoors and  grow up in a tech-gadget  world ?  
Frankly, feel this contact with Nature all helps to develop sensitivityto the world around us . 
It is more useful in fostering  Eco- protection attitudes- Earth Day -Environment -Green Peace and all-will gain.Children  love this-  

Even a few plants in pots on a porch or verandah is a good gardening  start and brings in much beauty and joy. The ambience is also much improved. This project has taken off in Chennai with Veg gardens now after a family at Mylapore initiated the Project---
possible even on a terrace or balcony.
Let this love of nature not be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life today?

Temple &Tree Tour, Part 3 at Jogeshwari-


The Oudamber  and the  Ashwattha tree are dear to all of India. 
The former viz.Oudamber especially to Maharashtra, which has so many saints and shrines dedicated to Shree Datta Guru -Dattatriya. This tree &fruit is symbolic in  Datta Guru  Sadhana. -

The Ashwattha all over in India in Chp X in the Viboothi Yoga- 
Sri Krishna's Upadesh:"In the trees, I am the Ashwattha tree".

All pics taken at Jogeshwari, Mumbai.

Some botanical details from the site below are reproduced-from E-How?
Ficus Racemosa Tree Description


  1. Ficus racemosa is the botanical name of this tree; it is also sometimes known as Ficus glomerata. The common names are cluster fig, clustertree, country fig, redwood fig, Indian fig, crattock and ju guo rong.


  2. Cluster fig is a tropical plant 


  3. Ficus racemosa can grow over 40 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide.


  4. Plant Ficus racemosa in a location that receives full sun to part shade.


  5. The oval leaves measure 3 to 4 inches long and are dark green. Because it is an evergreen tree, it does not lose its leaves.


  6. The fruit of Ficus racemosa is 3/4 inch to 2 inches long, circular and grows directly on the trunk.
Read more: Ficus Racemosa Tree Description |
I had taken pics of this Tree at Jogeshwari and close up of fruits on zoom effect on 22nd Jan 2011 -See below:

Bamboo tree -shoots grown - The Bansuri is made from the Bamboo.
The Ashwattha Tree in Jogeshwari at the Rameshwar temple -
  1. Ficus Religiosa- 

    Characteristics by Hazel Morgan, e-How Contributor

  2. Ficus religiosa is also known as the bo-tree, peepul tree and sacred fig
  3. Ficus religiosa is part of the Ficus genus, in the Moraceae family.
  4. The tree prefers full sun and hot climates and has a shallow root system. Its native environment is the Indian subcontinent (Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Indochina (Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). It is cultivated worldwide.
  5. Ficus religiosa is semi-evergreen which grows up to 90 feet tall and nine feet in diameter. Leaves are roughly four to seven inches long, heart-shaped with a long, extended tip. Its small fruit grow green and ripen to purple. 
  6. Characteristics of Ficus Religiosa |

Adding in the Badam tree pic taken at Santa cruz-colony.
Remarkable to see trees such as this all flourish in the city -cared for and protected GOD BLESS.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Temple and Tree Tour Part 2

Mumbai Nagar Chalo-
TREE WALK -TOUR See pictures esp at Jogeshwari in Part 2.
Oudamber tree with berries-
Mango tree with flowers before it blooms, Bamboo, Banana & Bimbla tree.
Ashwattha and Banyan trees all across-  everywhere in Mumbai areas seen.
Even a Nagalinga "Champe" Tree with fruit which is called the  Cannonball tree as the fruit resembles a cannonball, in a Flat to a height of 4 floors. 
The Marvels of nature to behold is truly wonderful. 
So many wonderful trees in a crowded city - Manifestation of the Divine-
"Om Shree Prakruti Namaha" --Salutations to the kind Mother and plants all having the care and  Blessings of the local guardian deities at ShreeRameshwar Mandir nearby,  plus the very eco friendly residents of Jogeshwari. 

Offerings pushpam, patra and oil at Kala Bhairava -Lord Shiva's Guardian form ( Ghora Roopa )-
Namasthe Shiva Roopaya Bhairavaya
Ashwattha "Sthala Vriksha" at entrance-Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chp X, Viboothis of the Divine: 
states "In the Trees - I am the Ashwattha Tree"
My respects and credit to the local residents who had the foresight to plant such a wide range of trees and care for them through the last 50 years -Salutations .

WE returned late night 25th quite tired ..exhausted really-with our health limits;  
But happy with the Mumbai nagar Chalo--must try again.

The genius of life is to carry the spirit of childhood into old age.”
~ Aldous Huxley 
Offering prayers at Shree Hanuman Vigraha (Saturday)
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Outside Shree Rameshwar Mandir

 Oudamber tree with Fruit Vegetation at Jogeshwari
 Bimbla tree

Vegetation at Jogeshwari
Vegetation at Jogeshwari

 Nagalinga -'Nag Champe' tree at Goregaon, with fruit

Temple and Tree Tour in Mumbai -- Part 1.

28th Jan 2011.
Tree Tours in Mumbai -sounds very unfamiliar, when we think of this very crowded city with skyscrapers , but yes in this city  we saw so much Greenery in some places and starting with the colony in Jogeshwari; then at  Goregaon and earlier in Vile Parle too- please do read on-
Mumbai Nagar Chalo---Part 1
We just returned from Mumbai after  a short trip from 22nd -25th Jan 2011.
It was a nostalgia tour for my wife Sudha, who had spent part of  her child hood  there and her earlier Jogeshwari residence (1953- to 1962) which is intact and well maintained
Then to the Rameswar Mandir Saunsthan Temple, which is located just off the bustle and turmoil of a Main junction and  maintained by Kavale Math. This Mandir is dedicated to  Lord Shiva &Shree Ram. Before the sanctum sanctorum we have Nandi Vahana, the Kurma symbol, Shree Ganesh & Shree Parvati Devi; and outside  in the courtyard small shrines and vigrahas of  Sitala Devi Shree Hanuman, Shree Kala Bhairava and to Naga Devata with  the Ashwattha Sthala Vriksha at the entrance.
The temple is well maintained in the pristine order of a quiet Saraswat Settlement of Kanaras of early 50s -really quite unbelievable, with all the Trees that I could ever imagine- and sheltered in a city --no shops or disturbances on that Road. As it turned out, Mumbai is indeed a city with so many surprises and etreme opposites of old and new, side by side. I really never though thought  I will ever do a Tree Tour or Walk in Mumbai -See pics. Some what similar Trees seen also at Vile Parle & Goregaon too


 TREE PICS See Part 2-

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Panchavati - "5 trees" culture-

-Om Vrikshanan Pataye Namaha -
-- Om Harikeshe Namah
The Sri Rudram, Shree VS & Shree LS is replete with Divinity manifested in Nature -
eg. Om Jagat Vyapine Namaha in Shiva Ashtottara-73rd namavalli. 
The Divine Physician in Lord Shiva, as in Shree Dakshinamurty stotra is always depicted seated  under  a Vata Vriksha (Banyan Tree), Shree Guru Datta Triya in Oudamber, Shree Vishnu in Ashwattha, Lord Shiva with Bilwa and Vanni. Shree Mahalakshmi under a Bilwa tree in namvalli: --Om Shree Bilwa Nilaya Namaha.   .

The Panchavati Tree culture, planted in sacred spots and where possible  in our society provides a comforting resting place for one and all and helps to restores our balance- peace of mind and health in the midst of turmoil of present day life-esp in crowded metros. In fact doing pranayama or just deep breathing under a tree is most rejuvenating.It clears our lungs and purifies us. 
They are grown and well cared for in many remote locations in simple South Indian  Temple areas.
The ambience here is so calm and quiet- and devotees who spend a little time in doing Pradakshinas can  feel this effect  in such a natural surrounding-and are Rejuvenated .
Namaskar----Om Vrikshe Namaha 

These five trees should be planted where ever possible .
The five trees are:
1 Bilwa (Aegle marmelose)
2 Shami (Vanni) (Acacia ferruginea)
3 Ashwattha (Arali) (Ficus religiosa)
4 Margosa (Nimba/ Neem) (Azadirachta indica)
5 Audumbara (country fig) (Ficus racemosa)
All above trees have been covered in the earlier Blog posts
Note:  Ashoka , Banyan, and Amla trees are taken in this group in some texts -and now being covered in this series. All trees are precious.
The Dance of Divinity (note inspired by a pravachan in CCMT).
The dancing and swaying of trees esp tall coconut trees in the wind is a beautiful sight.
Observe the trees and plants on a windy day or when a gentle breeze sets in. The long branches and leaves resemble the hair -locks of Lord Shiva in Sri Rudram.
The 5 Elements, the very Earth- sand, stone & clay and all in which the roots of a tree are grounded, the sun that keeps us all alive, all animals, birds, insects.We humans are a part of this eco system.This Cosmic vision is what our ancients saw in all of Nature –Prakruti; thus eco systems was not just revered, but also reverently Worshipped, as Manifestations of the Divine.
Om Shree Prakruti Namaha
From an Authority source on Tree Culture:
QUOTE" Though it is customary to call any place with a variety of flowering and evergreen trees a Panchvati, the term actually refers to a group of five trees which possess certain medicinal properties. These trees, besides providing the needed thick shade, exude a variety of "pheromonal secretions" which are capable of cleaning environmental pollutions and mental pollutions in  human beings, in addition to having high herbal and medicinal qualities. 
In most villages a large platform is built around any of these five species in particular around ashwatha, neem and audambara which form the nerve centre of many social, religious and community activities of the village.
It is believed that the minds of the decision makers squatting under the Panchavati trees are purified by the air they breathe while on these platforms.UNQUOTE
At Shree Marundeeshwar Temple, Chennai
At  Shree Rama Temple Mavungal Kanhangad
 At Shirdi - the Neem Tree "Nimba" place of of Shree Sai Baba   - (pic from a pilgrimage site)
Ashwattha trees at Gulwady Village (Karnataka) -near Shree Hanuman Temple  and our Family Nagakatte.
The Vanni Tree at  at Shree Marundeeshwar Temple Chennai
Panchavati in truth is an inexhaustible place for rejuvenation therapy on earth.
The Panchavati trees have been a source of inspiration for many of our saints and sages.
Om Vrikshe  Namha.
dt Thursday 20th January 2011