We’ve just returned to Rasa Ayurveda after leading a group of women from Chicago on a learning expedition to Medicine Mountain in Tamil Nadu. The great Indian epic, the Ramayana, tells the story of Lord Rama and his servant Hanuman, the monkey God who is the embodient of service and devotion.
In the Ramayana, Hanuman travels to Mount Sanjeevani in the Himalayas known for its vast variety of living medicines to find and harvest a rare flowering plant for Rama’s army physician. He looks and looks, only to see many plants that more-or-less fit the description of the one he needs to carry. Time is of the essence, so Hanuman scoops up the entire top of Sanjeevani, just to make sure he has the correct plant. In one famous leap, Hanuman flies across the entire length of India and across the Indian Ocean to the island of Sri Lanka to deliver his precious cargo. As he passed overhead, it’s said Hanuman dropped a clod of earth, which now stands as Medicine Mountain, 300 feet high and studded with countless medicinal plants.
On Medicine Mountain, Sanju introduced many medicinal botanicals, including the sacred Koovalam (Aegle mermelos), a perennial small tree now on Kerala’s endangered plants list. (In our work thru The Muthashi Project, we hope to take action to help propagate this rare and valuable botanical.)
The fruits of the Koovalam tree are astringent and regulate digestion in cases of diarrhea and dysentery. Koovalam has also been used traditionally as a cardiac depressant, and a powder of the bark is used to poison fish.
The Koovalam tree is sacred to Lord Shiva and the tree is often planted on temple grounds. It is never planted near homes, however, because of its sacred and sensitive nature. Devotees of Lord Shiva lucky enough to have access to a few leaves of Koovalam will no doubt be offering light green garlands this Friday night on Shiva Rathri, the annual Night of Shiva, celebrated by all who worship MahaShiva who is one of the three main Hindu deities.
While our main goal for the trek was to study the rare medicinal plants on the mountain, we also a taste of perfect bliss in a small Shiva temple one of many pilgrimage spots along the mountain trail where I led the group in intoning the primal mantra OM. The deep resonance of spiritual energy and pure vibration we experienced together within the cave walls cannot adequately be described in words!
We’ve now returned to Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre, where all the participants are settling in for an extended period of residential traditional Ayurvedic treatment, and quiet study of Ayurveda. As these women learn about Ayurveda’s value for every stage of a woman’s life, we are appreciating that this particular group includes women of all ages, from twenty-something to grandmother hood! Thanks are due to Sandia Bachman, the group catalyst for this special 14-day Women’s Ayurveda Retreat. Sandia is a yoga teacher and new practitioner of Ayurveda from the Chicago area, who’s always looking for beautiful ways to be of service to nature and humanity. Thank you Sandia for bringing such a lovely group of women together at Rasa Ayurveda!
Wishing you all the Blessings of our Mother Earth~
Niika Quistgard, CAS, Managing Director
MayaShakti Ayurveda, Pvt. Ltd.