I have heard and sung the Bilvashtakam numerous times, and I find it enchanting!
Inspired by deep devotion and the desire to manifest it in a way that expresses me creatively, and driven by deep gratitude and the desire to make an offering, my singing took the form of a dance in front of my puja. I don’t have bilva leaves but in my spontaneous movement I felt like the dancing nourished my whole being, while my body was transformed into the bilva tree, “arising from Lakshmi's body” and offering its vibrant fronds to Shiva!
In incorporating the silence and preciousness of the sacred bilva tree, I recognized myself as a manifestation of the benevolence of the Absolute, and I felt a great love for my beloved Guru and for the nature that surrounds me.
During the week of Mahashivaratri, I was feeling so much divine energy and whenever I chanted the mantra, I would feel so much love and the presence of the Lord.
One morning when I was walking to my car, I saw a branch with three leaves on it next to my car. I felt a gentle presence and love, like it was a secret message. A few days later I saw another branch with three leaves lying in front of my back door, and I felt the same gentle, secret message. The leaves felt sacred.
Today I was happily surprised and touched when I read the verses of this hymn. I had been blessed by God’s presence in the sweetest, simplest, and most humble way! It just made me smile and smile.
California, United States
From the first note of this hymn, my heart began to beat faster and love filled my whole being. The music ensemble of Shree Muktananda Ashram sings this hymn so melodiously, with so much love and such clear pronunciation. The music seva they offer creates “a pond of nectar,” as Gurumayi teaches us, for us all to taste with delight and gratitude.
The beautiful musical patterns of this melody made my heart dance in love and contentment. Listening to it is a divine blessing with which to begin my day.
Ville St. Laurent, Canada
I listened to this hymn for the first time on the night before Mahashivaratri, and something inside me started to melt and merge into the Absolute. I sat in front of my puja
, listening to the hymn again and again, and asking myself: Who am I? I felt an ancient connection with the melody and hymn, and I sensed Gurumayi’s presence strongly around me.
The next day I was given the seva
of cleaning the bilva
leaves that would later be used in the abhishek
at the Shiva Temple. It was mahaprasad
for me! I cleaned each leaf with an understanding of its worth, its purity and greatness. I cleaned each leaf with love for my beloved Lord Shiva! Since then I have been listening to this hymn every day, and each time I immediately connect with my deepest Self.
I'm thankful for receiving this experience of my own greatness!
Gurudev Siddha Peeth, India
Many years ago, I visited Gurudev Siddha Peeth for six months to offer seva
. The seva
assignment I received was to gather fragrant flowers and sacred leaves for the Temple and Baba’s Samadhi Shrine. At the time, I was certain I wasn’t worthy of this seva
, but I gave it my best. Often I needed to climb up to a limb of the bilva
tree for the best-formed leaves. I had no idea then of the bilva
leaf’s full significance; I just knew it was sacred.
Many years later, on Mahashivaratri, Gurumayi spent the whole night in the Temple. She sang the Bilvashtakam
again and again, which moved me greatly. I experienced an indescribably full love. I’ve remembered the sound of this song ever since, with wonder and the longing to offer one bilva
leaf to Lord Shiva and to the Guru.
Now, having read the meaning of the verses, I realize that by touching the bilva
tree during all those months, my sins and obstacles were being cleansed. And I understand that by offering the triad form of this leaf, I am offering my physical body, my subtle body, and my causal body to Gurumayi and to Lord Shiva.
Oregon, United States
What a melodious hymn! As I listen to it again and again, feelings of immense love, devotion, and union with the Divine arise from deep within me.
Thane West, India
Seeing God in nature is something that is very dear to me. The tender green leaves of the bilva
tree represent for me pure love, pure life, and pure consciousness.
The melody that Gurumayi composed for this hymn has totally captivated my mind; I can’t stop playing it. Listening to the words and melody opens my heart, and I find myself drawn into deep silence and peace. It’s like a magic key that opens the abode of Lord Shiva to me!
Farnborough, United Kingdom
The purity and precision of the music ensemble’s recitation is utterly enchanting! It envelops my whole being in deep stillness and feelings of tenderness. The meanings of the different verses are also a revelation, particularly the image of the bilva
tree as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
As I listen to this hymn, my mind becomes a reservoir of peace and my heart soars.
I am grateful for this exquisite melody in praise of Lord Shiva.
I have a bilva
tree near my house. I offer a bilva
leaf to Lord Shiva every fortnight on Pradosha. But this is the first time in my life that I have come to know about the hymn Bilvashtakam.
Now, after learning of the great merit of offering a single bilva
leaf to Lord Shiva, I feel connected with Lord Shiva, Gurumayi, and myself. I am grateful for such wonderful knowledge and grace.
This exquisite essay drew my understanding so skillfully from the historical background, to the tangible power in offering the simple, natural beauty in the bilva
leaves, to bringing me into the timeless space of the writer’s own experiences in the gardens of Gurudev Siddha Peeth. Vicariously, I too was able to rest there in that magical space, slipping into my own heart and sweet silence. With skill and generosity of spirit, the writer allowed Lord Shiva to manifest tangibly beyond any specific time and place. I offer my deep gratitude for such a moment of darshan.
Washington, United States
This hymn gave me a new understanding, after many years of practice, about the symbolism of the bilva
tree and bilva
leaves. Now I have another context for the storied hunter who showered bilva
leaves on a shiva lingam
and attained an enlightened perspective through grace.
I have always loved trees, especially in winter when you can really see their branches. The idea that the bilva
tree arises from the body of Lakshmi truly resonates with me.
After reading “Entering the Abode of Lord Shiva,” I went into meditation, imagining my body as the abode of the Guru. I envisioned the muladhara
chakra as Brahma, like the roots of the tree; the svadhishthana
chakra as Vishnu, like the trunk of the tree; and a fiery column of light as the pillar of Shiva rising to the leafy treetop in the sahasrara.
I felt such sweetness of devotion in the tingling of my sahasrara
and in the expansiveness of my awareness. I felt so connected to primordial existence, and to the interconnectedness of all beings.
California, United States