Biological classification of Bael
The scientific classification of bael is as below
- Kingdom: Plantae (Angiosperms)
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Rutaceae
- Subfamily: Aurantioideae
- Tribe: Aurantieae
- Genus: Aegle
- Species: A. marmelos
- Binomial name: Aegle marmelos
Various names of Bael
- English name: Wood apple
- Arabic: Safarjale
- Bengali: Belpatthar ka paid
- Hindi: Bael
- Marathi: Belaache zaad
- Tamil: Vilvamaran
- Sinhala: Beli
- Gujarati: Billu
- Kannada: Belladi hannu
- Konkani: Gorakamili
- Malyalam: Koolam
- Marathi: Bel
- Odia: Baela
- Urdu: Bael
- Indonesia: Maja
- Thai: Matum
Bael or Aegle marmelos is a spiritual, religious and medicinal plant, native of India and Bangladesh and spread throughout South East Asia. The fruit takes about 10 to 11 months to ripen. Wood Apple is a sweet, aromatic and astringent in nature. Bel has many benefits and uses such as to cure tuberculosis, hepatitis, dysentery, constipation, peptic ulcer, piles and many more, useful in worm infestation and stomach related problems. Bael or Aegle marmelos is also known as Bengal quince, golden apple, Japanese bitter orange, stone apple, etc. It is also known by various names such as Wood apple, Kaitha, Maredu Pandu, Vilam Palam, Belada Hannu, Koovalam, Kothu, Koth Bel, etc. It’s one of the few Ayurvedic plants whose entire parts from root to leaves are used for different diseases. The fruit balances Kaph and Vata doshas, its roots improve digestion, leaves are good for pain, stem for heart and bel flowers for curing of diarrhoea.
The religious importance of Bael
According to the Ayurvedic Research by V. NIGAM and V. S. NAMBIAR, Aegle marmelos or Bael is one such plant described in the ancient medical treatise in Sanskrit, Charak Samhita. It is popular medicinal plant in Ayurvedic and Siddha systems of medicine and folk medicines used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Aegle Marmelos commonly known as bael belongs to family Rutaceae. In Ayurveda Bael is termed tridosh har- remedy for three disturbances- bile, wind and phlegm. Aegle marmelos (Bilva) is considered as an embodiment of Lord Shiva himself and it is one of the sacred trees in Hinduism having spiritual powers.
Bilva tree is said to have manifested from Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi and Sri Sooktham eulogize Goddess Lakshmi as…
“Aadithya varnae tapassodhi jaatho
Vanaspathi stava vrukshotha bilvaha
Tasya phalani tapasaanudantu
Mayaantha raayaashcha baahya alakshmeehi”
The translation of this stotra is given below.
“Oh Lakshmi, your complexion is like that of a morning Sun, a vanaspathi (trees bearing fruits without blossoming) called by name Bilva was brought forth by your devout austerity. Through your favour may the fruits of the tree drive away my misfortunes and poverty both internal (ignorance) and external. It is believed and said that one who does penance under the Bilva tree and meditate on Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi will be bestowed with fulfilment of all desires”
Leaves are offered in prayers to Shiva and Parvathi since ancient time. Bael having useful medicinal properties especially as a cooling agent, is a deciduous sacred tree, associated with Gods. This tree is popular in Shiva and Vishnu temples also popularly known as the temple garden plant and it can be grown in every house. Its leaves are trifoliate symbolizing the Thrimurthies- Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva with spear-shaped leaflets resembling trisoolam the weapon of Lord Shiva. The tree is also sacred to the Jains. The 23rd Tirthankara, Bhagwan Parasnathji attained enlightenment under a Bael tree. The leaflets are given to devotees as prasadam in Shiva temples and as Tulsi in Vishnu temples.
Bael has great religious significance. In Hindu tradition, the leaves and the fruit of the plant are offered to god during prayer, especially god Shiva. Its leaves are also used to worship Parvati and Viva Rupra. The fruit is used in religious ceremonies and rituals and its mentioned is also seen in Vedas and Mahabharata.
In a Research paper by Neha Parmar, Suman Singh and Bhupesh Patel on ” Historical and Ethno-Medical Review on Bilva Patra ” ; References regarding Bilva are abundantly given from the Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, Brahmanas, Kalpasutras and Puranas which suggests its popularity. It is also mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Historically it is referred to as one of the pious trees in the Baudhayana Dhamasutra, Taitiriya Brahamana termed the Bilva tree as a propitious tree. In ancient India, Bilva was considered as the most sacred of all fruits, and was used as the main food offering to the temple deities. In recent times coconut has superseded the Bilva as the principal fruit of religious offering as a symbol of self-surrender. Hindu iconography is replete with Bilva, too—its trifoliate leaves emerge on Shiva’s crown and trident, and the points of three-pronged leaves also represent the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Its amulets were made and worn for removing the evil effects. It was regarded as the symbol of fatness and fertility as it increases in size from the roots up to the branches and yield’s fruits every year.Among the eight leaves of Bilva offered to Lord Shiva, it is believed to be Mokshasadhanam in Lingarchanchandrika. According to Maitra, Bilva tree is said to possess essence of celestial light. It is told to wear ‘Bilva Mani’ as an ornament for Dusvapnanashana (removing bad dreams), Rakshoghna (destroying evil), Rasayana (elixir of life), Prajasthapana (preserving progeny) and Vishaghna (antivenom) in Shankhyana Aranyaka.
Water made out of Bilva Patra is used for bath in bridal rituals. It is told to wear Bilva-danda in Upanayana Samskara too.Bilva was also used as a stick by the Babylonian slam 7000 years ago. (Alimas, et al., 1996). The tree is also sacred to the Jains, as the 23rd Tirthankara, Bhagwan Parasnathji is said to attained enlightenment under a Bilva tree.
In Agnipurana, inhaling the oil obtained from this plant is said to increase the poetic acumen of the inhaler and enables him to live a long life. Further, either the decoction of Bilva fruits, Mangifera indica, Dolicos lablab, Woodfordia fruiticosa, Zingiber ofcinale along with buttermilk and molasses is mentioned in treatment of gastroenteritis or the decoction of Bilva, Aconitum heterophyllum and Holerrhena antidysenterica should be given. Bilva is also said to cure fever associated with pain and cough.
Spiritual Importance of Bilwa patra
The Shiva Purana tells the story of the effect of worshipping Lord Shiva with the bel leaf
A hunter once had to go hunting on the day ofMaha Shivaratriwhen Lord Shiva is worshipped because his family was hungry. At the end of the day, the hunter was not able to find any prey. He climbed a tree by a lake, waiting for an unsuspecting animal to come for a drink. He did not realize that the tree he had climbed was a bilva tree. Buried at the foot of the tree was a Shivling, the representation of Lord Shiva for worship. During the night, he kept throwing the bilva leaves on the ground and they fell on the Shivling. This unknowing worship to Lord Shiva was enough to transform the hunter into a compassionate and understanding human being and frees him from his past bad karma.
As described in the Nagara Khanda of the Skanda Purana Bilva tree emerged from the sweat of Shiva’s wife Parvati,
The splendid Daughter of the Mountain; the goddess [Parvati] became tired due to her sports. Drops of sweat appeared on her forehead and a drop fell on the ground. It became a great tree on the excellent mountain Mandara, Parvati said, “Since this tree pierced through the ground and rose up near me, let it be named Bilva. If anyone approaches this tree devoutly and collects the leaves, he shall certainly become a king of the earth. If anyone with perfect faith worships me with its leaves, he will realize whatever desire he may cherish. If a person, after seeing the leaves of Bilva, at least maintains faith in the rite of adoration, I shall undoubtedly be the bestowed of wealth on him. If anyone makes his mind to eat the tip of the leaves, thousands of his sins perish automatically. If a man places the tip of the leaf on his head, no torture of Yama will give him pain.”
लक्ष्म्याः स्तनत उत्पन्नं महादेवस्य च प्रियम्
trijanma pap-sanharam bilvapatra Shivarpanam.
This “Shloka” is also spoken while offering Bilva-Patra to Shiva. In addition to three leaflets, it should be soft, without holes, without spots (दाग) and unbroken. The thicker part of the ‘Belpatta‘ twig (डंठल) which is connected to the tree(called vajra) should be removed. While offering to Shiva or other gods, the ‘Belpatra’ should be put upside down i.e. smooth face touching the ‘Linga’ and tip away from the devotee. There is an eight “Shloka” “Bilvashtakam” which describes the importance of Bilva-Patra.
Ratnaih kalpitam aasanam himjalaih snanam ch divyambaram
Nana ratna vibhooshitam mrigmadamodankitam chandanam
jatichampakvilvapatra rachitam pushpam ch dhoopam tatha
Deepam dev dayanidhe pashupate hritkalpitam grihyataam.
Astrological Importance of Bilwa Patra
Those who are born in Visakha Nakashtra and Scorpio moon sign or having a birth in Visakha Lagana nakshatras they should either plant Bilwa Patra Tree in their garden and daily give water to this tree or those having health issues related to liver or stomach should take Bilva Juice daily to Nullify the negative impact of Jupiter in their Natal chart.
So, best Remedy to cure Viskhna Nakashtra (Scorpion) moon sign is the planting of a bilwa tree and having bilwa fruit daily or worshipping of Lord Shiva with Bilwa Patra and fruit .
Medicinally Bilwa has many benefits :
1) Can cure diarrhoea, cholera, haemorrhoids, vitiligo.
2) Can Reduces gastric ulcer.
3) Antimicrobial property.
4) Can cure scurvy.
5) Can control cholesterol.
6) Can solve respiratory problems.
8) Can be used to treat heart diseases.
9) Can prevent constipation.
10) Can control diabetes.
Nutritional Value of Bael Fruit
The various nutrients in a bael fruit per 100gm.
Carbohydrate 31.8 gm
Fat 0.3 g
Proteins 1.8 gm.
Vitamin A 55 mg.
Vitamin B Rich in Vitamin B1 and B2
Vitamin C 60 mg.
Thiamine 0.13 mg.
Riboflavin 1.19 mg.
Niacin 1.1 mg.
Carotene 55 mg.
Calcium 85 mg.
Potassium 600 mg.
Fiber 2.9 gm.
Water 61.5 g.
Energy 137 k.cal
Energy 137 k.cal
10 Health benefits of Bael
- Bael for Tuberculosis: In Ayurveda, it is used for the treatment of tuberculosis.
- Bael for Gynecological disorders: The regular consumption of Bael helps to prevent gynecological related issues.
- Bael for Urinary diseases: Use of bel leads you to overcome the problems of urinary diseases.
- Bael for Diabetes prevention: It has bitter pungent, full of antioxidants and helps to stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, which leads to lowering of blood sugar. The leaves can be used against diabetes.
- Bael for Digestive disorders: It supports intestinal biological formulations and protects the digestive system from ulceration, reduces the frequency of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), intestinal spasm thus beneficial in treating of dirrrhea, dysentery, and other infections of Elementary canal.
- Bael for Fever prevention: The leaf juice with honey is helpful in prevention of fever.
- Bael for Epilepsy: Flowers are uses as epilepsy tonic.
- Bael Nutritional facts: It is rich in alakloids, polysaccharides, antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, Vitamin B, and many other bio-chemical substances. It also contains tannins, calcium, phosphorous, iron, protein and fiber. The 100 gram of Bael contains the following nutrients: Calorific value (137 Kcal), Moisture (61.5g), Protein (1.8g), Fat (.3g), Minerals (1.7g), Fiber (2.9g), Carb (31.8mg), Calcium (85mg), Phosphorous (50mg), Iron (.7mg), Beta carotene (55 UG), Thiamine (.13mg), Niacin (1.1mg), Vitamin C (8 mg), Potassium (600mg) and Copper (.21 mg).
- Bael for Piles treatment: The extract of unripe bel fruit is helpful in curing of piles and hemorrhoids.
- Bael fights ulcer: Due to its soothing effects on the digestive system, it leads to reduce the acidity level in the stomach thus useful in combating ulcers like gastric ulcers, gastrodudenal ulcers, etc.
Uses of Bael
- Its juice is used to make drink and squashes, especially in summer season because of its sweet and pleasant nature.
- Bael tender leaves are used as salads.
- It cleans the atmosphere as it helps to purify the atmosphere by absorbing the harmful gases from the it.
- It is used to increase appetite.
- Its extract oil is used to cure respiratory problems.
- It is used in the preparation of candy, squash, toffee, pulp powder, and other eatable products.
Medicinal benefits of Bael
- Bel is known for its medicinal values because of the presence of many bio-chemical substance such as alkaloids, antioxidants, polysaccharides and essential oils.
- The fleshy inner product of bael is curative, pesticidal, nutritive as well as therapeutic in nature, which is used for the treatment of many diseases and disorders.
- Wood apple leaves are of therapeutic value and used in lowering of blood cholesterol.
- It is anti-inflammatory in nature. Its extracts when applied on the exposed area, help to cure inflammation.
- Bael’s roots are antidiarrhoetic, antidote to snake venom and anti-inflammatory for healing.
Bel juice benefits
- Bel juice is useful in curing of constipation because of its laxative properties.
- Bel juice gives great comfort in heartburn, acidity, hyperacidity and indigestion.
- If you are suffering from intestinal parasites, it is advisable to drink bael juice because of its antidote nature.
- Aegle marmelos juice is good for heart and brain. Bel juice mixed with Ghee, is beneficial in prevention of heart disease. It is also used as heart tonic.
- Chewing of raw leaves of Bel help to solve many gastric problems.
- Bael juice is rich in vitamin C, and good for scurvy treatment.
Though Bael is a beneficial Ayurvedic plant, but it has some side effects too. Before eating the fruit, one should take caution in the below given conditions.
- Abdominal disorders: Excess of bael consumption leads to abdominal disorders.
- Constipation: If you are taking more quantity of the fruit, it may lead to constipation.
- Pregnancy: One shouldn’t take Bel during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding: Avoid during breastfeeding.
- Surgery: It shouldn’t be used in surgery.
- Diabetes: When taking for lowering of sugar in blood, one should observe sugar level carefully as it may down sugar too low.
- Hypertension: One should avoid to take this fruit if having high blood pressure.
With thanks and Regards,
Rakesh Singh Jamwal
Sacred Plants of India by By Nanditha Krishna
V. NIGAM AND V. S. NAMBIAR